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Hornets 88, Lakers 78

November 7, 1996

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) _ Matt Geiger made just three 3-pointers last year, so when the Charlotte Hornets’ 7-foot-1 center stepped beyond the arc Wednesday night, it was understandable why he didn’t draw much attention.

The Los Angeles Lakers are unlikely to make that mistake again.

``It certainly was a pleasant surprise,″ Charlotte coach Dave Cowens said after Geiger’s outside shooting helped the Hornets to an 88-78 victory over Los Angeles. ``He’ll probably come in and ask for a raise tomorrow.″

Geiger put up six 3-point attempts and made a career-high four. He finished with 22 points and 10 rebounds to help the Hornets halt the Lakers’ best start since 1987.

``To a certain degree, when you get unexpected scoring like that, it fires everybody up,″ Cowens said. ``But the defense is what brings everybody together.″

Charlotte outscored the Lakers 55-37 in the second half, when the Hornets held Los Angeles to 42-percent shooting, had a 22-15 rebounding edge and forced nine turnovers.

``It was simply a matter of Charlotte playing very well and we didn’t,″ Lakers coach Del Harris said. ``We were totally out of rhythm offensively, our execution was very weak, we didn’t screen very well and then we have a tendency to bog down in our ball movement. I hope we work our way through it.″

Geiger’s performance came on a night when the Hornets were without starting guards Glen Rice and Muggsy Bogues. Rice, Charlotte’s leading scorer last season, has missed all three games so far this year with a sore left ankle. Bogues continues to be bothered by pain and stiffness in his left knee, an injury that sidelined him for all but six games last season.

``We got some confidence that we can win a big game without our point guard and without Glen,″ Geiger said. ``It’s going to be just icing on the cake when we do have them.″

Shaquille O’Neal had 22 points and 10 rebounds for Los Angeles, which had won its first three games this season. It was the best start for the Lakers since they went 8-0 to open the 1987-88 season and went on to win the NBA championship.

``We just didn’t take care of the ball,″ O’Neal said. ``Are we worried? No. There’s 80 more games left. We’re never worried.″

Geiger surpassed his 1995-96 3-pointer total in the first 28 minutes when he made 4 of 5. He scored 10 of the Hornets’ first 16 points in the third quarter, helping them rally from an eight-point halftime deficit.

Geiger hit a 21-footer to make it 55-53, Charlotte’s first lead since the opening two minutes of the second quarter.

The Hornets were up 70-67 after scoring 37 points in the third, including 14 from Geiger on 6-for-6 shooting.

Charlotte gradually stretched it to 82-71 just past the midway point of the fourth quarter, and Los Angeles got no closer than six.

Notes: Los Angeles rookie Kobe Bryant, who was taken by the Hornets with their top draft pick and then traded to the Lakers, was booed when he made his first appearance at the start of the second quarter. Bryant responded with turnovers the first three times he touched the ball. He finished with five points and three turnovers in seven minutes. ... Charlotte center Vlade Divac, obtained in the Bryant trade, was scoreless and had only four rebounds in 17 minutes. ... O’Neal has led the Lakers in points and rebounds in all four games.

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