Streaking L.A. Surges Over Sonics
SEATTLE (AP) _ Shaquille O’Neal had 23 points and 14 rebounds, and Kobe Bryant scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to help the Los Angeles Lakers run their winning streak to 11 games with a 97-86 victory over Seattle on Friday night.
The Lakers moved a half-game ahead of Sacramento and Minnesota for the top spot in the Western Conference.
Karl Malone added 14 points and eight rebounds, and Gary Payton scored 17 in his second game as a visitor in Seattle.
It was close most of the night until Malone, Payton and O’Neal scored the last seven points of the third quarter to put the Lakers up 77-70. Bryant hit two jumpers and a 3-pointer as the Lakers raced away in the fourth quarter.
The Lakers are an NBA best 22-4 since the All-Star break and they won on the road despite an early morning arrival that could have worn them down one night after a home win against Houston.
Ray Allen scored 30 points, and Rashard Lewis had 25 for Seattle, but it wasn’t enough to keep the Sonics from losing their fourth straight. Brent Barry had 10 points and 11 assists, and Reggie Evans had 14 rebounds.