LOS ANGELES (AP)—Considering the games ahead, the Los Angeles Lakers got just what they needed Sunday night—a blowout victory.
The Lakers clinched the victory by outscoring Miami 24-7 to end the second quarter and begin the third for a 67-41 lead. They visit Detroit on Tuesday night and New York the following night.
“We had to get a big lead to let the other guys play,” Lakers guard Gary Payton said. “We knew we could do that with this team because they couldn’t handle Shaq.
“We know we’re going on the road—we’ve got back-to-backs. We need a lot of rest.”
O’Neal didn’t play after committing his fifth foul with 4:18 left in the third quarter. Bryant was the only Los Angeles starter to play in the final period, and his 34 minutes were four more than any of his teammates.
“That was a tough game to watch,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “I liked the way we played defense, hustled. We had some moments that were nice.
“It was probably a very unusual game—no one scored a 3-point shot.”
The Heat missed all 12 shots they attempted from beyond the 3-point line, and the Lakers were 0-for-9.
“We got the win so we don’t care about it,” Payton said.
The win was the third in a row for the Lakers (8-2) and their 20th straight regular-season victory at home. The Heat (2-8) had their two-game winning streak snapped.
It was also the 784th regular-season victory for Jackson, moving him into a tie for 11th on the NBA’s career list with Gene Shue.
Jackson, whose teams are 784-292, has coached nearly 600 fewer games than Shue did.
Bryant got the bulk of his points from the foul line, going 15-of-16. The Lakers made 33 of 46 free throws.
There were 60 personal fouls called—34 against the Heat.
Payton had 13 points and eight assists, and Karl Malone added 11 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers.
The Lakers are a difficult matchup for the Heat, who started 6-foot-9, 254-pound Brian Grant on the 7-1, 340-pound O’Neal, and the 6-8, 230-pound Haslem, a rookie, on the 6-9, 259-pound Malone, a 19-year veteran.
“You know what? It is a tough matchup,” Grant acknowledged. “But tonight, any team would have been a tough matchup the way we played defense. You can make any excuse you want—it didn’t happen.
“We’ve got four more games left. If we bring it, we have a chance to win every one of them. If we don’t, it’s going to be an 0-5 road trip.”
Bryant made three free throws with 9:22 left in the third quarter to give the Lakers a 59-39 lead. At that stage, Jones and Grant were on the bench with four fouls each.
It was 76-58 entering the fourth quarter, and the Lakers scored the first eight points of the final period—six by Bryant and the other two by Horace Grant on an assist by Bryant.
The Lakers outscored the Heat 10-2 to finish the second quarter for a 53-36 halftime lead.
Payton had nine points and five assists in the opening seven minutes as the Lakers took a 23-9 lead.
It was 31-21 entering the second period, and Miami wasn’t closer than eightpoints after that.
With a 5-0 record at Staples Center, the Lakers are one of five NBA teams who are unbeaten at home. With their 0-6 road mark, the Heat are one of five winless teams away from home. … Odom, who played four seasons with the Clippers before signing a $65 million, six-year offer sheet with the Heat last summer that the Clippers declined to match, mistakenly walked into the Lakers’ dressing room before the game. He then made a quick about-face and headed to the visitors’ locker room. “I don’t know where I was at,” he said with a smile. Odom said it felt “a little different, a little eerie” to be playing at Staples Center as a visitor, but added: “I’ve got some friends at the game, and I get to sleep in my own bed.” … Jackson said he expects Pat Riley to coach again. Riley resigned as coach of the Heat last month but remained as team president. “He’s established himself as a premier coach in the game—a Hall of Famer, obviously,” Jackson said. Riley’s 1,110 regular-season victories rank second in NBA history behind Lenny Wilkens’ 1,292, and his 155playoff wins rank second behind Jackson’s 162.