Lakers 104, Bucks 103, OT

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LOS ANGELES (AP)—Kobe Bryant made the winning shot Sunday night.

Otherwise, it was Shaquille O’Neal’s game.

Bryant’s jumper with 25.1 seconds left in overtime lifted the Los Angeles Lakers to a 104-103 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks in a game where O’Neal had 31 points, an NBA season-high 26 rebounds and seven blocked shots.

“He had a big game. He had a real big game,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of O’Neal, who was averaging 11.1 rebounds and 2.43 blocks beforehand.

`I was just told by (assistant coach) Tex Winter to get all the boards I can, so I just went after them,” said O’Neal, who got a career-high 28 rebounds against New Jersey while playing for Orlando in November 1993.

“We’re still learning each other, and we’re going to be fine,” O’Neal said. “The last few games, we’ve had 15-point, 17-point leads and let teams get back in it. No matter who we play, they’re playing way above their heads.”

Keith Van Horn missed badly on a driving shot with about five seconds left. O’Neal got his 26th rebound and passed the ball to Bryant, who dribbled out all but a half-second before being fouled.

“I definitely got hit,” Van Horn said of his last shot. “I’m not going to put up a shot like that unless I got fouled.”

Bryant had 22 points, eight rebounds and five assists; Gary Payton had 16 points and six assists, and Karl Malone added 14 points, eight rebounds and five assists for the Lakers.

O’Neal shot 14-of-16 and his rebound total surpassed the previous season-high of 25 by Minnesota’s Kevin Garnett at Sacramento on Dec. 5 in another overtime game.

Van Horn had a season-high 32 points and nine rebounds. Michael Redd added 17 points; Brian Skinner had 11 points and nine rebounds before fouling out with 3:16 left in overtime, and Brevin Knight had 11 points and 11 assists for the Bucks.

Van Horn’s 3-pointer with 47.9 seconds remaining gave the Bucks a one-point lead, setting the stage for Bryant’s game-winner from near the top of the key.

The win was the fifth straight and ninth in 11 games for the Lakers (47-23), who rank third in the Western Conference with 12 games remaining. They trail Sacramento by four games and Minnesota by one.

The loss was the fifth in a row and eighth in nine games for the Bucks (34-35), who dropped below .500 for the first time since late December. They are in fifth place in the East.

A jumper by Redd with 3:34 to play in overtime put the Bucks on top 96-94— their first lead since the first quarter. The Lakers led 102-98 before a basket by Redd and Van Horn’s 3-pointer gave Milwaukee its last lead.

Two free throws by Van Horn tied the game at 92 with 1:03 left in the fourth quarter. Those were the final points of regulation. Bryant’s 20-footer from the right wing went in-and-out with about five seconds left, and Redd missed a 3-pointer from the top of the key as time expired.

“I should have taken one more dribble, but it’s a shot I normally make,” Redd said. “It looked good, and should have gone it. We played extremely hard tonight and we should have won the game.”

A three-point play by O’Neal triggered an 11-2 run that gave the Lakers a 74-59 lead—biggest of the game for either team.

The Bucks countered with a 13-4 run to finish the third quarter and cut the Lakers’ lead to 78-72. Van Horn scored 15 in the period.

After shooting 7-of-20 in the first quarter, the Lakers made their first nine shots of the second period including three each by O’Neal and Kareem Rush for a nine-point lead.

The Bucks scored the next five points before the Lakers went on a 16-8 run,putting them ahead 55-43 at halftime.

Notes

The Lakers activated rookie F Brian Cook before the game. Cook replaces F-C Horace Grant on the active roster. … After being examined Friday in Boston, the 38-year-old Grant postponed hip surgery until after the season, hoping to rehabilitate in time for the playoffs. “We’re going to work and hope and pray,” he said, adding he wants to return next season. … The Lakers are 23-6 against Eastern Conference teams while the Bucks are 7-18 against the West. … Milwaukee’s loss left only four of the Eastern Conference’s 15 teams with winning records. Ten of the 14 Western Conference teams are over .500. … O’Neal didn’t attempt a shot until the first minute of the second quarter. By that time, he had 10 rebounds. … Milwaukee’s Damon Jones missed all eightshots he tried but had 12 assists. He sat out the fourth quarter and overtime.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 Milwaukee
K. Van Horn K. Van Horn
12-20,  32 Pts
9 Rebs, 0 Assists
 LA Lakers
S. O'Neal S. O'Neal
14-16,  31 Pts
26 Rebs, 2 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists