Originally created 03/19/01

Lakers 95, Magic 90



ORLANDO, Fla. -- Shaquille O'Neal provided the Orlando Magic with another reason to regret watching him walk away as a free agent.

O'Neal had 33 points and 17 rebounds for his 43rd double-double of the season, and led a late 14-6 run as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated Orlando 95-90 Sunday.

O'Neal, who still owns a home in the Orlando area, has led the Lakers to seven wins in nine games against Orlando since joining Los Angeles before the 1996-97 season.

"It's always fun to come back here and play, to see the articles you guys (reporters) write," said O'Neal, who led the Magic to the NBA Finals in 1995. "I think now this is just another game. If the guys were still here that I played with, then it would be more of a rivalry-type thing. This is a whole new team."

During a three-minute span late in the fourth quarter, O'Neal had eight points. However, he missed two of four free throws during that stretch and was pulled with two minutes remaining and the Lakers leading by nine. O'Neal was 5-for-13 from the line in the second half after a 4-for-5 start.

"Other than the free throws in the second half, I think he (O'Neal) played a great game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

The Magic got 29 points and 10 rebounds from Tracy McGrady, returning from a two-game suspension following a fight with Sacramento's Bobby Jackson on Tuesday. Mike Miller had 18 points - but none in the fourth quarter.

Orlando closed within a point, 75-74, with eight minutes to play on Darrell Armstrong's two free throws.

But the Magic came up empty on their next four possessions. In one series, Armstrong missed two 3-pointers - typical of his 2-for-14 game, which included misses on all six of his 3-point attempts.

"You have off nights," said Armstrong, who finished with eight points and eight assists. "I don't think I played a bad game; I just thought I didn't shoot the ball well."

"I thought Darrell rushed a little," Orlando coach Doc Rivers said. "He can get wound up at times, and I thought today was one of those times."

Orlando's cold offense allowed the Lakers to slowly run off, beginning with Robert Horry's follow slam for a three-point lead with 7:01 to play.

O'Neal's three-point play off a put-back dunk with 2:05 remaining capped the run and gave the Lakers an 89-80 lead.

Los Angeles went ahead by 12 points with 4:32 remaining in the third quarter, as O'Neal had six points during a 10-2 Lakers' run. On one of O'Neal baskets, he knocked down Michael Doleac, hit a short jumper, then yelled at the fallen player, "Get up!"

"I try and find my own way to get pumped up," O'Neal said. "I started talking trash to Michael Doleac to get myself pumped up."

The Magic, keyed by several defensive stands, closed the third quarter with a 12-5 run. Five Orlando players scored during the spurt, capped by Cory Alexander's 9-foot jumper to cut the deficit to 73-68 entering the fourth quarter.

Los Angeles took its largest lead of the opening half, 39-30, on O'Neal's dunk with 4:10 remaining in the second quarter. O'Neal ended the first half with 16 points, eight rebounds and five assists.

The Lakers began the game by scoring nine points on their first three possessions. But Los Angeles cooled after that, with only 12 points the rest of the quarter on 5-of-18 shooting. McGrady's three-point play off a vicious dunk ended the period's scoring, and brought the Magic within two points, 21-19.

Notes:

Orlando is winless in 10 nationally televised games this season. ... Miller is averaging 13.7 points per game during the last 35 games. In the first 30 games of the season, he averaged 7.4 points. ... Rap artists R. Kelly and Jay-Z were in attendance. ... The game was a sellout, the Magic's third of the season.