Work in Sports
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Shaquille O'Neal maintained his form and the New Jersey Nets reverted right back to theirs.
O'Neal continued his awesome output with 30 points and 16 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 103-80 rout of the Nets, who followed Wednesday's rare win at Golden State with a terrible performance.
O'Neal, who averaged 37.5 points and 18 rebounds over his previous five games, went unchallenged along the interior, hitting 14-of-24 shots. The 7-1 center was 2-of-6 from the line as New Jersey opted to lay off the big man, rather than send him to the line whenever he touched the ball in scoring position.
"I thought Shaq intimidated us," New Jersey coach Don Casey said. "He's a monster. We were worried about (Glen) Rice and people like that, but Shaq clears his ground and the others just feed off him."
"My game is like the Pythagorean theorem, no one has an answer," O'Neal said.
The Nets have not won two straight games since April 16-18 of last season and did not look capable of doing so at any point tonight, falling behind 14-8 midway through the first quarter and never challenging thereafter.
New Jersey (2-11) has lost eight of its last nine games and seems quite capable of eclipsing last season's 3-17 start that got former coach John Calipari fired.
New Jersey point guard Stephon Marbury, who has been criticized for shunning his teammates in search of his own points, misfired on 13-of-16 shots for 10 points to go with just five assists.
"I gotta fight every game," Marbury said. "When you go on the court and you got two people guarding you -- come on, man. When I go to the basket, I got no outlets."
Ron Harper scored a season-high 17 points for the Lakers, who improved to 6-2 at the Staples Center and 22-4 all-time at home against the Nets.
"I was told to say that Ron Harper is brilliant and that is why I brought him here," Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson joked about the veteran guard that won three straight championships with him during his tenure in Chicago.
Los Angeles forward A.C. Green had six points and six rebounds in 18 minutes. More importantly, Green played in his 1,042nd professional game, surpassing Ron Boone for first place on the all-time list. Boone played in 662 ABA and 379 NBA games from 1968 through 1981 without sitting out.
"I've been saying all along that it is a blessing from God to be able to acquire the record and say that no one else has ever played as many games in a row," Green said. "Outside of that, it really hasn't hit me. It's one of those things that you would appreciate, I think, a lot more once you're done playing."
Derek Fisher and Rick Fox scored 12 points apiece and each had four during a decisive fourth-quarter run that put the game out of reach.
"I was talking to Rick Fox today and he was a little frustrated with a couple of plays and I told him taht he is really an X factor coming off the bench," Fisher said. "We need the players to come off the bench and provide with some source of energy whether it be offense or defense. Just hustle and play hard."
Although they never seriously threatened, New Jersey did stay within striking distance and trailed 75-65 with 9:43 to play.
But O'Neal made a free throw and dunk, Fox hit an eight-foot hook shot and Fisher drained a 22-footer to make it 82-65 with 7:37 left. Fox followed with two free throws and Fisher again was good from 22 feet to make it a 21-point bulge.
Johnny Newman scored 24 points and Keith Van Horn added 20 for New Jersey, which shot 35 percent (28-of-81) and yielded 16 points off turnovers.
The Lakers shot 54 percent (45-of-83) and held a 44-42 edge on the boards.
O'Neal scored 27 points through three quarters, staking Los Angeles to a 14-point lead entering the fourth period.
"If (O'Neal) isn't tired of playing, I'm not tired of seeing him play," Harper said. "He is in great shape. He is a big man that can do things other guys his size can't do."