LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Once again, two unstoppable players took to the Staples Center court. Unfortunately for the Los Angeles Lakers, one of them was the New York Knicks' Allan Houston.
Houston scored a career -and NBA season-high- 53 points as the Knicks overcame another brilliant performance by Kobe Bryant for a 117-110 triumph over the Lakers, who were unexpectedly missing injured All-Star center Shaquille O'Neal.
"I was just trying to be focused," Houston said. "Just trying to make the right plays. If I had the shot, I was going to shoot it, if I had the drive I was going to drive."
"He looked like he was super focused - even on his walk in here - and that is the area he has to remain in," Knicks coach Don Chaney said. "He was at an unbelievable level of focus and I thought it was totally carried into the game."
It was the first 50-point game by a Knick since Patrick Ewing scored 50 against the Charlotte Hornets on December 1, 1990. Houston tied Willis Reed's production at Los Angeles on November 1, 1967 for the fourth-most in the team's illustrious history.
The tally by Houston, who shot 18-of-29 from the field and 13-of-15 from the line, came four days after Bryant scored 51 at Denver.
"(Houston) had a wonderful game tonight," Bryant said. "He played extremely well. He was right on traget most all game, and it wasn't pleasant."
Bryant scored 40 in this one, his ninth straight game with at least 35 and franchise record-tying fifth in a row with at least 40, matching Elgin Baylor's mark durng the 1962-63 campaign.
"There's no stopping Kobe," said Knicks forward Latrell Sprewell said. "We felt like we played pretty good defense but he still got 40 down the stretch. The way he's shooting the ball, he's just incredible."
Bryant made 14-of-31 shots from the field and 9-of-10 free throws but was hampered by a sore right knee.
"It is just 'jumper's knee,'" Bryant said. "I exploded on a pull-up jump shot and sprained it," Bryant said. "I was pretty much dragging it the rest of the game. I had tendinitis in both knees so you have to constantly stay on top of it. The good thing about it is that I recovered pretty well and I respond pretty quickly. A couple of days of rest and I will feel just fine."
"He usually responds well to treatment but we're not too worried about it," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We're a team that's very fine-tuned. Obviously we have to have our personnel to play well. We don't have a lot of parts that are adjustable without."
But the Lakers were missing O'Neal, who is day-to-day with a sore left knee. His replacement, Samaki Walker, was held scoreless, and starting forwards Rick Fox and Robet Horry combined for just 14 points.
"Shaquille has a sore knee," Jackson said. "The doctors came in and looked at it and we decided he should sit out the game out this time. It will be game-to-game. We're not taking X-rays or MRIs, he doesn't feel it is necessary."
New York led just 87-84 three minutes into the fourth quarter after Brian Shaw nailed back-to-back 3-pointers. But Clarence Weatherspoon countered with two free throws with 8:43 left to trigger a 15-4 run over the next 4 1/2 minutes, and the Lakers got no closer than five points down the stretch.
Sprewell scored 14 points and Othella Harrington 10 for the Knicks, who shot 54 percent (42-of-78) as they improved to 2-0 on their six-game Western road trip.
Derek Fisher contributed 21 points, Brian Shaw 16 and Devean George 14 for the Lakers, who lost their second straight home game following a season-high seven-game road trip.
"We couldn't seem to do anything with Houston tonight," Jackson said. "We double-teamed him and gave up 3-point shots to somebody else or layups or he made his shots. Obviously it wasn't working very well."