New York Shaquille O'Neal never left the locker room, and the rest of the Los Angeles Lakers never really showed up, either.
With O'Neal a last-minute scratch because of a foot injury, the Los Angeles fell behind early and never fought back as they dropped a 91-81 decision to the New York Knicks for their 15th loss of the season matching last season's total.
"This is a tough situation for us because we've never really had to play without Shaq for a long period of time. We're not used to playing without him, and it's tough to go out there and try to wing it," Kobe Bryant said.
Allan Houston scored 33 points and Latrell Sprewell added 28 for the Knicks, who snapped a three-game losing streak and improved to 11-5 against teams from the Western Conference.
The Knicks took the lead for good midway through the first, closed the quarter with a 15-2 run to open a 33-19 lead and stayed comfortably ahead the rest of the way despite playing short-handed themselves as Marcus Camby (suspension) and Kurt Thomas (sprained ankle) also sat out.
O'Neal was sidelined with a plantar fasciitis of his right foot, an inflammation that flared up Friday. He stayed in the locker room throughout the entire game and watched on television. His status is day to day.
"Why didn't I go to the bench?" O'Neal said, repeating a question. "I was told to stay in here."
Bryant did what he could to carry the Lakers, scoring 33 points, but also found himself getting yelled at by coach Phil Jackson on more than one occasion once for talking out of turn in the huddle; another time for failing to pass to a wide-open Ron Harper.
"Just one time tonight," Bryant said, "but for the most part Phil and I have mutual respect and I go out there and do my thing. (Assistant coach) Tex (Winter) is the one that's constantly in all of our ears. You can hear him from the other end of the floor."
The loss was the third in four games for the Lakers, who were held to their second-lowest point total of the season.
Larry Johnson grabbed 16 rebounds and ex-Laker Glen Rice added 10 rebounds and seven points. Luc Longley started at center for New York and had zero points and seven rebounds.
Houston hit one of his three 3-pointers with 1:37 left in the first quarter to give New York its first double-digit lead, 29-19, and the Knicks totaled nine fast-break points in the first quarter more fast-break points than they had accumulated in 27 of their first 41 games.
Rice missed his first four shots before connecting on a corner jumper for a 41-31 lead midway through the second quarter, and Houston drove around Isaiah Rider for a layup that made it 47-33 late in the half.
Jackson turned to Bryant and yelled "Don't argue" when Bryant tried to say something during a timeout late in the first half, and Jackson and Winter yelled "Pass the ball to the open man! Do it!" after Bryant abandoned the triangle offense and took an ill-advised jumper during the third.
"If they can learn anything from our team, we try to play unselfishly and we have great team confidence," Sprewell said. "We like each other on our team. We all get along and I think that goes a long way toward having team success.
76ers 86, Pacers 81
Indianapolis Make it 13 in a row away from Philly.
Allen Iverson scored 27 points, 16 in the fourth quarter, and three other Philadelphia players reached double figures as the 76ers won their 13th straight road game Sunday, 86-81 at Indiana.
The 76ers tied the Chicago Bulls and Boston Celtics for the fifth-longest road winning streak in NBA history, even though Iverson was not at his best.
He was just 6 of 25 from the floor but still came within two points of his average, had eight assists and led the 76ers charge in the final quarter.
Iverson's only 3-pointer, with 8:50 left in the game, ended an Indiana surge that had put the Pacers up 64-59. It also ignited an 11-4 Philadelphia run that gave the 76ers a 70-68 lead with 6:06 to go.
Iverson then made one of two free throws to break a 70-70 tie with 4:31 left and his layup following a Pacer turnover extended the 76ers lead to 78-74 with 1:56 left. The Pacers couldn't get closer than that.