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Archive for Saturday, April 6, 2002

Neal misses second straight game but is expected back Sunday

April 6, 2002

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— An injured Shaquille O'Neal watched from the bench as the Boston Celtics celebrated their first playoff berth in seven years by beating his Lakers.

The Celtics did it with their first sweep of a season series against Los Angeles in 10 years as Paul Pierce scored 33 points and Kobe Bryant missed 20 shots in Boston's 99-81 win Friday night.

"It's a big win against the defending champs," Pierce said. "Even though they didn't have Shaq, they're still the defending champs."

The Celtics clinched a postseason spot when Indiana lost Thursday. But they concentrated on avoiding a letdown like the one they had in a loss to Philadelphia a week earlier after Allen Iverson broke his hand in the first half.

"We just got the news earlier in the day that we made the playoffs and we wanted to go out and play a great game," Eric Williams said after Boston's fifth win in six games.

O'Neal missed his second straight game with a sprained right wrist but is expected back for Sunday's game in Miami.

His absence allowed the Celtics to focus on stopping Bryant, made it easier for Boston point guard Kenny Anderson to penetrate and opened the middle for Tony Battie to tie his career high with 15 rebounds.

"I think he was the happiest man in the world to find out Shaq wasn't playing," Celtics coach Jim O'Brien said.

Bryant led the Lakers with 26 points and made 16-of-18 free throws. But he went 5-for-25 from the field as he forced shots in an attempt to pick up the offensive burden.

"It has been awhile since I've had a shooting night like that, but I'm glad it's out of my system," he said after the Lakers had their lowest total of the season, two points less than in a loss to Phoenix on Nov. 16.

The Lakers hit only 34 percent of their shots and dropped to 53-23 with six games left.

"Sacramento would have to falter for us to catch them now," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

O'Neal sat out Wednesday night's 94-92 loss to the New Jersey Nets. The Lakers fell to 7-8 playing without him.

Hornets 97, Wizards 91

Charlotte, N.C. Â Jamal Mashburn scored 27 points and Elden Campbell added 21 to lead Charlotte over Washington. The Wizards, who have lost both of their games since Michael Jordan went on the injured list Wednesday with a swollen right knee, fell to 8-21 since the All-Star break.

The Hornets moved into sole possession of fifth place in the Eastern Conference standings as both Milwaukee and Philadelphia lost. Charlotte also pulled within one game of fourth-place Orlando, which lost to the New Jersey Nets.

Charlotte was in control from the start and led by 17 midway through the fourth quarter. A late charge by the Wizards pulled them to 89-80, but Mashburn hit a jumper and P.J. Brown dunked in a miss to keep the lead in double digits.

Grizzlies 99, Rockets 81

Memphis, Tenn. Â Rookie Pau Gasol scored a career-high 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds as Memphis jumped to an early lead and beat Houston. Gasol's points, which came on 12-of-22 shooting, eclipsed his previous high of 31 at Phoenix on Jan. 10. Gasol's scoring gave the Grizzlies a decided advantage inside as they outscored Houston 50-34 in the paint. The loss was the ninth in 11 games for the Rockets, who never led. Jason Williams added 23 points and 16 assists, while Shane Battier finished with 21 points and 10 rebounds.

Heat 102, Bucks 97

Miami  Eddie House scored 22 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, as Miami defeated Milwaukee. The Heat snapped a three-game losing streak and won for only the second time in nine games. Milwaukee lost its eighth straight road game and for the 11th time in 15 games overall.

The Bucks, now seventh in the Eastern Conference standings, haven't won on the road since beating Cleveland on March 3.

Knicks 86, Sonics 83

Seattle  Allan Houston scored 14 of his 28 points in the fourth quarter as New York defeated Seattle, keeping the Sonics from clinching a playoff spot. Houston made a three-pointer with 2:24 left after Seattle had regained the lead, then scored again with 1:49 left and added two free throws in the final 1:20. It was Houston's second game back after missing five games with a sprained ankle. He scored only eight points in a loss at Portland on Thursday night.

Nets 110, Magic 85

East Rutherford, N.J. Â Keith Van Horn rebounded from a poor game to score 20 points and grab 15 rebounds, leading New over Orlando. Jason Kidd had 14 points and 10 assists as the Nets extended their franchise-record home winning streak to 13 games. Only Sacramento (33-4) has a better home mark than the Nets (32-6).

Pacers 97, Suns 87

Indianapolis  Jermaine O'Neal scored 32 points and grabbed 10 rebounds and Brad Miller had 25 points as Indiana beat Phoenix. The Pacers desperately needed the victory after dropping five of their last six to fall into a tie with Toronto for the eighth and final playoff spot in the East.

Kings 117, Jazz 109

Salt Lake City  Chris Webber scored 28 points and Peja Stojakovic had 23 in his return from an eight-game absence as Sacramento beat Utah. The Kings won their seventh straight and capped a 6-0 road trip, extending their lead over the Los Angeles Lakers to 31*2 games in the Pacific Division.

Raptors 98, Bulls 96

Chicago  Antonio Davis scored 27 points and Alvin Williams added 18 as Toronto held on to beat Chicago for its seventh straight win. Reserve Keon Clark had 12 points and 10 rebounds for the Raptors, whose streak ties a franchise best. Toronto (37-38) remained tied with the Indiana Pacers, who also won, for the last playoff spot in the East.

Pistons 92, 76ers 88

Philadelphia  Jerry Stackhouse had 34 points, including two crucial free throws with 13 seconds left, as Detroit won on the road for the 16th time in 19 games. Stackhouse was 15-of-16 from the foul line, making his first 13.

Warriors 108, Nuggets 104

Oakland, Calif. Â Gilbert Arenas scored 25 points and hit the go-ahead basket with 1:02 left as Golden State blew a 22-point lead in the second half but rallied to beat Denver. Jason Richardson, the other rookie in Golden State's promising backcourt, scored 22 points as the Warriors won consecutive games for the first time since late December.

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