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Kidd Raises Suns Over Lakers

The Los Angeles Lakers dared Jason Kidd to shoot in the second half. So he did, again and again.

Along with a quiet fourth quarter by Shaquille O'Neal, it resulted in an impressive victory by the Phoenix Suns.

Kidd scored 21 of his 23 points in the final 24 minutes, and also had 10 assists and seven rebounds Wednesday night as the Suns beat the Lakers 106-101.

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  • "Sometimes we play together, and other times we play like we just met yesterday," said O'Neal, who had 24 points and 10 rebounds but scored just one point in the fourth quarter. "I thought we played OK, but we just had a letdown in the last 10 minutes."

    Cliff Robinson had 24 points, and Luc Longley added a season-high 18 points and 11 rebounds for the Suns, who won their second straight game after three consecutive losses and also snapped the Lakers' nine-game home winning streak.

    "Tonight was a case of them daring me to take jump shots from the foul line and I made a couple," Kidd said. "I'm never a guy who's going to come out and score a lot of points.

    "At halftime, the coach told me to be more aggressive and take that shot."

    Kidd didn't score until making a layup with 3 1/2 seconds left in the second quarter. It was a sign of what would come in the second half.

    Suns coach Danny Ainge said his team felt the way the Lakers were defending Kidd on the pick-and-roll, he could get a shot any time he wanted.

    "Jason made some big shots down the stretch and Cliff made some big plays," Ainge said. "That was the difference.

    "We just made shots. It's that simple."

    The Suns were 19-of-43 from the floor in the second half in outscoring the Lakers 57-47.

    "I just think we have to make defense our main objective as opposed to offense," Lakers point guard Derek Harper said. "We lost this game on defense. We couldn't make the stops when it counted. Jason put them on their acks."

    The Lakers also lost for the first time in 12 games with Dennis Rodman in uniform. Rodman had 13 rebounds to lead Los Angeles to a 48-44 advantage in that department.

    Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 25 points, and Glen Rice added 14.

    Longley said the Suns did a good job of making O'Neal take tougher shots than normal in the late going.

    "He's powerful, he's explosive, he's the hardest guy to guard, at least for me," Longley said, adding that O'Neal's poor free-throw shooting has an impact on the way the Lakers play in the fourth quarter.

    O'Neal was 1-of-4 from the foul line in the final period and 6-of-11 overall against Phoenix.

    Tom Gugliotta, who had 12 points, eight rebounds and six assists, made a long jumper with 1:51 remaining to give the Suns a six-point lead, and Kidd made five foul shots in six tries after that to keep Phoenix safely ahead.

    Kidd scored the first six points of an 8-0 run to finish the third quarter that gave the Suns an 83-77 lead.

    Phoenix outscored the Lakers 14-2 in the last 3:44 of the third period immediately after Rick Fox was called for a flagrant foul on Gerald Brown to go ahead for good. Los Angeles wasn't closer than three points in the fourth quarter.

    The Lakers appeared sluggish in the early going, perhaps a residual from their six-game, nine-day road trip that ended Monday night.

    The Suns raced to an 18-4 lead in the opening 7 1/2 minutes as the Lakers missed eight of their first 10 shots and committed five turnovers.

    O'Neal was the only Laker to score until J.R. Reid made a jumper eight minutes into the game, triggering an 18-6 run that cut the Phoenix lead to 24-22 at the end of the first period.

    A pair of 8-0 spurts in the second quarter helped the Lakers take a 54-49 halftime lead.

    Notes: The game was played before a crowd of 17,505 the 11th sellout in 13 games at the Forum this season. ... The loss was just the fourth in the last 17 games for the Lakers (19-10), who missed an opportunity to join Portland and Utah as the only NBA teams with 20 or more wins. The 29 games played by the Lakers is the most in the NBA. ... The win was the first in three games for the Suns against the Lakers this season and only their fourth in the last 15 games between the teams. ... The Suns (14-13), along with Atlanta and Chicago, are the only NBA teams who have higher winning percentages on the road than at home this year. Phoenix is 8-6 on the road and 6-7 at home. ... O'Neal now has 19 double-doubles, while Kidd has 18. Kidd also has five of the NBA's nine triple-doubles this season.

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