Lakers Win At New Home


The Los Angeles Lakers were successful in their first game at Staples Center, if not particularly impressive.

Shaquille O'Neal had 28 points and 10 rebounds Wednesday night as the Lakers overcame a lackluster first half to beat the Vancouver Grizzlies 103-88.

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  • "The first half, I think we were just going through the motions," O'Neal said. "The second half, we played our game, we played a little better."

    A sellout crowd of 18,997 watched the game at the new $375 million downtown arena which opened last month. The Lakers played their home games at the Forum in nearby Inglewood from Dec. 31, 1967 through last season.

    "The crowd was OK," O'Neal said. "It's a new building. It's a big building, very bright, very colorful. It's going to be fun playing here."

    The game was also the first in Los Angeles for Lakers coach Phil Jackson, whose team opened the season Tuesday night with a 91-84 victory at Utah.

    "A very difficult place to play," Jackson said of Staples Center. "The energy was weird in the first half. The second half, we got a little energy, played some defense. It's going to be a strange place to play for a while."

    The Lakers outscored the Grizzlies 54-40 after holding a one-point halftime lead.

    Vancouver lost to visiting Portland 106-86 in its season-opener, and had an 8-42 record in last season's lockout-shortened season worst in the NBA.

    When asked what Jackson told the team at the intermission, O'Neal replied, "He said `We're playing dead, we're playing like zombies. We've got to go out and play.' And we did."

    O'Neal, who played 34 minutes, made 13 of 22 field goal attempts and 2 of 6 free throws. He also had four assists and three blocked shots.

    Glen Rice added 17 points, Rick Fox scored 15, and A.C. Green and Brian Shaw had 10 each for the Lakers.

    "I liked the game Shaq played tonight," Jackson said. "The second unit was really critical for us, with Fox and Shaw coming off the bench."

    Rice scored 28 points in the game at Utah.

    "It's a lovely way to get started," he said about the first two games.

    About Jackson, Rice said, "He brings the best out of us. He makes you want to work as hard as possible."

    Shareef Abdur-Rahim and Michael Dickerson led the Grizzlies with 19 points each. Abdur-Rahim also had 11 rebounds, but missed his first seven field goal attempts and finished just 5-of-19 from the floor.

    "I think I got good enough looks, but I missed shots that I can make," Abdur-Rahim said. "I wouldn't say I was forced to take bad shots."

    O'Neal scored with 22 seconds left before halftime to put the Lakers on top 49-48, and Los Angeles then outscored Vancouver 17-5 to start the second half for a 66-53 lead. The Grizzlies weren't closer than nine points after that.

    "I thought we had our opportunities, but we just got a little bit careless with the ball in the second half," said Grizzlies coach Brian Hill, whose team had 18 turnovers to 13 for the Lakers.

    O'Neal scored 13 points in the third quarter, which ended with the Lakers on top 79-67. Los Angeles scored six straight points early in the final period to make it 85-69.

    O'Neal had 12 points as the Lakers took a 23-22 first-quarter lead. Neither team led by more than six points until the Lakers' spurt at the start of the third quarter.

    Notes

  • Kobe Bryant, who broke his right hand in the Lakers' preseason opener Oct. 13, said before the game he hopes to return to action Nov. 24 against Utah, meaning he'd miss the season's first 12 games. Bryant averaged 19.9 points last season.
  • Former Lakers center Wilt Chamberlain, who died at age 63 last month, was remembered before the game with a moment of silence and a brief montage of highlight clips.
  • The Lakers have beaten the Grizzlies in 15 of their 16 meetings. The only Vancouver victory came last Feb. 23, and Del Harris was fired as coach of the Lakers a day later.
  • The Grizzlies were 12-of-16 from the foul line in the first half while the Lakers made their only attempt. Vancouver wound up 28-of-40, while Los Angeles finished 10-of-17.
  • Jeffrey Osborne sang the national anthem before the game, marking the 19th straight year he has done so before the Lakers' home opener.

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