Glen Rice didn't possess much of his vaunted shooting touch after nine months off, but his new teammates were begging him to put the ball up anyway.
Rice scored 21 points in his Los Angeles debut as the Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors 89-78 Friday night for their 10th straight victory, keeping Kurt Rambis perfect as coach.
"When you've got almost everybody on the team telling you to shoot, you've got to shoot," he said. "Everyone was asking me how my elbow was and it felt fine, but my legs felt like I was running through mud."
Rice displayed rustiness with his shooting, going 8-of-21 in his first game of the season. He underwent elbow surgery Jan. 22, and hadn't played since the playoffs last May.
"That's amazing for someone to step in and hit the shots that he did and be able to even get up and down the court after having all that time off," Rambis said. "Even the shots he misses you think they are going to go in. If he gets in a little bit better shape, those shots will go in."
Shaquille O'Neal had 20 points and matched his season high with 17 rebounds and Kobe Bryant added 18 points.
"He hasn't even gotten his rhythm back yet, and he came in here and hit 21," O'Neal said of Rice. "That should tell you that his game is deadly."
Rambis has presided over nine straight wins since replacing Del Harris on Feb. 26, equaling the mark for best record to start a coaching career. Buddy Jeannette also won nine straight with the Baltimore Bullets in 1947.
"That's been my goal all season to do that," Rambis deadpanned. "The funny thing about that is trying to picture someone looking through the records and digging that out."
Los Angeles incorporated new additions Rice and J.R. Reid into the lineup two days after a trade with Charlotte in which the Lakes gave up Eddie Jones and Elden Campbell.
"I think one time during a seven-minute stretch, we pulled out all our weapons," O'Neal said. "Kobe posted up, Glen hit a couple of jumpers and I got a couple of spin moves. If everybody can just play like that and play unselfishly, we're going to be a hard team to beat."
Erick Dampier led Golden State with 12 points. The Warriors cut their deficit to 11 points in the fourth quarter after trailing by 23 at the start of the period. They twice fell behind by 25 points in the third quarter.
"This is a team we can beat," Warriors guard John Starks said. "You have to be aggressive with them. Tonight we let them do what they wanted to do. We just let them run the offense. You can't do that, you have to make it hard on them."
The Lakers took control in the second quarter when they shot 63 percent, hitting 12 of 19 from the field, and outrebounded the Warriors 14-9.
Rice, who missed his first three shots, connected on a 6-foot jumper to start the period, drawing loud cheers from the crowd. He entered the game late in the first quarter to a standing ovation and a sign that read, "Got Rice."
"When you look from the outside, you see how talented this team is and now I'm on the inside, and it's scary," Rice said. "It feels like they have a lot of confidence in me and I have to get ready to go for them."
Rice's first point came on a free throw, and he ended the quarter by hitting five of six foul shots.
Reid gave Los Angeles its first double-digit lead on a 12-foot jumper. Reid's first basket of the game sparked a 19-8 run that pushed the Lakers' lead to 57-36 at halftime.
^Notes: Lakers forward Robert Horry was pulled from the starting lineup moments before tipoff after complaining of lightheadedness during warmups. He later played 10 minutes. Horry missed seven games last month after being diagnosed with an irregular heartbeat. ... Dennis Rodman injured his right elbow in the second quarter and didn't return after nabbing three rebounds in eight minutes. He said he has tendinitis in the elbow and asked Rambis to rest him. Rodman offered mixed reviews on the Charlotte trade. "Everybody loved Eddie Jones and everybody wanted to get rid of Elden Campbell, so it is kind of like 50-50. In some ways we should not have, but in others we should have. So far, so good." ... The injury bug also got Derek Harper, who sprained his left ankle. He's listed as day-to-day. ... The Lakers now depart on a nine-day, six-game road trip. ... Golden State was 1-3 against the Lakers last season. ... Former Laker Byron Scott, an assistant with the Sacramento Kings, was a popular draw sitting on press row. A stream of players from both teams, officials and fans passed by to say hello, collect autographs and snap photos.
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