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Shaq Has Field Day - Lakers Roll

Shaquille O'Neal, taking advantage of Houston's injury-depleted front line, scored 41 points on 17-of-23 shooting Friday night to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 114-101 victory over the Rockets.

O'Neal, who played just 32 minutes, had 11 rebounds and was 7-of-18 from the foul ine.

Kobe Bryant added 29 points for the Lakers, who took control with a 20-6 run for a 91-73 lead with 25 seconds left in the third quarter.

Steve Francis scored 27 points for the Rockets, and Cuttino Mobley had 18, making 12 of 13 free throws.

Despite having three centers and a starting forward out, Houston kept the game close until the Lakers' third-quarter spurt.

The Rockets' Hakeem Olajuwon, on the injured list since Jan. 9 with a swollen right knee, did not make the trip. Kelvin Cato is out with a torn rotator cuff, and Carlos Rogers, who has been given time off to attend his grandfather's funeral, missed his fifth consecutive game.

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  • Even the Houston player penciled in to start at center, forward Maurice Taylor, was unable to play because of the flu.

    Kenny Thomas, a 6-foot-7 forward, was one of the Rockets assigned to guard the 7-1 O'Neal. He didn't even bother jumping othe opening tip against last season's MVP.

    The Lakers were up 59-53 at halftime, with Francis' 15 points, 12 in the first quarter, helping keep the Rockets in the game.

    O'Neal already had 25 points by halftime, although he had only five rebounds. Bryant had 14 points and their Los Angeles teammates had a total of only 19 points, seven of those by Rider.

    Notes

  • Mobley, who scored a career-high 41 points at Golden State on Thursday night, was 0-for-8 from the field in the first half and finished 3-of-14.
  • Taylor did not come to the arena, instead remaining at the team hotel. He was limited to only six minutes in Thursday night's victory at Golden State.
  • The Lakers placed rookie forward/center Stanislav Medvedenko on the injured list and activated forward Devean George. Medvedenko, averaging 2.8 points and 0.8 rebounds in four games, has tendinitis in his right knee. George, placed on the injured list Dec. 19 with a sore throat and ear infection, is averaging 1.7 points and 1.1 rebounds in 17 games. He was on the injured list for 11 games.

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