Thursday, January 23, 2003

NBA's little man beats Lakers

LOS ANGELES - After the Lakers' big man fouled out, the Warriors' little man took charge. Earl Boykins, Golden State's 5-foot-5 guard, scored five points in the final 38 seconds Wednesday night to help the Warriors hold on for a 114-110 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Shaquille O'Neal, who led the Lakers with 28 points and nine rebounds, fouled out with 3:58 remaining.

Golden State Eric Musselman liked the way Boykins came up big again late in the game.

"He's a guy that wasn't even with an NBA team the first three weeks of the season, but as far as a guy coming in and being like a baseball closer, he's a guy that hits big shot after big shot and wins games for us," Musselman said.

Boykins, the shortest player in the league, has helped the Warriors bounce back from a 1-7 start since signing Nov. 27. Golden State has gone 17-17 since then, and the win over the three-time defending NBA champions was the Warriors' ninth victory in 14 games.

After getting charged with a turnover, missing a shot and then committing a three-shot foul against Derek Fisher, Boykins hit an 8-foot turnaround jumper for a 109-105 lead with 38 seconds remaining.

Devean George scored for the Lakers, but Boykins drove the lane, looped in a shot, was fouled and made the free throw for a 112-107 edge with 9.7 seconds left. That was too much for the Lakers to overcome.

"I just wanted to make sure I got a good shot. In this league, I am confident I can beat anybody one-on-one, so I just went at him (Fisher)," said Boykins, who has played well down the stretch in other games for the Warriors.

He had 18 points and six steals over the final 18 minutes as Golden State overcame a 21-point third-quarter deficit to beat Denver 92-82 on Nov. 29.

Boykins, in his fifth NBA season, scored 20 of his career-high 28 points in the fourth quarter and also had eight assists in 107-98 victory over Minnesota on Jan. 17.

"Earl has been great for us in the fourth quarter. We call him `Mr. Clutch,"' said Jason Richardson, whose two free throws capped the scoring for the Warriors. "He takes it to guys, gets to the line and helps us win a lot of games."

Antawn Jamison scored 30 points and Richardson 17 for Golden State.

Fisher had 24 points for Los Angeles and Kobe Bryant added 23, but just five after halftime. Bryant missed practice this week because of tendinitis in his right knee.

"He was not his normal self, but he was out there playing and competing," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of Bryant. "I don't think he had his mind into the game as well as he would have liked, because he had some things physically that were hanging onto him."

Bryant hit a 3-pointer with 7.1 seconds remaining to pull Los Angeles to 112-110, but the Lakers had to foul and Richardson made both free throws with 6.5 seconds left.

Fisher missed two of the three free throws after Boykins fouled him beyond the arc, leaving the Lakers down 107-103 with 1:10 remaining. Bryant narrowed it to 107-105 with a reverse layup with 48 seconds left, but then Boykins made his turnaround to build the lead back to four points.

The game was close all the way, with neither team leading by more than seven points. There were 16 lead changes and the game was tied 18 different times.

Golden State led 86-84 heading into the fourth quarter. O'Neal had 10 points in the third, but Bryant missed his only two shots and did not score.

In the first half, Bryant had 18 points and O'Neal 16 to help the Lakers to a 62-58 halftime lead.

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