LA Lakers 120, Memphis 81

Jan. 15, 2002 at 7:56 AM
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LOS ANGELES, Jan. 15 (UPI) -- Kobe Bryant poured in a career-high 56 points in just 34 minutes as the Los Angeles Lakers ebounded from an embarrassing loss with a 120-81 rout of the Memphis Grizzies Monday night.

Bryant was the focal point of the Lakers' offense on Monday after center Shaquille O'Neal was suspended for three games earlier in the day. The 23-year-old superstar responded with a tantalizing hightlight-reel performance.

Playing just the first three quarters, Bryant made 21-of-34 shots from the field and 11-of-12 free throws, surpassing his previous high of 51 points, accomplished on Dec. 5, 2000, against Golden State.

Bryant also established an NBA season high for points in a game, three more than Tim Duncan of San Antonio had on Dec.26.

In his dominating effort, Bryant nearly singlehandedly outscored the Grizzlies through three quarters. Los Angeles led 98-59 entering the final period.

Bryant did most of his damage against Grizzlies rookie forward

Shane Battier, a three-time Defensive Player of the Year at

Duke. Bryant had a combined 49 points in two previous meetings

against Memphis this season.

The Lakers, who lost at Memphis in December, rolled to their

most lopsided win of the season and led by as many as 42 points

in the fourth quarter.

O'Neal was suspended for throwing a vicious punch at Chicago's

Brad Miller in the Lakers' 106-104 overtime loss to the Bulls --

the NBA's worst team -- on Saturday.

Rookie Pau Gasol netted 25 points to lead the Grizzlies, who

fell to 0-14 all time in Los Angeles and 2-24 overall against

the Lakers.

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