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Bryant’s Shooting Frustrates Lakers

Associated Press

During All-Star weekend, many were ready to crown him as the next Michael Jordan. But since his big weekend in New York, 19-year-old Kobe Bryant has played like well a teenager.

Bryant, in his past seven games, has hit just 18 of 68 shots (26.5 percent), leaving his teammates shaking their heads about his shot selection.

Los Angeles coach Del Harris has become so frustrated with the second-year guard that he played him a season-low 12 minutes during Monday’s loss to the Washington Wizards. In the 6 minutes that Bryant ran the point in last Sunday’s loss to New York, the Lakers were 1 for 10 from the field (five of the misses by Bryant) with three turnovers.

Harris said the slump might coincide with opposing defenses trying to clamp down on Bryant, who has quickly become one of the league’s most popular players.

“He did get a lot of attention at the All-Star Game,” Harris said. “I suspect defenses are zeroing in on him. He may be trying a little too hard.”

Bryant said the recent tough stretch would not affect his confidence.

“If I come off a pick and I’m open, I’m going to shoot it,” Bryant said. “I’m not going to be bashful. I’m not going to lose my aggressiveness.”

T-Wolves ban beer in locker room

After the admission by Doug West that he had an alcohol abuse problem, the Minnesota Timberwolves have banned beer from the post-game locker room cooler.

“That’s got nothing to do with it,” said Houston Rockets forward Charles Barkley. “I played with a guy who was thrown out of the league for drinking, Richard Dumas, and we never saw him do it around us. I guarantee you Doug didn’t get his problem from drinking in the locker room or on planes.”

Jordan too much for Knicks

From his shoes to his shots, it was vintage Michael Jordan in what may have been his last game at Madison Square Garden.

Jordan, wearing an original pair of red, white and black Air Jordan sneakers from his rookie season, scored 42 points Sunday with a dazzling display of shooting as the Chicago Bulls beat the New York Knicks 102-89.

Jordan shot 17 for 33 from the field, with some of his baskets coming on moves as outlandish as his signature line of shoes were considered back in 1984 when they first came out of the box.

On the courts

Shaquille O’Neal scored 20 of his 32 points in the second half and grabbed 13 rebounds as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the visiting Detroit Pistons 96-89 to move a season-high 24 games over .500.

Tim Duncan had 25 points and 13 rebounds and Chuck Person sank a 20-foot bank shot for the go-ahead points as the visiting San Antonio Spurs held on to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 82-78.

At East Rutherford, N.J., Anthony Mason converted two late three-point plays to lead the Charlotte Hornets to their eighth straight win, 109-100 over the New Jersey Nets.

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