Los Angeles rout Suns
Friday 27 December 1996
"This was the Christmas present I was hoping for, to be back in first place," Lakers' coach, Del Harris, said. "Our guys played a very nice defensive game and Phoenix is not an easy team to defend."
The Lakers raised their record against divisional opponents to a perfect 8-0 and their overall mark to 20-9 to move into a tie with Seattle atop the Pacific Division.
"We hit our shots well, played good defence and pressured them," said O'Neal, who was the dominant force on the court.
Los Angeles were in control most of the way, although the Suns cut the deficit to eight at 87-79 on Danny Manning's dunk with 6:30 to play.
But the Lakers responded with a 12-0 run as Jones scored five and O'Neal four, increasing the lead to a comfortable 20 points with 2:51 remaining.
Sam Cassell scored 17 to pace the Suns, who have lost three in a row and five of their last seven games and are 0-3 against the Lakers this season.
In Chicago, the defending NBA champion Bulls reminded the Pistons who rules the East, beating Detroit for the 18th consecutive time. Scottie Pippen scored 27 points and Michael Jordan added 23.
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