Lakers fans give Kobe big welcome

Posted: Monday, November 03, 2003

LOS ANGELES Kobe Bryant received huge cheers in his home debut and scored 21 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to an 87-72 win over the Golden State Warriors on Sunday night.

The Lakers are 3-0 since acquiring All-Stars Karl Malone and Gary Payton in the offseason.

Bryant played 35 minutes two less than he did in his first game of the season Saturday night in Phoenix, where he scored 15 points and was greeted by a mix of cheers and boos. He is awaiting trial on sexual assault charges in Colorado.

Bryant showed no ill effects from the sore right knee that kept him out of the Lakers' season-opening win against Dallas.

Clifford Robinson led the Warriors with 19 points. Calbert Cheaney added 17 points and Erick Dampier had 23 rebounds.

All five Lakers starters scored in double figures. Shaquille O'Neal had 17 points and 14 rebounds, Malone had 16 points, Payton had 18 points and 11 assists and Devean George had 12 points.

Bryant was welcomed by the home fans from his introduction. And they cheered wildly when he made his first jumper.

The Warriors didn't offer much of a challenge against a team they beat twice last season. But they no longer have leading scorers Gilbert Arenas and Antawn Jamison, and the team is missing starters Nick Van Exel, Troy Murphy and Jason Richardson.

The Lakers led by 11 at halftime, and twice stretched their lead to 17 points in the third once on a fast-break slam dunk by Bryant and the other on a jumper by O'Neal.

Calbert Cheaney got the Warriors within single digits at 55-46 on an 18-footer, but Malone, Bryant and Payton scored the Lakers' next three baskets for a 61-46 lead with 3:19 to play.

Golden State trailed by seven points early in the fourth, but couldn't get close enough to put a scare into the Lakers.

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