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NBA: Lakers edge Cavaliers, 111-106, in OT
Updated: 2004-02-05 15:33

Shaquille O'Neal returned from a one-game suspension and scored a season-high 37 points to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 111-106 overtime victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday night.

NBA: Lakers edge Cavaliers, 111-106, in OT
Cleveland Cavaliers' LeBron James (23) stands with Los Angeles Lakers' Shaquille O'Neal during the overtime period of the Laker's 111-106 win Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2004, in Cleveland. James led the Cavaliers with 32 points and O'Neal led Los Angeles with 37. [AP]
Gary Payton added a season-high 30 points as the Lakers improved to 2-1 on a seven-game road trip — the club's longest since 1992.

O'Neal was back after serving a one-game NBA suspension for profanely criticizing officials during a live TV interview following a win at Toronto on Sunday.

But he had no qualms with these officials as he was able to foul out both of Cleveland's 7-foot centers, Zydrunas Ilgauskas and DeSagana Diop, and attempted 20 free throws.

O'Neal finished 9-of-20 from the line, and the rest of the Lakers weren't much better, making just 26-of-42 (62 per cent). But when it counted most, O'Neal and his teammates stepped up and drilled their foul shots.

Los Angeles scored its final 10 points on free throws, sinking their final eight tries while outscoring the Cavs 19-14 in overtime.

LeBron James scored 32 points — including three 3-pointers in OT — but shot an airball from 21 feet with a chance to win it at the end of regulation.

Carlos Boozer had 25 points and 16 rebounds and Eric Williams scored all 20 of his points after halftime for the Cavs, who despite the loss are 7-3 since Jan. 17.

Leading by two, the Cavs decided to employ the "Hack a Shaq" strategy and fouled O'Neal with 32.9 seconds remaining in regulation. But L.A's big man dropped in two knuckleballs to tie it 92-92.

Jeff McInnis missed a runner in the lane with 14 seconds left, but Boozer tipped the ball back out to give the Cavs a final chance.

O'Neal scored underneath to open overtime, and after the Cavs missed their first three shots — all from the perimeter — Payton's jumper put the Lakers up by six.

James tried to rally the Cavs with his 3s, but the Lakers closed it out at the line.

Rookie Maurice Carter, playing in just his second game since being signed as a free agent by the Lakers last week, made five free throws in the final 53 seconds to ice it.

The Lakers shot less than 40 percent from the floor in their previous three games, but went 22-of-37 (60 per cent) from the field while taking a 46-41 halftime lead.

Coming off his lowest scoring game (12 points) in two months in Detroit on Tuesday, hours after being left off the All-Star team, James scored eight points in a span of 1:13 in the first quarter on a 17-foot fadeaway, a reverse dunk, a drive in the lane and a 22-foot jumper.

In the second quarter, James followed up an alley-oop dunk by stomping down the floor with his own version of O'Neal's "gorilla walk". O'Neal didn't realize what James had impersonated him until James came over after a timeout to tell him.

Notes:@ Stung by his All-Star omission, James said Tuesday he wouldn't want to play if he was a late addition because another player was injured. Cavs coach Paul Silas said he'll urge James to take part if he's asked. "It's such an honor," Silas said. "You can't take it personally if you don't make it." ... After appearing in court in Eagle, Colo., on Tuesday, Lakers F Kobe Bryant, who is out with a hand injury, returned to Los Angeles. Lakers coach Phil Jackson said Bryant may rejoin the club Sunday in Orlando. ... Payton was examined by team doctors after scraping his left leg against a glass table in his hotel room. "I'm fine, it was just one of those things," Payton said. ... Payton still needs two steals to move past Clyde Drexler into fifth place on the all-time list.

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