Can't stop the Lakers
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New York @ Los Angeles
92 - 97
Record: 2-6
Larry Brown talks to Quentin Richardson (AP Photo)
Larry Brown talks to Quentin Richardson (AP Photo)
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- For now, Phil Jackson and Larry Brown are only as good as the youngsters that play for them.

Two of the NBA's greatest coaches are overseeing rebuilding jobs, making for some nights that try their competitive souls.

Jackson maintained the upper hand on Brown when Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 42 points and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the New York Knicks 97-92 Wednesday night, snapping a three-game losing skid.

"I went after it a little bit more aggressively and the team did a good job looking for me," Bryant said. "I felt we had to get something going in the third quarter."

Channing Frye led the Knicks with 21 points, the second time the rookie has done so in three nights. Eddy Curry added 17 points.

"Every game there is something that goes a little wrong," Frye said. "Right now we are taking our bumps and bruises, but we will get there soon."

Stephon Marbury was held to a season-low four points -- 12 below his average, and had 10 assists. He had 45 points last season against the Lakers.

"I have changed a lot of my game," he said. "Forty-five points is so far away. My game is different now."

The latest meeting between Jackson and Brown was hardly vintage. Both of their clubs are struggling to regain elite status, something that once was a given.

"You saw the apparent schizophrenia of these teams," Jackson said. "They play great for a while and then they have trouble operating. What you see is young teams learning to play a consistent game. No quality in the direction of their discipline."

Jackson improved to 26-13 in head-to-head games against Brown, whose Philadelphia team lost to Jackson's Lakers in the 2001 NBA Finals. Brown's Detroit Pistons eliminated the Lakers in the 2004 Finals.

"I admire and respect him, but I have that feeling for anybody that sits down at that end," Brown said. "But you realize what he's done and that's pretty special."

The Knicks made a pitch to Jackson for their coaching vacancy last summer before he decided on a second stint with Bryant and a cast of lesser knowns. Jackson played on the Knicks' 1973 NBA championship team.

So Brown took the New York job, and got off to an 0-5 start before the Knicks won at Sacramento and Utah.

That modest streak came to a halt against the Lakers, who are still finding their way with Bryant as the sole team leader.

He proved a one-man show yet again, the third time this season he's topped 37 points. He took a whopping 36 shots, hitting 15, and making 12-of-14 free throws.

"It has to be a balance for us," Chris Mihm said. "Kobe is a special player, but there is no way that he can shoulder the load himself. We played well together in spurts, but Kobe really was the man."

The Knicks cut their deficit to 92-84 with 1:41 remaining on baskets by Frye and David Lee and a free throw by Nate Robinson, while the Lakers missed on two straight possessions.

Lamar Odom's three-point play was the Lakers' first score in about two minutes and kept them ahead 95-84.

Ahead by six to start the fourth, Bryant scored the Lakers' first eight points, extending their lead to 86-72.

The Lakers had no answer for Curry inside, especially after Mihm picked up his fourth foul at the end of the third. Curry scored consecutive baskets to cut the Lakers' lead to 10 with 6:51 remaining.

The Knicks opened the second quarter with a 19-11 run to take a 45-38 lead, their first since the start of the game, bringing an applauding Spike Lee to his feet. Frye had 11 points.

But the Lakers kept Lee glued to his seat by outscoring New York 22-4 over the end of the second and start of the third to regain a 60-49 lead. Mihm and Bryant had six points each.

Curry and Jamal Crawford carried the Knicks in the third, scoring all but six of their points even while Curry picked up his fourth foul late in the period.

Bryant sat down with 49 seconds left as the Knicks pulled within six points heading into the final 12 minutes.

Game notes
For the seventh time in eight games, the Knicks' bench outscored the opposition. This time, their reserves had a 53-11 edge. ... Lakers F Slava Medvedenko has a herniated disc that will keep him out about six weeks. ... The game brought out serious sports fans Chris Rock, Jack Nicholson and Denzel Washington, who plopped a Lakers hat over Lee's Yankees cap, provoking cheers from the crowd and laughs from Lee.

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