posted on Oct, 13 2004 @ 02:02 PM
Kobe Bryant scored 35 points in his first game since Shaquille O'Neal left Los Angeles, but the Seattle SuperSonics erased a 14-point third-quarter
deficit and beat the revamped Lakers 87-80 Tuesday night in the preseason opener for both teams.
Ray Allen scored 25 points for the Sonics, whose 37-45 record last season was their worst in 18 seasons.
Trailing 52-38 after Bryant's 3-pointer with 8:58 left in the third, Seattle went on a 22-5 run and took a 60-57 lead with 1:13 to go in the quarter.
The Sonics opened the fourth period with an 18-7 spurt and never looked back.
The Lakers, who lost to the Detroit Pistons in the NBA Finals, played their first game under head coach Rudy Tomjanovich after five seasons and three
championships with Phil Jackson.
Tomjanovich coached his first NBA game since March 2003, when he was forced to leave the Houston Rockets' bench after being diagnosed with bladder
cancer. Tomjanovich, 55, spent last season as a consultant for the Rockets, whom he guided to NBA championships in 1994 and 1995.
This is Bryant's first season without O'Neal as a teammate - the two bickered for years in the media. Bryant tested free agency before signing a
seven-year, $136.4 million contract.
O'Neal, who demanded to be traded because he felt disrespected by owner Jerry Buss and general manager Mitch Kupchak, got his wish and was dealt to
the Miami Heat for Lamar Odom, Brian Grant and Caron Butler.
Shaq also lost in his preseason debut, 85-75 to Houston on Sunday.
The Lakers' roster was severely overhauled, leaving only six players from last season's team. Derek Fisher signed with Golden State as a free agent.
Gary Payton was traded to Boston along with Rick Fox, who announced his retirement less than two months later. Free agent Karl Malone, No. 2 on the
NBA's career scoring list, had surgery on his right knee at the end of June. His status for this season remains uncertain at age 41.
Vlade Divac, who returned to the Lakers as a free agent after eight seasons with the Charlotte Hornets and Sacramento Kings, is sidelined indefinitely
because of a herniated disc in his lower back but expects to be ready for the season opener.
Second-year forward Luke Walton sat out because of a sprained left ankle, Grant did likewise with a sore neck, and Butler was unavailable because of a
bruised right thigh. Devean George is out until December after having ankle surgery.
Seattle guard Flip Murray, who played in all 82 games last season, sat out because of a strained left quadriceps.