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Kobe wins battle of superstars

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TORONTO — Kobe Bryant showed Vince Carter who's better.

Bryant outscored Carter 31-24 as the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 109-89 Sunday.

"It was just good competition. It was two guys playing hard against each other, trying to help their team win, and our team got the best of them," Bryant said.

Shaquille O'Neal, playing his second game since coming off the injured list, added 24 points and six rebounds in 38 minutes for the Lakers, who have won four straight games.

Bryant, guarded by Carter and Tracy Murray, scored 14 points in the third quarter, including 10 straight as Los Angeles took a 12-point lead into the fourth.

"I had an opportunity to go at Vince, and try to draw the foul," Bryant said. "I'm sure he'll bounce back next game."

Carter had eight turnovers, and played just three minutes of the fourth period after picking up his fifth foul in the third.

"I don't think I was playing worth a darn anyway," Carter said. "We didn't play our best game."

The Raptors took just five free throws, while the Lakers had 29 attempts at the line, making 21.

The Lakers, who led by six at halftime, went on a 10-2 run midway through the third to take a 13-point lead. Bryant, with O'Neal on the bench, then had his personal run of 10 points on an assortment of jumpers and layups.

"He was shooting over people, he was shooting around people, and they were going in," Carter said. "It's hard to guard somebody when he's feeling it. For 10 straight, he was feeling it."

Lindsey Hunter's 3-pointer with 7:28 remaining in the fourth gave Los Angeles a 15-point lead.

O'Neal followed with an alley-oop dunk, and Robert Horry's tip-in made it a 19-point lead with 5:50 left.

O'Neal made another dunk, and his two free throws gave Los Angeles a 101-83 lead with 3:45 remaining.

O'Neal said Bryant was the difference.

"Kobe hit 10 straight, and got hot," O'Neal said. "When a guy like him gets hot, it's hard for us to be stopped."

The Raptors led by nine points at the end of the first quarter, but the Lakers began the second on a 10-3 run. Toronto followed with a 7-0 run to regain its nine-point edge, but the Lakers followed with a 16-2 run to take a lead they wouldn't relinquish

Devean George made a layup, Mitch Richmond hit a 3-pointer, O'Neal made a hook shot, and Lindsey Hunter converted a three-point play, giving Los Angeles a one-point lead.

Bryant then stole the ball from Carter and made a reverse dunk.

Bryant followed with another reverse dunk, giving Los Angeles a five-point lead.

O'Neal later made a hook shot and a free throw, and Bryant made two jumpers, giving Los Angeles a 52-44 lead.

Alvin Williams' layup just before the buzzer cut the Lakers' lead to six at halftime. Bryant had 15 points and O'Neal had 13, while Carter had 18 at the break.

SONICS 89, GRIZZLIES 77: At Memphis, Tenn., Gary Payton had 24 points and 11 assists to lead Seattle past Memphis.

Payton was 10-of-19 from the field and controlled the game when the Grizzlies tried to put together a fourth-quarter comeback. It was Seattle's seventh win in its last eight games.

Rashard Lewis added 19 for Seattle, while Brent Barry had 16 points, eight rebounds and six assists.

Jason Williams led Memphis with 19 points and 11 assists.