National Basketball Association
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          === Kobe searches for improvement when Lakers host Suns ===
 (  - The  Los Angeles Lakers were unable to deliver a win in
 the  return of Kobe  Bryant this weekend and will try again Tuesday versus the
 Phoenix Suns at Staples Center.
 Bryant  returned  from Achilles  surgery in  Sunday's 106-94  home loss to the
 Toronto  Raptors  and showed some signs  of rust, making 2-of-9 shots for nine
 points to go along with eight rebounds, four assists and eight turnovers.
 "My  rhythm is completely out of sync," Bryant said. "But this is a start, and
 I guess a start is good."
 No  Lakers  starters scored in  double digits, as  Nick Young led the reserves
 with  19 points and  Xavier Henry added 17. Jodie Meeks (14), Jordan Hill (11)
 and Shawne Williams (10) rounded out the double-digit scorers for Los Angeles,
 which  entered the game having won six of eight games and has dropped two in a
 row at home. The Lakers are 6-5 at Staples Center.
 The Laker bench leads the league in scoring at 48.1 points per game.
 Lakers  center  Pau Gasol,  who had  seven points and  eight boards versus the
 Raptors, is probable for Tuesday's game because of a sprained right ankle.
 After  the  Lakers entertain  the Suns,  they will open  a four-game road trip
 Friday against Oklahoma City, Charlotte, Atlanta and Memphis.
 Phoenix  has  won six of nine  games, including Friday's 106-97 triumph over a
 Toronto  squad the Lakers failed to beat. Markieff Morris had 25 points and 11
 rebounds,  P.J.  Tucker netted  18 points  and Eric  Bledsoe finished with 16.
 Tucker also grabbed a career-high 13 rebounds.
 "I just got a great feel for the game right now. Not really trying to shoot as
 many 3s as I have been in the past," Morris said. "I have just been working on
 driving to the basket and trying to get to the line."
 Goran  Dragic  chipped in 14  points for  the Suns. He  has scored at least 14
 points  and  handed out  no less  than eight assists  in six  of the past nine
 games, posting an average of 19.3 points and 7.3 assists in that span.
 The  Suns  will try to  work on their  5-6 road mark  Tuesday in L.A. and will
 start  a  three-game homestand Friday  versus Sacramento, Golden State and San
 Phoenix  and Los  Angeles split four meetings last season, while the Suns have
 dropped five straight, nine of 10 and 12 of their last 15 games at the Lakers.
 12/10 10:17:58 ET

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