NBA Game Summary - LA Lakers at Phoenix
(Sunday, March 1st)
Final Score: Phoenix 118, LA Lakers 111
Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - Matt Barnes pulled down 10 rebounds, handed out seven assists and scored 26 points, including a huge three-pointer and five free throws late in the fourth quarter to help the Phoenix Suns record a 118-111 victory over the Western Conference-leading Los Angeles Lakers.
Playing without point guard Steve Nash (ankle) for the third straight game, former Laker Shaquille O'Neal punched in another dominating effort, logging 33 points two days after a 45-point performance against Toronto.
"It's what I do," O'Neal said of his vintage showing. "I've been doing it since 1992. If you don't believe it, Google me...A lot of people thought I lost it. It's kind of funny to me. When I say, 'I'm injured,' no one believes me. Last year I was injured and this year I'm feeling pretty good. When you have it, you have it."
Leandro Barbosa finished with 22 points and seven helpers, and Grant Hill added 17 points for the Suns, who have won two straight since being embarrassed by the Lakers 132-106 on Thursday.
Kobe Bryant shot 18-of-38 from the floor en route to a 49-point, 11-rebound effort for the Lakers, who still hold a comfortable 13 1/2-game lead over the Suns in the Pacific Division.
Pau Gasol was the only other LA player in double digits with 30 points, as the team dropped back-to-back games on the heels of a six-game winning streak. Lamar Odom finished with a mere four points and six rebounds before fouling out 3 1/2 minutes into the fourth quarter.
The Suns dictated the flow of the game in the first half, jumping out to a 34-26 lead after the first and continuing their fast-paced style en route to a 66-56 edge at halftime.
Bryant came of the locker room with a purpose, scoring 17 points in the opening 5 1/2 minutes of the third. The reigning MVP displayed his full arsenal in the dominating stretch, but missed an open three with the Lakers holding a 75-70 lead at the six-minute mark.
"I just wanted to get the energy back," Bryant said of his strong start to the half. "I felt like we were playing very lethargic and I tried to get us going and get us back in the ballgame."
That miss, coupled with Odom being whistled for his fourth foul, spurred a 13-0 Suns run that O'Neal capped with three-point play less than three minutes later, giving the hosts an 83-75 edge.
Barbosa beat the third-quarter buzzer with a layup following a Robin Lopez block, and Phoenix owned a 91-81 cushion.
LA's Trevor Ariza and Sasha Vujacic opened the fourth with back-to-back makes behind the arc to make it a four-point game.
The Suns continued to hold the conference front-runners at bay, though. O'Neal's bucket yielded a 106-99 lead with less than five minutes left. Bryant made two trips to the free throw line around an O'Neal make at the stripe, and his four freebies cut the margin to 107-103.
Barnes proceeded to net the next seven points, including a huge three-ball at the two-minute mark, to help the Suns pull away. Bryant and Ariza hit back-to- back field goals, but Bryant turned the ball over on LA's next touch.
After two Phoenix free throws and four points by Gasol, LA trailed 116-111, as Bryant's errant three with 13 seconds showing, followed by Barbosa's free throws sealed the outcome.
"We just didn't play a good game at all," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said.
The Lakers won the season series, 3-1...Phoenix hit 55.8 percent of its shots, while the Lakers made 44.7 percent of theirs...LA stayed close by hitting 19- of-20 free throws. The Suns made just 26-of-42 at the stripe.
03/01 20:25:47 ET