NBA Game Summary - Phoenix at LA Lakers
(Sunday, April 16th)
Final Score: LA Lakers 109, Phoenix 89
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant poured in 43 points, eight rebounds and five assists as the Lakers clinched a playoff spot by beating the Phoenix Suns, 109-89, at the Staples Center.
"We played hard at both ends of the court," said Bryant. "It's a great accomplishment for us. I'm excited more than anything."
Lamar Odom fell just short of a third consecutive triple-double with 14 points, 11 boards and seven assists for the Lakers, who have won four straight and 10 of their last 13 games. Smush Parker netted 12 and also grabbed eight rebounds in the victory.
Los Angeles has a one game lead over the Sacramento Kings, who clinched a playoff berth by beating New Orleans/Oklahoma City on Sunday, for the seventh spot in the Western Conference. The Lakers are returning to the playoffs following a one-year absence.
"When you get off to a lead like that they usually catch up," said Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson. "Today we kept them at bay. It's good to be back in the playoffs."
Shawn Marion totaled 29 points and seven boards while Boris Diaw recorded a triple-double with 11 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists for the Suns, who were playing without reigning MVP Steve Nash (right thigh contusion) and Raja Bell (left thigh strain).
Leandro Barbosa added 16 points in the loss, Phoenix's second in a row and fifth in its last eight attempts.
The Lakers had the hot shooting hands early and hit seven of their first 10 shots and led 16-1. Bryant scored the first seven points and Los Angeles led 35-22 after 12 minutes of play and never looked back.
The Suns missed their first seven shots from the field and connected on just 6-of-20 in the second period. Diaw's jumper was the first field goal at the 5:46 mark of the stanza and made the score 48-26.
Bryant drained 10-of-12 from the charity stripe and posted 27 points to lead the Lakers to a commanding 62-41 margin at the half.
Parker's slam dunk extended the lead to 71-46, but Phoenix responded with a 24-12 run, capped by a pair of Eddie House jumpers, to close the third quarter within 13, 83-70. Barbosa's trey began the rally and he continued with six of the next eight Suns points to cut the deficit to 74-57.
Barbosa's jumper a little more than a minute into the final frame cut the lead to 11, 85-74, but that was as close as Phoenix would get. Los Angeles put the game away with a 16-8 surge, including six points from Bryant, to push the score to 101-82 with just under four minutes to play.
Phoenix will play New Orleans/Oklahoma City on Monday before closing out the season at Portland on Wednesday. The Lakers host New Orleans/Oklahoma City on Wednesday for its regular season finale...The Suns had won seven straight meetings, including the last four at Los Angeles...Bryant has scored 40 or more in 27 games this season.
04/17 00:30:12 ET