NBA Game Summary - Phoenix at LA Lakers
(Tuesday, December 25th)
Final Score: LA Lakers 122, Phoenix 115
Los Angeles, CA (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant scored 26 of his game-high 38 points in the second half, as the Lakers continued their December surge with a 122-115 win over the Phoenix Suns at the Staples Center.
Andrew Bynum had a career-high 28 points and pulled down 12 rebounds, shooting 11-of-13 from the field for Los Angeles, which won for the ninth time in its last 11 contests.
"Andrew played great today," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He was the threat that kept Phoenix on edge."
Bryant shot 12-of-20 from the field and missed just one of his 14 free throws. He also had seven assists and received plenty of support. Lamar Odom contributed 15 points and 14 rebounds in the win, while Derek Fisher finished with 19 points. Trevor Ariza, making his first start since being acquired from Orlando last month, had 14 points.
Playing their ninth straight Christmas Day game dating back to 1999, the Lakers snapped a five-game skid on the holiday and did it against the team leading the Pacific Division.
Steve Nash had 24 points and 14 assists for the Suns, who lost despite having seven players in double figures. Amare Stoudemire tallied 19 points for Phoenix. The Suns missed 11 of their 32 foul shots and had trouble containing Bryant on the perimeter and Bynum on the inside. Consequently, their lead over the Lakers in the division was reduced to one game.
Brian Skinner's jumper had the Suns within 98-95 with 8:42 left, but Bryant came back with a pair of foul shots and drained a jumper for a seven-point LA lead.
Phoenix couldn't get closer than five the rest of the way and lost for the fifth time in eight games.
Bynum's alley-oop jam off a feed from Jordan Farmar moved the Laker edge to 104-97. After Stoudemire made 1-of-2 foul shots for a 106-100 margin, Bryant took over with the next six LA points, including a jumper to boost the cushion to 112-102 with 3:48 remaining.
"We couldn't stop them," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Bynum killed us, and if you give Kobe a chance he'll close it out."
After Phoenix rallied a bit, Ariza drove the left baseline for a jam for a 114-107 margin. Stoudemire then missed a three-pointer, and Bryant, apparently trapped along the right baseline, threw a one-handed pass to Bynum under the basket for a layup with 1:48 to go. That made it 116-107, effectively sealing the victory.
"I feel good. I feel like I could play another game right now," Bynum said in the locker room after the contest. "What made the difference today was that my teammates were looking for me. I've worked hard and we're coming together as a team."
Shawn Marion chipped in 15 points and 10 rebounds, while Raja Bell also scored 15 for the Suns. Grant Hill had 14 points, while Leandro Barbosa and Skinner each had 10.
The Suns started the game on an 8-2 run, but LA rallied, took the lead and was then down only 26-25 after the first quarter.
Bynum's three-point play capped a 9-0 Laker flurry for a 37-30 lead, but Nash caught fire near the end of the second quarter. He had a pair of three- pointers in the final two minutes, the last one tying the game at 62 at the half.
It remained tight throughout the third quarter, but Bryant's three-pointer and reverse slam, sandwiched around two foul shots from Barbosa, had the Lakers ahead 92-89 going into the fourth.
The Suns will play in this same building on Thursday against the Clippers, while the Lakers host Utah on Friday...This was Phoenix's first Christmas Day game since a 108-87 loss to the Lakers in 1996...Bryant had eight of LA's 14 turnovers...Bynum had a season-high four assists...The Lakers shot 52.3 percent and held a 47-38 advantage in rebounds...Nash made half of his 10 three-point tries...The Lakers have won both meetings this season, also 119-98 in Phoenix on Nov. 2...Phoenix is 24-78 all-time on the road against the Lakers...The Suns are 19-4 when reaching 100 points this season...Lakers forward Luke Walton was out with a sprained right ankle...Jackson has 937 career wins, one shy of Red Auerbach for seventh all-time.
12/25 20:43:35 ET