L.A. Lakers 104, Phoenix 92
PHOENIX, Feb. 22 (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant
had his way with the Phoenix
Suns all game long but was especially brilliant in the fourth
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Bryant scored 16 of his 40 points in the final period as the Los
Angeles Lakers handed the Phoenix Suns an eighth straight
It was the second 40-point game of the season for Bryant, whose
team has won 27 of the last 35 meetings with the Suns. Bryant,
who made 15-of-25 shots, has scored at least 35 points five
times in America West Arena, the most of any visiting player.
"I feel like I'm getting better every day," said Bryant, who has
been on the injured list this season for shoulder and finger
injuries. "Tonight we needed me to score more points.
Fortunately for us, I was able to do that and also get involved
in other actions of the game."
added 20 points and Shaquille O'Neal
19 for the
Lakers, who posted their fourth straight victory and sixth in
"Offensively we played a real good game," Lakers coach Phil Jackson
said. "Kobe is almost at the peak of his game. Shaq
and Gary contributed, we had players filling roles -- it was very
"Jahidi (White) did as well as he could do against Shaq," Suns
coach Mike D'Antoni
said. "But Kobe got off. You get one hole
plugged up and then another one opens, and then the whole thing
starts to leak."
The Lakers held just an 86-82 edge before Derek Fisher
nailed 3-pointers around a basket by the Suns' Amare Stoudemire
to extend the cushion to 92-84 with 5:09 remaining.
Phoenix got no closer than six points thereafter.
Stoudemire scored 11 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter and
pulled down 12 rebounds for the Suns, who are on their longest
skid since beginning the 1996-97 campaign 0-13. Shawn Marion
added 22 points and 13 rebounds.
"Kobe had a strong game going into the fourth quarter,"
Stoudemire said. "The fourth quarter in close situations is
what this game boils down to. Kobe had a strong impact for his
team in the fourth and I just wanted to try and adjust my game
so that I could provide an impact for us."
The Lakers jumped out to a 20-6 lead and held a 29-20 advantage
after one quarter before the Suns took advantage of some
lethargic play by Los Angeles to take a 47-46 edge into the break.
Phoenix led by as many as six points early in the third quarter
before Los Angeles settled down and took the lead for good,
72-69, on a 3-pointer by Payton with 1:34 left in the period.
"The first half, we got off to a fast start and we kind of let
them get back into it," O'Neal said. "The third and fourth
quarter, we played good defense. Kobe had an exceptional game,
Gary played good. They doubled me a lot and I tried to hit the
"We hung with them all night long, even coming back from a large
first-quarter deficit, but like most of our games lately, we
were just not able to finish them at the end," said Suns guard
, who scored 11 points.