Lakers host Suns in first meeting since playoff series
Posted Oct 31 2006 9:47AM
Phoenix (54-28) at L.A. Lakers (45-37) 10:30 pm EST
LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Los Angeles Lakers are still smarting after failing to hold a 3-1 series lead against the Phoenix Suns in last spring's playoffs.
The Lakers are hoping to have last season's scoring champ Kobe Bryant in the lineup when they host the Suns on Tuesday in the season opener for both teams.
After averaging 35.4 points in 2005-2006, including a career-high 81 against Toronto on January 22, Bryant underwent arthroscopic surgery on his right knee in July and is still not 100 percent.
Bryant posted a franchise-record 27 40-point games, six 50-point contests and led the team in assists 28 times to help the Lakers to 45 victories and a return to the postseason following a one-year absence.
The Lakers lost the opening game of their Western Conference series against the Suns before winning the next three, including a 99-98 overtime win in Game Four. However, Phoenix bounced back to become the 11th team in history to win a seven-game series after trailing, 3-1.
The reigning Pacific Division champion Suns also defeated the Los Angeles Clippers in seven games before losing to the Dallas Mavericks in six contests in the conference finals.
Steve Nash won his second consecutive Most Valuable Player Award by setting career highs in scoring (18.8), rebounds (4.2), field goal percentage (51.2) and a league-best in free throw percentage (92.1).
Amare Stoudemire is continuing to work his way back from two knee operations - one on each knee - that limited him to just three games last season after averaging 26.2 points in 2004-2005.