The last time Kobe Bryant scored more than 40 points to help the Los Angeles Lakers snap a losing streak, it was the start of a very impressive run for himself and the team.

Bryant and the Lakers hope a strong showing in their most recent game was the beginning of another hot streak as they head into a home game against the Pacific Division champion Phoenix Suns on Sunday.

The Lakers (40-36) had lost four of five and two in a row before Bryant scored 46 points to lead them past Seattle 112-109 on Friday.

That performance came exactly three weeks after Bryant scored 65 in a win over Portland as the Lakers halted a seven-game skid. It was the first of five straight games - all Los Angeles wins - in which he cracked the 40-point barrier.

The Lakers are 11-3 this season when Bryant scores more than 40.

He had 31 points in the second half Friday, including 20 in the third quarter. The Lakers bench, though, may have been the key to the win. Lakers reserves scored 33 points on Friday, including key contributions from Ronny Turiaf, Jordan Farmar and Brian Cook.

"The second half I had to come out and jump-start us a little bit, but the bench came through for us there in the fourth quarter and gave us a huge lift," Bryant said. "And that's what we need, a team effort."

Friday's win was only the Lakers' second in six games, a stretch that includes losses to last-place Memphis and Denver, the team battling Los Angeles for the sixth seed in the Western Conference playoff picture.

"We know we have to have a sense of urgency out there," said Turiaf, who had 10 points Friday.

Bryant is averaging 38.7 points since March 1. In that stretch, though, Los Angeles is 7-11 - including one loss Bryant missed due to a league suspension - while giving up 107.2 points per game. The Lakers are 7-20 this season when they surrender 107 points or more.

They will be facing a Phoenix team that leads the league in scoring at 110.2 points per game.

The run-and-gun style that has carried the Suns (57-19) to a division title and the second-best record in the NBA, however, has been missing in the last two games.

Following a 92-85 loss at San Antonio on Thursday, Phoenix struggled to put away a New Orleans/Oklahoma City team missing three injured starters in a 103-95 win on Friday.

Since opening March with a six-game win streak, the Suns have gone 7-5.

"I think we're all waiting for the playoffs. The chemistry's dropped off a little bit," said Steve Nash, who had 15 points and 12 assists Friday.

"We have another level to take it to. We've got to try harder to wrap up the second quarter. We got a lot of work to do."

The Lakers, too, have to make some adjustments. Since taking a 3-1 series lead over the Suns in the first round of last season's playoffs, the Lakers have gone 1-4 against Phoenix, including three straight losses that eliminated them from the 2006 postseason.

An injured Bryant missed the first meeting this season but the Lakers won. He had 31 points in the most recent matchup on March 4, but Nash led five Suns in double figures with 23 points as Phoenix won 99-94.

Bryant has averaged 33.0 points in 12 games against Phoenix over the past two seasons, including the playoffs. He has two 50-point performances in that span.

These teams finish the season series Friday in Phoenix.


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