GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 28 29 30 27 114
Play by Play Phoenix Suns 27 23 29 27 106


Odom leads Lakers past Suns in Phoenix home opener

By BOB BAUM
Posted Oct 30 2010 1:18AM

PHOENIX (AP) Lamar Odom had 18 points and 17 rebounds and the Los Angeles Lakers beat Phoenix 114-106 on Friday night in the Suns' home opener and a rematch of last season's Western Conference finalists.

Kobe Bryant scored 25 points and Pau Gasol had 21 in the Lakers' eighth victory over Phoenix in their last 10 meetings.

Grant Hill scored 21 points, Robin Lopez had 18 points and 14 rebounds and Jason Richardson added 17 points for the Suns, playing on consecutive nights after beating the Jazz in Utah on Thursday.

Goran Dragic added 15 for Phoenix. Ron Artest scored 14 points for the Lakers, while Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes added 11 apiece.

The last time the Lakers played in Phoenix, on May 29, they finished off the Suns in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals en route to the NBA title. This season's Suns have added three new players and lost a significant one, Amare Stoudemire, who signed with the New York Knicks.

Los Angeles took control with a 19-6 run over the last 3 1/2 minutes of the third quarter and first 2 1/2 of the fourth.

Shannon Brown stole Dragic's pass and scored on an emphatic breakaway stuff to cap an 11-3 Los Angeles run to end the third quarter and the Lakers led 87-79.

Barnes' 3-pointer to start the fourth stretched the run to 14-3 and the Lakers led 90-79. Barnes made another one, from the corner on a pass from Gasol, to put Los Angeles up 95-82 with 8: 48 to play.

With Bryant on the bench, the Phoenix reserves cut it to 97-91 on Dragic's 3-pointer from the top of the key with 7:08 to play. Then Bryant returned the Lakers held off the last gasps of the Suns.

It was tied at 76 after Hedo Turkoglu, who struggled through most of his debut in Phoenix, made a driving layup, but the Lakers scored the next nine, the last on Steve Blake's 3-pointer to make it 85-76.

Los Angeles finished the first half with an 8-2 spurt to lead 57-50. Bryant started the run with a 3 and Derek Fisher finished it with another.

Notes: The Lakers play six of their first eight games at home. ... The undersized Suns were outrebounded 93-74 in the first two games, 32-19 on the offensive boards, but only 48-43 in this one. ... The Suns had won eight straight regular-season home games. ... Phoenix's starting guards, Nash and Richardson, were 2 of 11 from the field in the first half and 9 of 27 overall. ... Artest made 3 of 4 3-pointers in the third quarter. ... There were 12 lead changes in the first quarter.


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5 Lakers starters in double figures in a well-balanced attack, led by Kobe Bryant (25), Pau Gasol (21), Lamar Odom (18), Ron Artest (14) and Derek Fisher (11).

11 Turnovers for the Lakers, a very good number to build on a similarly low season-opening game against Houston (12).

17 Rebounds for Odom to lead everybody, 14 of which came on the defensive end.

48.4 L.A.'s field goal percentage, a healthy improvement from a 41.7 percent against Houston in the season-opening victory.

80 Total minutes played by Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom, necessitated by the absence of Andrew Bynum. Theo Ratliff offered eight minutes off the bench as the only backup big to see action, though Artest and Matt Barnes did see some time at the power forward position.




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Points Bryant 25, 9-19 FG
Rebounds Odom 17, 14 OFF 3 DEF
Assists Gasol 9
Steals Artest 3
Blocks Gasol 2


POSTGAME QUOTES

LOS ANGELES HEAD COACH PHIL JACKSON
(On what decided tonight's game) "There were a couple of little sequences. We were able to sustain the runs a little bit longer than theirs. What I was happy with was our second unit played pretty good defense. The second unit for Phoenix has been playing very well and we were able to defend them in the fourth quarter and get a little lead and hold them off."

"We took too many threes, that's the only thing I had trouble with. Twenty seven threes in a ball game in not our type of ball. That's one of the things, we've got to work the ball a little bit more than just settling. Other than that, I was pleased with the way the team performed."


LOS ANGELES FORWARD LAMAR ODOM
(On his line tonight) "We won that's all that matters. I'm ready to play, I'm playing my role."

(On Tonight's game) "We just play. We just picked our spots. You know down low we have an advantage against teams. If not, we use our quickness and our shooting. We've got guys that like to score, pass, make plays; we just like playing ball. A lot of our guys are experienced and they're ready to help us right away. They did a great job tonight."


LOS ANGELES forward PAUL GASOL
(On being one of the best big men in the game) "I don't know. I just try to continue to play my game and continue to be a better player every year. I'm feeling well right now and playing well and I want to continue to play well."

(On using size tonight) "We try to put the ball inside and then see what happens. To see how their defense reacted and how they played it I think a lot of good things happened when the ball went into the post and whether it was me scorning or me finding open guys and then getting open shot, it was very productive."




PHOENIX HEAD COACH ALVIN GENTRY
(Opening statement)
"There's a reason they're the world champs and there's a reason they've been in the finals the last three years and won two of them. I was happy with our effort. After playing last night, as I said, I thought we did a really good job—we did a good job of executing, overall I thought we did a good job on the boards."

(On playing on the second night of a back-to-back)
"All I asked the guys to do was to play hard and play with great effort. They did that tonight. We see where we have to get to if we want to be in the championship mix. This team right here, I think they're very good."

(On the team's potential)
"We're not going to play the Lakers every night, either. If we play with that kind of effort and if we execute like that and we rebound just a little bit better, we've got a chance to be pretty good. We still have guys trying to learn and be in the right spots and do the right things."



PHOENIX GUARD GORAN DRAGIC
(On the play of the second unit…)
"I think every game is better and better, like I said today we had a really good quarter and yesterday in Utah. Still we have to improve some things in defense and offense, but we are getting there, so if we are going to compete and do our thing I think it's going to be a great second unit."

(On how he is feeling so far this season…)
"I feel great. I feel like last season my confidence is up. I still have to practice to improve some things, but I'm feeling free on the court and I can do whatever I want so I am really happy that I am here with the Phoenix Suns and that I can play with this team."



PHOENIX FORWARD GRANT HILL
(On the team's play so far…)
"I'm just encouraged by this week. About a week ago we got our butts whipped in the preseason against Denver and that was a preseason game, but we hadn't really found our way, we hadn't really played with a lot of spirit and we are starting to do that. We did it for 42 minutes in Portland and we did a great job last night and we came out and competed tonight. "












LAKERS VS. SUNS GAME PREVIEW

By Mike Trudell, Lakers.com

It wasn't long ago that the Phoenix Suns were pushing the Lakers to six games in a hard-fought Western Conference Finals matchup, but one offseason move has left a major question mark in the Valley of the Sun.

For the majority of the past six seasons, All-Star power forward Amare Stoudemire was on the finishing end of All-Star point guard Steve Nash's gift-wrapped passes. Stoudemire possesses a unique combination of size, explosiveness and touch that made him a deadly offensive player despite his lack of impact on the other end. He averaged 23 points and nine boards while playing in all 82 regular season games in 2009-10, but after a similarly effective playoffs decided to bolt for New York.

"The finishes that (Stoudemire) gets at the basket … I know that Andrew (Bynum) and (Dwight) Howard were one and two probably in the league in makes at the basket and dunks, and Stoudemire is right up there," said Jackson. "That's a high-percentage shot (that Phoenix) will miss.

"The combination of Stoudemire and Nash has been great in the last two years so that will be a little tough, but this will still be a real good team."

Former Suns General Manager Steve Kerr's replacement, Lon Babby, proceeded to bring in Hedo Turkoglu (from Toronto for Leandro Barbosa), Hakim Warrick and Josh Childress to try and pick up some of Stoudemire's slack. All three newbies, however, are perimeter-based players, and Coach Alvin Gentry will in fact start Turkoglu at the four alongside center Robin Lopez.

Joining Lopez and Turkoglu in the frontcourt is 1994-95 Co-Rookie of the Year Grant Hill, while Nash is paired with Jason Richardson in the backcourt. The Suns retained key bench players Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley and Channing Frye, replacing Louis Amundson and Barbosa with Childress and Warrick.

One way the Lakers can match up better with Phoenix's small line up, if necessary, is to play either Ron Artest or Matt Barnes at power forward.

"Absolutely, we're going to be using a lot of our small forwards in that power forward position especially against teams (like Phoenix)," said Pau Gasol, holding down the center spot until Andrew Bynum returns. "It's a reality."

Murderous Schedule vs. L.A.'s Schedule
After losing Stoudemire in the offseason, it's almost unfair to consider what Phoenix's schedule looks like through the end of November:

Home: vs Lakers, San Antonio, Sacramento, Memphis, Denver, Chicago, L.A. Clippers
Road: @ Portland (92-106 loss); Utah; Atlanta; Memphis; Lakers; Miami; Orlando; Charlotte; Houston; Denver

Of the Suns' 10 road games, only two come against teams that missed the playoffs last season (Memphis and Houston), both of whom are very solid. Of their seven home games, only Sacramento, Memphis and the Clippers sat out the postseason..

The Lakers, in contrast, have 10 games at home and eight on the road, but only seven of those opponents made the playoffs last season, one fewer than Phoenix on the road alone. In fact, 20 of L.A.'s first 28 games come against non playoff teams from a season ago.

Other Suns Notes
- The Suns are coming off the ninth Western Conference Finals appearance in franchise history.
- Phoenix has won the league's scoring title in five of the last six seasons since Steve Nash returned to Arizona.
- Speaking of Nash … he's the first player in NBA history to shoot 50 percent from the field, 40 from three and 90 from the free throw line in four different seasons. The only other player to do it more than once? Larry Bird.
- Jason Richardson got much better as the 2010-11 season wore on, averaging 14.5 points (pre All-Star) to 17.8 (post All-Star) and finally 19.8 in the postseason.
- Phoenix's 41.2 three-point percentage from last season was the second-best total in NBA history (1996-97 Charlotte Hornets, 41.8 percent), and better than any individual percentage from a Lakers player.




Lakers Kobe Bryant (right knee surgery) is probable.
Andrew Bynum
(right knee surgery) is out.
Theo Ratliff
(sore left knee) is questionable.
Luke Walton (strained right hamstring) is out.

Mavs Josh Childress (fractured right distal phalanx) is questionable.


10/29 - LAL @ PHO
11/14 - PHO @ LAL
01/05 - LAL @ PHO
03/22- PHO @ LAL


The Phoenix Suns are trying to overcome the loss of Amare Stoudemire by plugging in Hedo Turkoglu. One of the principles of a sound offense is that there must be penetration. Some teams achieve this by posting up a big man down low and some like Phoenix get into the paint by spreading the floor and running screen and rolls to create lanes for Nash to penetrate and either score or pitch out to open shooters. While Stoudemire helped get the Suns in the paint with his hard cuts, Turkoglu will help them by spacing the floor even more (if that is even possible) due to his three point shooting. He can handle the ball in screen and rolls or he can set the screen so this versatility will have to be maximized if the Suns want to achieve the level of success they have become used to in recent years.

Read Full Scouting Report @ Lakers Courtside Connection


GAME NOTES

SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers took last season's series with Phoenix 3-1, marking the 3rd consecutive season the Lakers have won their season series with the Suns by a 3-1 margin. The Lakers series victory in 2007-08 that started this current run snapped a run of three consecutive losing seasons to the Suns from 2004-07. This will be the 214th meeting between the two teams with the Lakers leading the all-time series 125-88. The Lakers are 16-6 against the Suns all-time at STAPLES Center during the regular season and 7-3 in their last 10 regular season home games against Phoenix. On the road, the Lakers have gone 4-6 in their last 10 regular season visits to Phoenix but are 4-2 in their last six regular season games at US Airways Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 26-14 against the Suns during the regular season. In 49 career games against the Suns including 42 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 25.8 points. In February of 2009, Bryant shared MVP honors with then Sun Shaquille O'Neal at the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix. Additionally, during the 2008-09 season, the Lakers defeated the Suns by 26 points 2/26/09 at STAPLES Center. The 26-point margin of victory was the Lakers largest over the Suns since January 4, 2002 when Los Angeles defeated Phoenix 118-86 at STAPLES Center. Suns guard Jason Richardson and forward Jared Dudley were teammates in Charlotte with Shannon Brown while Lakers forward Luke Walton and Suns center Channing Frye were teammates at Arizona for two seasons (2001-02, 2002-03). Also, Suns assistant coach Bill Cartwright won three championships as a center for Phil Jackson's Bulls from 1990-92 and served as an assistant coach under Jackson from 1996-98 when the Bulls won their final two championships of the 90's.

ROAD OPENERS
Since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season, the Lakers are 34-16 in ROAD OPENERS (first road game of the year) after last season's November 3rd victory in Oklahoma City. In their last 14 road openers, the Lakers are 12-2 and have won their last five straight overall. While the Lakers have opened their home schedule against the Suns six times (three meetings on opening night) and gone 3-3 in those games, they have only opened their road schedule twice against Phoenix. On both occasions, the Lakers defeated the Suns: 103-99 11/1/03 at America West Arena and 119-98 11/2/07 at US Airways Center.

JACKSON ONE WIN SHY OF 1,100 FOR CAREER
With the Lakers victory over Houston on opening night, Phil Jackson moved within ONE victory of 1,100 for his career. Jackson (1,099-460), who has now coached 1,559 regular season NBA games, is on pace to become the fastest coach in NBA history to the 1,100 victory plateau. Of the four other coaches who have amassed at least 1,100 career victories, Pat Riley was the fastest to do so, needing 1,639 games. Of the remaining three, Jerry Sloan needed 1,823 games, Don Nelson took 1,931 games and Lenny Wilkens earned career win 1,100 in his 1,996th game on the sidelines.

Jackson, already the fastest coach to 1,000 career victories, established the Lakers franchise record for coaching wins in February of 2010 (534th victory 2/3/10 vs. Charlotte). The only coach in league history to win better than 70 percent of his games (.705), Jackson currently ranks 5th all-time in regular season victories, 12th in regular season games coached, 1st in playoff games coached (323), 1st in playoff games won (225) and 1st in playoff win percentage (.697). Earning induction in his first year of consideration, on September 7, 2007, Jackson was enshrined into the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame. Owning a record 11 NBA Championships as a head coach, only Jerry Sloan (4th), Pat Riley (3rd), Lenny Wilkens (2nd) and Don Nelson (1st) have more career victories than Jackson. Of the top five, Jackson has coached 900+ fewer games than Wilkens, 800+ fewer games than Nelson, 400+ fewer games than Sloan and 300+ fewer games than Riley.

GASOL JOINS KAREEM, SHAQ & ODOM WITH OPENING NIGHT PERFORMANCE
In the Lakers opening night victory over Houston, Pau Gasol posted the 276th double-double of his career with 29 points and 11 rebounds. Since 1970-71 (the post-Wilt era in Los Angeles), only three other Lakers have had that many points and rebounds on opening night: Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1976), Shaquille O'Neal (1999, 2000, 2001) and Lamar Odom (2006).

OPENING NIGHT

For the 18th time since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season, the Lakers opened the regular season at home. In those games, the Lakers now have a record of 14-4. Overall, Los Angeles has a mark of 36-15 in their 51 REGULAR SEASON openers. Including their time in Minneapolis, the Lakers are now 41-22 in season openers for an NBA-best .651 win percentage. The Lakers have now won three straight opening night games, 7-of-their-last-8 opening night games overall and are now 17-2 in their last 19 opening night games overall dating back to 1992.

HOME OPENERS
In HOME OPENERS (first home game of the year), the Lakers are 34-17 since moving to Los Angeles, most recently defeating the Houston Rockets 112-110 at STAPLES Center 10/26/10. With their victory over Houston, the Lakers improved to 16-3 in their last 19 HOME openers overall.

HOW CHAMPIONS HAVE FARED THE NEXT SEASON

Since the NBA's inaugural season in 1946-47, 21 of 64 winners of the NBA Finals have followed their championship seasons by winning the NBA Finals. Among the other 43 teams, nine lost in the NBA Finals, 17 lost in the Conference Finals, 10 lost in the Conference Semifinals, five lost in the First Round and two failed to make the playoffs. Five teams have managed to defend their title two or more times consecutively, with Minneapolis winning three straight titles from 1952-54, Boston winning eight straight titles from 1959-66, Chicago winning three straight titles from 1991-93 and again from 1996-98 and the Lakers winning three straight titles from 2000-02.

THREE OR MORE CONSECUTIVE VISITS TO THE FINALS
Since the NBA's inaugural season in 1946-47, 12 teams have advanced to the NBA Finals three or more consecutive seasons with the Lakers doing so on six separate occasions (1952-54; 1968-70; 1982-85; 1987-89; 2000-02; 2008-10). The Lakers franchise record for consecutive Finals appearances is four, done so once from 1982-85. Among the other teams to advance to three or more consecutive Finals, only the Celtics did so more than three straight seasons (New York: 1951-53; Boston: 1958-66; Boston: 1984-87; Detroit: 1988-90; Chicago: 1990-92; Chicago: 1996-98).

BRYANT 5th ON NBA FRANCHISE CAREER POINTS LIST
With his 29th point February 1, 2010 at Memphis, Kobe Bryant surpassed Jerry West as the Lakers all-time leading scorer. Additionally, having scored all his points with the Lakers, Bryant moved to sixth on the NBA's franchise career points list. On February 24, 2010 at Dallas, Bryant moved past Reggie Miller (25,279) for 5th on this list. To date, only four players in league history have scored more points for a single franchise than Bryant.






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