GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 OT OT2 OT3 Final
Box Score Phoenix Suns 31 29 26 26 9 9 7 137
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 27 39 29 17 9 9 9 139


Lakers outlast Suns in triple OT, 139-137

By GREG BEACHAM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 42 points, Ron Artest got five of his 18 points in the final 2 minutes of the third overtime, and the Los Angeles Lakers outlasted the Phoenix Suns for a 139-137 victory Tuesday night.

Lamar Odom had a season-high 29 points and 16 rebounds in the Lakers' 13th win in 14 games since the All-Star break. Pau Gasol added 24 points, including two tying free throws with 2.5 seconds left in the second overtime of an enormously entertaining rematch of last season's Western Conference finals.

Channing Frye scored a career-high 32 points and hit three tying free throws with 1.1 seconds left to force double overtime for Phoenix, and Steve Nash had 19 points and 20 assists in the Suns' fifth loss in seven games.

Both teams traded improbable last-second heroics in what turned into just the fourth triple-overtime game for the Lakers since they moved to Los Angeles.

Phoenix rallied from a 21-point deficit in the second half and another nine-point hole in the final 3 minutes of regulation, forcing OT on Grant Hill's 3-pointer with 31 seconds left. Bryant and Vince Carter both missed last-second shots.

Frye then hit three free throws to even the first overtime, and he hit a go-ahead 3-pointer with 52 seconds left in the second OT. Gasol coolly replied with two tying free throws for Los Angeles, and Bryant prevented Hill from taking a last-second shot.

Bryant then hit a 3-pointer with 2:10 left in the third overtime before Artest made a steal and dunked - a rarity for the ground-bound defensive specialist - to put the Lakers up 135-132. Artest then made a fallaway jumper, and Carter missed a jumper, allowing Bryant to finish it off with a floating 11-footer with 14 seconds left.

Odom was outstanding while filling in for suspended center Andrew Bynum in the Lakers' fifth straight victory. But Bryant and Artest came up with the big late baskets in the Lakers' third win over Phoenix in four meetings this season.

The stakes were higher for the 10th-place Suns, who are scrapping to return the playoffs. The Lakers, sitting in second place in the West, already clinched their woeful division Sunday, taking a 14-game lead over the Suns.

Two days after playing a deliberate game in an 84-80 win over Portland, the Lakers ratcheted up their tempo to the Suns' preferred speed.

The Lakers led 89-68 with 4:45 left in the third quarter, but the Suns' erratic shooting suddenly locked in. Aaron Brooks' 3-pointer cut the lead to 97-96 with 9:18 to play, completing a 28-8 run that began with three 3-pointers by Nash.

After Phoenix tied it on Mickael Pietrus' three free throws with 6:53 left, the Lakers scored the next nine points before Phoenix's 11-2 run to end regulation, capped by 3-pointers from Frye and Hill.

Bryant appeared to be moving fluidly on his sprained ankle after coach Phil Jackson confirmed it was "much better" than last week. Bryant had 26 points through three quarters, scoring easily against Phoenix's inconsistent defense.

The Lakers played their second straight game without Bynum, suspended for a flagrant foul on Minnesota's Michael Beasley last week. His shotblocking inside presence was minimally important against the Suns, who play almost entirely on the perimeter.

Bryant and Odom led a blistering 20-7 run after halftime, staking the Lakers to their 21-point lead on Bryant's 3-pointer midway through the third quarter. Instead of folding, the Suns roared back with Nash's 3-pointers, and Frye's first 3-pointer in seven tries trimmed the lead to 95-86 heading to the fourth.

Notes: The Lakers hadn't played a triple-overtime game at home since 1969. ... Brooks returned for the Suns after serving a one-game suspension Sunday for throwing a ball at an official. ... The Suns open a three-game homestand Wednesday against Toronto. ... Both teams wore their Spanish-language jerseys on Noche Latina. ... Fans included Leslie Mann, Chris O'Donnell, Mindy Kaling and directors Oliver Stone and Michael Bay.


Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited



226 Combined field goal attempts in the game. The Lakers made 53-of-120 (44.2 percent), the Suns 51-of-106 (48.1 percent).

139 L.A.'s season high in points scored, aided by the three overtimes, of course. Both teams scored 112 in regulation, before L.A. managed 27 to Phoenix's 25 through the three extra periods.

42 Points scored by Kobe Bryant, a season high, on 15-of-31 shooting. He added 12 boards and nine assists in a near triple-double effort, five of those points coming in the third OT. He took so many big shots it was hard to keep track of how many he made, though his final effort, a pull-up in transition with 14 seconds left in the final OT, sealed the game. It was Bryant's third 40-point performance of the season, and 107th of his career.

39 Three-pointers made by the Suns in two games at STAPLES Center this year after they hit 22 in November, one short of the NBA record. Of their 17 makes on this night, Steve Nash and Channing Frye hit five each, with four other Suns making up the difference.

29 Season high in points for Lamar Odom, who was terrific for the Lakers in adding 16 rebounds, five assists and a block.

21 L.A.'s biggest lead of the game, attained in the third quarter, before Phoenix bombed away from three to eventually tie the game at 112 to force overtime.




View More Photos


Points Bryant 42, 15-31 FG
Rebounds Odom 16, 5 OFF 11 DEF
Assists Bryant 9
Steals Fisher 4
Blocks Gasol 2


POSTGAME QUOTES

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on the game tonight:
"I guess we had the last laugh in that game because even the shot Kobe [Bryant] gave was kind of wild and unorthodox in many ways because we had 24 seconds to run on the clock. We told these guys Phoenix [Suns] plays great when they come into our building; they had some good runs here over the years, but we eventually prevailed…"

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Ron Artest's performance tonight:
"I thought his defense was effective; gave us opportunities, advantages. Like we had three leads in the last two minutes in regulation in the first two overtimes and we lost them. Ron [Artest] helped us get those…"

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on not making any substitutions through overtime:
"It's really hard to get someone involved when you have gone through the stretch and then you start out in first overtime, and the second overtime, it's hard to get guys involved. It's possible…they [Suns] substituted [Jared] Dudley, I think that was their only substitute out there. But you know, they [Lakers] had good minutes. The starters didn't come back until the 6-minute mark in the fourth quarter…"

Lakers coach Phil Jackson on Pau Gasol's free-throw shooting tonight:
"We hope that's an incentive for him. He's had a couple of opportunities like that…that's a tough situation he stood up do tonight."



Lakers' Kobe Bryant on the Suns comeback:
"They play an unconventional style, much different than any team that we face. They got hot there in the stretch and got them back in the ball game and they kept making big shots."

Lakers' Kobe Bryant on if he was fatigued:
"Not for me personally, I felt fine."

Lakers' Kobe Bryant on if he was disappointed about losing a 21 point lead:
"Ya, but it is what it is. We rallied, stuck with it, and won the game."

Lakers' Kobe Bryant on his acrobatic pass to Pau Gasol:
"I had to find an angle to get it to him. I didn't want to float it under the basket because their guys are too long so I just found an angle to bounce it to him."

Lakers' Kobe Bryant on what this victory shows:
"We're the champs. We've got a lot of mental toughness and we just keep on fighting -- it's not anything new."





Lakers' forward Ron Artest on Kobe Bryant's trust in his teammates late in the game:
"He's the Black Mamba. When he wants to do something he puts his mind to it…he hit big shots. He was animated and he carried us, and he trusted us when it most counted. He trusted us in that last overtime, and that's Black Mamba for you."

Lakers' forward Ron Artest on the triple-overtime win:
"Well, Kobe was trying harder. We had to help him, though. Like, obviously Kobe doesn't need help, he could play against all ten guys by himself and win. But, there has to come a point in time where, you know ok, I watched Kobe and I was trying to help out a little bit. So guys started getting rebounds and everything."






Lakers' forward Pau Gasol on Ron Artest's clutch plays:
"He made big plays down the stretch, big shots and put up a good show."

Lakers' forward Pau Gasol on the triple-overtime win:
"We haven't played many overtime games this year, and this one was a tough one. But I'm proud of our team, the way we battled, the way we fight through each and every OT. We reacted well and handled it well…"






Lakers' forward Lamar Odom on the win:
"I wish we would've put them away when we should have. It was a take-all at the end."










Suns' Coach Alvin Gentry on if he was tired from a triple overtime game:
"I'm pretty tired, but I thought we hung in there, we had our opportunities and just couldn't get over the hump.

Suns' Coach Alvin Gentry on the most important play of the game:
I thought we had a couple of good plays. I thought the biggest play of the game came down when Kobe drove the baseline, and almost lost the basketball and Pau came up with it. That loose ball we just have to come up with it, and we didn't quite come up with it. Then, Pau ends up making two foul shots."

Suns' Coach Alvin Gentry on his team's effort:
"I thought we played hard and we hung in there. We got down 21 points. We know how important the game was and I thought we did a great job of fighting back."

Suns' Coach Alvin Gentry on the difference in the ball game and this season:
"We just didn't make a couple of plays that's the bottom line. That's kind of what has happened with our season really. Our season has come down to a couple of missed plays here and there, missed rebounds here and there and that makes it really, really tough. I thought we did a really great job. We competed our butts off."

Suns' Coach Alvin Gentry on defending Kobe Bryant:
"I thought Grant [Hill] did about as good a job as you can on Kobe [Bryant]. Once again I'll say it, the guy gets 42 but they are a hardworking 42."







Suns forward Grant Hill on tonight's game and how draining it was:
"It wasn't draining. It was draining when I fouled out. We had chances. We had the ball [with the score] tied up a number of times. We just couldn't make the shot or couldn't execute. But you can't fault the effort. We fought hard, we competed and we played with a lot of heart."






Suns forward Channing Frye on his three free throws at the end of the 2nd overtime:
"To be honest, I feel like there is no pressure. The game, on the surface comes down to those free throws, but it's really about what we did before that and preparation. You feel like we deserved to win...For me, it was just going out there and wanting to win and just shooting the ball."

Suns forward Channing Frye on tonight's game:
"We really needed this game. This one hurts. We had opportunities to win and we didn't take advantage of them. We had some pretty costly turnovers."

Suns forward Channing Frye on how much tonight's game affects the Suns considering they are not in the playoffs yet:
"We felt like we needed to win every game anyway. I think you saw that regardless, we were going to come out here and play. Even if some people think we're mathematically done, we're still going to come out here and play."




Suns guard Steve Nash on having to play Toronto tomorrow after tonight's draining loss:
"We just have to be professional. You go out tomorrow and do the best you can.

Suns guard Steve Nash on the Ron Artest stepping up in the last overtime:
"He made some good plays. I thought that everybody on their team kind of stepped up. Obviously, Kobe made a couple plays. Lamar made a couple plays, Artest made a couple plays. Overall, I thought they all played well."

Suns guard Steve Nash on tonight's loss:
"It was a big loss. There is no other way to put it."











LAKERS VS. SUNS GAME PREVIEW

By KATE HEDLIN, STATS Writer

The Los Angeles Lakers will play a second straight game without Andrew Bynum when they host thePhoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

Based on Los Angeles' performance in the first game of his suspension, Bynum's absence might not matter as it goes for a fifth straight win.

The Lakers (50-20) improved to 12-1 since the All-Star break with an 84-80 win over Portland on Sunday.Kobe Bryant scored 22 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter, and Lamar Odom had 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists starting in place of Bynum.

Before the game, Los Angeles learned that Bynum, averaging 11.5 points and 9.0 rebounds, received a two-game suspension after being charged with a flagrant foul that led to his ejection in a 106-98 win over Minnesota on Friday.

Bynum's absence was missed on the glass, where the Lakers were outrebounded 45-35, but Los Angeles tightened its defense, holding the Trail Blazers to 32.4 percent shooting in the second half and 14 points in the fourth quarter.

"In the first three quarters they were beating us to the loose balls, they were going on the offensive glass and tipping it back out and getting multiple shot opportunities. Those things are going to happen when you miss your big guy in the middle," point guard Derek Fisher said. "I think in the fourth quarter we stood it up and played the type of defense we needed to play."

Fisher had back-to-back crucial plays in the final period, picking up a steal with two minutes left and giving the Lakers a 78-76 lead on a driving layup.

"D-Fish came through," Odom said. "We could have easily lost this game, but I thought we got better. We made some steps as a team. We showed we can win these games, but we don't need to put ourselves in that position."

Los Angeles hasn't given up 100 points in a regulation game since the break and its last 10 opponents have averaged 86.7.

The Lakers are looking to win their seventh straight at home Tuesday against a Suns team that handed them one of their eight losses at Staples Center, 121-116 on Nov. 14. Los Angeles won the other two meetings in Phoenix.

While Los Angeles has clinched the Pacific Division and has a one-game lead over Dallas for the second seed in the Western Conference, Phoenix (35-33) is hoping to just reach the postseason.

The Suns have won their last two following a four-game losing streak, defeating the Los Angeles Clippers 108-99 at Staples Center on Sunday after shooting 10 for 22 from 3-point range.

Steve Nash had 23 points and 13 assists, while Channing Frye went 5 of 9 from beyond the arc and finished with 19 points.

Frye, playing in his second game after sitting out the previous five with a dislocated shoulder, hit two 3-pointers in the final minutes. He had 17 points and nine rebounds two nights earlier in his return, a 108-97 win over Golden State.

Phoenix is among a handful of clubs vying for one of the final playoff spots in the West.

"The good thing is, we have a lot more games to play than some of the teams ahead of us," forward Grant Hill said. "Crazier things have happened."



Copyright 2011 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited

Game Announcements



Lakers Kobe Bryant (sprained left ankle) will play.
Andrew Bynum (NBA suspension) is out.
Devin Ebanks (stress fracture, left tibia) is out.
Theo Ratliff (left knee surgery) is out.

Gani Lawal (torn ACL, partially torn MCL, right knee) is out.



10/29 - LAL @ PHO W 114-106
11/14 - PHO @ LAL L 118-112
01/05 - LAL @ PHO W 99-95
03/22 - PHO @ LAL


We have not played the Suns since the first week of January and it is somewhat comforting to know the more things change the more they stay the same. Despite some new faces they are still averaging almost 106 points per game and giving up almost 106 points per game. They are still playing an uptempo game with Nash handling and creating scoring opportunities for his team. The primary rule regarding Nash is that we don't want to allow him to engage two of our defenders at the same time. If we make that mistake he will find the open man for a good look at a 3 point shot. Phoenix is currently battling to try and get the final playoff spot in the west so we must be ready for a great effort from this team.

Read Full Scouting Report @ Lakers Courtside Connection


GAME NOTES

SEASON& SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lead the season series with Phoenix 2-1 with one game remaining after taking last season's series from the Suns 3-1. The Lakers have won three consecutive season series against the Suns overall, each by a 3-1 margin. This will be the 217th meeting between the two teams with the Lakers leading the all-time series 127-89. The Lakers are 16-7 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 6-4 in their last 10 regular season visits to Phoenix and are 6-2 in their last eight regular season games at US Airways Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 28-15 against the Suns during the regular season. In 52 career games against the Suns including 45 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 25.7 points. In February of 2009, Bryant shared MVP honors with then Sun Shaquille O'Neal at the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix. Bryant and Suns guard Steve Nash were both selected in the 1996 NBA Draft, Bryant going 13th overall to Charlotte and Nash two picks later to Phoenix. Derek Fisher was also in that draft, taken by the Lakers with the 24th overall pick. Suns forward Jared Dudley was teammates in Charlotte with Shannon Brown while Phoenix guard Aaron Brooks played the 2008-09 season in Houston alongside Ron Artest. Also, Lakers forward Luke Walton and Suns center Channing Frye were teammates at the University of Arizona for two seasons (2001-02, 2002-03). Lamar Odom played for current Suns head coach Alvin Gentry when he was head coach of the Clippers from 2000-03, Odom's second, third and fourth seasons in the NBA. 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.

LAKERS CLINCH PACIFIC DIVISION
With a victory over Portland March 20th, the Lakers clinched not only a playoff berth, but also their 22nd Pacific Division title (41st season in Division) as well as no worse than a #4 seed in the Western Conference for the 2011 NBA Playoffs. Teams 1 to 4 in each conference are the three division winners and the team with the next best regular-season record, with the seeding of these four teams determined by regular-season record. The playoff-seedings of teams 5 to 8 are based upon regular-season record. With the win, the Lakers became the 1st team in the West to clinch their division. The playoff berth also marks the Lakers 58th postseason appearance in 63 NBA seasons as well as their 30th playoff berth in 32 seasons since Dr. Jerry Buss purchased the team prior to the 1979-80 season. Last season, the Lakers clinched a playoff berth on March 19th with a victory over Minnesota and a Rockets loss to Boston but didn't clinch the Division until April 3rd.

50 WIN SEASONS
With their victory over Portland March 20, the Lakers reached the 50-win mark for the fourth consecutive season and 32nd time in franchise history (31st time since moving to Los Angeles prior to the 1960-61 season and the 29th time since the NBA adopted an 82-game schedule prior to the 1967-68 campaign). Since Dr. Jerry Buss took over the team prior to the 1979-80 season, the Lakers have posted 23 50+ win seasons. It is Phil Jackson's 17th 50-win season in 20 seasons as an NBA head coach.

JACKSON REACHES 600 WINS WITH LAKERS
With the Lakers win at Dallas on March 12th, Phil Jackson earned his 600th career regular season victory in Los Angeles. Jackson is now the fifth coach in NBA history to win at least 600 games with one franchise, joining Jerry Sloan (1,127 with Utah), Red Auerbach (795 with Boston), Gregg Popovich (792 with San Antonio) and Red Holzman (613 with New York). Including Jackson, only 22 coaches in NBA history have won 600 career regular season games, let alone with one franchise. Jackson, who established the Lakers franchise record for regular season coaching wins in February of 2010 (534th victory 2/3/10 vs. Charlotte), is the only coach in league history to win better than 70 percent of his games (1,148-480, .705). He currently ranks 5th all-time in regular season victories, 11th in regular season games coached, 1st in playoff games coached (323), 1st in playoff games won (225) and 1st in playoff win percentage (.697). The fastest coach to 1,100 victories, Jackson earned induction in his first year of consideration for the Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Fame and was enshrined on September 7, 2007.

NO CHARITY FOR BYNUM
In the Lakers March 8th victory at Atlanta, Andrew Bynum posted 16 points, 16 rebounds and three blocked shots but despite that physical performance, did not attempt a free throw. In doing so, Bynum was the first Lakers' player in more than 25 years to register at least 15 points, 15 rebounds and three blocks in a regular-season or playoff game in which he did not go to the charity stripe. The last Laker to post a similar performance without going to the foul line was Kareem Abdul-Jabbar in Game Two of the 1985 NBA Finals at Boston (30 points, 17 rebounds and three blocks in a 109-102 win).*

BRYANT PASSES MOSES MALONE FOR 6th ON NBA'S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
Just over a week removed from passing Elvin Hayes (27,313) for 7th on the NBA's all-time scoring list 2/27 at Oklahoma City, Kobe Bryant passed Moses Malone (27,409) for 6th on the all-time list with a free throw in the second quarter of the Lakers 3/8 victory at Atlanta. Earlier this season, Bryant moved past Hall-of-Famers Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) 1/28 vs. Sacramento, Oscar Robertson (26,710) 1/7 vs. New Orleans, Dominique Wilkins (26,668) 1/4 vs. Detroit and John Havlicek (26,395) 12/10 at Chicago on the all-time list. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant (27,519) are Shaquille O'Neal (5th/28,590), Wilt Chamberlain (4th/31,419), Michael Jordan (3rd/32,292), Karl Malone (2nd/36,928) and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1st/38,387). Among the top six scorers in NBA history, five have worn the Lakers uniform.

Bryant has been steadily moving up the list over the past few years. Earlier this season, with 23 points at Chicago (12/10/10), he passed John Havlicek (26,395) for 11th. Last season, he passed Alex English (25,613), Reggie Miller (25,279), Jerry West (25,192), Patrick Ewing (24,815) and Allen Iverson (24,368). In passing West with a slam dunk at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter February 1, 2010 at Memphis, finishing the game with 44 points (West's retired number), Bryant became the leading scorer in Lakers franchise history. In 2008-09, Bryant passed Gary Payton (21,813) and Hall-of-Famers Charles Barkley (23,757), Robert Parish (23,334), Adrian Dantley (23,177), Elgin Baylor (23,149), Clyde Drexler (22,195) and Larry Bird (21,791).

RARE ONE-SIDED GAME IN SAN ANTONIO
In their victory over the Spurs on March 6th at AT&T Center, the Lakers closed out the first quarter with a 26-5 run to take a 34-13 lead en route to a 99-83 victory against San Antonio. This marked only the second time in the Spurs' 36 seasons in the NBA that they were outscored by more than 20 points in the first quarter of a home game. The first was a 122-117 overtime loss to the Rockets in January 1989. Additionally, the Lakers increased their lead to 28 at the half, the first time in which the Spurs have ever trailed by at least 28 points at the half at home in franchise history. The last time the Spurs were down by 28+ points at the half in any game was January 20, 1990 at Denver (Nuggets 69, Spurs 40).*
The Lakers also outscored the Spurs by 29 points with Tim Duncan on the floor, his worst plus/minus since posting a -29 against the Lakers on November 28, 2003. Duncan finished 1-for-7 from the field for the second time this season, the other coming 12/28 against the Lakers as well. Prior to this season, Duncan had only two home games in his entire career in which he had one field goal or less. (ESPN Stats & Information).

SCORING CONSISTENCY
Kobe Bryant's 24 points in the Lakers victory over the Clippers (2/25) took him over the 1,500-point mark for the 11th consecutive season, marking the longest such streak by an NBA player since Karl Malone reached that milestone in 12 straight seasons (1986-87 to 1997-98).*






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