GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Phoenix Suns 19 23 26 15 83
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 25 21 27 26 99


Lakers beat Suns 99-83 to win 3rd in a row

By BETH HARRIS

Posted Jan 10 2012 10:09PM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant scored 48 points - his fifth straight game with 25 or more - and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Phoenix Suns 99-83 Tuesday night to win their seventh straight at home and third in a row overall.

Bryant, the NBA's leading scorer, topped the 40-point mark for the first time this season, the first in the league to do so. He was 18 of 31 from the floor and made 12 of 13 free throws. Pau Gasol added 16 points and 12 rebounds.

Channing Frye scored 17 points, Marcin Gortat had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Steve Nash added 13 points and eight assists for the Suns, who had their two-game winning streak snapped.

Shannon Brown scored Phoenix's first six points of the fourth quarter, twice drawing the Suns within one. He and Frye then hit consecutive 3-pointers that got the Suns to 83-82, but they were never able to take the lead in Brown's first game against his former team. He finished with 11 points.

The Lakers closed the game on a 16-2 run, including 10 in a row against a Suns team that is just behind them in the Pacific Division. Bryant had their final 10 points.

Phoenix led by one in the third and tied the game twice after that before getting outscored 11-6 to end the quarter trailing 73-68.

The Lakers led 46-40 at the break after allowing the Suns to erase most of their 12-point lead in the second quarter. The Suns got balanced scoring in a 15-2 run that drew them within one before Bryant and Gasol keyed a 9-2 spurt to end the first half, when Bryant scored 23.

Bryant scored 13 of the Lakers' final 15 points to put them up 25-19 in the first quarter after they trailed by nine.

NOTES: It was Bryant's 108th career 40-point game. He had three last season. ... The Lakers had 15 turnovers after turning the ball over 27 times in a 90-82 win against Memphis two nights earlier. ... The Lakers G Jason Kapono missed the game to be with his wife after she gave birth to twins and F-C Troy Murphy sat out with an upset stomach. ... Brown said he had mixed emotions about facing the team he won two NBA titles with before leaving the Lakers as a free agent. Bryant scored over Brown to end the first quarter. ... The game was the first of 18 back-to-back sets the Lakers will play in this lockout-shortened season. They'll be at Utah on Wednesday night.

Copyright 2012 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





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Points Bryant 48, 18-31 FG
Rebounds Gasol 12, 4 OFF 8 DEF
Assists Blake 8
Steals Bryant 3
Blocks Bynum 2


POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike Brown:

On Pau’s defense tonight:

“Pau, you know, he gave us 16 and 12 but, I’ll tell you what, he was terrific with his defense. The way he jumped out and attacked the ball screens especially in the last part of the game was very fun to watch. You talk about a guy who is 7’1” that’s long and being aggressive like that in a pick and roll situation to try to help slow those guys down was amazing.”

On why Pau was successful defending Steve Nash

“His [Pau] defense down the stretch on Nash, just kind of flying around was phenomenal. He’s like the energizer bunny rabbit.”

On Luke Walton being an asset to the team tonight:

“Last but not least, Luke Walton was phenomenal. He hadn’t played since Sacramento. You talk about a pro’s pro, he’s kept himself ready, his number was called and he stepped in and had a whale of a game for us. You talk about 8 rebounds, 5 of those offensive rebounds, 6 points and 3 assists, you know, he was very good for us in the twenty-six minutes he played especially having not played for a long time.”




Luke Walton:

On staying prepared despite DNP’s in previous games:

“It’s just telling yourself you have to. There’s no other option because in this business, that’s what you get paid to do. And obviously, everyone wants to play but not everyone is going to play, so if you’re not, you have to stay ready or you’re hurting your team.”

On Kobe’s performance:

“He was pretty good. He was pretty darn good tonight. He still has moments of the young, athletic Kobe. He’s so talented that it doesn’t really matter if he’s dunking on you or shooting fadeaways, he can still score 48 with a sprained wrist. It’s just a testament to the kind of player he is.”




Pau Gasol:

On team’s performance at home thus far this season:

“We’re doing well at home. We’re playing hard; we’re playing really good defense and we’re figuring out ways to win the ballgame so it’s really good. We just have to go out tomorrow and get a solid win on the road.”

On Kobe’s performance tonight:

“It was an excellent performance on his part. He was really aggressive, shot the ball extremely well, made big plays and stayed with it pretty much throughout the 48 minutes. It’s not like he slowed down. It was impressive.”




Derek Fisher:

On Kobe Bryant’s play tonight:

I don’t know. He’s doing it in a pretty efficient manner. That’s what really stands out about what he’s doing now. He’s always going to be aggressive and assertive to score, but he’s picking his spots and he’s doing it in a very efficient manner. That ranks it right up there with the best of them because it doesn’t look like he’s trying to do it. He’s just doing it within the flow of the game. That’s been very effective for him and for us.”




Kobe Bryant:

On how he is able to shoot so well with a torn ligament in his wrist:

“Just making adjustments. You have to figure out a way to get it done. There’s no time to make excuses. If I play bad or have one bad game like I did in Denver, everybody cries for a change or cries for the fact I’m too old. It’s just a bad game with a bad wrist. Nobody wants to hear that, so I make adjustments and go from there.”

On whether he enjoys performances like this:

“I’m ready for the next one. Tomorrow is going to be a big challenge, especially coming off a back to back and matching up with Raja [Bell]. I’m looking forward to it already.”




Alvin Gentry:

On tonight’s game:

“Obviously, Kobe took the game over at the end there. We just couldn’t make a shot, part of it was their defense, part of it was that we just couldn’t make the doggone things. I thought we got some good looks. In a game like this, when you’re playing a team that has championship pedigree like they have, you have to be able to knock down shots and keep the game close, and we weren’t able to do that. As I said, part of it they were responsible for, the other part we just didn’t make the shots. And then, I thought we did a good job of defending Kobe. You know, the guy makes tough shots, there’s a reason he is who he is.”

On the play of the Suns’ bigs:

“I thought they did a good job. I thought we did a good job on both [Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol]. Some of the baskets they got freed up because we were either rotating to Kobe or trying to help or something like that, and it freed them up a little bit. But, you know, I thought we played well, it was a one point game with around 5:40 left in the game and we went south from there and just couldn’t make a basket. And obviously Kobe was able to close out the game, but I thought we played hard, I thought we competed. The rebounding part of it, with 18 second chance points is a little bit high, but when you’re dealing with Gasol and Bynum down there, they’re so long…all of our bigs did a good job of battling with those guys, we just have to make sure that we give them one possession. When you have to then go back and play 24 more seconds of defense it gets to be tough.”

On the Lakers 10-0 run in the first quarter:

“We came back and got right back in the game. We played 43 good minutes of basketball, we have to put together the other five. We’ve got to play those last almost six minutes, and we have to be able to come up with baskets, and we have to keep the game close enough that we have a couple of shots here and there that can make the difference. We gave too much separation.”




Steve Nash:

On Kobe Bryant:

“He’s the best player in the world. You come to expect that type of performance from him. He does it regularly throughout the season and he was phenomenal tonight.”

On the Suns’ being outrebounded by 14:

“They had way too many offensive rebounds and it wasn’t just their bigs. They’re always going to pose that type of problem for us so we need to do a better job on the glass.”

On the Suns’ being outrebounded by 14:

“They had way too many offensive rebounds and it wasn’t just their bigs. They’re always going to pose that type of problem for us so we need to do a better job on the glass.”




Channing Frye:

On the Lakers 4th quarter run:

“It’s part of our learning process. We have to find out what plays work and we have to find what players are going to make plays for us. They did a good job of stopping the plays we ran and we didn’t do a good job of making the shots we should make.”




Shannon Brown:

On returning to Los Angeles:

“It was fun. I got a chance to do a lot of things. I got a chance to come back to where my career got a real start to it. Two championships later I’m in a different situation, but I’m still thankful for what happened in LA.”

On guarding Kobe Bryant after being his teammate:

“It was crazy. I knew he wasn’t going to let up. I tried not to let his ‘little brother’ comment soften me up. When it was time to play ball, I knew he was going to come out firing and he did. It was great to get out there and guard him. He caught me with a little pump fake. I knew it was coming but I bit on it anyways. It was great to get out there and compete for a win. Hopefully next time we get it.”






Suns-Lakers Preview

By JUSTIN EINHORN

Posted Jan 09 2012 12:00PM

The Los Angeles Lakers continue to play solid defense, especially at home, despite still learning coach Mike Brown's system amid a busy schedule. That defensive prowess could get a stiff test Tuesday night at Staples Center from the improving Phoenix Suns as these Pacific Division rivals begin their season series.

No team played more in the season's first 15 days than Los Angeles (6-4). The Lakers, whose first two-day break doesn't come until next week, opened with back-to-back losses but have since won six of eight.

"We're tired, and we're going to stay tired," forward Pau Gasol said. " ... We knew it was going to be a challenge. We knew we were going to face adversity at first. We're all making an effort, and we know it's going to pay off at the end. ... Two days off? It'll be a shock to our bodies."

Still adapting to Brown's defensive-minded system after so many years under Phil Jackson, the Lakers are allowing 90.7 points per game and 41.8 percent shooting to lead the Western Conference in both categories. Those averages dip to 85.9 points and 40.0 percent at home, where Los Angeles has won six straight.

"It's tough. We've got to learn it through the games," Kobe Bryant said of the new defense.

The Lakers are hosting a Phoenix team which had finished among the league's top five in scoring in every season since Steve Nash's return in 2004-05.

The Suns (4-4) aren't near the top this season at 94.9 points per game but may be finding their groove. They've won two straight and three of four, scoring more than 100 in each victory after not doing so once in their first four games.

Phoenix is coming off its best offensive effort, hitting 55.8 percent from the field in a 109-93 win over Milwaukee on Sunday.

"We are making open shots. We are also getting a little better pace and tempo throughout the game, a little bit of cohesion," said Nash, averaging 11.8 assists in the past four games. "It is taking us some time and I think you could have predicted that, but I think we are getting better."

Nash has shot 69.2 percent from the field this month - best in the NBA along with teammate Marcin Gortat, who is also 27 of 39 from the field in January.

"Steve is doing Steve, man," forward Channing Frye said. "Everybody said, 'Aw, he looks old and he needs to this or that.' You can't say nothing about him. He gets the job done."

Nash totaled 40 points and 33 assists in two road games against the Lakers last season. Phoenix won one and pushed Los Angeles to three overtimes in the other, overcoming a 21-point deficit in the second half only to lose 139-137 on March 22 in the teams' last matchup.

Bryant scored 42 points - his most in any game over the past 23 months - and he's averaged 30.6 in the last 19 meetings as the Lakers have gone 14-5, including the 2010 Western Conference finals.

He had at least 30 points in three straight games before scoring 26 in a 90-82 win over Memphis on Sunday. The Lakers overcame a season-high 27 turnovers by holding the Grizzlies to 40.9 percent from the field and outrebounding them 53-34.

"I have to give our guys credit for playing good, solid defense in the half court," Brown said.

The Suns also have been playing good defense, allowing averages of 91.5 points and 42.4 percent shooting.


Copyright 2012 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

Probable Starters
  Lakers    
  #9 Barnes SF #33 Hill  
  #16 Gasol PF #8 Frye  
  #17 Bynum C #4 Gortat  
  #24 Bryant SG #3 Dudley  
  #2 Fisher PG #13 Nash  



Lakers Kobe Bryant
(torn lunotriquetral ligament, right wrist) is probable.
Derrick Caracter
(torn lateral meniscus, left knee) is out.
Pau Gasol
(sprained right shoulder) is probable.
Josh McRoberts
(sprained left big toe and left thumb) is doubtful.

Marcin Gortat
(slight non-displaced fracture, right thumb) will play.



Game 1: 01/10 - PHX @ LAL
Game 2: 02/17 - PHX @ LAL
Game 3: 02/19 - LAL @ PHX
Game 4: 04/07 - LAL @ PHX


GAME NOTES

SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers won last season’s series with Phoenix 3-1 and have now taken four consecutive season series from the Suns by a 3-1 margin. This will be the 218th meeting between the two teams with the Lakers leading the all-time series 128-89. The Lakers are 17-7 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 but are 6-2 in their last eight regular season games at US Airways Center. Most recently, the Lakers defeated the Suns in triple overtime at STAPLES Center back on March 22, 2011. The three-overtime contest was just the second ever in Los Angeles (1-1), fourth since the team moved West prior to the 1960-61 season (2-2) and tied for the second longest game in franchise history behind a quadruple overtime loss in January of 1980 at Cleveland. In 53 career games against the Suns including 46 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 26.0 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. Also, Lakers forward Luke Walton and Suns center Channing Frye were teammates at the University of Arizona for two seasons (2001-02, 2002-03). Suns guard Shannon Brown joined the Lakers midway through the 2008-09 season and was a member of the 2009 and 2010 Lakers championship teams. Over 182 games, Brown averaged 7.9 points (.346 3FG) and 2.0 rebounds in 18.7 minutes while competing in the 2010 Sprite Slam Dunk Contest during All-Star Weekend.


BRYANT NAMED PLAYER OF THE WEEK FOR 29th TIME
Averaging a league-high 33.0 points on 49.5% shooting, 5.5 rebounds and 6.3 assists while helping the Lakers to a 3-1 record, Kobe Bryant earned his FIRST WC Player of the week award this season for games played Monday, Jan. 2 through Sunday, Jan. 8. The award is the 29th of Bryant’s career (27 Western Conference POW, 2 NBA POW), further surpassing Magic Johnson’s 18 NBA POW awards as the franchise’s all-time leader. Johnson, however, earned each of his Player of the Week nods before the award was separated by Conference prior to the 2001-02 season. Bryant’s other WC POW honors came in weeks ending: 11/4/01, 1/20/02, 11/3/02, 12/8/02, 1/12/03, 2/2/03, 2/23/03, 2/17/04, 3/22/04, 11/13/05, 12/18/05, 12/25/05, 1/22/06, 4/16/06, 3/18/07, 3/25/07, 1/13/08, 3/2/08, 4/6/08, 12/28/08, 1/11/09, 3/15/09, 11/22/09, 12/20/09, 12/27/09 and 3/27/11. His two NBA Player of the Week honors came in weeks ending 4/16/00 and 12/24/00. The NBA began the Player of the Week award in 1979-80.


WINNING IN SPITE OF TURNOVERS
In their 90-82 victory over Memphis on January 8, the Lakers turned the ball over 27 times; their highest total since turning it over 27 times in a 96-89 loss to Philadelphia on March 27, 2005 at STAPLES Center. The last time the Lakers had at least 27 turnovers and won came in a 106-102 overtime victory on April 20, 1999 at Golden State (27 turnovers). For the Lakers last regulation victory with at least 27 turnovers, one has to go all the way back to November 3, 1995 when they defeated the Denver Nuggets 98-96 at the Great Western Forum despite turning the ball over 27 times. On the season, the Lakers are now 5-2 when turning it over more than their opponents.


BRYANT A WARRIOR AGAINST GOLDEN STATE


On January 6th, Kobe Bryant scored 39 points as the Lakers defeated the Golden State Warriors 97-90 at STAPLES Center, marking the 14th time that Bryant has scored 35-or-more points in a game against the Warriors, the most such games he has against any opponent in his career. Bryant has scored 35-or-more points against the Phoenix Suns 13 times and has done so 12 times against both Portland and Sacramento.*

SHOOTING BLANKS
In their January 5 loss at Portland, the Lakers struggled to 0-for-11 shooting from behind the three-point arc despite opening the contest connecting on 11 of their first 12 field goals. The zero in the three-point field goals made column marks the first time the Lakers have not made at least one three-point shot since November 16, 2003 vs. Miami when the team combined to go 0-for-9. With 11 attempts and zero made, the Lakers also equaled the franchise record for most three-point field goal attempts without a make, established, ironically, 2/26/83 at Portland (0-11 3FG) and equaled again on 3/9/01 vs. San Antonio (0-11 3FG).


BRYANT NEARING SHAQUILLE O’NEAL FOR 5th ON NBA’S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
Last season, Kobe Bryant moved past Hall-of-Famers Moses Malone (27,409) 3/8/11 at Atlanta, Elvin Hayes (27,313) 2/27/11 at Oklahoma City, Hakeem Olajuwon (26,946) 1/28/11 vs. Sacramento, Oscar Robertson (26,710) 1/7/11 vs. New Orleans, Dominique Wilkins (26,668) 1/4/11 vs. Detroit and John Havlicek (26,395) 12/10/10 at Chicago on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. Next on the all-time list ahead of Bryant (28,144) are Shaquille O’Neal (5th/28,596), 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. In 2009-10, 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).


*Statistical research assistance provided by the Elias Sports Bureau






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