Regular Season Series (Game 1 of 4)

Series starts 1/10

Game 1: Tuesday, January 10th
Game 2: Friday, February 17th
Game 3: Sunday, February 19th
Game 4: Saturday, April 7th

Suns 83

(4-5, 1-3 away)

Lakers 99

(7-4, 7-1 home)

    Coverage: NBATV

    10:30 PM ET, January 10, 2012

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHX 19 23 26 1583
    LAL 25 21 27 2699

    Top Performers

    PHX: M. Gortat 16 Pts, 12 Reb, 2 Ast

    LAL: K. Bryant 48 Pts, 5 Reb, 3 Ast, 3 Stl

    Kobe Bryant nets 48 as Lakers top Suns to stay on roll 

    Associated Press

    LOS ANGELES -- Bum wrist and all, Kobe Bryant showed why he's one of the NBA's best closers, breaking open a tight game with 15 of the Los Angeles Lakers' final 17 points.

    Bryant finished with 48 points, tops in the league this season, in a 99-83 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night, the Lakers' seventh straight win at home and third in a row overall.

    "Not bad for the seventh-best player in the league," Bryant said, referring to an online ranking of the NBA's top 500 players.

    The NBA's leading scorer topped the 40-point mark for the first time this season with his fifth straight game of 25 or more. Bryant was 18 of 31 from the floor and made 12 of 13 free throws. Pau Gasol added 16 points and 12 rebounds.

    "If I play bad or have one bad game like I did in Denver, everybody cries for a change or cries for the fact that I'm too old. It's just a bad game with a bad wrist," Bryant said, referring to his 16 points in a loss against the Nuggets on New Year's Day. "You got to figure out a way to get it done."

    Bryant said he gets an injection before every game to cope with his ailing right wrist.

    In his previous four games, Bryant had 26 points against Memphis on Sunday, 39 against Golden State, 30 at Portland and 37 against Houston.

    "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," Derek Fisher said.

    "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."

    The victory was especially sweet for Bryant, who has never hidden his disdain for the Suns, a team right behind the Lakers in the Pacific Division.

    "I don't like them," he said. "They used to whup us pretty good and let us know about it. I won't forget that."

    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.

    The Suns hung around until the game's final 6 1/2 minutes, when they trailed by one. That's when Bryant took over with a variety of moves, banking in a jumper, dunking on consecutive baskets, hitting a fade away and making his free throws.

    "He's the best player in the game, so you come to expect that type of performance from him, if not regularly, then throughout the season at different times," Nash said. "He was phenomenal."

    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.

    "If he don't care about his wrist, I don't care about his wrist," Frye said. "Everybody makes a big deal about it, but he's been scoring 28, 30 a game. So let's just call it what it is. He's a great player, he's the best individual player in basketball, and every night he comes to work. For us, we don't like losing to the Lakers. But they came out and played a good game, and he played an amazing game."

    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.

    "I thought we did a good job of defending Kobe, but the guy makes tough shots. There's a reason he is who he is," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "Obviously, Kobe took the game over at the end there and we just couldn't make the shots. Part of it was their defense, and part of it was that we just didn't make the doggone things."

    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.

    Game 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 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 83 99
    FGM-FGA 34-80 (.425) 39-80 (.488)
    3PM-3PA 7-20 (.350) 2-17 (.118)
    FTM-FTA 8-12 (.667) 19-23 (.826)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 9-35 14-49
    Assists 18 27
    Turnovers 11 15
    Steals 9 5
    Blocks 1 2
    Fast Break Points 4 6
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (2/0) 18 (0/0)
    Largest Lead 9 16

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Marcin Gortat Gortat
    Points: 16
    Reb: 12
    Ast: 2
    Stl: 0
    Blk: 0
    Kobe Bryant Bryant
    Points: 48
    Reb: 5
    Ast: 3
    Stl: 3
    Blk: 0

    Research Notes

    There has been speculation as to Kobe being on the decline. Given Tuesday's performance of an NBA-best 48 points this season, that could not be further from the truth. He is averaging more points, assists and rebounds per game than in any of his three previous seasons. In two of those seasons he was anything but on the decline, being named NBA Finals Most Valuable player.
    Kobe Bryant is currently second in the league in scoring. Every single player in the top 10 in scoring so far in this NBA campaign is at least 27 years old or younger with the exception of Bryant. He is averaging nearly 10 points more per game than Derrick Rose, last year's MVP.

    Kobe Bryant has 324 points through his first 11 games this season, ranking him third in scoring since 1985 among players who were at least 33 years old.

    From Elias: In NBA history no player has been in at least their 16th season and scored 48 points in one game until Tuesday. His toughness and consistency is among the all-time greats. The other two players on this list are multiple NBA Finals MVP award winners, certainly not a bad list to belong to.
    Kobe Bryant recorded his 108th career 40-point game against the Suns on Tuesday, it's the most such games by any player over the last 15 years.
    Kobe Bryant had 17 points in the 1st quarter against the Suns. It's his 30th career game in which he scored 17 or more points in the 1st quarter. Last time he scored 17+ was 2-11-11 (19 points at Knicks)

    ESPN Stats & Information