Kobe Bryant poured in an NBA season-high 48 points on 18-of-31 shooting, Pau Gasol pulled down 16 points and 12 boards for his fifth double-double of the season, and the Los Angeles Lakers handedly defeated the Phoenix Suns, 99-83, at the Staples Center on Tuesday night.
Altogether the Lakers' remodeled big three -- Bryant, Gasol and Andrew Bynum -- stormed to 76 of the team's 99 points in a game that, surprisingly, was closer than the scoreboard may seem.
After a back-and-forth opening three quarters, the Suns found themselves trailing 83-82 with six minutes to go before their hot hands turned cold. Just like old times, Bryant proceeded to turn back the clock enough to net the Lakers final 10 points and cap a 16-1 game-ending Los Angeles run.
"Obviously Kobe took the game over at the end there," Suns head coach Alvin Gentry said afterward. "We just couldn't make a shot... In a game like this, when you're playing a team with championship pedigree like they have, you have to be able to knock down shots and keep the game close."
After an encouraging opening ten minutes, the final moments of the first quarter seemed to foreshadow what was to come, as the Lakers ripped through a 15-0 run to close out the period and evaporate a nine-point Suns lead into a six-point hole. Bryant scored 13 of those 15, adding to his stellar 17-point first quarter on 8-of-11 shooting.
Phoenix responded with a 15-2 run late in the second frame, capped by a Jared Dudley jumper that put the Suns back up 38-37. Though the visitors would only hold the lead once more, climbing back to 56-55 midway though the third quarter before the Lakers reclaimed control.
"I though we played pretty well," Steve Nash said. "But we couldn't score at the end of the game. Gave up too many offensive rebounds again. They got 18 second chance points... That's too many and it made it difficult for us."
Channing Frye led the Suns with 17 points on 7-of-9 shooting and 3-of-5 from behind the arc. Marcin Gortat grabbed 16 points and 12 rebounds to earn his second double-double of the season, while Nash collected 13 points and eight assists in the losing effort.
The Suns fall to 4-5 on the season while Los Angeles improves to 7-4. Next up for Phoenix, the 4-5 Cleveland Cavaliers travel to the U.S. Airways Center losers of their last two. Tipoff is on Thursday night at 7:00 p.m. MT.
For more on the Suns, visit the Bright Side of the Sun blog.