(Sports Network) - Coming off their first loss of the season, the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers will try to bounce back tonight against the Pacific Division-rival Phoenix Suns at Staples Center.
Los Angeles defeated the Suns in six games during last year's Western Conference Finals and continued the trend with a 114-106 triumph on Oct. 29 this season in the desert. Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol scored 25 and 21 points, respectively, in that one and Lamar Odom ended with 18 points and 17 boards.
The Lakers were aiming for their first 9-0 start since the 1997-98 season, but dropped a 118-112 decision in Denver on Thursday. Carmelo Anthony finished with 32 points and 13 rebounds to lead the Nuggets, while Bryant had 34 points to pace the Lakers, who got 17 points and 20 boards from Gasol and blew a 10- point lead in the fourth quarter. Denver had a 16-0 run to get back into the game and outscored the Lakers, 33-19, in the fourth quarter.
"We didn't stop penetration of guards and post play, drives to the basket and stuff like that," said Bryant, who became the youngest player in NBA history to reach 26,000 points. "We didn't support one another. We didn't do a very good job of that in the fourth quarter, and they got a lot of points in the paint."
After the Lakers host the Suns, they will embark on a three-game road trip against the Bucks, Pistons andTimberwolves. They are 6-0 at home and 2-1 away from the City of Angels this season.
Phoenix will play five of its next six games on the road starting with tonight's tilt in Hollywood. After hosting Denver on Monday, the Suns will hit the road for four games against the Heat, Magic, Bobcats and Rockets.
The Suns have won three of their last four games and are coming off Friday's 103-89 victory versus Sacramento in which Steve Nash finished with a season- high 28 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds. Hakim Warrickscored 18 points off the bench for the Suns, who recorded their 10th straight home win over the Kings. Warrick was appreciative of Nash's unselfish play afterwards.
"It's like having that big brother out there, just making everything easy for you," Warrick said of the two-time league MVP. "All you've got to do is just go out there and finish."
Nash has ripped off three straight double-doubles. He is reportedly dealing with a divorce just after the birth of his third child.
Jason Richardson had 14 points and eight boards in a winning cause. Phoenix is both 2-2 on the road and as the host this season, and 19-0 at home since the start of the 2007-08 season against divisional opponents, excluding the Lakers.
Los Angeles won three of four meetings with Phoenix last season and is 10-3 in the past 13 matchups between the division foes.
Phoenix has lost four straight and 16 of its last 22 games at the Lakers.