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 Gasol leads Lakers to 115-110 win over Suns

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Join date : 2008-11-21

PostSubject: Gasol leads Lakers to 115-110 win over Suns   Thu Dec 11, 2008 4:54 pm

LOS ANGELES(AP) The Los Angeles Lakers battled like crazy to put the short-handed Phoenix Suns away.That's precisely what Kobe Bryant expected they would have to do.Pau
Gasol scored 28 points, Bryant had seven of his 18 in the last 6 1/2
minutes, and the Western Conference-leading Lakers struggled to a
115-110 victory Wednesday night.Andrew Bynum added 17 points and
11 rebounds, Sasha Vujacic scored a season-high 15 points and Derek
Fisher had 13 for the Lakers (18-3), who were coming off a lethargic
113-101 loss at Sacramento on Tuesday night and didn't clinch this
victory until the final minute.The Suns (13-10) played without
Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and rookie Sean Singletary, traded to Charlotte
earlier Wednesday for Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and a 2010
second-round pick.Phoenix also was without former Lakers star
Shaquille O'Neal, whose 92-year-old great-grandmother died this week.
O'Neal was in New Jersey for funeral services and hopes to return in
time to play Friday night against Orlando. O'Neal scored 35 points
Tuesday night - his most in nearly three years - in a 125-110 victory
over Milwaukee."That's what always happens when a team has eight
players, nine players,'' Bryant said. "They always come out with a lot
of energy. We did a good job down the stretch.''The Lakers held
off the Suns by making 17 of 22 foul shots in the fourth quarter
including eight of 10 in the last 30 seconds. But their defensive
difficulties continued - they've allowed the opposition to score 100 or
more points in seven of their last 10 games."Our record is great,'' Bynum said. "(But) the way we're playing, we're not going to beat the good teams.''Gasol
agreed, saying: "We're not playing our best. Most of the time, I think
we can do a lot better defensively. We're giving up a lot of points. We
have to consciously every single game go out there and be focused on
our defense. We know we can score. We also know that if we want to get
to the next level, the championship level, we have to be consistent on
our defense. It's something that we haven't been doing very well.''Lakers coach Phil Jackson said he thought the Suns brought the best out of the Lakers."We
weren't playing our best when we started the game, but we eventually
had to play,'' Jackson said. "Maybe not the best, but we had to play
well enough to win.''Matt Barnes had season-high totals of 25
points and 10 rebounds to lead Phoenix. Grant Hill scored 23 points,
Amare Stoudemire had 21 points and 11 rebounds, and Leandro Barbosa
added 18 points for the Suns. Steve Nash shot 2-of-12 and was held to
seven points and nine assists."It was a huge challenge for us,''
Stoudemire said. "We didn't have our guys tonight and were
short-handed, but we all knew what we had to do. For us to go out and
compete, it took a total effort from everybody. We came out with a lot
of energy and intensity and played well despite having only eight guys
out there playing. So we can accept that. We were happy with the way we
played.''Barbosa scored five straight points early in the fourth
quarter to give the Suns an 86-85 lead. But a basket by Gasol and two
more by Lamar Odom put the Lakers ahead 91-86, and they led the rest of
the way.It was 91-90 when Bryant made a 3-pointer and Odom added
two free throws to give the Lakers some breathing room. The Suns
weren't closer than four points after that."We gave ourselves a
chance to win that ballgame, so I was pleased with what I got,'' Suns
coach Terry Porter said. "It is always difficult (being short-handed),
but in this league, that happens sometimes. You just have to have
someone else step up.''Barnes scored 10 points during an 19-6
run that gave the Suns a 76-74 lead, their first of the game. Nash's
3-pointer - his first field goal in nine attempts - put Phoenix on top.
The Lakers led 82-81 entering the final period.With Gasol and
four reserves on the floor, the Lakers scored 10 straight points early
in the second quarter for a 39-27 lead - largest of the game for either
team. But the Suns hung tough, getting as close as three points before
Los Angeles settled for a 53-48 halftime lead. Bryant was hardly
noticeable in the opening 24 minutes, shooting 2-of-7 for four points.Notes:
Phoenix's Alando Tucker, who had arthroscopic surgery on his left knee
Nov. 4, was in uniform despite not being ready to play, giving the Suns
a ninth player on the bench. The minimum requirement is eight. ... The
Lakers beat the Suns 105-92 in Phoenix last month. With this victory,
they've won five of the last six games between the teams after Phoenix
went 10-2 in the previous 12 matchups. ... Seldom-used Luke Walton made
his first start of the season in place of Vladimir Radmanovic, who had
eight points in 22 minutes Tuesday night. Walton had eight points and
six assists. Jackson said the move was made to get more ball movement,
adding Radmanovic was not in his dog house. ... The Lakers used the
same starting lineup, of Bryant, Fisher, Bynum, Gasol and Radmanovic,
in each of their first 20 games. ... Rookie Robin Lopez started in
O'Neal's place and had eight points.

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