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 Bryant's Lakers beat Shaq's Suns 132-106

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PostSubject: Bryant's Lakers beat Shaq's Suns 132-106   Fri Feb 27, 2009 9:27 pm

LOS ANGELES(AP) Without Steve Nash, nobody got the ball inside to Shaquille O'Neal, and that made the Phoenix Suns a pushover.The
Los Angeles Lakers scored 70 points in the first half and rolled past
the Nash-less Suns 132-106 Thursday night for their sixth consecutive
victory.Kobe Bryant had 22 points and eight rebounds for the
Lakers, while O'Neal had 12 points while taking just seven shots, and
grabbed seven rebounds for the Suns in the former teammates' first
meeting since sharing MVP honors at the All-Star game."Tonight's
game felt like kind of a trap game because we are at home and Steve's
not playing,'' Bryant said. "It is kind of one of those things where we
kind of take the night off. I wanted to make sure from the jump that we
didn't.''Lamar Odom had a team-high 23 points and Pau Gasol
added 16 points and nine rebounds for the Lakers, who own the NBA's
best record at 48-10 and lead the Pacific Division by 15 games over the
Suns.Los Angeles' points tied a season high and the team made a
season-best 54 of 94 field goals, bettering the 48 the Lakers hit
against Minnesota on Jan. 30."Pretty good team, huh?'' said Suns
interim coach Alvin Gentry, who fell to 4-2. "It's tough against this
team because they play a great zone defense and don't allow Shaq to get
touches a lot of the time. It's tough getting guys touches when we
don't have Steve out there. He creates a lot of easy stuff for
everyone, easy shots for guys on the perimeter.''Leandro Barbosa scored 18 points and Alando Tucker added 16 starting in place of Nash. Jason Richardson added 13.The
good feelings shared by Bryant and O'Neal during All-Star weekend in
Phoenix continued in their seventh career head-to-head meeting. Bryant
put his left arm around O'Neal and thumped him on the chest with his
right fist before tip-off after teammate Luke Walton hugged O'Neal.O'Neal was warmly received by the crowd at Staples Center, where the Lakers improved to 27-4 and have won four in a row."I
was surprised,'' he said about his reception. "I haven't really played
here in a while. I respect them and they will always be a part of my
NBA life.''The Suns had won four of their previous five games
since the All-Star break, but they played without All-Stars Nash and
Amare Stoudemire, putting them at a decided disadvantage before the
game even started.Nash is day to day with a sprained right ankle
suffered Tuesday night against Charlotte, while Stoudemire could be
away up to eight weeks after having eye surgery last Friday.The Suns fell to 2-4 this season without Nash in the lineup, and 6-17 in games without him since the 2004-05 season."This
was going to be a good test for us, but obviously we failed the test
tremendously,'' O'Neal said. "This is a good team and you have to do
everything right against a team like that. Tonight, way too many
turnovers (19).''The Lakers took advantage early, scoring 70
points in the first half - two off their season high - while shooting
62 percent from the floor. The Suns hadn't given up close to that many
points in a half this season.Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson
paired Odom with four reserves for much of the second quarter, and the
Lakers didn't miss a beat in building a 19-point lead. He wanted to
rest the starters as much as possible ahead of Friday night's game in
Denver, where the Lakers could close February with a 12-1 record."We
had to get going early to take care of the game and get a nice lead and
allow the bench guys to come out and play minutes,'' Gasol said.Los
Angeles went up by 25 points in the third quarter, when the Suns got no
closer than 11 early on. They closed within 19 in the game's final 5
1/2 minutes.Gasol's turn to lead the second unit came in the
fourth quarter, when he played the first few minutes before joining
Bryant, Odom, Walton and Derek Fisher on the bench as the reserves
cruised to a 28-point lead.Sasha Vujacic led the Lakers' bench
with 14 points, helping them outscore Phoenix's reserves 58-37.Notes:
Los Angeles scored 72 points in the first half against Washington on
Jan. 22. ... The Lakers lead the season series 3-0. ... Odom had nine
rebounds, giving him 129 over his last nine games in the best
rebounding stretch of his career. ... When Nash returns, he needs three
points to reach 13,000 in his career.

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