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 Shaq, Suns overcome Kobe to beat Lakers 118-111

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PostSubject: Shaq, Suns overcome Kobe to beat Lakers 118-111   Mon Mar 02, 2009 7:32 pm

PHOENIX(AP) Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant
were dominant forces on the same court where they were All-Star Game
co-MVPs three weeks ago.Give this one to Shaq and the Suns.O'Neal scored 33 points and Phoenix overcame Bryant's 49-point performance to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 118-111 on Sunday.Matt
Barnes added 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Suns,
without Steve Nash for the third straight game because of a sprained
right ankle, defeated the Lakers for the first time in four tries this
season.Pau Gasol added 30 for Los Angeles, loser of two in a row for just the third time this season."We're
going through a period right now where everybody's just kind of tired a
little bit,'' Bryant said. "It happens. ... Everybody kind of goes
through it a little bit. And this two games, we've been playing
lethargic. It's that point in the season where we kind of hit it. The
key for us is to snap out of it.''After his 45-point game
against Toronto on Friday night, O'Neal has consecutive 30-point games
for the first time since March 5-7, 2004, when he and Bryant were
teammates in Los Angeles."It's what I do,'' O'Neal said. "I've been doing it since 1992. If you don't believe it, Google me.''O'Neal,
who turns 37 on Friday, is the fourth player over 35 in NBA history to
score at least 33 points in consecutive games. The others are Michael
Jordan, Karl Malone and Alex English."A lot of people thought I
lost it,'' O'Neal said. "It's kind of funny to me, when I say 'I'm
injured,' no one believes me. Last year I was injured and this year I'm
feeling pretty good.''Bryant was asked if O'Neal reminded him of the Shaq of old."No,
not quite,'' Bryant said. "But he's playing extremely well, obviously.
The thing is they're looking for him, they're going inside to him.
Tonight, I mean, Pau is giving up 250 pounds (a bit of an
exaggeration). There's really not much he can do in that situation and
Shaq took advantage of it.''Bryant made 18 of a season-high 38
attempts in the 96th 40-point game of his career. He scored 17 points
in a span of less than four minutes early in the second half.Leandro
Barbosa added 22 points and Grant Hill 17 for the Suns, who improved to
6-2 since Alvin Gentry replaced the fired Terry Porter and returned the
team to Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced style. It was the Gentry-led Suns'
first win, though, over a team with a winning record."Obviously a great win for us,'' Gentry said, "against what I think is still the best team in the league.''Entering
Sunday night's competition, Phoenix was 1 1/2 games behind Dallas for
the eighth and final playoff berth in the West, but only three behind
Houston for the No. 4 spot.Coach Phil Jackson, whose team was
coming off a 90-79 loss at Denver, said the Lakers' loss came at the
free throw line, where Phoenix was 26-for-42 and Los Angeles 19-of-20."It's
tough to win when you gave up that many free throws,'' Jackson said.
"We gave up 37 on Friday and 42 tonight. You know, that's tough.''Barnes
scored seven in a row to put Phoenix ahead 114-103 with 1:26 to play.
He started the spurt with two free throws, sank a 3-pointer from the
top of the key, then added two more from the foul line.The Lakers finished with an 8-1 spurt but ran out of time in a game they trailed most of the way.Phoenix led by as many as 15 in the first half was up by 10 at the break.Then,
Bryant scored his remarkable 17 in a 19-2 Lakers outburst that erased a
12-point deficit and put Los Angeles ahead 75-70 on his 3-pointer with
6:24 left in the third quarter. Bryant made two 3s and converted a
three-point play on a driving layup and foul by O'Neal during the surge.Bryant had a tooth knocked out of place when he was hit in the mouth during that run."Don't
ask me nothing funny. I'm not smiling. You're not seeing my tooth,'' he
said afterward. "It feels foul. It feels like I can't chew anything,
like Roger Rabbit or something.''The Lakers' lead was short-lived.After
a time out, Phoenix scored the next 13 to go up 83-75 on O'Neal's
three-point play with 3:33 left in the quarter. Robin Lopez blocked
Jordan Farmar's layup try, leading to a breakaway layup by Barbosa at
the buzzer that put the Suns ahead 91-81 entering the final quarter.The Lakers' Lamar Odom fouled out with 8:31 to play after scoring four points on 2-for-3 shooting in 23 minutes."Lamar
just really had an awful day,'' Jackson said. "I mean, there were a
couple of really bad calls against Lamar that limited his time.''Notes:
Nash planned to give the ankle a try, but was scratched from the lineup
shortly before tipoff. ... The Lakers' only first-half lead was at 2-0.
... The Suns begin a four-game, six-day road trip Tuesday night at
Orlando. ... Phoenix is 4-4 without Nash this season. ... The Lakers
last lost two in a row Jan. 14-16, at San Antonio and home against
Orlando. ... The Lakers won the season series with Phoenix 3-1 for the
second year in a row.

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