Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - Pau Gasol ended with 21 points, nine assists and eight rebounds, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 114-106 win over the Phoenix Suns in a rematch of last year's Western Conference Finals.
Kobe Bryant had 25 points and seven rebounds, while Lamar Odom was a presence near the hoop with 17 boards and 18 points for the Lakers, who beat the Suns in six games in last year's West finals before going on to take the NBA title.
Los Angeles won again Friday after shooting 12-of-27 from three-point range, with Matt Barnes and Ron Artest each making three.
Grant Hill finished with 21 points to pace the Suns in their home opener.
The game featured 18 lead changes, and 12 of them occurred in a close first quarter. Gasol's layup with 2.3 seconds left gave LA a 28-27 edge heading to the second, which was similarly close. A Gasol jumper andDerek Fisher three in the final 1:06 gave the Lakers a 57-50 edge at the break.
Armed with that small advantage, Los Angeles didn't let Phoenix back in front in the final two quarters, though the Suns got close multiple times.
After a Jason Richardson layup had Phoenix within two less than two minutes into the third quarter, Artest and Bryant drilled back-to-back threes to immediately provide breathing room.
Then, midway through the quarter, Richardson's bank shot capped an eight-point burst to make it a 70-70 game. Several minutes later, Hedo Turkoglu's layup created a 76-76 tie.
But the Lakers responded with the next nine points -- Gasol had the first four, Bryant made two free throws, and Steve Blake got a three to fall for an 85-76 lead with 1:22 left.
Los Angeles took an 87-79 advantage into the fourth and had more answers down the stretch.
After a Turkoglu three got the Suns within 99-94 with 5:23 to play, the Lakers followed with six points to go up by double digits. Los Angeles led by at least two possessions the rest of the way.
Lakers head coach Phil Jackson got his 1,100th career victory...Los Angeles has won eight of the last 10 regular season matchups...Phoenix made just 9- of-24 from beyond the arc.
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