Phoenix, AZ (Sports Network) - Kobe Bryant led the way with 24 points, and the Lakers dropped the struggling Suns, 99-95. Andrew Bynum posted 14 points and seven rebounds, while Lamar Odom ended with 12 and 10 for Los Angeles, which has won two straight following a 2-4 stretch. Jared Dudley scored 21 points on 8-of-11 shooting to pace Phoenix, while Steve Nash added 11 points and 10 assists in the loss, the club's sixth in seven games.
"It was a disappointing loss. We didn't break down, we just didn't make enough plays or play well enough to win the game, so it's disappointing, but we got to stay positive and keep moving," Nash said. A Vince Carter three-pointer pulled the Suns as close as 92-91 with 2:24 to play, but Shannon Brown answered with two from the foul line and Ron Artest nailed a three-pointer following a Carter miss. Marcin Gortat made 1-of-2 from the stripe prior to Derek Fisher essentially sealing the win with a jumper in the final minute thanks to an Artest offensive rebound.
"I didn't think we moved the ball the way we want to, but we got a couple of baskets at the end that changed the course of the game," Lakers head coach Phil Jackson said. The Lakers led by as many as 12 in the first quarter and held a 31-24 cushion after the opening 12 minutes. Dudley erupted in the second quarter with 15 points to help the hosts take a slim 50-49 edge into the intermission.
After Carter opened the second-half scoring with a jumper, the Lakers scored 14 of the next 17 points to take control. Bryant dropped in the first eight during the stretch, and Bynum capped it with a pair of buckets for a 63-55 advantage with 8:09 remaining in the frame. LA continued to play front-runner heading to the fourth, which started with the visitors on top, 80-73.
The Lakers held a 47-31 rebounding edge...LA shot just 6-of-23 from three- point range...Brown and Artest netted 13 and 11 points, respectively...Carter finished with 13 points, while Gortat added 12 points and nine boards.