Lakers defeat Phoenix Suns
All five Lakers starters scored in double figures, as well as one reserve, in the victory at Phoenix.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 25 points on nine-for-19 shooting. He also had seven rebounds and three assists.
Pau Gasol had 21 points, eight rebounds and nine assists and Lamar Odom had a double-double with 18 points and 17 rebounds. He also had five assists.
Lakers reserve Matt Barnes had 11 points on four-for-eight shooting.
Grant Hill led the Suns with 21 points. The starting backcourt of Steve Nash (three-for-nine shooting) and Jason Richardson (six for 18) combined for only 27 points.
Suns Center Robin Lopez finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds while Hedo Turkoglu, who missed all three of his shots in the first half, had only nine points on four-of-seven shooting.
The Lakers improved to 2-0 and play again Sunday at Staples Center against the Golden State Warriors.
Lakers 87, Suns 79 (end of third quarter)
At one point in the third quarter, the score was tied, 76-76.
But then the Lakers went on a 9-0 run to open an 85-76 lead.
That's what helped the Lakers keep an eight-point lead entering the fourth quarter.
During the run, Pau Gasol scored twice, Kobe Bryant made two free throws and Steve Blake made a three-pointer.
Lakers 57, Suns 50 (halftime)
The Lakers opened up a seven-point lead over the Suns at halftime.
Pau Gasol finished the first half with 14 points and Kobe Bryant had 12 points.
Lamar Odom came alive, scoring nine points and grabbing 11 rebounds while handing out four assists by halftime.
Grant Hill made seven of 12 shots and leads the Suns with 14 points. Center Robin Lopez has eight points on four-of-five shooting and six rebounds, but the starting backcourt of Steve Nash and Jason Richardson is a combined two-for-11 shooting with seven points. Reserve point guard Goran Dragic gave the team a boost with 10 points off the bench.
Hedo Turkoglu, the power forward Phoenix acquired in a trade with Toronto this summer to replace Amare Stoudemire, is scoreless after missing all three of his shots.
Lakers 28, Suns 27 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers shot 46.4% from the field in the first quarter to open a one-point lead over Phoenix.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with eight points and Pau Gasol had six points, three rebounds and three assists.
The Suns shot 50% from the field in the first quarter. Grant Hill had seven points to lead Phoenix.
When you ask Lakers Coach Phil Jackson what's different about the Phoenix Suns now that Amare Stoudemire left as a free-agent for the New York Knicks, Jackson says, "I haven't seen anything different."
At least that's what Jackson said during his pregame news conference about two hours before the Lakers were scheduled to face the Suns tonight at US Airways Center.
Jackson said the Suns run some different plays with offseason acquisition Hedo Turkoglu, whom Phoenix acquired in a trade from the Toronto Raptors. Turkoglu plays the power forward position that Stoudemire played, but he is more of an outside shooter.
Now when you ask Suns Coach Alvin Gentry how different his team is without Stoudemire, an athletic and bruising power forward, he has a different answer.
"Yeah, we're a lot different without Amare," Gentry said. "He's the best roll and finisher in the game. I don't think there's anybody even close."
During the Western Conference finals, Gentry went to a zone defense to slow down the Lakers. The strategy allowed the Suns to take the Lakers to six games before losing the series.
Gentry was asked if he would employ a zone defense against the Lakers on Friday night.
"You have to give them differnet looks," Gentry said. "They are too good of a team to give them the same look."
Gentry is one coach who holds the Lakers in high regard.
He understands why people are so excited about the Miami Heat getting LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh.
But Gentry doesn't understand why the Heat was picked as the favorites to win the NBA title over the two-time defending champion Lakers.
"There's a lot of talk about that team in South Beach," Gentry said. "I think those (Laker) guys enjoy that. I think they like flying under the radar."
-- Broderick Turner, reporting from Phoenix
Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom looks to pass over the defense of Suns forward Hedo Turkoglu in the first quarter Friday night. Credit: Matt York / Associated Press