Lakers vs. Phoenix: Lakers defeat Suns in triple overtime thriller
The Lakers escaped after blowing a 21-point lead and improved to 13-1 since the All-Star break.
Bryant also 12 rebounds and nine assists, coming up one assist short of a triple-double.
After Grant Hill fouled out with 2:19 left in the third overtime, Bryant had room to operate.
Bryant made a three-pointer over Jared Dudley for a 133-132 Lakers lead.
Then Artest did his thing.
He got a steal after Steve Nash lost the ball and raced down court for a left-handed dunk.
Artest then made a 15-foot fade-away for a 137-132 Lakers lead.
But Channing Frye made a three-pointer with 1:03 left to close the Suns' gap to 137-135.
Kobe Bryant made an 11-foot shot to give the Lakers a 139-135 lead with 14.2 seconds left in the game.
Lakers 130, Suns 130 (double overtime)
The Lakers couldn't finish the game in two overtimes, so it took another.
Pau Gasol tied the score at 130-130 by making two free throws with 2.5 seconds left in the second overtime.
Grant Hill was unable to get a shot off before time expired.
It was the Lakers' first triple overtime game since Dec. 29, 2006, at Charlotte.
The Lakers lost that game.
Lakers 121, Suns 121 (overtime)
Channing Frye made three free throws to tie the score at 121-121 in overtime.
Lamar Odom had fouled Frye while shooting a three-pointer with 1.1 seconds left in the OT.
The Lakers and Odom said the foul happened before Frye took the shot, but the referees disagreed after talking to each other.
Odom missed a shot as time expired, sending the game into double overtime.
Lakers 112, Suns 112 (end of fourth quarter)
The Lakers blew all of their lead and only got to overtime after Vince Carter missed a game-winning three-pointer to end the fourth quarter.
The Lakers had a 21-point lead that they let the Suns slice up, all the way to a 101-101 tie after Mickael Pietrus made three free throws after he was fouled by Shannon Brown shooting a three-pointer.
When the Lakers went ahead 110-101, it looked as if they had the game under control.
But the Sun got a basket from Marcin Gortat and a three-pointer by Steve Nash to pull to within 110-106 to keep the heat on the Lakers.
The Suns tied the score at 112-112 after Grant Hill made a three-pointer withi 31.8 seconds left.
Kobe Bryant missed a nine-foot runner in the lane, leaving the door open for the Suns.
Lakers 95, Suns 85 (end of third quarter)
The Lakers opened the third with a quickn 9-0 run, putting the Suns in a 75-61 hole.
The Lakers stretched that lead to 89-68 on a three-pointer by Kobe Bryant.
But after Steve Nash made back-to-back three-pointers to pull the Suns to within 89-74, Lakers Coach Phil Jackson called a timeout with 4:16 left in the third.
The Lakers then had a hard time stopping the Suns.
When Channing Frye made a three-pointer, the Suns had cut a 21-point deficit to nine points at the end of the third quarter.
Lakers 66, Suns 60 (end of first half)
Neither team played much defense in the first 24 minutes.
The Lakers, however, pride themselves on being a good defensive team. But they had trouble slowing down the Suns in the first half.
The Suns, on the other hand, don't play much defense, and it showed.
The Lakers had four starters score in double figures in the first half, led by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, both of whom had 14 first-half points. Lamar Odom scored 13, making six of eight shots.
The Lakers shot 54.3% from the field in the first half, the Suns 51.1%.
Suns 31, Lakers 27 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers wanted to limit Phoenix's three-point shooting, holding the Suns to three for nine from behind the arc in the first quarter Tuesday night.
But the Suns had eight fastbreak points, allowing them to open a four-point lead.
Channing Frye led the Suns with 10 points on five-for-eight shooting. His three misses were three-point attempts.
The Suns shot 50% against the Lakers' defense.
When the Lakers last played the Suns at Staples Center on Nov. 14, Phoenix won because of its three-point shooting. The Suns attempted 40 shots from behind the arc and made 22.
"If we make 22 threes this game, we'll have a good chance to win, I'll tell you that," Suns Coach Alvin Gentry said before Phoenix took on the Lakers on Tuesday night.
The Lakers hope to control the pace against the Suns. That means trying to slow down Suns point guard Steve Nash.
"We try not to get caught up in the frenzy of it and try to control it with our offense by making multiple passes," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said.
-- Broderick Turner
Photo: Lakers Pau Gasol, left, battles Suns Robin Lopez, #15, left, and Channing Frye, #8, right, for a rebound in the first quarter at the Staples Center. Credit: Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles Times