Kobe Bryant scores 48 points in 99-83 victory over Suns
Whoever puts together the Kobe Bryant season highlight package will get plenty of mileage out of the fourth quarter of the Lakers' triumph over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday at Staples Center.
Bryant faked out Grant Hill on the wing and drove around him for a two-handed dunk that gave the Lakers a nine-point lead.
Bryant then one-upped himself on the Lakers' next possession, taking an alley-oop pass from Matt Barnes for a reverse dunk that had fans roaring for a few minutes as Phoenix took a timeout.
It was a night of unforgettable plays for Bryant, who finished with a season-high 48 points on 18-for-31 shooting as the Lakers improved to 7-1 at Staples Center.
Pau Gasol logged a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds and Andrew Bynum added 12 points, but it was mostly Bryant who was a constant pain for the Suns. Bryant made a couple of pullup jumpers and a pair of free throws in the final two minutes, helping him reach the highest point total by an NBA player this season.
Former Laker Shannon Brown had a nice spurt early in the fourth quarter, making three baskets to help Phoenix pull to within a point. The former Laker finished with 11 points, the first time in five games this season he has reached double figures and the Suns have lost.
The next challenge won't be as easy for the Lakers, who go on the road to play Utah on Wednesday in the second part of a back-to-back situation. The Lakers are 0-3 on the road this season, including a bad loss to Sacramento in their second game.
At 37, Steve Nash can still run circles around other point guards.
Nash was helping Phoenix hang around in the third quarter against the Lakers, burying jumpers and finding teammates open for layups.
But the Lakers closed the quarter on a 5-2 mini-run, taking a five-point lead into the final 12 minutes. Kobe Bryant has 32 points on 12-for-24 shooting, and Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol have 12 points apiece.
Marcin Gortat has 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Suns.
The Lakers are attempting to improve to 7-1 at Staples Center.
Lakers 46, Suns 42 (halftime)
Shannon Brown wasn't the only player to make a reappearance on the court at Staples Center.
The seemingly forgotten Luke Walton had a few memorable first-half moments, grabbing five rebounds, distributing two assists and making a layup off a pass from Metta World Peace.
The reserve forward's basket gave the Lakers a 12-point lead, which they squandered before rebounding for a 46-42 halftime advantage. Walton was on the court in large part because the Lakers were missing bench players Josh McRoberts (toe), Troy Murphy (upset stomach) and Jason Kapono (birth of twin daughters).
Kobe Bryant cooled a bit after his 17-point first quarter, making one basket and four free throws in the second quarter. He has 23 points on nine-for-16 shooting for the Lakers, who are shooting 44.2% to Phoenix's 41.5%.
Channing Frye (12 points) is the only player who has scored in double figures for the Suns, who have won three of four in large part because they have improved their shooting in recent games. Frye made five of his six first-half shots, including two of three from three-point range.
Brown, the former Laker who signed a one-year, $3.5-million contract with Phoenix last month, had a mostly forgettable first half other than a one-handed dunk on a breakaway. He has made only one of five shots.
Lakers 25, Suns 19 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers were missing a good chunk of their roster Tuesday night at Staples Center, but it didn't seem to matter in the early going.
They still had Kobe Bryant.
Trailing, 19-10, the Lakers went on a 15-0 run late in the quarter that included six baskets by Bryant and a turnaround jumper by Metta World Peace. Included in the spurt was a three-point play in which Bryant pump-faked former teammate Shannon Brown into the air before making a jumper and drawing a foul on Brown.
Bryant finished the quarter with 17 points, making eight of 11 shots.
The Lakers were without forwards Josh McRoberts (sprained toe) and Troy Murphy (upset stomach) and shooting guard Jason Kapono, whose wife gave birth to twin daughters earlier in the day. Coach Mike Brown excused Kapono from attending the game to be with his family.
Channing Frye had eight points for the Suns, making two of three three-pointers.
The Lakers were taking much better care of the basketball one game after committing 27 turnovers in a victory over Memphis; they had one turnover in the first quarter against the Suns.
-- Ben Bolch
Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, left, shoots next to Phoenix guard Shannon Brown during the first half of Tuesday's game at Staples Center. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times