After resting for three games with general soreness, Kobe Bryant returned to the Los Angeles Lakers lineup. Without Kobe, the Lakers went 1-2 during that stretch, including back-to-back losses against the Chicago Bulls and Dallas Mavericks. Looking for their 10th win of the season, the Lakers hosted the Phoenix Suns, who held the eighth seed in the Western Conference.
Kobe Bryant started the game as a facilitator as the Lakers’ strong ball movement from the past three games continued. While Kobe did not take a shot until late in the quarter, Ronnie Price had another strong performance with eight early points as the Lakers lead 28-26.
With Kobe Bryant resting after playing 11 minutes in the first quarter, Nick Young got off to another strong performance from beyond the three-point arc by making four straight shots. Although the Lakers led by as much as seven points, the Suns made a strong push late in the quarter as both teams traded baskets. Goran Dragic made a three at the buzzer to end the first half, but it did not count as the Lakers held a 56-55 lead.
To start the second half, Kobe Bryant made an 18-footer and a steal by Wes Johnson led to a layup by Ed Davis within the first minute. After leading by five, the Suns took control as they went on a 10-2 run and pushed their lead to as much as seven points. However, the Lakers had a response as both teams traded baskets, but the Suns held a 88-81 lead.
Trailing by seven, the Lakers could not guard the Suns as two straight three-points by Goran Dragic and Gerald Green helped establish their biggest lead of the game. While the Suns had a double-digit lead, the Lakers went on a run to cut the deficit down to two midway through the quarter. However, the Suns continued their strong play until Wes Johnson’s two threes cut the deficit down to three. In the final minutes, the Lakers could not secure an offensive rebound as Markieff Morris made a tough basket over Nick Young and secured the 116-107 win.[divide]
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