LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers ran all over the NBA's speediest team. Kobe Bryant scored 29 points, Andrew Bynum had 26 points and 15 rebounds in his return from injury, and the Lakers put the brakes on the Phoenix Suns' fast start with a 121-102 victory Thursday night.
LOS ANGELES — The Los Angeles Lakers ran all over the NBA's speediest team.
Kobe Bryant scored 29 points, Andrew Bynum had 26 points and 15 rebounds in his return from injury, and the Lakers put the brakes on the Phoenix Suns' fast start with a 121-102 victory Thursday night.
Josh Powell scored 14 points for the defending champions, who won their sixth straight and improved to 7-1 by handing the Suns their second loss of the season.
Los Angeles snapped the Suns' four-game winning streak by countering Phoenix's up-tempo style with defense and the Lakers' own transition game, handily winning an entertaining November matchup between two of the NBA's most impressive teams so far.
Steve Nash had 13 points and five assists for the Suns, who had their worst shooting night of the season. The two-time MVP sat out the final 15½ minutes after getting little help from his teammates.
Amare Stoudemire endured a 2-for-15 shooting night, while Grant Hill managed just nine points. Jason Richardson missed all five of his 3-point attempts while scoring only five points for the NBA's highest-scoring team, although the reserves had 21 in the final 5:45 to help Phoenix reach 100 for the 10th time this season.
Jared Dudley led the Suns with 14 points, but they failed to match the 1980-81 club's franchise-best 9-1 start. The Suns made just 36.5 percent of their shots (38 for 104) after never going lower than 45.5 percent this season.
Bynum looked sharp in his return to the Lakers' starting lineup after a two-game absence with a strained right elbow. Los Angeles still is without Pau Gasol, who won't make the trip to Denver for Friday's rematch of the Western Conference finals while rehabilitating his strained hamstring.
In the first half, Los Angeles frequently played at something approaching the Suns' favored breakneck tempo, and the Lakers were better at it than Phoenix. After Bryant's 12 first-quarter points put the Lakers ahead early, Los Angeles scored the final eight points of the first half to take a 59-45 lead.
Phoenix had just five assists on its 17 first-half field goals — nine fewer baskets than the Lakers — with combined 3-for-19 shooting by Richardson and Stoudemire.
The Suns' lack of sync showed in a quick stretch of the third quarter, when Nash threw a pass into the stands moments before Odom hit Bryant with a quarter-court alley-oop pass for a behind-the-head dunk, putting the Lakers up 80-55.
Shannon Brown punctuated the win with consecutive high-flying dunks in the lane midway through the fourth quarter, putting Los Angeles up by 26.
BONUS SHOTS: Lakers coach Phil Jackson earned his 1,048th victory, tying Charlotte's Larry Brown for fifth-most in NBA history. ... Alvin Gentry and Jackson both expressed surprise at New Orleans coach Byron Scott's firing earlier in the day. Los Angeles and the Suns both routed the Hornets in the past week, but both coaches thought Scott had earned more time to figure out his club's rotation. ... Richardson and Los Angeles' Sasha Vujacic got offsetting technical fouls 4.3 seconds before halftime for a confrontation after Richardson's hard foul on Bryant. ... The Rev. Jesse Jackson, Zac Efron, Heather Locklear, George Lopez and Eliza Dushku were among the courtside celebrities.