12/11 00:08 CST Kobe still winless after Suns beat Lakers 114-108
Kobe still winless after Suns beat Lakers 114-108
By GREG BEACHAM
AP Sports Writer
LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Goran Dragic scored 31 points and the Phoenix Suns beat the
Lakers 114-108 Tuesday night, keeping Los Angeles winless with Kobe Bryant back
in the lineup.
Bryant led the Lakers with 20 points while playing 29 mostly sharp minutes in
his second game back from a nearly eight-month absence with a torn Achilles
tendon. He led a fourth-quarter rally by the Lakers, who got within four points
with 3 minutes left before Phoenix held on for its first three-game winning
streak of the season.
Marcus Morris scored 22 points and Eric Bledsoe had 18 points and nine assists
for the surprising Suns, who never trailed after the opening minutes. Phoenix
held off the Lakers with superb fourth-quarter play from both Morris brothers.
Markieff Morris added 15 points.
Phoenix hadn't beaten the Lakers at Staples Center since November 2010.
Bryant made just three turnovers against Phoenix after committing eight in his
season debut two days ago, but had just two rebounds and three assists.
Pau Gasol scored 19 points while Jodie Meeks, Nick Young and Jordan Hill added
13 apiece for the Lakers, who have lost three of four to fall back below .500.
Los Angeles' NBA-best bench contributed 43 points while using just four
reserves, but Phoenix dominated the boards, outrebounding the Lakers 43-33.
Dragic hit two 3-pointers and didn't miss any of his 11 free throws, finishing
one point shy of his career high in his latest outstanding performance against
the Lakers. Phoenix's small, active lineup led by Dragic and Bledsoe was too
much for the bigger, slower Lakers in the final minutes.
The game was another bump in a long road for Bryant, who had nine points in a
rocky season debut on Sunday night. He was unable to rally the Lakers late in a
loss to trade-depleted Toronto, and he gave his performance an "F" after the
game, but upgraded the score to a "D" on Monday.
Bryant felt fresher than expected after his first game since April. Lakers
coach Mike D'Antoni doesn't want to play Bryant more than 30 minutes per game
early on, hoping to keep him healthy during the team's stretch of four road
games in five nights starting later this week.
Bryant started off his night against Phoenix with his first dunk of the season
off a two-footed leap in the first quarter. Bryant still emphasized playmaking
over shooting, but played a more polished floor game in the first half with 10
points, just one turnover and two assists, including the pass for Gasol's
But Phoenix jumped to an early lead with a prolific display of perimeter
shooting and fast-break opportunism. Dragic was outstanding, hitting three
3-pointers among his 15 first-half points, and Marcus Morris led a
second-quarter rally to put the Suns up by 12 points.
NOTES: Shawne Williams got a technical foul in the final seconds of the first
half for putting a forearm into Dragic, who crashed to the ground. ... D'Antoni
changed his lineup, putting Meeks and Williams in the starting five and bumping
C Robert Sacre to the bench. ... Phoenix C Alex Len didn't play with a sore