LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant scored 48 points — his fifth straight game with 25 or more — and the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Phoenix Suns 99-83 Tuesday night to win their seventh straight at home and third in a row overall.
Bryant, the NBA’s leading scorer, topped the 40-point mark for the first time this season, the first in the league to do so. He was 18 of 31 from the floor and made 12 of 13 free throws. Pau Gasol added 16 points and 12 rebounds.
Channing Frye scored 17 points, Marcin Gortat had 16 points and 12 rebounds, and Steve Nash added 13 points and eight assists for the Suns, who had their two-game winning streak snapped.
Shannon Brown scored Phoenix’s first six points of the fourth quarter, twice drawing the Suns within one. He and Frye then hit consecutive 3-pointers that got the Suns to 83-82, but they were never able to take the lead in Brown’s first game against his former team. He finished with 11 points.
The Lakers closed the game on a 16-2 run, including 10 in a row against a Suns team that is just behind them in the Pacific Division. Bryant had their final 10 points.
Phoenix led by one in the third and tied the game twice after that before getting outscored 11-6 to end the quarter trailing 73-68.
The Lakers led 46-40 at the break after allowing the Suns to erase most of their 12-point lead in the second quarter. The Suns got balanced scoring in a 15-2 run that drew them within one before Bryant and Gasol keyed a 9-2 spurt to end the first half, when Bryant scored 23.
Bryant scored 13 of the Lakers’ final 15 points to put them up 25-19 in the first quarter after they trailed by nine.
NOTES: It was Bryant’s 108th career 40-point game. He had three last season. … The Lakers had 15 turnovers after turning the ball over 27 times in a 90-82 win against Memphis two nights earlier. … The Lakers G Jason Kapono missed the game to be with his wife after she gave birth to twins and F-C Troy Murphy sat out with an upset stomach. … Brown said he had mixed emotions about facing the team he won two NBA titles with before leaving the Lakers as a free agent. Bryant scored over Brown to end the first quarter. … The game was the first of 18 back-to-back sets the Lakers will play in this lockout-shortened season. They’ll be at Utah on Wednesday night.