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Odom, Lakers top Suns with impressive comeback

Nov 1, 2006 - 6:38 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- Kobe Bryant sat out and Lamar Odom stepped up against the Phoenix Suns in a playoff rematch.

Odom tied his career high with 34 points and Andrew Bynum added 18 in his first career start as the Los Angeles Lakers erased a 15-point first-quarter deficit to post a 114-106 victory over the Suns in the season opener for both teams.

Offseason acquisition Maurice Evans netted 17 points for the Lakers, who dropped last year's first-round playoff series against the Suns when Bryant disappeared in the second half of a deciding Game Seven.

"Our second unit outplayed them, that was the difference," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Andrew knew he could be effective in the post after having played them last week."

The NBA's leading scorer last season, Bryant was missing on Tuesday, but this time he did not even suit up. The superstar guard sat out with soreness in his surgically repaired knee.

"I kind of expected Kobe not to play. We want him to take his time. We made it to the playoffs last year and we want to do the same thing again," Odom said. "We know we are going to need Kobe for the long haul, so for him to just miss a couple of games at the beginning of the season is no big deal."

Odom, the team's second-leading scorer last season, stepped up with Bryant in street clothes. He shot 12-of-24 from the floor and collected 13 rebounds and six assists.

"Our offense really helped our defense tonight. We stayed focused throughout the whole game," Odom said. "You know those guys can go on a run so we needed to stay focused on rebounding the ball and defending."

Bynum, the 10th overall pick in 2005, got the start after playing limited minutes last season. The 19-year-old 7-footer shot 7-of-11 from the floor and added nine rebounds.

Trailing, 41-26, after the opening period, the Lakers outscored the Suns, 88-65, in the final three quarters.

"I wasn't pleased with our play in the first half, but I was pleased with their performance in the second half," Jackson said.

Los Angeles used a 12-2 run to take their first lead of the game, 59-58, with 10:44 remaining in third quarter. Later in the period, Odom capped a 9-0 spurt with a 3-pointer to give the Lakers a 79-73 lead that they would not relinquish.

Kwame Brown did not play for Los Angeles.

Leandro Barbosa had 30 points and reigning two-time MVP Steve Nash added 15 and 13 assists for the Suns, who shot 52 percent but were outrebounded, 43-29.

Phoenix started the game hot, hitting its first six shots. Nash handed out seven assists in the opening period.

"We didn't guard them very well in the paint. And they were picking up all the loose balls," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We didn't look like we had any energy after the way we started.

"One-hundred six points should be enough. It was our defense that couldn't stop them. Give them credit."

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