for this game

Bryant, Lakers spoil Suns home opener in impressive style

Nov 3, 2007 - 7:01 AM By Bob Huhn PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

PHOENIX (Ticker) - The Kobe Bryant show featured its supporting cast on Friday.

Vladimir Radmanovic scored 19 points off the bench and Bryant added 16 and 11 rebounds through three quarters as the Los Angeles Lakers posted a convincing 119-98 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

Andrew Bynum had 14 points and 13 boards and Derek Fisher also scored 14 points for Los Angeles, which shot a blistering 56 percent (46-of-85) from the field.

"I don't like the word shocking. I think it was a remarkable performance," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "We played well, and they didn't play like they usually do."

Radmanovic's performance gives Lakers coach Phil Jackson more confidence in the 6-10 forward, who missed the second half of last season after injuring his leg snowboarding.

"I didn't have a chance to play against them in the playoffs last year," Radmanovic said. "It is like a new season with a new start, and I am trying to make something of it. I used to be a shooter, and yes, I will be a shooter again. You go out there and you don't think you react, and that is what I did."

It was the first regular-season win in Phoenix for the Lakers since capturing a 104-92 victory here on February 22, 2004 - a span of six meetings.

"We were just soft, we just didn't play well," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We're trying to do the right thing but without any juice, without any heart."

In the first quarter, Los Angeles then turned offense up a notch, outscoring Phoenix 21-8 to build a commanding 33-20 cushion. Bryant and Fisher combined for 17 points in the quarter.

The Lakers put the contest away in the third, as they shot 65 percent in the period to forge a 95-67 advantage heading into the final period. Los Angeles held a 32-17 edge in the third and did not need Bryant in the fourth.

"We need wins like this to get to another notch," Bryant said. "We have to have wins like this where we gut it out and play hard. It shows we have a lot of will because to do that we have to have a lot of energy, and that is what we talk about, playing hard."

Leandro Barbosa scored 23 points and Steve Nash chipped in 19 for Phoenix, which has eliminated Los Angeles from the playoffs in the first round the past two campaigns.

"We are clearly not the same team we have been in the past yet," Nash said. "A lot of things you can point to and a lot of things we didn't do on the court. You combine that with we didn't get home until four in the morning, there is a lot of things we need to clear up."

With 4:45 left in the fourth, things got heated between both coaches when D'Antoni called a timeout followed by Jackson, who then called a timeout of his own - leading to an exchange of words between the two.

"Two timeouts in a row," D'Antoni said. "(Jackson) took eight minutes to explain a play he probably didn't even use. I thought he disrespected our players, but he likes to play mind games. He might want to try that during the playoffs when we bust him every time."

"(D'Antoni) wasn't thinking straight," Jackson said. "He'd understand that if he thought about it for a second. I think he thought I was trying to showboat, I am not sure. But we wanted to get the mandatory timeout out of the way, so we don't have to endure those four ESPN timeouts."

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