Bryant, Bynum lead Lakers past SunsDec 26, 2007 - 4:12 AM LOS ANGELES (Ticker) - Kobe Bryant was deadly, but it was the continued improvement of his big man that propelled the Los Angeles Lakers on Christmas.
Andrew Bynum scored a career-high 28 points and added 12 rebounds to back Bryant's 38 points as the Lakers dropped the Phoenix Suns, 122-115, at the Staples Center.
Derek Fisher had 15 of his 17 points in the first half and Lamar Odom had 14 and 14 rebounds for the Lakers, who have played on Christmas every year since 1999.
"(We) just couldn't stop them," Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni said. "They played well. Bynum killed us. ... Got to give them credit. We didn't come out, we didn't stop them enough times."
Bynum is averaging 11.9 points and 10 rebounds in 28.5 minutes, but he has five double-doubles in his past seven games while averaging 18 points and 11 rebounds. He is shooting 74 percent over that span.
"This is what I've been working for over the summer," the 20-year-old said. "I put all the hard work in just for this and it's paying off. ... What (has) made a difference was my teammates looking for me. Down low, I'm wide open, setting screen-and-rolls and (they're) hitting me right under the basket. So I have no other choice but to dunk the ball."
It was Bryant, though, who found a second gear late in the game. Fresh off of becoming the youngest player in NBA history to reach 20,000 points, the All-Star guard poured in 12 fourth-quarter points to help the Lakers pull away.
"Well, he's going to close it out," D'Antoni said. "When you give him a chance, he's going to do that. That's why he's so good."
After Bynum followed Odom's missed jumper with a put-back to go ahead 106-99, Bryant hit two jumpers and two free throws for a 10-point lead.
"Offensively, it's just keeping our rhythm and knocking down shots when they present themselves," Bryant said.
Steve Nash finished with 24 points and 14 assists, Amare Stoudemire added 19 points and Shawn Marion and Raja Bell each chipped in 15 apiece for the Suns.
"We made a couple of good pushes," Marion said. "We were down pretty much the whole game against them. They made some tough shots and you have to give them credit for that, but at the same time, we couldn't catch a break out there."
The Lakers took a three-point advantage heading into the final quarter after Bryant drove through the lane and finished with an emphatic dunk to close the third.
"We came out and played the kind of basketball that we wanted to play in the third quarter," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Some things got hung up a bit and we squandered our lead, but we were able to come back and survive that and play a fourth (quarter) that was good."
In his first start with the Lakers since being acquired in a trade from the Orlando Magic on November 20, Trevor Ariza had 14 points for Los Angeles, which has won nine of the last 11 games at home.
LA LAKERS 122 FINAL
Dec 25 8:02 PM
LA LAKERS 92 END, 3RD QTR
Dec 25 7:17 PM
LA LAKERS 62 HALFTIME
Dec 25 6:27 PM
LA LAKERS 25 END, 1ST QTR
Dec 25 5:49 PM
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