for this game

Lakers outlast shorthanded Suns

Dec 11, 2008 - 7:32 AM By John Reger PA SportsTicker Contributing Writer

LOS ANGELES (Ticker) -- The Los Angeles Lakers struggled for the second consecutive night, but this time managed to escape defeat.

Pau Gasol scored 28 points, pacing the Lakers to a 115-110 victory against the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.

Kobe Bryant had 18 points and seven rebounds, but endured another tough night from the field, making just 6-of-16 shots from the floor. Bryant was 9-of-25 from the field during Tuesday's 113-101 setback to the Sacramento Kings, who snapped an eight-game losing streak with the win.

"We're OK, our goal is to win a championship, so that is why everybody is a little edgy," Bryant said. "That's our goal. It's going to be there until we win a championship."

Andrew Bynum added 17 points and 11 rebounds for Los Angeles. Sasha Vujacic scored a season-high 15 points off the bench, hitting 3-of-4 3-pointers, and Derek Fisher scored 13 points.

Matt Barnes poured in 25 points and grabbed 10 rebounds while Amare Stoudemire contributed 18 and 11 boards for the Suns, who dressed just eight players after trading Boris Diaw, Raja Bell and Sean Singletary to the Charlotte Bobcats earlier on Wednesday in return for Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and a 2010 second-round draft pick.

Phoenix was also without Shaquille O'Neal, who was attending services for his great-grandmother, who recently passed away, and Alando Tucker has been out since November 4 after undergoing knee surgery.

"There's really no moral victories, they just beat us," Barnes said. "We played hard, but we were very shorthanded with eight guys. It shows the potential we have and we are definitely headed in the right direction."

Despite the short bench, the Suns stayed with the Lakers for most of the game.

"The guys were highly motivated to come in here under some difficult conditions and put up a fight," Suns guard Steve Nash said. "They played great. I struggled, obviously, I was emotionally drained. I couldn't give the guys what they needed to get the win."

Leandro Barbosa's layup with 7:17 remaining in the fourth quarter narrowed Phoenix's deficit to 91-90. The Lakers went on a 9-2 run over the next 3:19 to seal the win. Bynum capped the surge with an alley-oop dunk, giving Los Angeles an insurmountable 100-92 advantage.

The Lakers had a 10-point lead midway through the third quarter, but a 3-pointer by Barnes got the Suns to within 69-68. Nash, who made only 2-of-12 shots from the field, drained a three with 3:04 remaining in the session to give Phoenix its first lead of the game at 75-74.

The Suns forged an 86-85 lead on Barbosa's 3-pointer with 10:18 to go in the fourth. Gasol's jumper on the ensuing possession put Los Angeles back on top and Lamar Odom increased the bulge to five points with back-to-back dunks.

"We aren't playing our best right now," Gasol said. "We are scoring a lot but we need to be better on the defensive end."