Lakers run past Suns in opener

Posted: May 18, 2010

Even on a balky knee, Kobe Bryant had no problem giving the Los Angeles Lakers an early leg up in the Western Conference finals.

Bryant scored 40 points, Lamar Odom added 19 points and 19 rebounds, and the Lakers opened the series with ruthless offensive efficiency in a 128-107 victory over the visiting Phoenix Suns last night.

Pau Gasol had 21 points for the top-seeded Lakers, who won their seventh straight playoff game and snapped the Suns' six-game streak with a phenomenal second half, highlighted by Bryant's 21-point third quarter following an off-week during which he barely stepped on the practice court to rest his litany of minor injuries.

"He's the best scorer in the league," said Odom, who set a career playoff high for rebounds in his most assertive game of the current postseason. "Time off is exactly what he needed."

The defending NBA champions beat the third-seeded Suns at their own uptempo game when necessary, fluidly running the court to set up baskets for Bryant in his sixth straight 30-point game. Bryant then rested for most of the fourth quarter in the 11th 40-point game of his playoff career.

"Kobe kind of controlled the whole game," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "I thought we could have withstood the game that he had . . . but when he's making his jumper like that, there's not a whole lot you can do about it."

Amare Stoudemire scored 23 points and Steve Nash had 13 points and 13 assists for the Suns, who hadn't lost since April 24.

"They're probably going to continue to be taller than us as the series goes on, so we've got to . . . make everything as tough as possible," said Nash, whose injured eye didn't bother him. "We played hard, but we didn't make enough shots, and we had a few too many breakdowns."

Several dozen people waving signs and American flags gathered outside Staples Center before the game in a protest Lakers coach Phil Jackson's refusal to criticize Arizona's new anti-immigration law, Los Angeles police said. The protest was peaceful and there were no arrests, police said.

Noteworthy

* Bob Breitbard, who owned the San Diego Rockets, has died at 91. Breitbard owned the Rockets from their expansion season of 1967-68 until he sold them in 1971 to a group that moved the team to Houston.

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