Lakers 99, Suns 83: Jan. 10 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Tuesday evening home contest against Phoenix, the Lakers looking to win a seventh straight home game, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Barnes, Gasol and Bynum
Suns: S. Nash, J. Dudley, G. Hill, C. Frye, M. Gortat

FIRST QUARTER
7:38 Of L.A.’s first 10 shots, only the last came in the paint, resulting in a one-handed dunk from a rim-running Gasol. The previous nine were jump shots, only three going in, but Gasol’s dunk tied the game at eight. Of note on this eve was how thin L.A.’s bench was, since free agent acquisitions Josh McRoberts (toe), Troy Murphy (gastroenteritis) and Jason Kapono (wife having twin babies) were all out, meaning we’d see Luke Walton, Devin Ebanks and some Metta World Peace at power forward.

2:04 A slow offensive start from L.A. disappeared in a cloud of Kobe Bryant jumpers, as No. 24 nailed four straight shots to spark a 10-0 run that turned a 19-10 deficit into a 20-19 lead. His legs continue to look terrific from a health standpoint, allowing him to get to his spots and rise over defenders.

SECOND QUARTER
11:29 The Suns hadn’t scored in seemingly forever (since the 4:00 mark of the 1st Q) before finally getting a bucket from sub Hakim Warrick. L.A.’s run to close the first Q had been 15 points, 13 of which came from a white-hot Black Mamba, to make it a 25-19 lead. The last time Kobe scored 17 in a quarter? Don’t look too far back, as it happened Friday against Golden State.

5:39 The third straight inside score from Bynum preceded Walton’s jumper, which made it 35-23 Lakers, now clicking in most places, helped in part by Steve Blake’s four assists and one three-pointer off the pine. However, the Lakers would get cold quickly, inspiring a 7-0 Suns run to cut the lead to five before Bryant checked back in.

0:35.0 After struggling with his shot to start the game, Gasol got two straight jumpers to fall, allowing L.A. to reclaim a 46-42 lead after it had briefly fallen to a 12-0 Suns run. The final point of the half came from Metta World Peace, whose primary contribution came on the glass with a team-high seven boards. Blake added five assists off the bench a game after he uncharacteristically had five turnovers to just two assists.

THIRD QUARTER
12:00 I had a flashback to the 1996 draft when watching Bryant (taken 13th), Nash (15th) and Fisher (24th) come out onto the floor. The real elder statesman, however, was guarding Bryant — Grant Hill, taken third in 1994 behind Big Dog Robinson and Jason Kidd. Kobe stayed hot early in the second half, hitting two more jumpers to reach 27 points, more than half of L.A.’s 53.

4:49 Struggling from the foul line in his first six games to the tune of only 54.8 percent, Bynum made both to put L.A. up 62-60, and improve to 4-of-6 on the night. Yet Bynum wasn’t able to get many looks inside, attempting only seven shots, making four, while matching Barnes and Gasol with six boards. Shortly thereafter, Luke Walton continued a strong game off the bench by hitting his second jumper, and collecting his sixth board with two assists in 15 productive minutes.

FOURTH QUARTER
8:15 What a game, nay, start to the season from Kobe. Another tough jumper got him up to 34 points on 13-of-25 FG’s (52 percent), and L.A. a 79-74 lead. Only LeBron James has averaged more than Kobe this season. Meanwhile, his self-described “younger brother” Shannon Brown was heating up, hitting his fourth FG of the fourth quarter, a three, to get the Suns within three points.

4:43 Gasol’s jumper made it an 89-82 LAL edge as the home team rallied, this after Bryant dropped yet another jumper before back-to-back hammer dunks that deserve their own line…

3:09 OK … first came an explosive burst past Grant Hill off a shot fake, Bryant driving to the hole from the right block for a big two-handed flush. Then, moments later, Kobe went up high to catch a Barnes’ alley-oop and slam it home with two hands in reverse fashion. The second absolutely brought the house down, Kobe in full Black Mamba mode towards an NBA season high 42 points. He’d add another jumper at the 2-minute mark to reach 44 on on 17-of-30 field goals and 10-of-11 free throws, putting L.A. up 95-83.

0:35.7 For good measure, Bryant added six more points to reach 48, the most he’s scored since he dropped 49 on the Suns on March 1, 2009. Add in his 44 on Phoenix in 2010, and three of his last four highest scoring games came on the team that took L.A. out in the 2006 2007 playoffs. Your final: 99-83, LAL wins its seventh straight home game, thanks to the Black Mamba.