PHOENIX (AP) — Five months apart, the Los Angeles Lakers have consecutive victories in Phoenix.
Article continues below ...
The first sent the Lakers to the NBA finals and an eventual championship. This one gave Phil Jackson his 1,100th victory, something only four other coaches have accomplished.
“It’s just a number,” he said, “but it’s kind of overwhelming how many it is.”
The Lakers spoiled the Suns’ home opener 114-106 on Friday night behind Lamar Odom’s 18 points and 17 rebounds in a rematch of last season’s Western Conference finalists.
Kobe Bryant scored 25 points and Pau Gasol had 21 in the Lakers’ eighth victory over Phoenix in their last 10 meetings. No coach has reached 1,100 victories faster than Jackson, who did it in 1,560 games, winning 11 championships along the way, with some help from Michael Jordan, Shaquille O’Neal and Bryant, among others.
“He’s something else, what he’s been able to accomplish,” Bryant said. “I can’t think of any coach who has accomplished what he’s accomplished in any sport, outside of John Wooden.”
Grant Hill scored 21 points, Robin Lopez had 18 points and 14 rebounds and Jason Richardson added 17 points for the Suns, playing on consecutive nights after beating the Jazz in Utah on Thursday. In three of the last five regular-season games against the Lakers, Phoenix was playing for the second night in a row.
Goran Dragic added 15 for Phoenix. Ron Artest scored 14 points for the Lakers, while Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes added 11 apiece.
The last time the Lakers played in Phoenix, on May 29, they finished off the Suns in Game 6 of the Western Conference finals. This season’s Suns have added three new players and lost a significant one, Amare Stoudemire, who signed with the New York Knicks.
The Suns did not come away discouraged.
“I felt coming off the back-to-back, we played hard and competed,” said Hill, who also defended Bryant most of the night, “but the Lakers, they’re champs. We played hard, but we just lost to a better team.”
Coach Alvin Gentry had a similar reaction.
“We just had a couple of little missed shots, a layup here, a layup there, and they would come down and make a big shot,” Gentry said, “and, like I said, that’s why they’re the world champs.”
Los Angeles took control with a 19-6 run over the last 3 minutes of the third quarter and first 2 of the fourth.
Shannon Brown stole Dragic’s pass and scored on an emphatic breakaway stuff to cap an 11-3 Los Angeles run to end the third quarter and the Lakers led 87-79.
Barnes’ 3-pointer to start the fourth stretched the run to 14-3 and the Lakers led 90-79. Barnes made another one, from the corner on a pass from Gasol, to put Los Angeles up 95-82 with 8: 48 to play.
With Bryant on the bench, the Phoenix reserves cut it to 97-91 on Dragic’s 3-pointer from the top of the key with 7:08 to play. Then Bryant returned the Lakers held off the last gasps of the Suns.
“We’re very fortunate here,” Bryant said. “We’ve got a couple of guys that can just stop momentum, me and Pau. Whenever it got close, we just went to one of us.”
It was tied at 76 after Hedo Turkoglu, who struggled through most of his debut in Phoenix, made a driving layup, but the Lakers scored the next nine, the last on Steve Blake’s 3-pointer to make it 85-76.
Los Angeles finished the first half with an 8-2 spurt to lead 57-50. Bryant started the run with a 3 and Derek Fisher finished it with another.
NOTES: The other coaches to reach 1,100 wins are Pat Riley, Jerry Sloan, Don Nelson and Lenny Wilkens. The Lakers play six of their first eight games at home. … The Suns had won eight straight regular-season home games. … Phoenix’s starting guards, Steve Nash and Richardson, were 2 of 11 from the field in the first half and 9 of 27 overall. … Artest made 3 of 4 3-pointers in the third quarter.