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Thursday, March 24, 2011

Kobe's 42 helps Lakers outlast feisty Suns in 3OT

LOS ANGELES (AP) When the Los Angeles Lakers led Phoenix by 21 points in the third quarter, Kobe Bryant and Lamar Odom were pretty sure their night would end quickly and tidily.

News photo
Triple trouble: Los Angeles' Kobe Bryant drives on Phoenix's Marcin Gortat during the Lakers' 139-137 win on Tuesday. AP PHOTO

After three overtimes, 276 combined points and multiple heart-stopping moments, Bryant and Odom were just grateful to stagger out of Staples Center with a victory in a once-in-a-decade thriller.

Bryant scored a season-high 42 points, Ron Artest got five of his 18 points in the final 2 minutes of the third overtime, and the Lakers outlasted the Suns for a 139-137 win Tuesday night in an enormously entertaining rematch of last season's Western Conference finals.

"I wish we would have put them away when we should have," said Odom, who had a season-high 29 points and 16 rebounds. "But we found a way to win, and that's all that matters."

Pau Gasol added 24 points, including two tying free throws with 2.5 seconds left in the second overtime in the Lakers' 13th win in 14 games since the All-Star break.

Channing Frye scored a career-high 32 points and hit three tying free throws with 1.1 seconds left to force double overtime for Phoenix, and Steve Nash had 19 points and 20 assists in the Suns' fifth loss in seven games. Even worse, the Suns had to fly home after the game to host Toronto on Wednesday night.

"We have resolve. We play hard, and we compete like crazy," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "We were playing a helluva basketball team tonight, a team that's playing better than anybody in the league right now. They're 13-1 since the All-Star break. We had a chance to do something special, and we didn't quite get it done, so obviously it hurts."

Both teams traded improbable last-second heroics in what turned into just the fourth triple-overtime game for the Lakers since they moved to Los Angeles. The Lakers hadn't hosted a triple-OT game since 1969.

"I'm tired. I want to go home," said Odom, who played over 55 minutes while filling in for suspended center Andrew Bynum. "I'm in the mood for pancakes."

Bryant and Artest came up with the big late baskets in the Lakers' fifth straight victory, but the stakes were higher for the 10th-place Suns, who are scrapping to return the playoffs. The Lakers, sitting in second place in the West, already clinched their woeful division Sunday, taking a 14-game lead over the Suns.

Trail Blazers 111, Wizards 76

In Portland, Gerald Wallace scored 28 points to lead the Trail Blazers to the easy win.

LaMarcus Aldridge had 22 points before sitting for the fourth quarter, and Nicolas Batum added 22 points and 12 rebounds for the Trail Blazers, who are jockeying for playoff position in the Western Conference as the season winds to a close. Portland moved within a game of Denver for the sixth spot, and a game up on seventh-place New Orleans.

Jordan Crawford had 12 points for the Wizards, who dropped their seventh straight on the road to fall to just 1-32 away from home.

Portland led by as many as 38 points, and the starting lineup scored all but 20 of the team's points.

Bulls 114, Hawks 81

In Atlanta, Derrick Rose had 30 points and 10 assists, helping the Bulls move back in the Eastern Conference lead with a runaway win over the Hawks.

Chicago's starters sat out the final period after the Bulls set season highs with 41 points in the second quarter and 72 points in the first half. Luol Deng finished with 27 points.

The Hawks, who have lost seven of 10, were denied an opportunity to clinch a playoff spot and absorbed their first home loss to Chicago in four years.



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