|Bryant helps Lakers take lead in Western Conference, but for how long?|
|Written by Admin|
|Tuesday, 11 March 2008 23:31|
They're hoping they can still do that when they return from their rugged four-game road trip.
``It's going to be a tough one,'' Bryant said. ``Those teams are great teams. In the East, you have a couple gimme games. In the West, you don't get those.''
The Lakers (45-19) will play in New Orleans on Friday night, followed by games at Houston, Dallas and Utah. The four teams have a cumulative record of 168-86 - including 101-26 at home.
``I told them basically we aren't going to beat any of those teams if we play like we have played the last two or three games,'' Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
Bryant scored 10 of his 34 points in the final 8 1/2 minutes, Lamar Odom added 20 points and nine rebounds, and the Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 117-108 on Tuesday night for their 18th win in 22 games.
``It's time to have some fun and play some of the top teams in the NBA,'' forward Luke Walton said of the trip. ``There's going to be hostile environments, every possession is going to be crucial. That's a lot of fun for a player.''
In other NBA games, it was: Phoenix 132, Memphis 111; Washington 105, Milwaukee 97; Indiana 114, Seattle 107; Chicago 108, Utah 96; and Portland 103, Minnesota 96.
At Los Angeles, the Lakers were 15-of-32 from 3-point range for season highs in both categories. Bryant also had seven rebounds and seven assists for the Pacific Division-leading Lakers, who lead the San Antonio Spurs by a half-game in the Western Conference.
``We did an OK job defensively,'' Bryant said. ``The first half is always an adjustment to get used to these type of teams the way they play. I think in the second half we did a much better job.''
T.J. Ford scored all but four of his 28 points in the second half for the Raptors (34-29), who lost for the fifth time in seven games.
Suns 132, Grizzlies 111
At Phoenix, Amare Stoudemire had 29 points and 13 rebounds in 30 minutes, and the Suns beat the Memphis Grizzlies for the eighth straight time.
Raja Bell added 20 points, including 18 in the third quarter, for the Suns, who won consecutive games for the first time since Shaquille O'Neal joined the lineup 11 games ago.
Rudy Gay led the Grizzlies with 20.
Wizards 105, Bucks 97
At Washington, Antawn Jamison scored 23 points, rookie Nick Young had a career-high 22 and the Wizards rallied in the fourth quarter.
Michael Redd scored 26 points, Andrew Bogut had 23, and Charlie Villanueva had 24 points and matched a season high with 16 rebounds for the Bucks, who lost for the sixth time in seven games.
Pacers 114, SuperSonics 107
Mike Dunleavy scored 32 points and the Indiana Pacers snapped a three-game losing streak to send Seattle to its fifth straight loss.
Kevin Durant scored 27 points and reserve Nick Collison added 15 points and eight rebounds for the visiting Sonics.
Bulls 108, Jazz 96
At Chicago, Drew Gooden tied a season high with 24 points, Ben Gordon added 19, and the Bulls snapped the Utah Jazz's five-game winning streak.
Gordon hit several key 3-pointers, including two late in the third and one midway through the fourth after the Jazz pulled within 10. That was enough to offset strong performances by Utah's Mehmet Okur (22 points, 18 rebounds) and Deron Williams (20 points, 10 assists).
Trail Blazers 103, Timberwolves 96
At Minneapolis, Brandon Roy had 27 points and nine assists, playing biggest during a game-deciding 12-2 run in the fourth quarter to lift Portland.
Al Jefferson scored 12 of his 20 points in the fourth and Rashad McCants had 18 for Minnesota.