Lakers' all-around game too much as Suns' rally falls short

PHOENIX -- There was no one-man show for the Los Angeles Lakers this time.

Kobe Bryant got plenty of help in an intense 102-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.

All five Lakers starters scored at least 15, led by Bryant's 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists -- along with seven turnovers.

The Suns rallied from 15 down in the second half and led briefly early in the fourth quarter before the Lakers pulled ahead for good.

"We played with a lot of poise," Bryant said. "They got back into it but we never really got rattled. We just had to execute and take what the defense gives us."

Los Angeles had lost three of four overall and four in a row on the road.

"At some point we have to step it up," the Lakers' Pau Gasol said. "I think it was a perfect opportunity for us tonight to step it up and play a good game and have a nice win and get ourselves going, because we have been kind of struggling for the most part, especially on the road."

Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry was ejected by referee Mike Callahan and had to be restrained by his assistant coaches before leaving the court with 5:06 to play. Gentry thought Gasol should have been called for a flagrant foul on Lou Amundson's drive to the basket with 5:06 to play.

Andrew Bynum added 18 points for the Lakers, while Gasol, Ron Artest and Derek Fisher scored 15 apiece.

"Kobe kind of messed up his hand a little bit again. He was reluctant to shoot," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "He got the ball to guys wide open, made the defense collapse. They shared the ball pretty well."

Amare Stoudemire had 29 points and 16 rebounds for the Suns, playing for the first time in six days. Phoenix was without Channing Frye, suspended for his part in an altercation against the Indiana Pacers the last time the Suns played.

Gentry didn't want to talk about the ejection, just his second since he took over as coach after last season's All-Star break. Amundson didn't think the play was any big deal.

"It was a hard foul but I don't think he's a dirty player or anything," Amundson said. "I think he was just trying to make a play on the ball. It was really physical all night, so I wasn't surprised."

Bryant liked the play.

"Pau gave a hard foul tonight, which is what we like to see from him," Bryant said. "We don't like giving up layups or giving up easy opportunities. We're just playing hard. It's not playing dirty. It's just not giving up anything easy."

Bryant banged his previously injured finger when Stoudemire blocked his dunk attempt in the third quarter.

"I can't hold the ball, so that's a little frustrating," Bryant said. "But it feels OK now."

The Lakers fell behind early, used a stifling defense to take control in the second quarter and built a 15-point lead in the third.

The Suns came back to lead 82-81 after Amundson's third dunk in the opening 2:50 of the fourth quarter.

But Shannon Brown responded with a dunk over Amundson, triggering a decisive 12-1 run. Fisher's two free throws on the two technicals against Gentry put Los Angeles ahead 93-83 with 5:06 remaining.

Phoenix managed cut it to 100-96 on Stoudemire's dunk with 1:26 to play. Amundson blocked Lamar Odom's shot at the other end, but Steve Nash threw the ball away. Bryant finished off the scoring by making two of four free throws.

Stoudemire had 17 points and eight rebounds in the first quarter, when the Suns led by as many nine.

The Lakers, though, outscored Phoenix 21-9 over the last seven minutes of the first half to lead 53-46 at the break. The Suns shot 22 percent (5 of 23) in the second quarter.

"I think the second quarter is was what got us," Stoudemire said. "We didn't score particularly well there. The Lakers took advantage of it."

Game notes
Suns starting center Robin Lopez had zero rebounds in 19 minutes. Phoenix's guards -- Nash, Richardson and Goran Dragic -- were a combined 3-of-15 shooting in the first half. ... Grant Hill returned to the game after getting three stitches to his upper lip after taking an elbow from Sasha Vujacic with 1:59 left in the third quarter. ... The Lakers' snapped Phoenix's string of consecutive home wins over Pacific Division foes at 14. ... Los Angeles won the season series 3-1.