Monday , Feb , 23 , 2004 C.Y. Ellis

Los Angeles Lakers Team Report – February 23

=== Los Angeles Lakers Team Report – February 23 ===

(Sports Network) – Kobe Bryant scored 16 of his 40 points in the fourth
quarter, leading the Los Angeles Lakers to a 104-92 victory over the
Phoenix Suns on Sunday at America West Arena.

Bryant was 15-of-25 from the field for his second 40-point performance of the
season. Gary Payton added 20 points and Shaquille O’Neal scored 19 for the
Lakers, who have won four straight games.

The Suns overcame a 14-point deficit to pull ahead at halftime and led by as
many as six points in the third quarter. But LA rebounded to pull ahead 62-61
on Payton’s bucket inside the 5:00 mark.

There were four lead changes and four ties after that until the Lakers grabbed
the lead for good at 72-69 on Payton’s three. Bryant then scored the period’s
final bucket to give the Lakers a 74-69 advantage heading into the fourth
quarter.

Phoenix got as close as four several times in the opening minutes of the
fourth — the last time around the 6:00 mark when Amare Stoudemire made it
86-82. But the Lakers followed that bucket by outscoring Phoenix 14-8 over
the next four minutes to take a comfortable 100-90 lead with two minutes
remaining.

The Suns never threatened after that, and the Lakers secured a 3-1 victory in
the season series with Phoenix while improving to 17-2 when they score at
least 100 points.

The Lakers are off until Wednesday when they visit rookie phenom Carmelo
Anthony and the Denver Nuggets.

LAL