Thursday , Nov , 03 , 2005 C.Y. Ellis

Lakers try to make it two straight wins when they host Suns

(Sports Network) – The Los Angeles Lakers target their second straight win
this evening when they welcome the Phoenix Suns to the Staples Center.

The Lakers got their season off on the right foot on Wednesday, as Kobe Bryant
recorded 33 points and hit the game- winning shot with 0.6 seconds remaining
in overtime, giving Phil Jackson a triumphant return to the sidelines in LA’s
exciting 99-97 victory over Denver at the Pepsi Center.

Smush Parker contributed 20 points while Devean George had 14 along with eight
rebounds in Jackson’s first game back with the Lakers since his ugly exit from
the organization 1 1/2 years ago.

Jackson guided LA to three world championships in five seasons before he and
owner Jerry Buss mutually agreed to part ways shortly after the Lakers’ five-
game loss to Detroit in the 2004 Finals.

Bryant, whose rocky relationship with Jackson played a large role in his
departure, came through big with the game tied at 97-97 and time winding down
in the extra session.

After Kenyon Martin made 1-of-2 free throws with 22.1 seconds left to knot the
score, Los Angeles held the ball down to the final seconds. Kwame Brown missed
a hook shot but was able to get his own rebound, then threw the ball to
Bryant. The All-Star guard knocked down a 22-footer with a hand in his face
for the deciding points.

The Lakers will conclude a three-game homestand against Denver on Sunday.

Phoenix, meanwhile, was not as lucky in its season-debut, as it blew a 17-
point fourth quarter lead and dropped a 111-108 overtime decision to Dirk
Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday at America West Arena.

Reigning league MVP Steve Nash poured in a game-high 30 points and dished out
nine assists for the Suns, who compiled the NBA’s best regular-season record
last season before eventually falling to San Antonio in the Conference Finals.

Raja Bell had 18 points and Shawn Marion contributed 13 points, 16 rebounds
and seven assists before fouling out in the loss.

The Suns will wrap up a two-game road trip in Utah on Saturday.

Phoenix swept all four meetings with the Lakers last season and could have the
advantage tonight, as the road team in this series has won four of six and
five of the last eight matchups. The Suns have also won three in a row as the
visitor in this matchup.