PHOENIX (AP) — Kobe Bryant had 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists — along with seven turnovers — but it was the all-around game of the Los Angeles Lakers that led to an intense 102-96 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.
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.
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 Pau 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.
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.
The Lakers, losers of three of their previous four, 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.
Bryant's 3-pointer put Los Angeles ahead 69-54 with 6:26 to go in the third and it was 71-56 after Gasol's inside basket with 5:06 left in the quarter.
Nash scored seven of the Suns' next nine points to ignite a 17-4 outburst that cut the lead to 75-73 after Amundson blocked Odom's layup attempt, leading to Jason Richardson's layup with 22.5 seconds to go.
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.