Bryant tries to assist Lakers to win in Phoenix

Kobe Bryant has handed out 10 or more assists in just four games this season, but has hit the mark in each of his past three.

Bryant will try to aid the Los Angeles Lakers once again when they embark on their annual Grammy road trip Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers will play seven in a row on the road and are winless in their last seven away from home. Their overall road record isn't that great either at 5-15.

The Lakers are riding a three-game winning streak which culminated with Tuesday's 111-106 decision over the New Orleans Hornets. Bryant, who had dished out 14 assists in each of the past two games, had 14 points and 11 dimes. His pass-first mentality has helped the Lakers score 100-plus points in each game during the winning streak.

Bryant was asked if being more of a distributor helps his body.

"Yeah it's a lot easier. I can focus on other things," said Bryant, who is third in the NBA with 28.4 ppg. "But yeah absolutely it's more of a relaxing game for me."

Dwight Howard and Earl Clark finished with 24 and 20 points, respectively, while Antawn Jamison provided 16 points off the bench. Steve Blake returned for the first time since early November after undergoing abdominal surgery and recorded two points and four assists.

"I thought he was great. I liked his quickness and his toughness on the ball," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said of Blake. "He got four assists and you can just see that the team is going to roll with him. He's a smart player."

Los Angeles, which is sixth in the NBA with 102.6 ppg, shot 49.4 percent from the floor and almost blew an 18-point lead late in the game. The pesky Hornets were able to pull within one point and got no closer after Steve Nash hit a 3-pointer. Nash had 12 points and was one of six Lakers in double figures. Jodie Meeks added 13 points in a reserve role.

The Lakers have a new-found confidence lately and hope it travels well on the road. They will also visit the Timberwolves, Pistons, Nets, Celtics, Bobcats and Heat on this trip.

Phoenix is back in the desert for two straight games versus the Lakers and Dallas Mavericks, and has dropped two in a row and nine of 12 games.

In Sunday's, 110-95, loss at Dallas, Goran Dragic had 18 points and eight assists to lead the way and Luis Scola scored 14 points. P.J. Tucker and Michael Beasley added 12 points apiece for the Suns, who shot 44.2 percent and made only 4-of-17 3-pointers.

"Tonight they beat us in every statistical category, and we can't possibly manage to win games that way," said Suns coach Lindsey Hunter. "They capitalized on all of our mistakes. They played with a great sense of urgency."

Hunter is 2-2 since taking over for Alvin Gentry Jan. 20.

The Suns are 11-11 at home this season and suffered a 114-102 loss at Los Angeles back on Nov. 16. Bryant netted 31 points in that one for the Lakers, who have won seven of the last 10 meetings with the Suns. Dragic, who leads Phoenix with 14.2 ppg, had 22 points in the loss.

Phoenix, though, has won two in a row at home in this series.

The Pacific Division foes will meet again Feb. 12 and March 18.