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Thursday, November 12, 2009

Phoenix Suns face off against the Lakers

Suns visit Lakers in Pacific Division heavyweight clash

(Sports Network) - Early season supremacy in the Pacific Division is on the line Thursday when the reigning NBA champion LA Lakers play host to a streaking Phoenix team at Staples Center.

The Suns improved to 8-1 on the young season, one game ahead of the Lakers for the division lead, on Wednesday in Phoenix with an easy 124-104 win over New Orleans.

Amare Stoudemire had 21 points and was one of eight Suns players in double figures in the game.

"The Lakers are on a three day rest and at home, waiting on us, so we were able to get in and play great basketball for the first three quarters and the starters had a chance to rest," said Stoudemire. "The second unit played great and got the win for us, so it felt good - we got a chance to really rest up and ice there in the fourth quarter."

Grant Hill scored 18 and Goran Dragic 14 while Channing Frye and Jason Richardson totaled 13 points each. Steve Nash checked in with 12 points and 10 assists for Phoenix, which was coming off an impressive 4-1 east coast road trip.

It's the team's best start since opening with an 11-1 ledger in 1980-81 and ties them with Boston for the best start so far in 2009-10.

The Suns shot a sizzling 63 percent (29-for-46) in the first half and racked up a whopping 75 points -- the most by a team in one half so far this season. Meanwhile, Phoenix has scored 100 or more points in each of its first nine games for the first time since the 1990-91 campaign.

"I think we can play even better - we did a lot of things right on both ends of the floor, but the funny thing is I don't even think we're running yet," said Richardson. "So once we get to that where we're just up and down and going like we normally do, we'll be pretty good."

The Lakers improved to 2-0 on a three-game homestand Sunday when Kobe Bryant had 28 points -- 26 in a strong first half -- to lead Los Angeles in a 104-88 drubbing of the Hornets.

Bryant shot 10-of-16 in the first half and sat out a large portion of the second half for the Lakers, who have won six of their first seven games. Shannon Brown added 15 points off the bench, while Luke Walton had 11.

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Los Angeles continued to play without Pau Gasol (hamstring) and Andrew Bynum (elbow).

"We came out with our foot on the gas," Bryant said. "I miss Pau, and I guess I have to carry us a little more until he comes back. The bench played extremely well tonight; they came in tonight and gave us a huge boost."

Gasol will remain on the sidelines tonight but Bynum is expected back in the starting lineup.

The Lakers took three of four games from Phoenix last season.


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