Regular Season Series (Game 2 of 4)

Series starts 11/19

Game 1: Friday, November 19th
Game 2: Wednesday, December 8th
Game 3: Tuesday, April 5th
Game 4: Monday, April 11th

Suns 113

(16-3, 9-1 away)

Lakers 110

(10-8, 7-3 home)

    Coverage: FSW

    7:30 PM ET, December 8, 2004

    STAPLES Center, Los Angeles, CA

    1 2 3 4 T
    PHX 30 37 20 26113
    LAL 22 39 28 21110

    Top Performers

    PHX: J. Johnson 25 Pts, 3 Reb, 7 Ast, 2 Stl, 1 Blk

    LAL: K. Bryant 20 Pts, 14 Reb, 11 Ast, 2 Stl

    Richardson's 3 with 6.9 left the difference

    LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Quentin Richardson was clutch on his final shot of the game. Kobe Bryant wasn't.

    Richardson's fifth 3-pointer with 6.9 seconds remaining capped a 21-point effort and overshadowed Bryant's second triple-double in as many games as the Phoenix Suns beat the Los Angeles Lakers 113-110 on Wednesday night.

    The Suns improved to 16-3, tying Seattle for the NBA's best record and equaling the best start in franchise history. The 1980-81 Suns also won 16 of their first 19 under coach John MacLeod and finished 57-25.

    "We're really growing up as a team, getting more mature and coming into our own," Richardson said. "We still have a long way to go and some good teams to beat to prove ourselves. But at the same time, we're doing some pretty impressive things."

    Phoenix has won nine of 10 on the road and six straight -- the Suns' longest road winning streak since 1997-98, when they won seven straight. Last season, they didn't get their ninth road win until March 23. Two more would match their total for last season. The Suns have won their last seven road games against Western Conference opponents, including their final one last season.

    Bryant had 20 points, tied a season high with 11 assists and grabbed a season-high 14 rebounds en route to his 12th career triple-double, third this season and second in two meetings with Phoenix. The Lakers are 29-8 when Bryant reaches double digits in assists, including 3-3 this season. This was his fourth straight game with at least 10.

    Bryant also had a triple-double Friday night against Golden State, getting 10 points, 10 assists and 12 rebounds in a 97-88 win. In that game, he needed two free throws with 1:55 remaining to accomplish it. This time, he completed it with an assist on Caron Butler's 3-pointer with 2:09 left in the third quarter.

    Joe Johnson had 25 points for the Suns, Amare Stoudemire 23 points and 10 rebounds, and Shawn Marion 19 points. The Suns made 16 3-pointers in 34 attempts, tying the franchise record set at Golden State on March 17, 1995.

    Tierre Brown made a layup and a short baseline jumper 17 seconds apart and Brian Cook followed with a long baseline jumper, extending the Lakers' lead to 107-94.

    But the Suns, who enjoyed a 21-0 run against the Warriors on Tuesday night and an 18-0 run against the Clippers on Nov. 21, pulled ahead 109-107 with 15 consecutive points in a 3:45 span -- including back-to-back 3-pointers by Marion and one each by Johnson and Steve Nash.

    "We just kept fighting and kept fighting," Richardson said. "We know it's not over until it's over. We're a team that can make runs in an instant, and we did it tonight. Being down by 11 points with that much time left, then coming back and winning, that says a lot about the character of our team."

    Nash's tying shot with 2:56 to play had the Lakers on their heels, and Richardson put the Suns back in front with a pair of free throws that capped the rally. Butler made a layup at the other end before Stoudemire made one of two free throws for the Suns.

    "It's a tough one," Bryant said. "They made some big shots down the stretch. Nash hit a tough 3 to tie it up, and before that we gave them two wide-open looks at 3s."

    Bryant, who had only one free-throw attempt to that point, missed the first and made the second to tie it at 100. The Suns inbounded after a timeout with 28 seconds left, and Nash drove the lane before kicking it out to Richardson -- who hit nothing but net from behind the arc for the game-winner.

    "I don't think they were really daring me, I think it was more that they were giving respect to Steve," Richardson said. "Knowing how Stevie plays, I knew that if he got in there and if it wound up coming out to me, my whole focus was just taking it. I knew I was going to make it if I took it."

    Bryant attempted a 3 over Marion at the buzzer, but it hit the right side of the rim as the buzzer sounded.

    The Lakers, who blew a 17-point lead to the Suns in a 107-102 loss at Phoenix on Nov. 19, didn't take their first lead until Bryant's three-point play put Los Angeles ahead 83-82 with 4:23 left in the third. Butler's 3-pointer capped the Lakers' pivotal 17-4 run with 2:09 left in the quarter.

    The Suns, who came in averaging a league-leading 108.3 points a game, took a 67-61 halftime lead. Richardson connected three times from behind the arc in a two-minute span to increase Phoenix's margin to 54-43 with 4:37 left in the half.

    Bryant, concentrating almost exclusively on setting up his teammates during the first 19 minutes, brought the frustrated sellout crowd to its feet by draining three 3-pointers and a 16-footer in a 2:39 span on his next four attempts to slice Phoenix's 11-point lead to 58-56 with 2:14 left in the half.

    Game notes

    The Suns had won only one of their previous 10 regular-season games against the Lakers in Los Angeles. That was last Jan. 19, when the Lakers were missing Bryant, Shaquille O'Neal and Karl Malone because of injuries, and Horace Grant because of a family health issue.

    Copyright by STATS LLC and The Associated Press


    Team Stat Comparison

    Points 113 110
    FGM-FGA 41-87 (.471) 46-101 (.455)
    3PM-3PA 16-34 (.471) 10-30 (.333)
    FTM-FTA 15-18 (.833) 8-10 (.800)
    Rebounds (Offensive-Total) 11-41 21-53
    Assists 30 27
    Turnovers 12 14
    Steals 10 8
    Blocks 5 3
    Fast Break Points 32 21
    Fouls (Tech/Flagrant) 16 (0/0) 21 (1/0)
    Largest Lead 11 13

    Top Performers

    Los Angeles
    Joe Johnson Johnson
    Points: 25
    Reb: 3
    Ast: 7
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 1
    Kobe Bryant Bryant
    Points: 20
    Reb: 14
    Ast: 11
    Stl: 2
    Blk: 0