(Sports Network) - 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
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.
The Sports Network