Suns 95, Lakers 87

Sunday, April 22nd 2007, 5:03 pm
By: News On 6

PHOENIX (AP) -- The "Brazilian Blur" breathed life into the Phoenix offense, and Kobe Bryant went from awesome to awful.

The result was a 2nd-half rally that gave the Suns a 95-87 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in their first-round playoff opener on Sunday.

Leandro Barbosa scored 19 of his 26 points in the 2nd half, including 15 consecutive Phoenix points in one stretch, to match his career playoff scoring high. Amare Stoudemire, back in the postseason after missing last year's while recovering from two knee surgeries, added 23 points and 12 rebounds.

Bryant scored 39, but only 11 in the 2nd half. The NBA's scoring champ was 1-10 shooting in the 4th quarter, when Phoenix pulled away.

Steve Nash had 20 points and 10 assists and Shawn Marion 16 points and 16 rebounds for a Phoenix team struggled mightily until Barbosa provide the spark, highlighted by a 31-footer at the 3rd-quarter buzzer that cut the Lakers' lead to 77-74 entering the 4th.

Lamar Odom had 17 points and 16 rebounds for Los Angeles.

Game 2 is Tuesday night in Phoenix in the rematch of last year's first round series. The Suns won the opener then, too, but lost the next three, then regrouped to win the last three and advance.

Barbosa's personal scoring surge erased a 77-71 deficit. His driving layup on an ultra-fast break put Phoenix ahead 79-77 with 10:29. It was the Suns' first lead since it was 13-11 midway through the 1st quarter.

The Phoenix run reached 16-4 after Boris Diaw made 1 of 2 free throws to give the Suns an 87-81 lead 6:27 from the finish. With Bryant misfiring, Phoenix stretched it to 91-83 on Stoudemire's dunk after a pass from Barbosa, who had tumbled to the floor, with 3:32 left.

Bryant's lone field goal in the 4th quarter was a layup.

A 14-2 run brought the Suns temporarily back from a 12-point 2nd-quarter deficit. Phoenix tied it at 37 on Nash's 3-pointer with 3:09 left in the half.

Then Bryant took over, outscoring the Suns 11-2 the rest of the half, the last 3 on 3-pointers. His final 3 came from 27 feet with two defenders in his face and :01 on the clock.

In all, Bryant scored the Lakers' final 15 of the half and Los Angeles led 48-39 at the break.

Bryant's only 3-pointer of the 2nd half gave the Lakers a 57-45 lead with 9:47 left in the 3rd quarter.

Phoenix shot 36% in the 1st half, 3-13 on 3s.