Los Angeles (40-39) at Phoenix (59-19)

Fair Currently: Phoenix, AZ
Temp: 61° F
  • Game info: 10:30 pm EDT Fri Apr 13, 2007
  • TV: ESPN
Preview | Box Score | Recap

The Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers meet Friday night for the second time this week. The Pacific Division rivals could see a lot more of each other later this month, too.

The Suns look to close in on the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference when they host the Lakers in a preview of a possible first-round matchup.

Phoenix (59-19) already has clinched its third straight division title, and is two games ahead of third-place San Antonio in the West but the Spurs hold the tiebreaker.

“We’re just trying to get a win and get ready for the playoffs,” said Phoenix forward Shawn Marion, who had 24 points and 10 rebounds in Wednesday’s 109-91 victory over Seattle, the Suns’ third straight overall and sixth in seven games.

Los Angeles (40-39), meanwhile, is in seventh place in the conference, 1 1/2 games ahead of Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers, who are tied for the eighth and final playoff spot.

The Suns and Lakers could open the postseason against each other in what would be a rematch of last season’s first-round matchup in which Phoenix rallied from 3-1 deficit to win in seven games.

These teams played Sunday at Staples Center, with the Suns recording a 115-107 victory. Steve Nash had a team-high 25 points and 11 assists as Phoenix won for the second time in three meetings with the Lakers this season.

Kobe Bryant, who scored 34 points in that loss, is coming off a 50-point game but it wasn’t enough as the Lakers fell to the Clippers 118-110 on Thursday. The defeat was the third straight for Los Angeles and its seventh in nine games.

Bryant played all 48 minutes against the Lakers’ city rival, shooting 17 of 33 from the floor and making all 15 of his free throws. But he was held scoreless after making two foul shots to give Los Angeles a 102-92 lead with 8:46 remaining and the Clippers ended the game on a 26-8 run.

“I felt fine physically. I felt like I could go the distance,” said Bryant, who missed his last six field goal attempts. “I didn’t feel like my legs were heavy. I didn’t feel tired at all. They just double-teamed me and triple-teamed me. You’ve got the advantage when that happens. But we didn’t make the plays and they did.”

The nine-time All-Star has nine 50-point games this season, the most since Wilt Chamberlain also had nine in 1964-65.

Bryant, who leads the league with 31.5 points per games, has totaled 65 in two games against the Suns this season.

Phoenix has won five straight over the Lakers at US Airways Center, outscoring them by an average of 12.0 points in those games. Overall, the Suns have won six straight home games overall, and 12 of their last 13 there.

Amare Stoudemire had 18 points and 11 rebounds in Wednesday’s win over the SuperSonics, and has 36 points and 20 rebounds in the two wins over Los Angeles this season.

Marion is averaging 13.7 points and 8.7 rebounds in three games against the Lakers this season, while Nash is averaging 21.0 points and 11.3 assists.

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Friday, Apr 13