LOS ANGELES -- The Los Angeles Lakers survived a brutal third quarter, then turned it on late in a 91-85 win over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
The Lakers shot just 15 percent from the field and hit just three field goals while committing six turnovers in the third quarter to squander a nine-point halftime lead. Phoenix went on an 18-2 run midway through the quarter. However, Los Angeles gradually chipped away at the small Phoenix lead early in the fourth quarter and took control with an 8-2 run midway through the period to take the win.
Los Angeles had a balanced scoring attack with five players in 10-plus points, but none with more than 19 points. Curiously, Kobe Bryant, the third-leading scorer in the NBA, was not among the Lakers in double figures, finishing with just four points as he passed up open look after open look.
Bryant had no shot attempts in the first half, when he compiled eight assists. He finished the game with eight shot attempts but only one field goal. He wound up with nine assists, five rebounds and eight turnovers.
Dwight Howard led the Lakers with 19 points and 18 rebounds, and Antawn Jamison added 19 points and 10 rebounds off the bench. Metta World Peace had 17 points and eight rebounds, and Steve Nash added 10 points and eight assists for Los Angeles, which shot 36-for-83 (43.4 percent) from the field.
Like the Lakers, Phoenix had five players in double figures, paced by Michael Beasley's 18 points off the bench. Fellow reserve Jermaine O'Neal added 12 points and 13 rebounds, and Luis Scola had 15 points and 11 rebounds for the Suns, who have lost four straight. Phoenix made 35 of 85 shots (41.2 percent).
The teams were remarkably close in the stat sheet -- separated by just one made field goal (Los Angeles had 36 to Phoenix's 35), while tying with 27 assists, 19 turnovers and 48 rebounds. The biggest disparity? Los Angeles made seven 3-pointers to the Suns' three.
NOTES: Los Angeles center Pau Gasol remains out with a torn plantar fascia in his right foot. Jordan Hill (left hip surgery) is also out for the Lakers. ... Forward Channing Frye (enlarged heart) remains out for the Suns. ... The Lakers and Suns split the first two games of the season series, with the Lakers claiming an early-season home win, 114-102 on Nov. 16, 2012, and the Suns taking the 92-86 win at the US Airways Center on Jan. 30. ... The teams tied last season's series 2-2. ... Nash entered the game just 17 assists shy of tying Magic Johnson for fourth on the all-time list. ... The Lakers dropped three games during their annual Grammy road trip for the fourth consecutive season. ... The Suns fell to 4-8 under interim head coach Lindsey Hunter since the Jan. 20 coaching change.