Bryant burns Suns
He scores 40 in Lakers’ blowout
LOS ANGELES — Even on a balky knee, Kobe Bryant had no problem giving the Lakers an early leg up in the Western Conference finals.
Bryant scored 40 points, Lamar Odom added 19 points and 19 rebounds, and Los Angeles opened the series with ruthless offensive efficiency in a 128-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns last night at Staples Center.
Pau Gasol had 21 points for the top-seeded Lakers, who won their seventh straight playoff game and snapped the Suns’ six-game streak with a phenomenal second half highlighted by Bryant’s 21-point third quarter.
Bryant rested his sore knee for most of the fourth in the 11th 40-point game of his playoff career.
“Kobe carried a lot of the offense tonight, no doubt,’’ Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.
Game 2 is tomorrow night in Los Angeles.
Amare Stoudemire scored 23 points and Steve Nash had 13 points and 13 assists for the Suns.
Bryant alternated jumpers and strong drives while Los Angeles pulled away, showing no problems with rust or nagging injuries despite barely practicing for the past week. His 13-for-23 shooting performance included three 3-pointers and 11 free throws with just one miss.
“Kobe kind of controlled the whole game,’’ said Suns coach Alvin Gentry. “I thought we could have withstood the game that he had . . . but when he’s making his jumper like that, there’s not a whole lot you can do about it.’’