The Phoenix Suns cruised to a 118-103 victory over Pacific Division rivals the LA Lakers on Monday, the home side seizing control early and stretching their advantage through each of the four quarters.
Amare Stoudemire had a team-high 26 points and Steve Nash recorded 16 points and 13 assists to give the Suns (20-12) their first win over the Lakers this season.
“We played with toughness and grit,” Nash told reporters, with the Suns having lost three of four coming into the game. “We had to get back to that training-camp underdog mentality when many NBA observers picked the Suns as a lottery team.”
Kobe Bryant managed 34 points but Los Angeles slipped too far behind in the third quarter before suffering their second loss in three games.
Clinging to a six-point advantage midway through the third, Phoenix surged with a 14-2 run over the next two minutes to go up 84-66.
Bryant sat out the final 7:50 for the Lakers as the game was out of reach.
The All-Star guard has been carrying much of the defending NBA champions’ scoring load in recent games where the Lakers have looked vulnerable, especially in a lopsided loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Christmas Day.
Andrew Bynum had 14 points and nine rebounds in the latest loss, and Pau Gasol added 13.
Ron Artest missed his second straight game for the Lakers after sustaining a concussion and injured elbow in an accident at his home.
The Suns received an unexpected boost from Jared Dudley, who tied a career high with 19 points off the bench. The Suns reserves were particularly important and tallied 52 points.
THUNDER 105, NETS 89
At East Rutherford, New Jersey, Kevin Durant matched his season high with 40 points as Oklahoma City defeated New Jersey, sending the Nets to their 10th straight loss and their second double-digit losing streak of the season.
Former Net Nenad Krstic added 19 points and Russell Westbrook had 16 points and 10 assists as the Thunder won a season-high third straight game. Reserve Nick Collison added 11 points and 10 rebounds. Oklahoma City held the Nets to 17 points in the final 17 minutes.
Yi Jianlian matched his career high with 29 points to lead New Jersey, which set an NBA record with 18 straight losses to start the season. Courtney Lee chipped in with 17, Trenton Hassell had 14 and Devin Harris had 11 and 11 assists.
BOBCATS 94, BUCKS 84
At Charlotte, North Carolina, Gerald Wallace had 21 points and 14 rebounds as Charlotte beat Milwaukee in a miserable performance for the Bucks that prompted coach Scott Skiles to bench Michael Redd and Andrew Bogut.
Flip Murray added 16 points for the Bobcats in a one-sided matchup of teams that figure to contend for the final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
The Bobcats built a 22-point half-time lead and Skiles didn’t play Bogut or Redd in the second half after they combined to shoot 1 for 10.
Brandon Jennings had 24 points for the Bucks, who shot 38 percent and committed 17 turnovers.
GRIZZLIES 116, WIZARDS 111, OT
At Memphis, Tennessee, O.J. Mayo scored 28 points and Zach Randolph had six of his 23 points in overtime as Memphis beat Washington.
Marc Gasol finished with 20, and his two free throws with 9.5 seconds left extended the Memphis lead to 115-111.
Randolph made two free throws with 0.3 seconds left, sending the game to overtime tied at 102.
Mike Conley scored 22 for Memphis, which has won four straight at home. Randolph had 19 rebounds.