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Playing in their second straight game without center Andrew Bynum, who was serving the final game of his two game suspension for his hit against Michael Beasley when the Lakers hosted the Timberwolves on Friday night, the Lakers improved their post-all star break record to a league best 13-1. Though Bynum is their biggest mismatch for a team lacking size like the Suns, Lamar Odom stepped up and played his best game of the season when the Lakers needed it most.
Los Angeles shouldn’t have needed an incredible 55-minute effort from Odom in this game as they held a 21-point lead in the third quarter. But the Suns caught fire to close the period and some clutch shots from Steve Nash in the fourth quarter ended up leading to three extra periods of baskball. The three overtimes were filled with dramatic twists and turns. First, Ron Artest of all people hit what seemed to be the game-winning three in the final minute of the first overtime but a silly foul by Odom on a Channing Frye desperation three-point attempt sent Frye to the line for three free throws, all of which he made. In the second overtime, heroic saves from Steve Nash and Kobe Bryant kept their respective teams from turning it over at crucial moments.
But after that period, the Suns heroics would come to an end.
The Lakers got a dead on three from Kobe Bryant to take the lead after surrendering the first two points of the overtime and Ron Artest followed that up with a strip of Steve Nash and a breakaway dunk and a fadeaway jumper on the following play. Bryant finished the game with 42 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists on efficient 15-of-31 shooting. Bryant cooled down in the second half of the game but made a big three in overtime to make up for it. Lamar Odom chipped in with 29 point, 16 rebounds and five assists while starting for Bynum.
The Lakers’ defense may have taken a night off in this one, but when Bynum returns, so will the stout defense, and the Lakers continue to role no matter what obstacles get in their way.