On a night when the franchise honored one of its all-time greats in Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, its greatest living legend, Kobe Bryant, led all scorers with 31 points as the Los Angeles Lakers defeated the Phoenix Suns, 114-102, at Staples Center on Friday night.
Los Angeles (4-5) was active and energetic on both ends of the floor and used its exceptional length inside to overwhelm Phoenix (4-6) in the paint. The Lakers won the rebounding battle by a convincing margin of 48-38 and had a balanced effort as they embraced a watered-down version of head coach Mike D'Antoni's new offense.
Metta World Peace benefited from the open looks in the new scheme, scoring 22 points to go along with six rebounds and going 5 for 10 from the three-point line. Pau Gasol was just as efficient, going 7 for 11 and adding 10 rebounds of his own.
Goran Dragic led the Suns with 22 points and added seven assists.
The Lakers thrived in areas that have been problematic for them thus far in the season, namely turnovers and bench scoring. They committed just 12 turnovers and forced 15. They also got 22 points from the second unit.