After hitting the floor and appearing hurt, Kobe Bryant hit a jumper, a three-pointer and another jumper just before the quarter ended to give the Lakers a nine point lead after trailing for much of the quarter. Bryant leads the Lakers with 11 points. Lamar Odom scored seven points in 2:39 when he came into the game as the Lakers' bench helped pick up the pace of the game against the speedy Suns.
Amare Stoudemire leads the Suns with seven points.
Bryant lost his balance and fell on his bad right knee with 1:46 left in the quarter. He was holding his head and was briefly stunned. The crowd gasped on the replay at Staples Center.
The Lakers called a time out and Bryant stayed in the game.
Lakers 24, Suns 23, 2:52 remaining in first quarter
The Lakers caught up after Lamar Odom entered the game.
Odom came in for Bynum at the halfway mark, probably to spell Andrew Bynum and give the the Lakers more speed on the court. Odom has been instant offense. Odom hit a bank shot from the left wing, and then a three-pointer from the right wing to tie the game at 22.Then on their next possesion Odom snared an offensive rebound and scored on a putback. Odom has seven points.
The tempo of the game has favored the Suns so far. It's not a seven-seconds or less offense, but Steve Nash is using his dribble-drive to get into the paint and look for open shooters on the wing or in the paint. After the Utah series the change in the pace of play is very obvious.
Suns 20, Lakers 15, 5:31 remaining in first quarter
The Suns are off to a quick start, with every starter having scored. Steve Nash is moving the ball quickly up court and has four points and four assists in the first six minutes. Jason Richardson leads the Suns with six points.
Ron Artest has been active. He blew past Jason Richardson for a left-handed lay-up and hit his first three-point shot and fed Andrew Bynum for a dunk. Artest leads the Lakers with five points.
Robin Lopez played well for the Suns in his first game in weeks, the center has four points and a rebound.
In his news conference before the game Phil Jackson talked about the report in The Times on Monday that Kobe Bryant recently needed to have his knee drained of fluids.
"It's a concern, we're dealing with it and think we have it under control," Jackson said. Bryant has had his knee drained one or two times before and Jackson said, but would not say when the latest procedure occurred, other than to say "a ways back."
Jackson said two keys to the series would be how the Lakers make use of their size advantage in the frontcourt versus the Suns' speedy up-tempo game.
He also joked about a recent radio interview he did suggesting he was leaning toward retirement after the season. "I'm leaning on the podium, and that's about it," prompting laughs in the press room.
Finally, Jackson said that forward Ron Artest could guard four or five different Suns during the series, ranging from point guard Steve Nash to power forward Amare Stoudemire.