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Third time's a charm for Lakers in 139-137 victory over Suns

Kobe Bryant scores 42 and Ron Artest makes some big plays as Lakers put away Suns in triple-overtime thriller.

March 22, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan
  • Lakers forward Ron Artest dunks during the closing seconds of the Lakers' 139-137 triple-overtime victory Tuesday over the Phoenix Suns at Staples Center.
Lakers forward Ron Artest dunks during the closing seconds of the Lakers'… (Allen J. Schaben / Los Angeles…)

Magic Johnson was missing, as were James Worthy and Byron Scott.

But the Lakers eked past the Phoenix Suns after dipping into the 1980s with a 63-minute show of offense that almost wasn't enough.

Points were scored and shots lofted with a wild and fun attitude, a retro NBA game that seemed more video than virtual, the Lakers firing away at first and sighing at last after a 139-137 triple-overtime victory Tuesday at Staples Center.

Photos: Lakers vs. Suns

Almost nobody left Staples Center to beat the traffic, their oft-maligned fans keeping the arena jammed until the final seconds.

They saw the Lakers overcome an improbably poor start to the third overtime, missing their first six shots, before Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest, of all people, took over.

Bryant made a three-pointer, Artest scored on a coast-to-coast dunk after a steal, and the Lakers were almost done, finally, after Artest added a 15-footer.

Bryant then hit a high-arcing shot over Channing Frye, and the Lakers survived only the second triple-overtime game at home since moving to L.A.

It was worth the wait.

"I was hoping I'd get out of here by 11 o'clock," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said sarcastically. "It's a little bit past my bedtime."

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He didn't start his postgame new conference until a few minutes after 11, almost an hour after his usual time. There was a lot to recount.

Bryant had 42 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists. Lamar Odom had a season-high 29 points and 16 rebounds, probably enough to forgive his unforgettable gaffe at the end of the first overtime. Pau Gasol had 24 points but shot a woeful nine for 25.

Think the Lakers missed Andrew Bynum? He'll be back Friday against the Clippers after serving a two-game suspension for a flagrant foul.

When all was said and done, and the purple-and-gold streamers dropped from the ceiling, the Lakers (51-20) improved to 13-1 since the All-Star break.

They also moved 11/2 games ahead of Dallas for second place in the Western Conference. Their only other triple-overtime game at home was a 122-117 loss to San Francisco in February 1969.

The game was fun at first for the Lakers, scoring 95 points through three quarters, but they stayed too long at the pop-a-shot booth. Somehow a 21-point lead with 4:40 left in the third quarter wasn't enough, the Lakers getting dragged into an extra five minutes, times three.

Defense became so secondary that the promotional tacos were a dead issue midway through the fourth quarter, the Suns already past 100 points.

Frye and Grant Hill made back-to-back three-pointers, and Bryant missed a nine-foot floater with 10.9 seconds left in regulation, the score tied at 112 at the end of the fourth quarter.

The Lakers appeared to be in good standing from there, but Odom fouled Frye at the three-point line with 1.1 seconds left in the first overtime. Odom knew he made a mistake, sitting on the court for the better part of a minute. Frye made all three free-throw attempts, and it was on to the second overtime after Odom's mid-range shot from the right side hit the rim at the buzzer.

"I wish we just would have put them away when we should have," Odom said glumly. "Everybody on the court has to be aware of what's going on … especially before a guy shoots a three."

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In the second overtime, Gasol made two free-throw attempts with 2.5 seconds left to even the score at 130-130.

Finally came the third one. It was charming for the Lakers, who will take it, gladly.

"I'm tired, I'm ready to go home and I'm in the mood for pancakes," Odom said.

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