LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant asked to be traded last spring in part because he wanted to play for a team that could contend for a championship. He just might have gotten his wish by staying put.
Bryant scored 26 of his 38 points in the second half, Andrew Bynum had a career-high 28 points to go with 12 rebounds and a season-high four assists, and the Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns 122-115 on Tuesday for their ninth win in 11 games.
The victory lifted the Lakers (18-10) to a season-high eight games over .500 and within one game of the Pacific Division-leading Suns (19-9), who lost for the fifth time in eight games.
Bryant, who complained about a lack of talent around him, has gotten plenty of help recently, especially from the 20-year-old Bynum, who shot 11-of-13 in outplaying Phoenix center Amare Stoudemire.
Derek Fisher added 19 points, Lamar Odom had 15 points and 14 rebounds, and Trevor Ariza scored 14 points in his first start since being acquired from Orlando last month.
Steve Nash led the Suns with 24 points and 14 assists. Six of his teammates scored in double figures including Stoudemire, who had 19 points but only six rebounds, Shawn Marion, who had 15 points and 10 rebounds, Raja Bell, who also scored 15, and Grant Hill, who added 14.
Cavaliers 96, Heat 82
CLEVELAND (AP) — LeBron James scored 25 points, Drew Gooden had 18, Daniel Gibson added 16 and Cleveland’s defense arrived in time for the holiday.
James, who left Quicken Loans Arena in disgust following an embarrassing loss to Golden State on Sunday, added 12 assists and outshined fellow superstar and good friend, Dwyane Wade, who scored 22 points but didn’t make his first field goal of the second half until there was only 4:01 remaining.
By then, the Cavs were already by 12 points and they went on to win for just the fourth time in their last 14 games. Anderson Varejao scored 15 points, and Zydrunas Ilgauskas 13 for Cleveland.