L.A. Lakers 109; Phoenix 97

LOS ANGELES, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Shaquille O'Neal and Kobe Bryant combined for 67 points Sunday night as the Los Angeles Lakers turned back Phoenix, 109-97.

O'Neal had a season-high 36 points and 16 rebounds and Bryant added 31 and 12 for the Lakers in the finale of a weekend back-to-back series. The Lakers turned the tables on the Suns, who won at home Saturday in similar fashion despite a combined 62 points from O'Neal and Bryant.


The superstar duo was much more efficient on its home floor.

The 7-2 O'Neal was virtually unstoppable, making 15-of-19 shots, while Bryant made 13-of-29 shots and handed out seven assists.

"He (O'Neal) is starting to get himself in really good shape and so we're feeling really comfortable with him out there on the court," said Lakers Coach Phil Jackson.

"Shaquille played extremely well," Bryant said. "We played a pretty good game."

Unlike Saturday's game, O'Neal and Bryant also had some help. The Lakers shot just 2-of-21 from three-point range in Phoenix, but sank 5-of-17 at home. Derek Fisher and Rick Fox connected from the arc down the stretch.


Stephon Marbury scored 32 points for the Suns, who got no closer than seven points in the final period.

"They made shots, but Shaq was just a monster tonight," Marbury said. "They all played like the Lakers tonight."

The Lakers never trailed after the first two minutes as Bryant came out firing and made his first four shots. He scored 13 points as the Lakers took a 29-24 lead.

O'Neal then scored 12 points in the second quarter, including a short jumper that opened a 40-28 advantage early in the period.

The Lakers held a 53-37 rebounding advantage.

The Suns shot 43 percent (38-of-88) and committed just nine turnovers.

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