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"We thought we could come in here and get a game, and unfortunately you know we weren't up to the task," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "But we outscored them from the field I think both games, shot better than they did, did a lot of things very good and it still wasn't enough to win the game. They beat us at the foul line both nights, and that's the difference in the margin of the game."
The Lakers had more field goals the Phoenix (45-41), but the Suns dominated at the foul line for the second game in a row, sinking 22 of 32 to Los Angeles' Lakers' 7 of 13.
Los Angeles was better against Phoenix's zone defense, if not great.
"Our attention needs to be on the defensive end -- period," Bryant said. "That's second-chance opportunities. Their bench came in and gave them a big boost in getting balls back and getting them extra possessions. We've got to cut that stuff out."
After slugging out a 23-23 first quarter, the Suns erupted for a series-high 41-point second quarter, shooting 74 percent (17 for 23), 7 of 10 on 3-pointers to go up 64-55 at the half -- and the backups led the way.
The reserves outscored the Lakers starters 21-11 to start the second period.
One of Bryant's trademark scoring tears kept the Lakers in the game. After not taking a shot until the 2:09 mark of the first quarter, Bryant scored 15 in the second, making seven of his last nine shots, all outside jumpers. He was just getting started.
Bryant had 16 more in the third quarter, his 3-pointer with 2:20 to play finally catching the Suns at 81-all with 2:20 left. Pau Gasol made one of two free throws to put the Lakers ahead for the first time since the opening period, but Dragic made two free throws with 31 seconds left to put Phoenix ahead 85-84 entering the fourth.
NOTES: Jackson is 46-0 when his team takes a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series. ... Phoenix has led or been tied after three quarters in three of the four games. ... The Suns are 6-1 at home in the playoffs, the Lakers 7-0. ... Derek Fisher got Nash squarely in his broken nose in the third quarter, sending the Suns playmaker to the court in pain. Nash recovered to make two free throws. ... The two teams combined for eight consecutive 3-pointers in a second-quarter stretch.
Copyright 2010 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
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