Los Angeles (AFP) – Kobe Bryant’s comeback from an Achilles injury gained momentum on Tuesday as he scored 20 points, but it wasn’t enough to end the Los Angeles Lakers losing skid at home.
Goran Dragic had 31 points and five assists as the Phoenix Suns defeated the Lakers 114-108 at Staples Center arena.
Bryant, who scored a team high 20 points, was playing in just his second game since returning from an eight month layoff following Achilles surgery.
Bryant finished six-of-11 from the field for the Lakers, who have lost three straight home games. Bryant had nine points and eight turnovers in his season debut Sunday.
Pau Gasol finished with 19 points and five rebounds for Los Angeles. Gasol said it is going to take time for Bryant to ease back into the Lakers’ offence.
“With Kobe back we are going to have to slow the game down until we are all 100 percent healthy,” said Gasol who was playing with a sprained right ankle on Tuesday.
“It is a work in progress. We got to make sure we both continue to make things happen for ourselves and our teammates.”
Bryant had better timing and contributed more on offense Tuesday as he put his surgically repaired leg to test with several leaps, hard cuts and flying dunks. He also finished with three turnovers compared to eight in his first game back.
Marcus Morris added 22 points, while Eric Bledsoe chipped in 18 points and nine assists for the Suns, who have won three of their last four games.
The Lakers trailed by as many as 14 in the third quarter, but Bryant and Jordan Hill netted four points apiece during an 11-2 run to cut the gap to 73-72 late in the third.
But that was as close as the Lakers would get.
Bledsoe nailed a short jumper and drove coast-to-coast for a layup as the quarter expired to give the Suns a 79-74 advantage.
Morris drained a triple to give the Suns a 95-86 spread midway through the final frame and the Lakers never cut the deficit below four points for the remainder of the contest.
The Lakers now open a four-game road trip Friday against Oklahoma City, Charlotte, Atlanta and Memphis.
AFP Photo/Stephen Dunn