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November 14, 2009

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Lakers hustle to outshine Suns in LA

THE Los Angeles Lakers routed Phoenix 121-102 on Thursday to cool off the Suns' sizzling start to the season.

Phoenix had won four in a row coming into the contest to sit atop the Western Conference standings but found the Lakers in top form.

Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 29 points and center Andrew Bynum marked his return to the lineup with 26 points and 15 rebounds for the Lakers (7-1), who won their sixth in a row.

Phoenix (8-2) reserve Jared Dudley had 14 points and Steve Nash had 13 as the Suns struggled to find the mark, shooting 36 percent from the field.

"We did a very good job trying to corral a team that has been scoring out of this world," Bryant told reporters. "I'm pleased with the effort."

In the day's only other National Basketball Association game, the Cleveland Cavaliers cooled off the Heat 111-104.

In Los Angeles, after taking a 14-point advantage at halftime, Los Angeles went on a 15-0 run in the third quarter to build a commanding 80-55 lead.

Phoenix, the highest scoring team in the NBA, was outrun and outgunned by Los Angeles. The Suns had their worst shooting night of the season.

Bynum had missed the team's previous two games with a sprained elbow but the seven-footer dominated the opposition's front line.

"It hurt a little bit when trying to keep guys away from the basket and on my jump hook. The extension is kind of tough," Bynum said.

"We made them play defense and kept them playing against us to take their legs away."

The Suns were playing their second game in as many nights and looked off the pace. Amare Stoudemire finished with just eight points on 2-for-15 shooting.

The Lakers will return to the court again this morning (Shanghai time) against the Denver Nuggets in a rematch of last season's Western Conference finals.

In Miami, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade put on a show in their first showdown of the season, as James scored 34 points to help the Cavaliers beat the Heat.

Wade scored 36 points but couldn't rally the Heat from an 11-point deficit in the fourth quarter.

Mo Williams made five three-pointers and scored 25 points for the Cavaliers, while Shaquille O'Neal added 14 in a return to his former home court.

But in the end, it was James leading the way. He scored Cleveland's final eight points over the last 2:42. He finished with seven assists and went 16-for-18 from the free-throw line.

Michael Beasley scored 24 points for the Heat, who lost for only the second time.

James and Wade shared a long embrace just before tipoff, and they joked during a timeout near the end of the first half. They can opt out of their contracts next year, and on Wednesday, Wade said the pair have talked about going to the same team.

James then said he won't discuss free agency with reporters any more until the end of the season. For now, at least, the two good friends entertain as opponents.


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