LOS ANGELES (AP) — Kobe Bryant scored 40 points and Lamar Odom added 19 points and 19 rebounds as the Los Angeles the Lakers opened the Western Conference finals with ruthless offensive efficiency in a 128-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday.
Pau Gasol had 21 points for the top-seeded Lakers, who won their seventh straight playoff game and ended the Suns' six-game streak with a phenomenal second half highlighted by Bryant's 21-point third quarter.
The defending NBA champions beat the third-seeded Suns at their own up tempo game when necessary, fluidly running the court to set up baskets for Bryant in his sixth straight 30-point game. Bryant then rested his sore knee for most of the fourth quarter in the 11th 40-point game of his playoff career.
Game 2 is Wednesday night at Staples Center.
Amare Stoudemire scored 23 points and Steve Nash had 13 points and 13 assists for the Suns, who hadn't lost since April 24. Robin Lopez started at center and scored 14 points in his playoff debut, but Phoenix couldn't keep up with the champs in its first conference finals appearance since 2006.
Both teams swept their second-round series to earn their third postseason date in five years, but the Lakers didn't allow a week off to affect their remarkable execution.
Bryant alternated jumpers and strong drives while Los Angeles pulled away, showing no problems with rust or nagging injuries despite barely practicing for the past week. His 13-for-23 shooting performance included three 3-pointers and 11 free throws with just one miss.