Lakers' title defense runs into Suns

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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Kobe Bryant has barely touched a basketball in a week, giving his gimpy ankle and arthritic finger time to heal.

And that purplish, jagged gouge over Steve Nash's right eye also should be one week less grisly.

But neither star expects to escape the Western Conference finals without more souvenirs of the playoff grind. The top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers will try to reach their third consecutive NBA finals against the Phoenix Suns, starting in Game 1 on Monday night.

Bryant has been cagey about his interest in revenge on the Suns for ending the Lakers' season in the 2006 and 2007 playoffs,
alternately embracing and downplaying it.

There's no doubt about Phoenix's motivation: Nash is hoping the Suns will get him to the NBA finals for the first time in his career.