LOS ANGELES - Kobe Bryant got the better of former team mate Shaquille O'Neal to guide the Los Angeles Lakers to a 105-92 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday. Last season's most valuable player scored 24 points as the Lakers defeated their Pacific Division rivals in the first meeting of the season between the two teams
Los Angeles continued to play improved defense, forcing the Suns into 15 turnovers. "This year we just concentrate on defense, and as long as we do it defensively we'll be alright," Lamar Odom told reporters.
Odom, making the transition from a starter to the team's sixth man this year, recorded 13 points and nine rebounds.
"Coming off the bench I get to take my time and fill my role. I want to be a part of a championship team." The Western Conference-leading Lakers (9-1) made 10 three-pointers and outscored the Suns 30-23 in the third quarter.
Stoudemire scores 21
Bryant finished 8-for-23 shooting, with five rebounds and three assists while Vladimir Radmanovic made all five of his three-point attempts.
Amare Stoudemire led Phoenix with 21 points and eight rebounds while O'Neal added 15 and nine rebounds. The Suns led 37-34 in the second quarter as O'Neal drew early fouls on Lakers center Andrew Bynum.
"They go into Shaquille more this season," said Kobe of the Suns. "Bynum just has to not be overzealous and stay fundamentally sound."
Bryant scored six points in the final six minutes of the half where the Lakers took a 50-44 lead after a 16-7 run. Los Angeles got 43 points from its bench as Jordan Farmer scored 11 and Trevor Ariza added 10.