No Steve Nash, no Amare Stoudemire, no doubt what would happen.
The Lakers and Phoenix Suns used to have fun, frothy games, flying past each other while their coaches lobbed barbs back and forth, sometimes even in behind-the-scenes books.
But the Lakers have risen, leaving the Suns behind, the latest evidence a dominant 132-106 victory Thursday at Staples Center.
Lamar Odom had an incredibly efficient night, scoring 23 points on 11-for-12 shooting. Kobe Bryant almost matched him, scoring 22 points on 10-for-13 shooting.
The Lakers won their sixth consecutive game, moved to 48-10 and took a 2 1/2 -game lead over Boston for the league's best record. They lead Cleveland by three games and hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over the Celtics and Cavaliers.
"Obviously we follow it," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said of the bigger picture.
If it didn't look good on paper for the Suns, who were without Nash (sprained ankle) and Stoudemire (eye surgery), it looked even worse on the court.
The Lakers led by as many as 28, ripped through the Suns at every corner and turned the game over to the reserves after entering the fourth quarter with a 102-81 lead. Neither Odom nor Bryant played in the fourth quarter. Pau Gasol (16 points, nine rebounds) played one minute in the quarter.
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