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Lakers back on West summit
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Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers walked off the court with the best record in the Western Conference.

They're hoping they can still do that when they return from their rugged four-game road trip.

"It's going to be a tough one," Bryant said. "Those teams are great teams. In the East, you have a couple gimme games. In the West, you don't get those."

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (left) fights for a rebound with Toronto Raptors' Anthony Parker in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The Lakers won 113-107.

Los Angeles Lakers' Kobe Bryant (left) fights for a rebound with Toronto Raptors' Anthony Parker in Los Angeles on Tuesday. The Lakers won 113-107.

The Lakers (45-19) will play in New Orleans tomorrow, followed by games at Houston, Dallas and Utah. The four teams have a cumulative record of 168-86, including 101-26 at home.

"I told them basically we aren't going to beat any of those teams if we play like we have played the last two or three games," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said.

Bryant scored 10 of his 34 points in the final 8 1/2 minutes, Lamar Odom chipped in with 20 points, and the Lakers beat the Toronto Raptors 117-108 on Tuesday for their 18th win in 22 games.

"It's time to have some fun and play some of the top teams," forward Luke Walton said of the trip. "There's going to be hostile environments, every possession is going to be crucial. That's a lot of fun for a player."

In other National Basketball Association games, it was: Suns 132, Grizzlies 111; Wizards 105, Bucks 97; Bulls 108, Jazz 96; Trail Blazers 103, Timberwolves 96; and Pacers 114, SuperSonics 107.

In Los Angeles, the Lakers were 15-of-32 from 3-point range for season highs in both categories. Bryant also had seven rebounds and seven assists for the Pacific Division-leading Lakers, who lead the San Antonio Spurs by a half-game in the Western Conference.

"We did an OK job defensively," Bryant said. "The first half is always an adjustment to get used to these type of teams the way they play. I think in the second half we did a much better job."

T.J. Ford scored all but four of his 28 points in the second half for the Raptors (34-29), who lost for the fifth time in seven games.

In Phoenix, Amare Stoudemire scored 29 points and grabbed 13 rebounds in 30 minutes, and Phoenix beat Memphis for the eighth time in a row.

Raja Bell added 20 points, including 18 in the third quarter, for the Suns, who shot 60 percent, led by as many as 32 in the first half and 39 in the second and won consecutive games for the first time since Shaquille O'Neal joined the lineup 11 games ago.

Rudy Gay, who scored a career-best 36 when the teams met in Memphis on February 26, led the Grizzlies with 20.

In Washington, Antawn Jamison scored 23 points, rookie Nick Young had a career-high 22, and the Wizards rallied in the fourth quarter to beat Milwaukee.

The victory moved Washington, eager to hold onto sixth place in the Eastern Conference, 1 1/2 games ahead of charging Philadelphia.

Michael Redd scored 26 points and Andrew Bogut had 23 for the Bucks.

(Agencies via Shanghai Daily March 13, 2008)

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