October 29, 2014

Kobe Bryant hasn't played the last four times the Los Angeles Lakers have met the Phoenix Suns, but that will change Wednesday night.

Bryant has taken part in eight straight road games as he continues his retirement tour and will be on the court one final time in the desert against the Suns.

Like with many teams, Bryant became a nemesis to Phoenix with his Lakers splitting four postseason series with the Suns. A seven-game loss in 2006 may be the most memorable since he and Raja Bell were ejected from Game 5 after a flagrant foul by Bell, who was suspended for Game 6 as the Suns rallied from a 3-1 series deficit.

Phoenix (19-51) hasn't been to the playoffs since losing the 2010 Western Conference finals to Los Angeles, which got 37 points from Bryant in a series-clinching Game 6 road win. The Lakers went on to win their most recent NBA title with Bryant that season.

Bryant sat out two games due to his ongoing shoulder problems before he returned with 20 points on 7-of-18 shooting in Tuesday's 107-100 victory over Memphis, as the Lakers (15-55) ended a four-game slide.

''My shoulder feels great,'' Bryant said. ''I didn't have any aches or pains.''

The Suns have won nine straight at home over the Lakers, although Bryant has played in just three of those games. They are looking forward to seeing him on the floor one final time.

''This would be my only chance to play against him,'' rookie Devin Booker said. ''That's a story I can tell for the rest of my life, playing against Kobe Bryant.''

Bryant is the NBA's worst shooter at 35.6 percent overall and 27.5 on 3-pointers.

Phoenix fans may actually be rooting for Bryant given what is at stake for the Western Conference's worst teams. A victory by the Lakers would cut the gap to three games between these clubs battling for lottery position.

Winning may be too much to expect Wednesday for the Lakers, who are 1-13 in the second half of back-to-back games and losers of seven straight on the road. They have dropped 10 of the last 12 meetings with the Suns, including the last four that Bryant has played in.

Los Angeles is also dealing with the distraction of a Hollywood incident Sunday between Nick Young and Jordan Clarkson and a woman who accused them of harassing her. The club says it has dealt with the situation.

Lakers point guard D'Angelo Russell is questionable after he suffered a bruised left shin Tuesday. Los Angeles expects to have another rookie available in forward Larry Nance Jr., who sat out versus the Grizzlies to rest his sore knees.

The Suns also played Memphis in their last game, falling 103-97 on Monday after leading by as many as 13 points. Phoenix's hopes were hurt when center Tyson Chandler sat out the second half with back spasms. Chandler's status Wednesday is uncertain.

Phoenix led by as many as 19 points before holding on for last Friday's 95-90 win at Los Angeles. Brandon Knight scored 22 and Booker added 21.

Lakers reserve Lou Williams is averaging 25.3 points in three games against Phoenix.

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