Originally posted on Fox Sports West  |  Last updated 1/11/12
LOS ANGELES -- "If you open the guy up, you might find out he's a machine or something." That was coach Mike Brown describing the nearly indescribable, another mind-boggling performance by Kobe Bryant. The Western Conference Player of the Week scored an NBA season-high 48 points on 18-31 shooting from the field to lead the Lakers to their seventh straight win at STAPLES Center, 99-83 over Phoenix. LA is now 7-4 on the season; the Suns dropped to 4-5. Playing with a torn right wrist ligament which requires extensive treatment prior to each game "I get a (pain-killing) shot before every game and after that, I just don't feel anything." Bryant is averaging 29.5 points per game. His last five games have been even more spectacular, scoring an average of 36 ppg. "He's the best player in the world," said Suns' guard Steve Nash, who had 13 points and 8 assists. "You come to expect that type of performance from him. He was phenomenal tonight." It wasn't just Bryant setting the pace offensively that game the Lakers the win. Pau Gasol collected a double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, while Steve Blake chipped in eight assists. And nearly as impressive as Bryant's outing was that of seldom-used forward Luke Walton, who replaced Troy Murphy in the rotation (Murphy was suffering from gastroenteritis). Walton came through with 6 points, 8 rebounds5 offensiveand 3 assists in his first action since December 26 in Sacramento. He has averaged just 3.3 minutes per game prior to Tuesday's 26 minutes of action. "He played hard and rebounded well," said Brown of Walton. "And he was excellent defensively when they tried to back him down into the post. He passed the ball well and did a lot of things that might not show up in the (box score). It was good to see him step up and produce the way he did." As the game went on, however, it was Bryant who assumed his role of the game's best closer and a pretty good defender as well. At the 6:27 mark in the fourth quarter, Channing Frye (17 points) hit a three-pointer cutting the Laker lead to one. Bryant then scored 14 of his team's last 18 points, turning a close game into a rout. And according to Kobe, there's no team he'd rather devastate than the Suns. "The other day I said I hate them," he recalled, "and nothing has changed. I do not like them. It's that simpleI do not like them. "They used to whup us pretty good and they let us know about it, and I will not forget that. I don't care (that most of the players from those Phoenix teams are gone). I won't let it go. I don't get to see them during the summer (so I can let them know how I feel about them). But when my career is said and done, I'll make sure to run my mouth to them about it." Bryant was also a bit irked when he was told that some of the Suns players were questioning the severity of his wrist injury. "Yeah? Really?" he said. "Well, everybody's not built the same way. That sh hurts. But I just play. Because at the heart of it is a kid who just loves the game of basketball. "I just enjoy playing." He might enjoy it even more if the Lakers were able to silence their critics by winning a game on the road. They'll get another chance Wednesday night in Utah, a team they crushed by 25 at STAPLES. "Well," Bryant said laughing, "we are going to eventually win one (away from home), so we might as well get it done (against the Jazz). It's going to be a tough game and we just have to go and play." That's the kind of attitude Kobe has had throughout his careerbrings on the next challenge. However, it's also deprived him of a chance to reflect in some of the remarkable things he's done on the biggest stage for the past sixteen years. "I don't have time to admire what I've done," said the future Hall of Famer. "I (always get) ready for the next (game). I start looking forward to it right away."
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