Tonight it was clear that the Suns would need help from the 2nd unit and beyond in order to win a game against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. Of course, Bryant called in with a lil boo-boo to his shin, so in theory, things would get easier in the Suns' quest to climb the WC playoff charts. But beating the Lakers without Bryant wasn't a given by any means. I would argue it may even be more difficult, intensity being the fleeting condition it often is.
But the Suns, bolstered by 24 points from Shannon Brown and 23 from Michael Redd, cruised by the Lakers, 125-105.
The Suns stumbled out of the gates in the first, looking like the tired club they were after a night in Denver Friday. Phoenix shot 40% from the field, while Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol combined for 18 and 13, while the Suns' Dudley, Frye, and Shannon Brown combined for 3-13 from the field.
The Suns' bench, led by Michael Redd and Bassy Telfair, righted the ship in the second, erasing a nine-point Laker lead. With Los Angeles up, 40-35, Redd reeled off 10 straight Suns points. Telfair added a 3-pointer, and the Suns took the lead and never let the Lakers back in the game.
The third quarter belonged to ex-Laker Shannon Brown, who went totally HAM -- 20 points as the Lakers faded for good.
FURTHER THOUGHTS ...
A good, needed and expected win tonight for the Suns playing against a Laker club without Kobe Bryant. The bench was huge, and while I mentioned the obvious big contributors, I want to toss out a shout to the rook, Markieff Morris, who chipped in 13 points, 5 rebounds, 2 blocks, a 3-pointer and a technical foul. For those of you who didn't see it, Keef stuck up for J-Chill, who got tied up with (I'm chuckling as I write this ... ) Metta World Artest. So Chill and Artest get tied up after the whistle, Chill tried to play nice, but um, Artest, was being his old self, prompting Keef to step in. The two barked at one another and picked up offsetting T's ...The scene gave me chills. There's no telling how good Morris will be, but one thing is for sure in my mind, he will be a tough MF'R for years to come.
It is disturbing how many Lakers jersies one sees near and around U.S. Airways Center. And while I have my theories as to why AZ has so many Laker fans that make themselves present in broad daylight, the bottom line is it matters little, because it is what it is, obnoxious and lame, which is how these fans act at a Suns game.
The Suns are now 1 (one) game back from Denver, who lost to Golden State, and 1.5 back from DALLAS, yeah world champion Dallas, who also lost.
Next up for Los Suns:
Minny, Memphis, the Fighting Dragices and then the Spurs ...