The buzz around the game may have centered on Kobe Bryant, but the Suns were the stars tonight. Behind several dazzling individual performances, and a team effort, the Suns played from ahead the entire game and put away the Lakers down the stretch.
The Suns bounded off to a 10-3 start by running the floor and getting to the basket while the Lakers' ball movement seemed a little disjointed. Los Angeles settled down, though, and tied the game up at 14 on back-to-back dunks by Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol. A three point play by Goran Dragic pushed the lead back to five (19-14) before Marcus Morris scored the last seven points of the quarter for Phoenix to give them a five point cushion at the end of the period.
Suns 26, Lakers 21
The Suns again started a quarter quickly by blasting the Lakers with a 11-2 run to push their lead to double digits (37-23). Marcus Morris was leading the charge with 11 points in the early going. Turnovers by the Suns let the Lakers hang around, however, and by the six minute mark LA had nudged back within eight (40-32). The Suns continued to convert in transition, while the Lakers were more polished in their halfcourt sets. Each team was attempting to impose an opposite style of play.
LA cut the Suns lead to 50-47 on a Jodie Meeks three point shot on a second chance opportunity, but Phoenix responded with Dragic hitting a three of his own and capping his game high first half scoring (17) on a technical free throw after an ill-advised shove by Shawne Williams. The final seconds of the half were somewhat controversial, as Gasol managed to hit a jumper as time expired after a questionable call on a ball that went out of bounds gave the Lakers possession under the Suns basket with 1.8 seconds remaining.
Suns 56, Lakers 51
Third time's a charm, as Phoenix extended the lead to 14 by scoring the first nine points of the quarter. But, as was previously the case, they stalled enough to let the Lakers hang around. Steve Blake and Jordan Hill keyed a 21-8 run to cut the lead all the way down to one (73-72), capped by a hook shot by Hill with 1:56 left in the period. But after they managed just eight points over 8:36 while the Lakers got back in the mix, the Suns finished strong (again) with six points in the final 1:13, including two contortionist style layups by Bledsoe to keep them ahead going into the fourth. The Suns had bent again, but still managed not to let the Lakers regain the lead.
Suns 79, Lakers 74
The Suns continued to respond to every Lakers' challenge as they went back up by seven (86-79) after a tightly contested 18 foot face up jumper by Markieff Morris and an open corner three from Gerald Green. That 7-5 beginning, though not as pronounced as the first three periods, was emblematic of how they'd sprung out of the gates all night. Still, LA had lurked within striking distance all game and was still right there as crunch time approached. Dragic scored just his second basket of the second half on a "Goran Shake" to put the Suns up 90-84, which prompted a timeout by the Lakers to sub in their starters/closers.
While Kobe tried to go to work for the Lakers, the Morrii were answering on the other end. A nine point Suns lead was cut back down to four with 3:38 left after a free throw by Nick Young, but after that the Suns took care of business. Markieff had an acrobatic reverse layup. Marcus hit a contested 18 foot jumper right over the top of an outstretched Gasol. Dragic sliced the Lakers defense to ribbons and scored at the rim. The Lakers were still within six (105-99) with just over a minute to go, but Tucker rebounded a Suns miss and Dragic hit two free throws after he was fouled with 43 seconds left to push the lead to 107-99. The Suns hit their free throws down the stretch and salted the game.
Final Score: Suns 114, Lakes 108
Player of the Game:
Goran Dragic. He set the tone for the game with 10 first quarter points and by establishing a harried pace that kept the Lakers on their heels in transition all night. Goran also closed the game with 12 fourth quarter points while going clean from the line down the stretch (8-8 in the fourth, 11-11 on the game). Dragic finished with a game high 31 points, including several scores on filthy moves, to go with five assists. The 31 points matches Goran's season high, a total he has now hit three times this season.
Comments of the Game:
Kobe legit looked like Wizards MJ on the dunk.
Does FOX Sports not manage to get a functioning scoreboard for an entire quarter?
Remember when we all cheered and whooped in the streets of Phoenix when we drafted Markieff Morris?
And built a statue of Lance Blanks at the front of US Airways Center?
Can we start calling PJ "Padlock" Tucker
Cause of his "lockdown" defense
Has to be one of the best players in the league in the open court. Absolutely unstoppable.
So now we've blown two 14 point leads?
Imagine if Nash was guarding Bledsoe....
Twins mode activate!
Suck on that Lakers.
We didn't even need Hedo for that one.
Starting strong, finishing strong. The Suns won the beginning and end of every quarter. First quarter: started 10-3, finished 5-1. Second quarter: started 11-2, finished 6-4. Third quarter: started 9-0, finished 6-2. Fourth quarter: started 7-5, finished with the W.
P.J. Tucker had another offensive rebound to effectively ice another game, just like he slammed the door on Toronto. Despite struggling through a forgettable night on offense he still found a way to make a positive impact by pulling down a game high 11 rebounds.
Wonder Twins Unite. These guys have undergone a sublime metamorphosis between last season and now. They are still not without some fluctuations in their play on any given night, but they can also provide one of the best punches off the bench in the league on any given night. And the consistency seems to be improving along with the overall play. A game after Markieff goes 11-14 from the field Marcus responds with 10-13. Their 37 tonight barely bested their 35 from that game. Plus, they both came up huge during winning time in the fourth quarter.
Technological malfunctions at the arena caused a statistical blackout. Even the tracker at the bottom of the screen on Phoenix's local broadcast was absent or haywire during the first quarter. It was halftime before the box of everything started to report intelligible numbers from the game. There was even a stoppage in play due to a 40 second shot clock. Really Hollywood?
The Suns should have probably blew this game open at some point as their lead swelled to 14 to start both the second and third quarters. After playing lock down defense the previous two games they seemed to struggle at times against LA's halfcourt offense and surrendered 49% shooting.
Nothing. Well, I guess there was some chatter about Steve Blake and Nick Young, but I can't think of anything else.
The Suns were finally able to break through their two game barrier and earn their first three game winning streak this season. There is no reason they can't stretch that to four next game against the Kings. This was a solid victory against a legitimate opponent on the road, made sweeter by the fact that it was the rival Lakers.
The Suns are beginning to trend as a stalwart road team, standing at 6-6 on the season after tonight and their recent win against Houston. And while the team is only two games out of 13th in a Chinese finger trap of a Western Conference, they are also only 1.5 games behind the Pacific Division leading Clippers.
The Suns are playing pretty damn well. And they...