Well, that was fun, wasn't it? The Suns broke a four-game losing streak by taking out their frustrations on a Lakers team which had thumped them Friday night, building a 27-point lead before Kobe Bryant and the Lakers clawed back to within 10 in the second half, and the Suns had to sweat it out in the end before securing the 102-90 win.
Marcin Gortat was both a workhorse and a show pony, playing 42 minutes, producing 21 points and 15 rebounds and again outperforming acclaimed Lakers big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol. When the Suns went to their bench, Gortat was the player they kept in the game to provide stability. Bench play was still a white knuckle affair, but the Suns held their lead through more disjointed play from their second unit.
Jared Dudley played an outstanding game as well, leading the Suns with 25 points on 9-15 shooting and making some clutch shots down the stretch when the Lakers were threatening.
The Lakers were led by Kobe Bryant's 32 points, but Bryant also committed 10 turnovers as he attempted to carry his team on his back. He pouted on the bench in the final minute as the Suns wrapped it up.
This is a rough season for the Suns and their fans, but taking the Lakers out back behind the woodshed for a whupping? That's always a welcome sight.
Read on for more on the Suns best performance of the season.....This game started out with the Suns executing crisply on both ends of the floor and the Lakers looking lackadaisical. Gortat almost had a double-double in the first quarter, Grant Hill out-dueled Kobe 9-4 in the quarter and the Suns committed only 2 turnovers to the Lakers 7 as the Suns took a 35-19 lead.
Second quarter woes? Pssh. The Suns bench was hardly great tonight but rookie Markieff Morris carried the load with 10 points and 6 boards and the Suns extended their lead to 63-40 going into the half. Morris plays with a swagger that can't be taught. He only shot 2-11 tonight but he showed flashes of his potential and played a key role as the Suns pulled away tonight.
It certainly helped that Lakers starters Derek Fisher and Metta World Peace combined for 0 points in the half (2 in the game) and the Lakers made 0 3-pointers. The Suns also took it to the hole hard, drawing fouls and making 18-19 FTs.
Of course the Lakers were going to make a run, and it started in the middle of the 3rd. Kobe tried to take over the game, as the rest of his team was impotent, and scored 9 in a 15-4 Lakers run to close the quarter. But the Suns defense swarmed him and his turnovers persisted. If Kobe hates the Suns and uses that as motivation, it looked to have turned right back on him tonight.
At 88-77 with 7:22 remaining, Alvin Gentry put Nash, Dudley, Hill and Frye back in the game. The Suns immediately went to Frye inside coming out of the timeout and Frye converted an and 1. Due to the Suns lead-blowing ways, it wasn't exactly sealed then, but they were able to take the air out of the ball a bit and let Kobe try to play Superman on the other end to hold on for their first win over the Lakers since 2010.
Keys to the Win
This was an enjoyable win. Can the Suns build off of it, or was it a one-time deal? Regardless, beating the Lakers any time, anywhere, in any condition is something to celebrate.
Update 2/19/12 10:20PM MST: Kobe was pouting for real at the end of the game and he threw a tantrum in the locker room. Per Bob Baum of Yahoo Sports:
Afterward, Bryant lashed out at the Lakers’ front office over the issue of whether teammate Pau Gasol will be traded. Bryant used a couple of profanities and said it’s not fair to Gasol to try to play while wondering where he will be the following day.
Bryant said he doesn’t want Gasol to be traded but “if they’re going to do something I wish they would just … do it. If they’re not going to do it, come out and say you’re not going to do it.”
Kobe genuinely hates losing to the Suns.
Beating the Lakers is always cause for celebration, no matter the situation. Savor it while I work on the recap.
Enjoy this one, Suns fans! This is the best the Suns can play. Now, CLOSE IT OUT!!!!!