For the first time in ever Mike D'Antoni was upset at the lack of defense his team played at U.S. Airways Center...
Who doesn't like a win over the Los Angeles Lakers? the Phoenix Suns improve to 17-10 on the season with a 117-90 victory over the rival Lakers (13-15) to inch closer to the top of the Pacific Division standings.
Miles Plumlee led the way with 17 points and 20 rebounds. The 20 rebounds are a career-high for Plumlee and the points were just one off. The bench chipped in with 61 points led by Gerald Green's 22 points and Markieff Morris' 19 points. The bench was raining threes and so was the team as they went 14-32 from deep to run the Lakers off the court before the holiday break.
The first quarter was soooo Swaggy P I do not know how to put it into words. Instead of trying to artfully describe the play of Nick Young, here is a simple list of his accomplishments in the first quarter:
I think that about does it. It was magic.
The Suns rained threes here with Gerald Green going 4-6 and Marcus Morris going 2-2 in the quarter leading to the Suns ballooning the lead up to 64-51 at the half. The line-up of Goran Dragic, Gerald Green, Marcus Morris, Markieff Morris, and Channing Frye has been a game-changer for the team all year with their energy and shooting. This game was no exception.
All of the momentum swung in the favor of the Suns this quarter with the shooting and energy that the team played with. At the half Miles Plumlee had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds bringing the energy on the glass on both ends.
As bad as the Lakers defense was in the second quarter, the offense was that much worse in the third quarter scoring 17 points on 3-16 shooting as a team. The Suns had some highlights with Bledsoe connecting with Miles Plumlee on a dunk and the lead just kept growing. By the end of the quarter the Suns were up by 20+ points and Plumlee was working on a 20-20 night with points and rebounds.
Two things worth note here:
1. Kendall Marshall played the final two minutes and looked like Kendall Marshall.
2. Dionte Christmas checked in and nailed a cold-blooded three in the face of the defense. It is definitely feeling a lot more like Christmas now. Happy Holidays folks.
If Gene Hackman does not coach this game I am going to be one disappointed basketball fan thanks to this metaphor land I am about to create...
The Mash Unit as they are becoming in LA will be without Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar are all out and Pau Gasol will be playing, but not at 100% as he is dealing with a health ailment. These are not the Lakers that anyone is used to seeing, you father, you, or your little brother. They are a Mash Unit filled with replacement players worthy of a Hollywood Movie.
I am surprised that Orlando Jones is not suiting up for this one or Keanu Reeves taking the helm as starting point guard. Maybe in Los Angeles. Maybe.
With all of the injuries the Lakers look a lot like the Suns did last year. A parade of players playing 15-25 minutes a game, nobody taking control as "the guy," and a coaching staff trying to be creative with what they have. To his credit, despite refusing to do so here in Phoenix, Mike D'Antoni has done a good job with the next man up strategy going deep into his bench to find players to produce. He has turned Nick Young and Xavier Henry into viable wing options that are playing pretty well on the season as a whole.
If anything has come from the injury to Bryant it is the play of Henry, a career resurgence. Henry is on pace to match or exceed his career numbers from the first three years of his career in the D'Antoni system.
Playing without a true point guard will make this a tough match-up for the Lakers.
They brought in Kendall Marshall as a body to play minutes, but as Suns fans know he is not the answer. Jodie Meeks ran the point last game and with that the team shot 32.5% from the field with 11 total assists. It will only get worse against the Suns with the two-headed monster on the perimeter of Dragic and Bledsoe.
Over the past eight games the duo are averaging 39.8 points, 10.4 assists, and 3.4 steals per game on 49.1% shooting, 42.0% from three.
Good luck, Lakers.
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Projected Starting Line-Ups
PG - Eric Bledsoe v. Jodie Meeks
SG - Goran Dragic v. Xavier Henry
SF - P.J. Tucker v. Wesley Johnson
PF - Channing Frye v. Shawne Williams
C - Miles Plumlee v. Pau Gasol
Potential Lakers Inactives: Kobe Bryant (Broken Leg, Out), Steve Nash (Back/Hamstring, Out), Pau Gasol (Respiratory Illness, Game Time Decision), Steve Blake (Right Elbow, Out), and Jordan Farmar (Left Hamstring, Out)