The Phoenix Suns started out the game hot offensively. Goran Dragic and Michael Beasley were both active as scorers and playmakers early in the game. In fact, as Paul Coro tweeted, "Each Suns point in the first quarter was scored or assisted by Dragic or Beasley."
Unfortunately though, the Lakers were even hotter and had outscored the Suns 35-30 by the end of the first quarter, in great part due to the hot shooting of Metta World Peace of all people, and especially Pau Gasol who scored 10 straight points for the Lakers going 5-5 on 20-foot jump shots one after the other.
The Suns continued to fight in the second quarter with Sebastian Telfair, Markieff Morris, Shannon Brown, P.J. Tucker, and even Jermaine O'Neal contributing in some way or another. In fact, Jermaine O'Neal started mixing it up with Dwight Howard and seemingly causing the Lakers' big man to get flustered and taken out of the game to a certain extent.
The Suns' bench helped the Suns not only keep the game close, but they helped orchestrate a 15-0 run that helped the Suns eventually pull ahead by as many as five points, up 55-50 with four minutes left in the second quarter. However, the Lakers battled back as the Suns started missing the same kinds of shots they were making earlier in the quarter, and L.A. was able to regain the lead up 62-57 at the end of the first half.
In the third quarter, the Suns and Lakers continued their back and forth scoring, with the Lakers holding serve and playing well enough to keep the lead. The Suns were kept alive mostly by the play of Luis Scola and Goran Dragic who hit difficult shots to keep Phoenix within striking distance and even tying in once again 84-84 at one point. The rest of the Suns didn't necessarily play poorly, but watching them you definitely noticed they were missing some easy opportunities at times...I'm looking at you Gortat.
Then came the Kobe Bryant who once again turned into the Black Mamba to hit a couple difficult shots, draw the foul to get to the line, and then steal the ball from Shannon Brown to score on a fast break at the other end...all in a matter of minutes. The Lakers were able to extend their lead to 92-84 at the end of the third quarter.
In the fourth quarter, the same Suns bench that was able to make a 15-0 run against mostly Lakers' starters was out-matched by one of the weakest benches in the league. Largely behind the play of Jordan Hill, yes Jordan Hill, the Lakers were able to extend the lead early in the 4th quarter to go up by as many as 15 points (101-86) with nine minutes left to play.
The Suns starters returned after a disappointing showing by the bench, minus Marcin Gortat who they left on the bench in favor of Jermaine O'Neal, and were able to at least stop the bleeding if nothing else. However, they were unable to ever mount any sort of comeback this time, and Alvin Gentry finally waived the white flag with around two minutes to go bringing in Kendall Marshall, Wesley Johnson, and Luke Zeller to finish out the game as the Lakers were able to hold on to win it 114-102.
The Suns were led by Goran Dragic's 22 points, 7 assists, and 2 steals. Luis Scola also posted an impressive 18 points, 8 rebounds, and 3 assists. The Lakers were led by Kobe Bryant's 31 points, 6 rebounds, and 2 assists. Metta Word Peace also played his best game of the season posting 22 points, 6 rebounds, 3 assists, and 3 steals.
Both teams shot the ball at around 50% tonight, but L.A. shot the ball slightly better from three going 8-21 compared to 5-14 for the Suns. The Lakers also capitalized on their trips to the free throw line shooting 22-28 from the charity stripe compared to an abysmal 7-15 for the Suns. In addition, L.A. also won the rebounding battle 48-38, and committed less turnovers than the Suns by a margin of 11 to 15.
The Lakers improve to 4-5 on the season as the Suns drop to 4-6 before heading back home to play against the Miami Heat tomorrow.
Hang in there Suns fans...
For the Suns, it's all about the resurgent Markieff Morris and his sore ass. Morris fell hard and said ass late in the game on (whenever the hell that game was) against the Bulls. Now, we all well know that Morris is a hardass from Philly so it's difficult to believe that a bruised ass would have him sitting on his butt watching this game.
Morris confirmed his reputation with this quote as transcribed by the unstoppable Paul Coro of the undeliverable (?) Arizona Republic:
"I'm just going to see how I feel when I work out," Morris said. "If I'm more than 70 percent, then I will for sure go. They can't hold me down. This ain't nothing."
That's the spirit! A hard fall on his ass is not going to keep Markieff Freakin Morris out of an important basketball game to see which of these two teams will hold on to third place in the division in mid-November! Must win, baby!
In other injury news, the uninjured Jermaine O'Neal is ready to play after missing the last six games due to the illness and subsequent funeral of his aunt. Thoughts and prayers, JO!
The big fella is looking to assert himself offensively off the bench. He wants post touches -- something yours truly called for weeks ago when he was matched up against Carl "Tiny" Landry but was ignored in favor of Shannon Brown Mad Bombs.
On the Lakers front, their starting point guard and two-time MVP from British Columbia, Canada by way of Santa Clara, Phoenix, Dallas, and Phoenix, is out with a broken leg. You would think the training staff in Phoenix would have fixed that shit by now with some magic powder but sorry, Steve, you picked L.A. and so now you are subject to the laws of mortal medicine.
And remember, this is a family show so please keep your comments civil and avoid gratuitous use of bad fucking language.
The Suns are looking to bounce back from a tough overtime loss at home against the Chicago Bulls Wednesday night. What better way to do it than with an upset win against their arch nemesis, who also happens to be the new home of their former star point guard and head coach?
When: Tonight, 8:30 MST/10:30 EST
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Watch: FSNAZ (locally), NBA League Pass
Tonight, the 4-5 Phoenix Suns will take on the 3-5 Los Angeles Lakers on the road at the Staples Center. The Suns will attempt to bounce back from a hard-fought overtime loss against the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday night, in order to get back to the .500 mark.
The Lakers will not be led by their new head coach (and former Suns' head coach) Mike D'Antoni. Mr. Pringles is coming off of knee surgery and already effectively ruled himself out of tonight's match-up when asked about his coaching debut..."Not Friday, I’m thinking Sunday." Instead, the Lakers will be coached by the 2-1 interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff.
The other familiar face in Laker Land, Steve Nash, will not be playing tonight as he is still recovering from a partially fractured fibula that he injured against Portland in the second game of the season.
Not only that, but back-up guard Steve Blake is also day-to-day with an abdominal injury. If Blake is out, third string rookie point guard Darius Morris will start in his place against the Suns. This could prove to be a significant advantage for Phoenix as Morris posted only 1 point, 1 assist, and 2 rebounds in his first start against San Antonio this past Tuesday.
2012-2013 OVERALL NBA RANKINGS PER GAME
Suns: 99.0 (8th) Lakers: 96.5 (19th)
Suns 44.3 (8th): Lakers: 47.4 (3rd)
Suns: 20.6 (20th) Lakers: 20.1 (24th)
Suns: 104.0 (29th) Lakers: 93.1 (10th)
This is a physically and mentally wounded Laker team who is in flux and searching for an identity. The Lakers will be without
our their new head coach and starting point guard, and may be without their backup point guard as well. Goran Dragic has shown he is a very capable first option on offense, and this would be a perfect opportunity for him to be used as such. In addition, Dwight Howard is still not 100% after suffering a back injury and having surgery at the end of last season, and while Howard at 75% is still better than nearly every other center in the game, it does give Gortat the chance to use his agility and mobility around the rim to get off shots that he normally wouldn't dare attempt, and somewhat help him with rebounding as well.
Good things happen when the other team has to force bad shots and long passes. Unfortunately the Suns aren't in the habit of proving this theory correct as they are currently ranked 29th in the league in points allowed. Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard are all superstars who can almost single-handedly decimate an opponent on any given night. The Suns are short on talent while long on hustle and fight...but they will need to devote more attention to playing solid, team defense throughout the entire game, not just the 4th quarter, if they are going to get out of LA with a win tonight.
Although this applies above, the Black Mamba is in a different league all to himself. The Lakers are still Kobe's team, and they will go as far as he can take them. For the Suns (or any other team for that matter), there's no point in trying to stop Kobe, the best they can hope for is to contain him. If they can hold him to under 20 points tonight then the Suns have an excellent chance of winning the game.
Aside from Shannon Brown in the 4th quarter, the Suns have yet to get any consistent production from any of their wings. Jared Dudley has been almost non existent at times...and Michael Beasley, well, he's definitely made an impact, just not for the right team. As crazy as it may seem, the most consistently productive wing player per his minutes played so far has been P.J. Tucker, a free agent who wasn't even guaranteed to make the roster before training camp. While Tucker is certainly appreciated, he was never meant to be our best option during crunch time. As our own Dave King's article so eloquently pointed out, we need one of our starters to step up and get it done.
The Suns are in a great position to steal a win away from one of the most talented teams in the league. Phoenix has already shown that they won't quit no matter what, and their energy and hustle has already won them some games in the 4th quarter they would have otherwise lost. This is the type of effort the Suns will need to bring tonight.
They aren't going to win in a blowout against the Lakers (although the reverse is possible). Instead, their only hope is to out-hustle, out-run, and eventually out-last them. The Suns also can't afford to fall substantially behind early to a team like LA, who can gain confidence and play more relaxed and effectively in such a situation. Phoenix needs to play with 100% effort and focus for 48 minutes tonight if they are going to escape LA with a victory.