Enjoy this one, guys!

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

  • Suns 11 turnovers, Lakers 18
  • Suns 7-20 from 3, Lakers 3-18
  • All Suns starters scored in double figures except for Steve Nash; he's such a slacker. But he did dish 14 assists.
  • Gortat 21 points and 15 rebounds, Andrew Bynum 16 and 10, and Bynum sat down the stretch for some reason.
  • Derek Fisher had 0 points, 1 assist and 1 turnover in his 18 minutes. He's merely an ornamental PG at this point in his career.
  • Metta World Peace has plummeted from being an effective player who's a little crazy to now being a terrible NBA starter. He looks as if he doesn't know his role and is disengaged. He's not long for a starting job.
  • Jared Dudley was a man on a mission tonight. As he grows into a team leader, it's important that his play rights the ship when things are going wrong, and tonight he did exactly that.

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.

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Jared Dudley celebrates a 3 during his outstanding performance tonight.

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!!!!!

Dear Channing Frye, please hit your open 3s.
Suns fans

Troy Murphy cowers in fear of Marcin Gortat's monster jam. Ooooh, ahhhh.

After losing in LA Friday night to drop to 12-19, the Suns get another crack at the Lakers in Phoenix tonight. Struggling teams who want to get well always have a team to play in the Suns, and Friday night's game had the LA Times celebrating the Lakers improvement on offense as they scored a season-high 111 points led by Kobe Bryant's 36. The Lakers' bench, also a problem area for them, came to life with 34 points.

As for the Suns, they're simply not a good basketball team, having lost 5 of their last 6 games and languishing in the #13 spot in the West. The reasons are many:

  1. Poor bench play, especially at point guard.
  2. Improved, but still below average defense.
  3. Subpar spot up shooting from wing players.
  4. Lack of go-to plays/players in crunch time.

That list isn't comprehensive but it's enough to start with. For the Suns to win games against quality opponents will take all the breaks falling their way and lots of open outside shots to fall. We could say that the Suns have a puncher's chance, but their punching abilities are more on the welterweight level now, as opposed to the Mike Tyson knockouts this team used to be able to deliver.

To be a rivalry, each team has to win from time to time, right? How about tonight, Suns?

The last time the Suns beat the Lakers was November 14, 2010. Jason Richardson led the way with 30 points, Hedo Turkoglu chipped in 17, Channing Frye hit for 20 off the bench and the Suns made 22-40 3-point shots in a 121-116 win. The win gave the Suns a winning record (what's that??) at 5-4 and provided one of the few high points of last season.

Richardson and Turkoglu are gone, of course, and Frye's shooting has run hot and cold this season but, as Alex astutely noted, the Suns need to improve their spot up shooting to have a chance to win games. To win tonight, they'll need big performances from Jared Dudley, Michael Redd, Frye, Grant Hill and even Shannon Brown. Those players combined for 4-18 3-point shooting in the Suns 111-99 loss Friday night.

The Lakers are still all Kobe, all the time and Grant Hill will be working hard on defense to at least make it difficult for him. He'll get his points anyway, but the Suns held Lakers big men Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol to only 27 points combined on Friday and it will be an achievement if they can replicate that.

Marcin Gortat played another strong game Friday night with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Nash and Gortat's pick and roll game is working just fine but the Suns have too many other flaws for it to carry them to wins. What fluky, freak occurrence can the Suns get to pull out a win tonight? A terrible Kobe shooting performance? An explosive scoring night from Shannon Brown? A Robin Lopez sighting?

FG 3PT FT Rebounds Misc
G M M A Pct M A Pct M A Pct Off Def Tot Ast TO Stl Blk PF PPG
Kobe Bryant 30 38.2 10.5 23.9 44.0 1.4 4.9 29.5 6.4 7.6 84.2 1.2 4.6 5.9 5.0 3.7 1.2 0.3 2.0 28.9
Pau Gasol 30 37.0 6.8 13.8 49.5 0.1 0.5 21.4 2.8 3.6 78.7 3.2 7.4 10.6 3.0 1.8 0.5 1.3 2.0 16.6
Andrew Bynum 26 34.7 6.7 12.2 54.7 0.0 0.1 0.0 3.0 5.2 59.0 3.4 9.2 12.6 1.3 2.5 0.5 2.0 2.1 16.3
Matt Barnes 28 21.9 2.5 5.4 46.1 0.4 1.5 26.2 1.9 2.4 81.8 1.4 3.3 4.7 1.6 1.3 0.6 0.8 2.8 7.3
Steve Blake 17 25.5 2.5 6.8 37.4 1.3 4.1 31.9 0.4 0.6 63.6 0.2 1.8 2.0 3.1 1.4 0.6 0.0 1.4 6.8
Derek Fisher 30 25.7 2.1 5.7 36.5 0.4 1.5 26.7 0.8 1.0 79.3 0.2 1.9 2.0 3.6 1.2 0.9 0.1 2.0 5.3
Metta World Peace 29 22.7 1.9 5.6 33.5 0.4 2.2 20.6 0.7 1.3 51.4 0.6 2.0 2.6 1.8 1.1 0.8 0.3 1.7 4.8
Andrew Goudelock 22 11.7 1.9 4.2 44.1 0.7 1.8 41.0 0.4 0.4 100.0 0.2 0.6 0.8 0.5 0.7 0.1 0.0 0.8 4.8
Troy Murphy 27 18.9 1.5 3.4 44.6 0.7 1.6 44.2 0.1 0.3 57.1 0.8 3.0 3.7 1.1 0.6 0.4 0.3 2.1 3.9
Darius Morris 10 13.0 1.2 2.4 50.0 0.3 0.5 60.0 0.6 0.9 66.7 0.2 1.0 1.2 1.2 1.1 0.2 0.0 1.3 3.3
Josh McRoberts 18 15.6 1.1 2.2 51.3 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.5 0.9 52.9 1.1 2.5 3.6 1.1 0.8 0.4 0.6 2.1 2.7
Devin Ebanks 12 12.5 0.8 2.1 40.0 0.0 0.2 0.0 1.0 1.5 66.7 0.9 1.1 2.0 0.5 0.7 0.3 0.3 1.4 2.7
Jason Kapono 21 11.0 0.9 2.3 39.6 0.4 1.1 33.3 0.1 0.1 100.0 0.1 0.4 0.5 0.4 0.3 0.1 0.0 0.7 2.3
Luke Walton 6 9.0 0.8 2.2 38.5 0.0 0.7 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.0 0.8 1.2 2.0 0.8 0.2 0.2 0.0 1.3 1.7

Bill Cartwright Tribute at USF

Suns assistant coach Bill Cartwright was honored at the University of San Francisco versus Gonzaga game in SF last night. The leading scorer in USF history was in attendance at War Memorial Gym, fans wore replica #24 Cartwright jerseys, and the Dons beat a ranked Gonzaga team in a thrilling 66-65 upset. USF's other legendary basketball alum? BIll Russell.

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