Suns Beat Lakers, Still Only Counts As One Win

Jared Dudley celebrates after hitting one of his 3 three-point shots. He and the Suns bench came through big in what Coach Alvin Gentry called their best game of the season. Dudley finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds. (Photo by Max Simbron)

Any time you can beat the Lakers at home it's a great win but one game doesn't erase the horrendous defensive performance in Oakland and the lack on mental toughness on several other occasions.

"It's one win. We would like to get five or six wins for this win but it's one win against a real quality team so we're happy about that. But basically that's all it is. It's not a statement game. It doesn't say anything about where we are. It just says we played hard against a great team tonight and I'm real pleased with that," said Gentry trying to manage expectations and keep fans from over turning cars and starting a celebratory riot. Which of course, might just be a holdover from his time in LA or Detroit. Everyone knows Suns fans are too chill to be bothered with mayhem.

Audio: Gentry post-game 122809

What mayhem was to be found in Phoenix happened on the court.

Starting with a poor shooting show from both sides the Suns played hard and ended the first half up 56-50 despite shooting 43% and only hitting 3 of 15 three-point attempts. The keys in the first half were the rebounding effort (Suns lead 27-22 at the half) and impressive inside presence from Robin Lopez who Channing Frye said was the difference-maker in the game.

"I was feeling really comfortable out there and when I'm really comfortable I think that's when I can really help others benefit from my energy," said Lopez who talked about getting back into the rhythm he had before breaking his foot in training camp. He feels like he's improving and can help the Suns against bigger, more physical teams. Robin finished with 8 points and 5 rebounds hitting all four of his shots. He actually lead the Suns in scoring after the first quarter of play which is...remarkable.

He even sounded good in his post-game interviews: Audio Lopez 122809

In the third quarter the Suns starting hitting their shots and finished the game connecting on nine of their last fifteen three's. Both teams were on fire in the third though hitting 54% but the difference was balance for the Suns while for the Lakers it was pretty much the Kobe-show. He had 15 of his team's 27 points and took 10 of their 22 field goal attempts.

The game blew open at about the five minute mark when the Suns got two consecutive steals (Richardson and Dudley) which lead to two consecutive three's (Frye and Richardson). Amare next scored on a dunk following two misses from the Lakers. That pushed the 10 point lead to 18 in less than 1:30 of game time. The Suns never looked back.

It's hard to single out a single Suns player for special honors. Gentry gave the virtual game ball to the Suns bench who out-scored the Lakers 52 to 31 lead by Jared Dudley who hit 3 of his 4 three point attempts and finished with 19 points and 7 rebounds to go along with his usual hustling defense.

His best play came when he flew in from the weak side to tie up what would have been a wide open look from Andrew Bynum. On the ensuing jump ball he ignored the jump and ran behind Bynum and grabbed the tip and then advanced the ball to Dragic leading to two free-throws for the Suns.

Dudley said this about that play in his usual humble fashion, "Basically I just timed it and tried to jump before he did. But how about that jump ball? You see that? Has anyone ever done that before? I know it's illegal but has anyone successfully done it?"

It's impossible not to love having that guy on your team which isn't to take away from the great performances from the Dragic and Barbosa back court. Both guys were solid and aggressive seeming to trade opportunities to attack the rim and create.

Audio Dudley post game 122809

 

It was a great team win. Solid effort in all aspects of the game from the Suns. Nash and Amare were great. The bench as mentioned was key. Kobe did the Kobe thing but Phil Jackson was not pleased with Gasol's 4 turnovers.

I'll certainly take the win. It was a fun game. It was great to see all the Lakers fans go home with their heads down. Love that.

Next up the Boston Celtics who are going to be fuming after getting beat by both the Clippers and Warriors.

 

 

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Game Notes Taken In Real Time

1st Qtr

  • Early foul for Odom. If the Lakers get into foul trouble their lack of depth could be big for Phx
  • Suns double Bynum early and leave Odom wide open for 3. He misses
  • Amare hits first two jump shots. That's a good thing
  • Suns playing physical. JRich setting solid screens on Fisher. Amare hit Bynum hard on rebound. Hill hacks Kobe's broken finger.
  • Bynum with 5 early points pushing Frye around. Gentry goes to Lopez early. Suns down 16-11
  • You can't teach height. Robin with the nice one handed tip-in on the OReb
  • Dudley w/ the Dunk!!! Tied at 18
  • Amare playing solid D on Gasol and doing well on the glass
  • 11 to 11 on the boards. That's good
  • Adam Morrison still has the worst 'stache in the league. He might have the only 'stache in the league?
  • and Morrison makes me pay by hitting his first shot. A three
  • Kobe, Gasol and Fisher on bench. Suns need to make a run. 23 all
  • Lopez leads Suns with 6 points in the 1st and tied w/ Amare with 3 rebounds

2nd Qtr

  • Suns on 7-0 run with Kobe on bench. Bench playing well. Robin. Goran. Dudley and LB hit his first shot
  • LB jumps back into Odom and draws the foul and somehow hurts Lamar's hand
  • Frye misses wide open dunk! Ouch. He's going to hear about that one
  • Suns bench torching Lakers. Powell with 3 quick fouls. Suns up 9. Ball moving really well w/ Nash on bench. Defense solid
  • Goran isn't even a little bit impressed with Vujacic
  • Lou beasting on the glass. Dudley as well
  • Kobe back in. Suns up 35-27 with 8:41 in the 2nd. Nash still resting
  • Dudley with solid D on Kobe getting a hand right in his face on each jump shot and staying in front of him to boot
  • Nash can't be unhappy w/ this crowd. Way into the game
  • Shannon and Frye with double T's and Brown with the foul. All away from the ball. Didn't see a damn thing myself
  • Nash back with 5:02 to go in 2nd. Suns up 46-38. Good long rest
  •  Mbenga in the game! Big Ears FTW!!!
  • Suns winning all loose balls. Up 25-21 rebounding
  • Grant Hill can't but a jump shot
  • Kobe hits some tough shots just to remind us all that he's Kobe and he can Kobe-up at any point. On a related side note, nothing bugs me more than loud cheers at USAC when Kobe scores
  • Amare missed a big (open) dunk as well just so Channing won't feel so bad
  • Bad news. Robin missed two free throws. Good news. He only has one foul. Bad news. It came after he missed his 2nd free throw and tried to chase it down
  • Ooops. 2nd foul for Robin. Jinxed him. Sorry, Psychlo. My bad
  • Amare hits two wide open jump shots in a row. Suns not running very much pick and roll in this game
  • Suns run high pick and roll and get Amare good look inside
  • With 8 seconds left in the half, Nash was NOT going to give up that ball. Gets to the paint and draws the foul
  • Suns score 56 points and only shoot 43%. 15 free throws help

3rd Qtr

  • Heard a nice "LA Sucks" chant in the concourse during half time. Well played, Phoenix
  • Nash, Hill and Amare all hit shots to start the half
  • Suns only 3-16 from 3. Still up 64-56. Why? Rebounding and defense. Go figure. Oh and the bench helped too. And Amare scoring.
  • 4 fouls on Bynum with a lot of game left. He goes to the bench
  • JRich and incredible 0-5 plus and misses his first two free throws as well. That's incredible suck
  • T on Fisher after he gives Nash and extra shove after the whistle. Then he looks surprised by the call
  • I guess Farve doesn't like the cold anymore. Bears crushing the Vickings 23-6
  • Suns hitting the three in the third. Even JRich hits one!!!!!!!! His first in the last 74 minutes (I made that up but it seems about right). Four made three's since bullet number three above
  • Amare makes up for missed dunk!!!! Classic Amare Statue of Liberty dunk
  • Suns up 87-68 with 2:00 to go in 3rd
  • And Lakers close the quarter strong with 9-2 run but Suns deny Kobe at the rim! Nice job on that D from Robin and Frye. Suns up 89-77
  • Taking a lot of Kobe to keep them in the game. He's played 32 minutes already

4th Qtr

  • Robin grabs rebound and bumps LB 5 feet
  • LB and Goran trade aggressive drives to the rim. Wow is it nice to have two guys off the bench that can do that
  • Jackson chewing out Gasol after Robin grabs a missed and gets the uncontested put-back
  • Suns bench killing it 31 to 11
  • Dudley with AMAZING weakside D to contest what would have been a wide open Bynum dunk. Ties him up and then doesn't contest the tip  but instead goes and steals it!!! Wow - what a play. I am going to have to watch that one again
  • Spontaneous and LOUD "Beat LA" chant
  • With Nash on the bench Suns extending lead
  • Kobe sits with 7:50 in the 4th. Suns up 102-87
  • Dudley and Goran back to back three's!!!! Hell and Yes!!
  • Suns shooting up to 51% that means they much have made.....many shots in the second half
  • Adam Morrison with the behind the back pass right to Channing Frye. Sweet!!!
  • Suns up 16 but 5 minute to go. Not over yet. Nash and Amare back in. Kobe not
  • Nash/Amare pick and roll jam and 1. That should do it
  • and Nash and Amare go out with 1:55 to go and a 21 point lead
  • Really solid game from Robin in this one. Can't wait to hear what he has to grunt in the post game interview
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