Well, it wasn't a pretty game. But after an awful third quarter from the Lakers that saw them go 3-20 from the field and score just nine points, the Suns had a great chance to win. Especially with pass-obsessed Kobe not taking a single field goal in the first half and only finishing with four points on 1-8 shooting. Painfully and predictably, the Suns' offense completely collapsed in the fourth, tallying just 14 points as the Lakers went on to claim the win.
Nobody really stood out for the Suns. Beasley led the way with 18 off the bench, Scola had 15, Tucker 13, O'Neal 12, Dudley 10. Dragic was disappointing with just 7 points and 6 assists, shooting just 3-12. It was your typical Suns performance of mediocrity and offensive breakdowns, with the team as a whole shooting 41 percent and a paltry 3-13 from downtown.
Dwight Howard led the Lakers with 19 points and 18 rebounds, some of that coming off some nice feeds from Nash. No arguments between them this time. The only entertainment from a Lakers standpoint was Will Ferrell posing as a security guard, but for on court dysfunction, sorry, nothing to report.
The game started out with the Lakers on top, Dwight dominating inside early on as the Lakers looked to establish him. Gortat responded with a couple of dunks but it wasn't long before L.A. was sitting on a double-digit lead. From a Suns perspective, the highlight of this portion of the game was a Scola dunk on a fast break. I'm sure video will be available all over the net soon for those that missed it. It'll probably be locked away for safe storage as well. Seriously, it happened.
Interestingly, Marshall came in for Dragic as the first quarter wound down, Bassy again registering a DNP-CD. I get that the team needs to develop Marshall, but I would've thought Bassy would feature in a game the team really wanted to win to appease us bloodthirsty fans. Can we please trade Bassy already for a pick? Waste of time even having him on the roster at this point.
Into the second, and Bryant continued his somewhat bizarre game of not taking a single field goal, although he was fouled on a drive and made the resulting free throws. It was clear he wanted to be Bryant the distributor in this one as he regularly looked to feed the likes of Jamison for easy buckets ... and succeeded. He finished the game with nine assists, one more than that Nash guy. Nash actually looked OK in this game, but let's move on.
Down by nine, the third quarter was the key one in this game ... or so we thought. The Lakers clanked shot after shot, and Kobe even started taking shots and missing. The Suns weren't amazing offensively, but got the buckets they needed and ended up outscoring LA 24 to 9 in the entire 12-minute period. The Lakers went a full nine minutes without making a shot as the Suns chipped away, tied the game and eventually pushed ahead as the quarter came to a close. Could this be another enjoyable Suns win over a Lakers loss and another step towards securing that valuable second first round pick this summer?
Sadly, no. The Lakers shooting woes quickly ended as the fourth opened up, and it wasn't long before the Suns were imploding big time. Missed shots, no flow on offense and the Lakers bullied them on the glass to secure plenty of second chance opportunities. The Suns essentially crawled up and died by the midway point of the quarter, with Jermaine O'Neal seeming to be the only one trying. He quickly got gassed.
So the Suns enter the All Star break at 17-36, almost 20 games below .500. Ouch. They now have an entire week off with not a single participant at All Star Weekend, before returning to face the Blazers in Portland. They are clearly the worst team in the entire Western Conference. Let that sink in. Pretty sure that has never been the case in the entire Suns' franchise history. On the plus side though, the loss does help with the whole lottery odds thingy. Yay.
Around the league, the Jazz picked up a win over the Thunder and Houston saw off the slumping Warriors, so the night wasn't a complete disaster as far as the whole "let's hope the Lakers miss the playoffs" stuff is concerned.
Enjoy the week off from losing!
Had the Lakers feed for this one. Their pregame notes and key to victory was "contain Beasley." Mildly amusing.
- Howard with the first 4 points, Lakers looking to get him up and running from the off.
- Nash with a nice bounce pass to Earl Clark on the fast break...sort of miss those.
- Dudley hits a shot, went scoreless in 8 minutes last game.
- Scola DUNKED! No really, he dunked it on a fast break.
- Lakers up 22-11, with Kobe yet to take a shot. MWP being a pain in the arse with 9 points.
- Marshall in for Dragic instead of Telfair. Can we just trade Bassy for a pick already?
- Markieff Morris' lack of development is pretty painful to see...having said that, nice steal from Kobe for the fastbreak dunk.
- Marshall launches a three which wasn't awful. Rims out. Lakers up 30-22 after 1 after Jamison and Tucker exchange threes. Howard with 8 and 6 to lead a pretty balanced Lakers scoring. Dragic with 0 points, 0 assists.
- Play of the game so far, Jermaine O'Neal helps shove Steve Blake into a courtside seat after he tries to save the ball.
- Suns close the gap to 33-30 off a nice Shannon Brown dunk. 8-3 run to start the 2nd, D'Antoni timeout.
- A Blake-Howard alley oop and a Blake 3 gives the Lakers an 8 point cushion again. Hunter calls timeout after less than a minute of play. Jermaine O'Neal technical...not sure what for.
- Suns shooting 15/33, Lakers 17/33.
- Nash with a nice finger roll in traffic. Seen that so many times...
- Lakers starting to establish a comfortable 10 point lead as the quarter winds down.
- Suns not playing too good. Lakers haven't been great and look in control.
- Remember stubborn Kobe in the 2006 playoffs when he refused to shoot? He still has yet to make a shot in this game, passing up easy looks. Bizarre to say the least. Also embarrassing considering the Lakers are comfortable without a single FG from him.
- Gortat prevents the alley oop, then Dragic gets a nice shot to fall while being fouled by Howard for the 3 point play.
- Bryant with another assist to Jamison to end the half, 56-47. Not a great half. Kobe with 8 assists, Jamison with 14 points off the bench.
- Suns have no players in double figures, balanced scoring with 7 players on 5 to 8 points. Shooting 47% to the Lakers 54%.
- Dragic with a nice fastbreak layup after good hustle from Scola to secure the loose ball.
- MWP responds with a 3...Lakers shooting 6/11 from downtown.
- Kobe Bryant shot attempt! Takes a 3 at the 7:32 mark (in case he never takes another shot and you need to verify he took one). It missed.
- D'Antoni pissed off and calls a timeout as the Suns get within 6 after a Dudley putback.
- Will Ferrell is at the game, just posed as a Lakers security guard. Mildly amusing.
- Another Suns steal from Kobe, Tucker with the layup and foul, Suns within 4. They've outscored LA by 5 in this quarter. Momentum shift? Tucker makes the FT, 3 point game.
- Dudley misses two straight layups. Frustrating. Beasley comes in for the Suns, MWP sits for the Lakers.
- Bryant misses his second shot of the game. Lakers have actually missed their last 9 shots...it's a 4 point game.
- Beasley three point play, 1 point game!!!
- TIE GAME! This is a much better half from the Suns, mostly because the Lakers keep clanking, having missed their last 11 shots now. 12-1 run from the Suns over a 6:09 stretch.
- Kobe with a hissy fit after losing the ball out of bounds and crying for a foul. Game starting to become enjoyable. He was T'd up for that. Brilliant. Please please please can we win this game?
- Lakers now into the 7 minute mark without a FG. Suns 16-2 over 8 minutes.
- Marshall with a nice pass to O'Neal to put the Suns up 6 at the end of the 3rd. Outscored Lakers 24 to NINE in the 3rd quarter. Lakers went almost 9 minutes without a FG. Bloody marvellous. Suspect Kobe will start shooting by the bucket load now.
- Meeks opens with a rare Lakers FG, and it's a 3. Dudley responds with a jumper, 5 point cushion.
- Suns call timeout after it becomes a 2 point game. Not a good start to the 4th Lakers getting plenty chances to score.
- MWP with 5 of the Lakers' 8 points as they tie the game. Suns need to get it together.
- Suns are getting the game lost right now, nothing going for them on the offensive end. Dragic comes back in with the Suns down 2.
- Lakers now on an 11-2 scoring run to open the 4th after a Nash jumper. Suns timeout after a Jamison bucket. Lakers have outscored the Suns 16-4 for a 6 point lead. Six second chance points in this quarter for LA.
- Beasley gets kneed in the bollocks...looked painful. Also painful: Nash with a nice wide open PnR dish to Dwight for the slam. Wake up Suns. 8 point lead for LA.
- Wow, 4th quarter has gone fast. 2 mins left already, Lakers up 8 after yet another offensive rebound and score. Bryant finally made a FG, by the way.
- Game is done. Nash with a running jumper to seal the win after Tucker missed a 3. That was the Suns' best option? Really? 8 point game with 26 seconds to go. Oh well.
**EDITORIAL NOTES (Jacob)**
Big thanks to Toon Army Sun for stepping up and taking recap duty for me tonight. You should follow him on Twitter guys (@ToonArmySun). Few quick thoughts of my own:
- Gortat was a no-show in this game, but Jermaine O'Neal stepped up big time. 12 points, 13 rebounds, five blocks, four assists in 27 minutes.
- The officiating in this game was absolutely atrocious. There was a two possession stretch right at the end where I counted three or four travels, four or five fouls and a goaltend between the two teams, yet no whistle either way. Then they called a bogus foul on Dragic.
- Rebounding hurt us in the fourth. The Suns were getting pretty good stops, but the Lakers worked harder and got a handful of offensive rebounds, which they converted. Momentum killers for the Suns.
- Finally, HUGE shout-out to P.J. Tucker for an outstanding all-around performance. Four points, 1-8 shooting, nine assists, eight turnovers, 36 minutes. That was Kobe Bryant's stat line. Kobe wasn't looking to score at all early on, but when he did start shooting Tucker locked him down and was in his face on every attempt. He also finished with 13 points, five assists, four rebounds, two blocks and a steal.