Jennifer Stewart-USA TODAY Sports
Kendall Marshall, Jared Dudley, and the bench systematically took apart the Lakers with their effort, hustle, and timely shot making. Then again, this could have all just been a dream or figment of my imagination.
Before the game, WWE singer/ring announcer Lillian Garcia sang an inspired rendition of the National Anthem, followed by the Gorilla coming out in the playoff "Beat L.A." tower for a game in March that is for playoff seeding.
The game itself played off of that.
Early in the game, Dwight Howard missed consecutive dunks but finished off plays at the line, going 3-3 early from the charity stripe. To compound the weirdness, he stepped out and knocked down long jumpers while Jermaine O'Neal turned back the clock with a dunk over the league's best interior defender. Dwight was not Dwight early and then Kendall Marshall wasn't Kendall Marshall.
The rookie has 14 made threes on the season, but stepped up in the second quarter to hit back-to-back threes and a long two. Bizzaro World indeed.
This game was the Suns' last opportunity for a meaningful win on what has been a dismal season. They came out in the second and third quarter with the attitude that they were going to win this game. They dominated the Lakers on the glass (on both ends) and were able to get easy baskets in the paint. It didn't help that the Lakers played matador defense at times, but the point is the Suns found a way to score more points than another team, with a final of 99-76.
For a second time at home, the Suns were able to hold serve against their rivals, taking a game away from them in the loss column as the Lakers are in a competitive battle with the Utah Jazz, Houston Rockets, and now the Dallas Mavericks for positioning and, at this point, to make the playoffs in general.
This Suns win was not about the lottery, percentages, or tanking. It was about getting one last great win in a season where there have been slim to none. The Suns now have more wins on the season than the Miami Heat have won in a row.