There used to be a time when a Phoenix Suns-Los Angeles Lakers matchup invoked a variety of emotions in fans of both teams: hatred, fear, excitement, disgust and more. That's not entirely the case this season.
The 2013-14 Lakers are beaten, battered and bloodied--no seriously, I swear I saw blood everywhere in a stretch a couple weeks ago when LA surrendered over 408 points in three games. That's 136 points per game. So. Much. Blood. For the season, the Lakers are giving up nearly 109 points per game--more than any other team not starting two dudes named Hollis Thompson and Henry Sims.
In 2012-13, the 25-win Suns split the season series against LA. Today, Phoenix (44-29) looks to sweep this year's series against the Lakers (24-48) in a game that they should absolutely win. Frankly, I'm impressed the Lakers have managed to muster 24 wins with all the injuries they've dealt with and the quality of their roster. To put that into perspective, that's just one win less than Phoenix had all last year, and the Lakers still have ten games remaining.
The Lakers are coming off a 143-107 loss to the Timberwolves in which LA's defense gave up 67% shooting to Minnesota. Sixty. Seven. Percent. In an NBA game.
Before that, the Lakers lost a game to the Eastern Conference powerhouse Milwaukee Bucks, but they actually came out quite pleased with the result as both teams tried to the best of their abilities to lose--players in the game were actually seen actively trying to score on their own hoops, and sources say each play the Bucks drew up was called "A Wiggins" while LA's playbook consisted only of "The Jabari."
Before the Bucks loss, the Lakers actually defeated the New York Knicks at home, by a score of LOL KNICKS. The Suns are also coming off a convincing victory at home against New York.
I don't often use the term "must-win" but with a tough stretch coming up, the Suns absolutely must win this game.
Who: Phoenix Suns @ Los Angeles Lakers
What: Round 4 of 4 between two Pacific Division teams
When: 6:30pm PST/9pm EST (6:30pm AZ time)
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
Why: Suns Vs. Lakers! Rivalry! Memories of
Steve Nash Kendall Marshall and Jodie Meeks!
Recap of Rounds 1-3
Kendall Marshall vs. Eric Bledsoe: Remember when the Suns were at their own tanking peak late last season and opted to "rest" Goran Dragic, leaving Kendall Marshall as Phoenix's starter at the point? Fun times. Marshall has definitely exceeded expecations in LA after being traded away by the Suns and released by the Wizards. He's averaging 8.0 points and 8.9 assists (really impressive) in 29 minutes per game, while shooting 39.8% from the field and 41.5% from three (on 3.3 attempts a game, no less). Marshall's play may be a result of Mike D'Antoni being "the point guard whisperer" and it hasn't really resulted in wins, but good for Kendall.
Jodie Meeks vs. Goran Dragic: Meeks' stats have also been the beneficiaries of D'Antoni's system and the 6th-year guard is averaging career highs in points, assists, rebounds and shooting percentages. He also dropped 42 points in a shocking win against the Thunder a few weeks ago, so the Suns must not underestimate the "Meek Mamba's" ability to get hot at any given moment.
Lakers bench vs. Suns bench: LA's bench boasts a lot of firepower--their second unit exploded for a ridiculous 82 points against the Knicks last week. Phoenix's bench will have to do its best to win the battle of second units.
Chris Kaman vs. Lakers' bench: Will Kaman be able to resist his desire to nap on the Lakers bench today? This could prove key to LA's success today:
Nick Young vs. premature celebrations: Nick Young is another guy on the Lakers' bench who has the ability to light up the scoreboard at any given moment. He is also an absolute gem and we can only hope we see some more of this from Swaggy P today:
Jordan Hill's hair vs. itself: Jordan Hill's hair is in a constant battle with itself. Who will came out on top today? (SERIOUSLY WHAT IS THIS)
Tipoff's at 6:30pm. Please win this game, Suns.