Both teams were winners because they had lots of fans in the stands. And both teams were losers because they played a bad basketball game.
But the Phoenix Suns win the tiebreaker by scoring the most points.
Neither team will chalk this game up to a good defensive effort.
Goran Dragic came up just short of a triple double (18 points, 10 rebounds and 7 assists) and Gerald Green broke out of an ice-cold shooting slump with 28 points on 18 shots, plus 7 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 steals.
Channing Frye somehow had 20 points and 8 rebounds despite playing poorly and passing on open shots. Alex Len had his best effort of the season (2 points, 3 rebounds in 4 minutes) but got himself kicked out due to a hard foul on a breakaway by Nick Young. Young got up fighting, and both players were ejected.
The Suns barometer, Markieff Morris, had 25 points, 7 rebounds and 4 assists. Of course.
First Half Notes
Kendall Marshall started the night on Goran Dragic, and the Dragon was so excited with his options he didn't know what to do. In the end, he dribbled the ball off his leg.
However, the Suns first 10 points were on 5 transition baskets, two of those putbacks thanks to extra effort, giving the Suns an early 10-4 lead.
The Lakers stayed in the game, though, with offensive rebounds (early) and made jumpers (later), while the Suns continued to struggle with playing well for more than a few seconds at a time.
Markieff Morris was the Suns best player early, tallying 9 points and an assist in his first 6 minutes of play. He still forced a lot of fallaways and played poor defense in the post.
The Suns went on a miss-the-threes run while the Lakers turned to Chris Kaman for offense, and a 6-point Suns lead turned into a deficit as the quarter ended.
The Suns were just missing on all cylinders, and the Lakers had a 27-26 lead after one. No one was really inspired, and no one tried to play much defense. Not a good combo, Suns.
In the second quarter, I realized how much I miss seeing Archie Goodwin out there. He didn't do much, but he looked good. Rookie Alex Len looked great as well in limited time, even calling for the ball on an occasion.
Nick Young had 9 points in 6 minutes, but took exception to a hard foul by Alex Len, got up pushing Len and then even punched Goran Dragic (like a basketball player punches, anyway). In between, he was shoved a couple of times by Marcus Morris. After the melee, the Lakers ended up with the lead but lost their best scorer.
Nick Young was ejected, as was Alex Len. Too bad. That was Len's best stretch as a Phoenix Sun, with bounce in his step and confidence in his movements. He altered shots and had 2 points, 3 rebounds and a block in 4 minutes before getting kicked out.
The Lakers kept the lead because the Suns brought their road shooting back with them - 41% through the middle of the second quarter while the Lakers got some confidence on back-to-back-to-back threes from Marshall (twice) and Meeks and three more free throws.
This game was close to getting out of hand. Against a Laker team on a 5-game losing streak. Missing their best scorer. With Kendall Marshall getting pumped up and quieting the crowd (hard, since there were way too many Laker fans in attendance).
I would say the Suns defense looked terrible, but I couldn't find it to properly evaluate.
Goran Dragic finished just 1-8 from the floor in the first half (5 points), but had 6 rebounds and 5 assists to help the Suns cut the Lakers lead to just 4 at halftime, 58-54.
Second Half Notes
Let's see if the Suns can come back in this second half to a semblance of their former selves. They are down only 4 at halftime, but with their recent shooting that's a daunting deficit.
But the Suns came out with energy and took the lead just two minutes into the quarter. Green got his confidence with Marshall defending him (who wouldn't), by taking KMarsh into the post several times for clean scores.
The Suns still stepped on their own feet too much with turnovers, but were playing with more confidence in their shot so that's a plus. They weren't really going in, mind you (Green and Frye with an egregious three consecutive misses on open OPEN shots) but at least the Suns were energized.
The Lakers kept it close on pocket passes from Marshall and Gasol becoming inside shots and jumpers just outside the paint.
The Suns finally pulled ahead with fast breaks and finally making some midrange jumpers. Those were needed, since the entire team was 2-16 from the three point line.
No word whether the team made 2 of 16 on threes as a TEAM FIRST statement in support of Green's 2-16 night on Monday. Team would probably deny it anyway.
The fourth quarter was a time for the Suns to break away. The Lakers had just played a tough game the night before, while the Suns had the night off and were playing in front of their home crowd.
The Suns pulled out to a 9-point lead early and the watch was on for who of the three point guards - Kendall Marshall, Ish Smith and Goran Dragic - would have the best 4th period.
Dragic entered the quarter needing only 4 assists to get a triple double but the team kept driving or missing off his passes instead of finishing. Dragic should have had 10+ assists easily but just couldn't get the team to cooperate.
Kendall Marshall got himself a double-double while Wesley Johnson had 22 points on 14 shots (plus 7 free throws) for a good "homecoming" for each player.