The Phoenix Suns opened their season with an emphatic slam dunk by Miles Plumlee and finished with a franchise high 16 three-point baskets on opening night.
The Suns led by 24 at the end of three quarters - 98-74 - and the game wasn't even that close. The final margin of just 20 points - 119-99 Suns - was more a product of a sloppy fourth quarter than anything else.
The game was a rout all the way through.
The most exciting part of the second half was seeing Eric Bledsoe show some emotion. The game got heated late in the third quarter when Kobe fouled Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe was so mad at the refs - and I've NEVER seen him get mad before - that he got a tech. Then two minutes later Kobe tied him up on a rebound and got the jump-ball call instead of a foul. Bledsoe blew up and got himself tossed from the game.
The Suns took a 19-9 lead halfway through the first quarter when Isaiah Thomas subbed in for Goran Dragic.
The Lakers countered with Ronnie Price subbing in for Kobe Bryant.
A couple of minutes later, Gerald Green spelled Eric Bledsoe (who already had 5 points, 4 assists and 3 rebounds by that time) and the rout was on. The Suns lead grew to 30-15 even with the Lakers leaving in most of their starters.
In the words of Forrest Gump: "And that's all I'll say about that."
With the 30-15 lead, coach Hornacek decided it was Archie time, along with Green, Alex Len, Thomas and Markieff Morris.
After one quarter, the Suns led 33-19.
The Suns got a bit slacky in the second quarter, allowing the Lakers to pull within 6 at 34-28 on an 13-1 run and Hornacek called a quick timeout. The Suns let down began with Isaiah Thomas settling for (and initially making) threes while offering worse than matador defense on the other end. Wayne Ellington came in to make a bunch of catch-and-shoot midrange shots to help the Laker cause.
The timeout only helped a little by getting the Suns scoring back on track, but the Lakers continued to score nearly at will with 21 points in the last 6 game minutes. That's a LOT of midrange scoring.
By the way, I have to give Ronnie Price some credit here. When he came in late in the first, he brought his hard-nosed defense to the table and helped take the Suns completely out of any rhythm. They weren't helping themselves at all, but Ronnie Price didn't give Isaiah Thomas any daylight either.
The Suns righted the ship a bit by bringing back the starters with Alex Len in the middle and if Kobe Bryant hadn't hit a million multi-juke fallaway jumpers it would have been a rout again.
But Alex Len was really the man for a couple of minutes there. He altered about 3,000 shot attempts on one possession alone against three Lakers (Hill, Davis and Kobe). The Lakers never scored. And then Len altered a shot the next time down too. Len's line at the end of the half was 0 points and 3 rebounds, but he made a big difference.
Suns lead at the end of two quarters was 59-50. Isaiah Thomas finished the half with 13 points and 2 assists in 11 minutes despite the lackadaisical effort on D that helped give the Lakers life.
The Suns began the second half the way they began the first half with a big 33-16 run begun with a Plumlee slam and littered with a few threes and drives to the hoop.
At one point Kobe just mugged Goran Dragic out on the perimeter for all to see and not one ref called a foul. Kobe is going to hurt someone - maybe himself. He's playing HARD out there, daring people to stop him.
Miles Plumlee made some stupid mistakes, so they brought in Alex Len and... well, I like this guy. A LOT. He once again altered some shots, including a Kobe fallaway that made Kobe so mad he got himself a technical. Len gets better with every shift on the court.
The most excitement of the third quarter: The game got heated late in the third quarter when Kobe fouled Eric Bledsoe. Bledsoe was so mad at the refs - and I've NEVER seen him get mad before - that he got a tech. Then two minutes later Kobe tied him up on a rebound and got the jump-ball call instead of a foul. Bledsoe blew up and got himself tossed from the game.
Figure that. Eric Bledsoe, Mr. Stoic, tossed from a game. Think he's focused on the season? Yeah, me too.
Bledsoe finished with 16 points (5 of 7 overall, 3 of 4 on threes), 9 assists, 6 rebounds in 26 minutes of play.
After three quarters, the Suns led 98-74 and the Hydra had 16, 18 (Dragic) and 15 (Thomas) points, along with 14 combined assists and 12 combined rebounds. Marcus Morris was hot, pouring in 21 points with 5 for 9 shooting on threes (8-14 overall). Markieff had 12, with 3 rebounds. For the Lakers, Kobe Bryant had 31 points on 11 of 25 shooting. No other Laker had more than 10 points.
Tyler Ennis started the fourth quarter along with Isaiah Thomas, and he had a runner in the lane on his first attempt. The rest of the game became a showcase for individual performances. Gerald Green kinda disappointed, but the others were okay.
Isaiah Thomas was on fire even in the fourth, finishing the game with 23 points, making 5 of 7 three pointers and 9 of 11 shots overall.
- were 15-29 on threes before the six minute mark of the fourth. DAYUM!
- finished 16-32 on threes, marking more threes than they made in ANY game last season
- 16 threes is a franchise high for ANY Suns team on opening night since their inception
- have beaten the Lakers in 5 of their last 6 meetings, and are now 71-45 against the Lakers in Phoenix
- have won their last two home openers (last year they beat Portland) for the first time since 2007-08.