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Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers: Game Preview

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Can the Suns beat the struggling Lakers tonight in their third of an eight game home stretch?

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What: Phoenix Suns vs. Los Angeles Lakers

When: 8:00 p.m. Local Time, 10:00 p.m. EST

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena. Phoenix, AZ

Watch: TNT

Tonight, the Suns will play the Lakers in a nationally televised game that will be shown on TNT.  Sorry, no Eddie Johnson, Steve Albert, or Ann Meyers-Drysdale for quality local coverage tonight.  Instead, we get Reggie Miller...rejoice!

Anywho, the Suns (24-18) are currently hanging onto the 8th spot in the Western Conference, with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the New Orleans Pelicans still three games behind.  The Suns are also currently two games behind the San Antonio Spurs for the 7th spot, so you can expect all four of these teams to be shifting around some in the coming months leading up to the playoffs.

The good news for Phoenix is that they are in the midst of the longest home-stand of the season.  The bad news is, it's a doozy. After tonight, the Suns will play the Portland Trail Blazers, Houston Rockets, Los Angeles Clippers, Washington Wizards, and Chicago Bulls at home before hitting the road to play the Golden State Warriors...yeesh.

So yeah, the Suns better take care of business tonight.

As for the Lakers (12-29), they are still in the midst of their worst season in recent history, with no light at the end of the tunnel.  They currently hold the fourth worst record in the league, which is also bad news for Phoenix, who will only receive their draft pick this season if they are slotted outside of the top five. On the bright side, if the Suns don't receive their pick this season, it transfers to next season in which it will only be protected in the top three.

This is looking more and more likely at the moment, with the Lakers admitting the possibility of shutting Kobe Bryant down as early as March if they don't start winning some games soon.  But the Suns have their own season to worry about at the moment, and unlike the Lakers, their playoff hopes are very real.  So tonight, there will be no mercy on the purple and gold.

Probable Lineups

Team
Suns
Lakers
PG
Eric Bledsoe
Jeremy Lin
SG
Goran Dragic
Wayne Ellington
SF
P.J. Tucker
Wesley Johnson
PF
Markieff Morris
Ed Davis
C
Alex Len
Jordan Hill

You may be noticing a certain someone who is absent from that list.  Yes, Kobe Bryant is doubtful because he needs to rest. Other injuries include Ronnie Price who is doubtful with a broken nose and sore elbow, Steve Nash who is out for his back, and Julius Randle who is out with a broken leg.

The Suns are all healthy.

Tale of the Tape

Team
Suns
Lakers
Record
24-18
12-29
PPG
107.0 (4th)
100.4 (17th)
REB
42.4 (14th)
43.0 (17th)
AST
20.7 (20th)
20.6 (22nd)
TO
15.3 (26th)
12.7 (5th)
Leading Scorer
Goran Dragic (16.9)
Kobe Bryant (22.6)
Leading Rebounder
Alex Len (6.0)
Jordan Hill (7.9)

What To Watch For

  • Don't Play Down - The Suns have a history of playing down to the level of their opponents this season, and it has cost them some very winnable games. The Lakers are not a good team right now, and without their leading scorer in Kobe Bryant playing tonight, they will be even less so.  But the Suns can't afford to give the Lakers confidence tonight and make this a game.  Phoenix needs to put the petal to the metal and take them out of the game early...and not let up until the final whistle blows.
  • National Exposure - This kind of goes along with the topic above, but this is the Suns' chance to show what they're made of on a national stage.  The Suns should definitely win this game.  But they can also get some exposure for their team with an impressive performance tonight, and showcase their talent and depth for the rest of the country to see.
  • Rookies - Other than Archie Goodwin who is currently putting on a show for the Bakersfield Jam in the NBA D-League Showcase.  The Suns should be able to give some of their youngsters some minutes tonight, hopefully, if they can take the Lakers out of the game early and not let up.  With the next eight games against the top teams in the league, the Suns may not have another chance to give their youngsters some game action.  Let's hope the game is well-enough under control to make that happen tonight.