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Game Preview: Eric Bledsoe, Phoenix Suns host the Los Angeles Lakers without Kobe Bryant

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The Phoenix Suns try to go two games over .500 tonight against the Los Angeles Lakers at Talking Stick Resort Arena without having to face Suns-killer Kobe Bryant.

Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

What: The Phoenix Suns vs the Los Angeles Lakers

Where: Talking Stick Resort Arena: Phoenix, AZ

When: 7:00 PM Arizona Time / 9:00 PM Eastern

Watch: Fox Sports AZ (Locally) / League Pass

Listen: 98.7 FM

The Phoenix Suns host the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night in a battle of Pacific Division foes. The Lakers have one of the worst records in the league and just played last night, beating the Pistons at home for their second win of the season (2-8 overall). Yeah, those Pistons who beat the Suns just over a week ago and have come on hard times since with four consecutive losses.

Lakers

Kobe Bryant is shooting 34% this season but of course leads the team in field goal attempts at more than 16 per game. He's not only taking all the shots, but he's taking minutes and touches away from their future star D'Angelo Russell. Jordan Clarkson is the other guard and he's not giving anything to Russell either.

Tonight, though, Kobe won't play against the Suns.

With or without Kobe, no one on the Lakers is a great distributor with their assist leader being backup 32-year old Marcelo Huertas (3.2 per game), while five other players make at least 2 assists per game. The Lakers are pretty bad on offense overall, despite the distribution of playmaking.

The Lakers do have some nice youth, though. Guard Jordan Clarkson was a second round steal, though he's no point guard with just 2 assists per game to his credit. Power forward Julius Randle and rookie D'Angelo Russell are offensively talented, and Larry Nance Jr. has occasional bursts of good play.

On defense, the Lakers aren't any good though they're ranked better on D than on O. Huertas, Bryant and the kids - Larry Nance Jr., Julius Randle and Clarkson and Russell - are net negatives. Metta World Peace has come out of retirement and was immediately labeled - along with Kobe who has the team's worst D-rating - their best defender by coach Byron Scott. He didn't mention former Defensive Player of the Year candidate Roy Hibbert.

That's all I have to say about that.

Probable Lineups

Lineups-Suns-Lakers-no-Kobe

No word yet on whether Markieff Morris returns tonight, but the Suns likely won't need him to beat the Lakers. Expect Jon Leuer to get another start for the Suns.

For the Lakers, when Kobe sits it's been Metta taking his place in the lineup. Because Lakers.

Early Season Stats

Stats-Suns-Lakers

Did you know?

Eric Bledsoe is one of only three players in the NBA with a nightly line of 23 points (23.2), 6 assists (6.2), 4 rebounds (4.4) and 2 steals (2.1), along with only Stephen Curry and LeBron James.

Prediction

The Suns win this one. They really, really should. Though, the Lakers will be better without Kobe probably.