THE FACTS: The Lakers showed off their new look Friday night, even with new coach Mike D'Antoni watching the game with his leg propped up in a back room. They ran, they rebounded and, most of all, they seemed to score at will in the 114-102 victory against the visiting Suns at STAPLES Center.
QUOTABLE: "We saw attempts at trying to do the things that were implemented. ... I thought the spacing was pretty good."
--Lakers interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff
THE STAT: D'Antoni said during his first news conference Thursday that if the Lakers didn't average 110 to 115 points a game in his up-tempo offense, "then we need to talk." The Lakers seem to be on the right track so far, scoring their most points in a game since a 120-112 win against Golden State on April 1.
TURNING POINT: The Suns used a 15-0 run to erase an early 10-point deficit, but didn't have a response for a second surge by L.A. With the score tied, 84-84, the Lakers reeled off 12 straight points in a run that stretched into the fourth quarter. Phoenix never climbed back within single digits.
HOT: Lakers forward Pau Gasol seemed to be an immediate beneficiary of D'Antoni's system. He sank five consecutive shots from the perimeter in the opening quarter before Phoenix finally began rushing out to defend him. He scored 12 of his 14 points in the first quarter. Gasol came into the game 28 points short of 15,000 for his career. If he gets there, he would become the 10th foreign-born player in the NBA to reach that milestone.
NOT: The Lakers announced during the game that Steve Nash will miss another five games with a non-displaced fracture in his lower left leg. Nash was injured in the first half of the second game this season. When the Lakers finally get him back running the offense, one he's familiar with while playing for D'Antoni in Phoenix, the Lakers should find it easier to take their game to another level.
GOOD MOVE: D'Antoni has also given Metta World Peace the green light to shoot whenever he's open. He did just that against the Suns. World Peace scored a season-high 22 points. He made five of his first seven 3-point attempts before finishing 5-for-10 from beyond the arc. World Peace has shown he can score in the past, averaging better than 15 points in eight consecutive seasons from 2002-09.
BAD MOVE: Phoenix back-up forward Jermaine O'Neal got a chance to play after missing the last six games—five to attend to personal business—but it didn't take long for Dwight Howard to get under his skin. Howard inadvertently hit O'Neal in the face after his shot was blocked by O'Neal midway through the second quarter. While Shannon Brown was scoring on a fast-break layup on the other end, O'Neal was taking a swipe at Howard from behind. Lakers forward Jordan Hill stepped in and confronted O'Neal, leading to technical fouls for all three players.
QUOTABLE II: "We've got to be much better in our execution. ... We are still trying to find each other, still trying to figure out rotations."
--Suns coach Alvin Gentry
NOTABLE: D'Antoni, who underwent knee surgery two weeks ago, is expected to be on the bench when the Lakers host the Rockets on Sunday. ... Former Lakers center Kareem Abdul-Jabbar had his statue unveiled before the game outside STAPLES Center and he was honored again at halftime, drawing a standing ovation. ... Suns forward Michael Beasley had a career-high nine assists to go along with 14 points and five rebounds.
UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Sunday vs. Houston, Tuesday vs. Brooklyn, Wednesday @ Sacramento. For the Suns, Saturday vs. Miami, Wednesday vs. Portland, Friday vs. New Orleans.