Notebook: Suns 99, Lakers 76



Posted Mar 19, 2013 2:35 AM

Jonathan Dalton, for NBA.com

THE FACTS: Luis Scola scored all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter and the Phoenix Suns ran past the Kobe Bryant-less Los Angeles Lakers 99-76 on Monday night.

Wesley Johnson also scored 14, Jared Dudley added 13 and Goran Dragic has 12 points and 10 assists for the Suns, who snapped a four-game losing streak.

Steve Nash had 19 points and Dwight Howard added 16 for the Lakers, but 26 of their combined 35 points came in the first half as the Suns took a 47-44 halftime lead.

Steve Blake pulled the Lakers within 58-56 with 6:37 left in the third quarter but the Suns closed the game on a 41-20 run, including a 28-10 advantage in the fourth.

QUOTABLE: "We just tidn't play well, didn't shoot well and didn't take care of the ball very good and got beat. If you don't have Kobe it's harder, if you don't have Pau (Gasol) it's harder, but there's no excuse."
-- Mike D'Antoni.

THE STAT: Scola, who picked up his fourth foul without scoring a paint 90 seconds into the fourth quarter, finished the final period with 14 points and eight rebounds to the Lakers' 10 and seven.

TURNING POINT: Hamed Haddadi's blocked shot on Howard with 4:05 left in the first quarter didn't decide the outcome -- Howard scored on a put-back dunk 90 seconds later. But it did change Howard's game, and thus the Lakers. Howard scored nine points in eight minutes before the block and only seven more in his remaining 29 minutes.

QUOTABLE II: "He (Howard) came over and said, 'how tall are you, 7-5?' I said, no, I'm 7-2. But I've got huge arms, though. Don't see my height, see my arms."

-- Haddadi.

HOT: Dragic threw a bounce pass between Nash's legs to Markieff Morris with 3:19 left in the third to give the Suns a 69-58 lead.

NOT: The Lakers led 25-21 after one despite shooting 10 of 29 from the floor for 34.5 percent. Los Angeles finished the game at 33.3 percent including 5 of 22 from beyond the arc.

GOOD MOVE: A pair of defensive changes early paid dividends for Suns coach Lindsey Hunter. First, after seeing Howard go through and around Jermaine O'Neal for six points in the game's first 4:27, Hunter inserted 7-foot-2, 265-pound Haddadi into the lineup. Haddadi didn't stop Howard, but he used his considerable bulk and slight height advantage to frustrate the Lakers' center. Hunter also switched P.J. Tucker off Nash after the former two-time MVP scored 10 points in the first quarter.

BAD MOVE: Without Bryant on Sunday, Lakers coach D'Antoni shortened his rotation from eight players to seven. Playing the second of back-to-back games, D'Antoni again used only seven of his 11 available players until the final 2:48 when the Suns led by 18.

NOTABLE: Dragic has double-digit assists in a league-leading eight of 15 games since the All-Star Break after posting only five double-digit nights in Phoenix's first 51 games. ... The Lakers' 76 points were an opponent season low for Phoenix. ... The Suns are 71-1 when holding opponents under 80. ... Los Angeles was held under 90 for just the second time in its last 54 games, both times by Phoenix.

UP NEXT: For the Lakers, Friday vs. Washington, Monday @ Golden State, March 27 @ Minnesota. For the Suns, Wednesday vs. Washington, Friday vs. Minnesota, Sunday vs. Brooklyn.