Phoenix 88, L.A. Lakers 85
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 19 (Ticker) -- Jake Voskuhl
found the injury-plagued
Los Angeles Lakers a little soft inside.
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Voskuhl had season highs of 18 points and 12 rebounds and made
two huge layups off offensive rebounds in the final 84 seconds
as the Phoenix Suns posted an 88-85 victory over the depleted
Lakers for their season-high fourth straight win.
Los Angeles is dealing with injuries to center Shaquille O'Neal
guard Kobe Bryant
and forward Karl Malone
. Voskuhl helped
expose the weaknesses of the Lakers, who had trouble protecting
the paint without the formidable presence of O'Neal and Malone
"I wouldn't say soft," Voskuhl said. "Now that those guys are
hurt, you just have younger players who haven't been in
game-type situations like that. Their core group of big guys out
there are young guys."
scored 10 of his 26 points in the fourth quarter,
but Voskuhl made the final two baskets for Phoenix. He tipped in
a miss by Johnson with 1:24 left to give the Suns the lead for
good at 86-84.
After Lakers guard Derek Fisher
made 1-of-2 free throws, Voskuhl
beat Slava Medvedenko
to the rebound of a missed jumper by
Howard Eisley and made a layup for an 88-85 cushion with 47
"Jake stepped up big tonight and that's what we need," Johnson
said. "Any night it could be someone different stepping up and
making big plays and Jake came up with some key buckets in the
end that gave us a big win."
The teams exchanged misses before Fisher missed a pair of
long-range 3-pointers in the final seconds.
"They just didn't go down," Fisher said. "I could have helped
set that up better by knocking down a couple of those free
throws to put us in a better position. I feel worse about that
than I do missing those shots at the end."
Phoenix extended its winning streak to four games despite the
absence of forward Amaré Stoudemire
, who was sidelined with a
Johnson grabbed 10 rebounds and Shawn Marion
had 10 points and
nine boards as the Suns held a 47-40 edge on the glass and
outscored the Lakers 38-28 in the paint.
"We have to learn how to rebound the basketball and know how to
box out," said Los Angeles guard Gary Payton
, who had 24 points,
nine assists and eight rebounds. "We are a little undermanned
so everybody has to come and help out and we did not do that."
scored 18 points, Bryon Russell
added 17 and
Medvedenko had 15 for the Lakers, who never led in a fourth
quarter that featured six of the game's 11 ties.
Los Angeles starting forward Devean George
was scoreless on
0-of-10 shooting in 28 minutes as Los Angeles shot just 38
percent (31-of-81) from the floor but made 9-of-22 3-pointers.