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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Phoenix Suns 30 27 27 18 102
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 35 27 30 22 114
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Up-tempo Lakers race to 114-102 win over Phoenix

By GREG BEACHAM


Posted Nov 17 2012 1:05AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Kobe Bryant had 31 points, Metta World Peace hit five 3-pointers while scoring 22 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers played Mike D'Antoni's style of up-tempo basketball in a 114-102 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night.

Dwight Howard had 18 points and 12 rebounds as the Lakers improved to 3-1 under interim coach Bernie Bickerstaff with a performance that must have impressed D'Antoni, who watched from the locker room inside Staples Center.

Although D'Antoni wasn't quite ready for sideline duty while recovering from knee replacement surgery, the Lakers played with aggression and urgency after just one practice under their new coach on Thursday. The former Suns and Knicks coach replaced Mike Brown, who was fired one tumultuous week ago.

Goran Dragic scored 22 points for the Suns.


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Points Bryant, 31
Rebounds Howard, 12
Assists Beasley (PHX), 9
Blocks Howard, 4
Steals World Peace, 3
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Bernie Bickerstaff:

On the difference in tonight’s game:
“I thought our defense, we had like a 10 point lead in the first half and we got into an admiration thing with the officials and basically lost focus. The one thing about phoenix, they never capitulate and they were right back into the game. I thought the second half our defense, down the stretch in the fourth quarter was really, really good. Our ball movement was good and we started to control the boards.”

On the offense:
“We saw attempts at trying to do the things that have been implemented, so we did see that. I thought the spacing was pretty good. I thought it served (Jodie) Meeks well, on some of the sets that we were running.”

On the transition of coaches (Bickerstaff to D’Antoni):
“I think the repetition that’s needed in those things that he has implemented will get us better. I don’t know how we can turn the corner without that lineup with Steve Nash there, so now you got to integrate him into the system. Dwight’s not there yet in terms of his physical conditioning, he’s working on it, he’s getting there, you can see his timing is a little off. So we’re not there yet, but we can be a pretty damn good basketball team, I don’t have any reservations about that.”

On his successful interim head coaching experience with the Lakers:
“When it’s all said and done, I thought it was said that it would be a footnote, and it would be something that’s in history that maybe my grandkids can talk about. But it’s all good, it’s all fun and that’s what life is about, don’t take yourself too seriously, enjoy, and enjoy the ride.”




Kobe Bryant:

On Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s unveiling:
“It’s extremely well deserved. It’s amazing how many statues the Lakers can have outside of the building. They’re some of the all-time greats to play for this franchise, and some of the all-time greats in basketball history, and he’s right at the top of the list.”

On what Coach D’Antoni has implemented so far, and how it’ll work:
“We’re just getting started, but it will make a lot of things easier. Everybody kind of moves, the whole offense has to find their position. He knows how to direct his offense and he’s been directing it for a long time, and the main thing is, it’s very simple.”




Pau Gasol:

On his hot shooting early:
“Early on they weren’t rotating as much as they did later, so you shoot those shots and I did knock them down tonight it was good, and then they starting rotating so I started hitting Metta World Peace in the corner.”

On the team’s work offensively:
“Kobe puts a lot of pressure on the defense, and Dwight rolling to the rim, so on the backside they have to make a decision. So we’re always probably going to get good looks.”

On if the team implemented any of coach Mike D’Antoni’s offense:
“A little. We played off a couple actions that he put in. We weren’t very sharp…we’re really not used to them yet. We played pretty simple basketball and played off our guys and we just played the game.”

On the team’s defense:
“We can’t fall into the trap of not playing defense just because we’re doing well offensively because there’s going to be nights where our shots just might not fall the way they did tonight. We got to rely on our defense basically to win ball games. Our offense is going to come because we do have talent, and we do have so many guys that can put the ball in the hole.”




Dwight Howard:

On the team’s offense:
“I think we made shots tonight. Metta was on fire, Kobe hit some tough shots, we got to the free-throw line a lot, and when we do that we win.”

On getting the defense to where they want to be:
“We talked about it. The guards have to do a better job squaring their men up and not allowing them to take one dribble and get to the basket; it’s very hard to help when you allow that. When the bigs go to block, the guards have to clean us up and get into our men and stop them from rebounding. It’s all going to click for us, we just have to keep talking to each other and we’ll get better.”

On why the Suns got so many points in the paint:
“They’re a tricky team; they do a lot of plays to get guys easy buckets down low. Dragic is tricky, and until we get our principles down on defense and everybody’s in the right spots there will be nights like this. At the end of the day we got a win.”




Alvin Gentry:

On tonight’s game:
“In my opinion, I think Jordan Hill changed the game. 84-84 I think was what it was at that point. He came up with an offensive rebound and I thought his energy changed the game. Kobe played great. If you can get 31 points on 24 shots, I still think you’ve done a good job. That’s how good of a player he is. I thought we did a good job on him. Pau made some early shots. You’re going to have to give up something and I don’t know what it is. Metta makes them all against us. It’s been that way since the time he tipped it in at the playoffs. For some reason he shoots the ball well against us. 5 for 10 at the three but I still think that our problems came because we turned the ball over. You can’t give up 26 points on 15 turnovers. That means they are live turnovers and are easy transition baskets most of the time and we just have to do a better job in that area right there. I still think we battled and we played hard. We put ourselves in a position and then we just kind of let it slip away.”

On if he was surprised at the amount of points in the paint:
“I’m not really surprised. I think you’ve got to see how those points were scored. We’re not a post-up team but we’re a very good penetrating team. Goran probably had a bunch of points in the paint also because he drove the ball and did a good job. We just have to be a little bit better in our execution. I think the effort is there and I think we’re playing hard. I just think we have to do better with execution.”

On his team assessment overall:
“I think we play hard. I think we’ve got to be much better in our execution. I think the effort is there. We are still trying to find each other, still trying to figure out rotations. As long as the effort is there I think that at some stage we’ll get the execution down.”




Jermaine O'Neal:

On the Suns:
“This team is young. We are trying to learn on the run […] and that is one reason why I came here. To help out with some of these young guys and I think the Phoenix suns will be in a great place in the next couple of years. The growth in these players, what they are doing on a day to day basis is amazing. ”

On having 12 points off the bench:
“I wanted to try to insert myself… I wanted to come in and give energy […] You just have to go out there and do your best and use my experience that I have had over the last 16-17 years and that worked a little for me tonight.”




Michael Beasley:

On his 14 points and 9 assists:
“Just playing the game how it is supposed to be played. Not rushing, letting the game come to me. Just taking what the defense gave me.”

“On the offense side I feel like we are better when the ball moves. When everyone touches the ball that is when we are most effective.”

On the Suns:
“We’ve got fresh legs. We’ve got athletic guys. We’ve got scorers. We’ve got pretty much everything you need.”




Luis Scola:

On the game:
“I play hard. It’s a big game and we were right there. I had some confidence and the ball came to me a couple of times so it was a good game offensively.”

“We have a young team. That’s a good thing… I think we have encouraging games. [Encouraging] moments in every game of the season.




Jared Dudley:

On the Suns youth:
“Youth can always help. It is through experience […] We are playing hard.”

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SUNS-LAKERS PREVIEW

By BRETT HUSTON

Posted Nov 15 2012 9:57PM

Mike D'Antoni is already making his mark on the Los Angeles Lakers, but it doesn't look like he'll be ready for his debut on the Staples Center sidelines for a few more days.

As long as Kobe Bryant's there, the Lakers may not have too much trouble.

Bryant has averaged 42.0 points in his last three home games against the Phoenix Suns, who have lost seven of eight on the road in this series and could have trouble faring better Friday night if they can't improve their Western Conference-worst defense.

D'Antoni formally took over the Lakers (3-5) on Thursday, four days after being hired to replace Mike Brown, and he watched as his new team went through drills orchestrated by his assistant coach and brother, Dan.

The former Knicks and Suns coach is still on crutches and pain medication after having knee surgery, and said he'll likely wait until Los Angeles hosts Houston on Sunday to make his official coaching debut. But D'Antoni couldn't hide his enthusiasm in his debut press conference.

"I'm really happy to be here - excited," D'Antoni said. "(We're) starting to put stuff in now. Might take a little bit, but (general manager) Mitch (Kupchak) has said, and I'm sure you guys know, we're built to win this year. This is not a five-year project. We have a window, and we're going to try to get through it."

The Lakers' three wins have come at home against teams that are a combined 7-18, though it looked like they might take down a contender on Tuesday. Los Angeles couldn't close, however, letting San Antonio's Danny Green hit a 3-pointer with 9.3 seconds left in an 84-82 loss.

Even after another defeat, Bryant was pleased with the Lakers holding the Spurs to 38.9 percent shooting. Los Angeles is allowing opponents to shoot just 41.9 percent - among the five stingiest marks in the league.

"We're playing much, much better," Bryant said. "We're being much more aggressive on both ends of the floor. We're doing a good job communicating during the game, pushing guys and making them take tough shots."

Bryant is shooting a startling 55.1 percent from the field, and it'd be no surprise to see him continue his early surge Friday. The 14-time All-Star has shot 54.0 percent in the Lakers' last three home wins against Phoenix (4-5), and Los Angeles has averaged 117.6 points and shot 50.5 percent while going 7-1 in its last eight at Staples in the series.

The Suns' defensive woes continued Wednesday, as Chicago shot 50.0 percent in a 112-106 overtime win at US Airways Center. Phoenix is letting opponents shoot 49.7 percent - 47.5 from 3-point range - and average 108.6 points in its last seven contests.

Wednesday marked the third time in four games the Suns fell behind by at least 18 points.

"It's been happening to us every game, it's very difficult to play that way," said forward Luis Scola, who had 24 points and 14 rebounds. "... You're going to come back eventually every once in a while, but you are going to lose most of those games."

Scola has scored 20 or more points in four straight games against the Lakers - all with Houston - but Phoenix hasn't had much luck with him putting up big numbers thus far. The Suns are 4-0 when he scores 13 points or fewer and 0-5 when he scores 15 or more.

Steve Nash (leg) will have to wait to until at least Jan. 30 to face his former team, and backup Steve Blake (abdomen) is questionable after missing Tuesday's game. Forward Jordan Hill (wrist) is probable.

Phoenix center Marcin Gortat has averaged 19.2 points and 13.6 boards in his last five games against the Lakers.


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Probable Starters .
  Lakers    
  #15 World Peace SF #0 Beasley  
  #16 GasolPF #14 Scola  
  #12 Howard C #4 Gortat  
  #24 Bryant SG #3 Dudley  
  #1 Darius Morris PG #1 Dragic  


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Lakers Steve Blake
(abdominal strain) is day-to-day.
Kobe Bryant
(strained & bruised right foot) is probable.
Jordan Hill
(herniated disc/sprained right wrist) is probable.
Steve Nash
(non-displaced fracture, left leg) is out.
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Jazz Channing Frye
(enlarged heart) is out.
Markieff Morris
(lower back bruise) is day-to-day.
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11/16 - PHX @ LAL
01/30 - LAL @ PHX
02/12 - PHX @ LAL
03/18 - LAL @ PHX
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