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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 22 19 32 13 86
Play by Play Phoenix Suns 26 15 22 29 92
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Lakers vs. Suns
Howard Re-Injures Shoulder
Kobe Easy Assist
Steal of the Night

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Suns rally to beat Lakers in Nash's return for LA

By BOB BAUM


Posted Jan 31 2013 3:10AM

PHOENIX (AP) Steve Nash's first trip back to Phoenix to play the Suns was an evening of triumph.

For the Suns, not Nash.

Michael Beasley scored a season-high 27 points and the Suns rallied from 13 down in the fourth quarter to hand Nash's Los Angeles Lakers their eighth straight road loss 92-86 on Wednesday night.

The Lakers, who had won three straight - all at home, lost Dwight Howard when he reinjured his right shoulder with 6:57 to play. Coach Mike D'Antoni said he thinks the injury is something that Howard will have to deal with all season.

"It is my understanding that it is something that will hurt, then it will go away and he will be able to play," D'Antoni said.

Beasley, whose previous season best of 25 came two games earlier, scored on a scrambling layup as the shot clock was expiring to put the Suns ahead 88-86 with 43.8 seconds to play.

"I'm just playing aggressive," Beasley said. "I'm trying to turn over a new leaf. No more nonchalant Beas. I'm back to the Beast."

Kobe Bryant had 17 points and nine assists, but missed what would have been the tying layup with 24 seconds to play. Howard had nine points and 14 rebounds before he left after aggravating the shoulder injury that sidelined him for three games earlier this month. Metta World Peace scored 15, Pau Gasol 14 and Antawn Jamison 13 for Los Angeles.

The Lakers played the first of seven straight on the road, where they haven't won since Dec. 22.

The Suns, who improved to 3-2 since Alvin Gentry was fired and replaced by interim coach Lindsey Hunter, outscored the Lakers 29-13 in the fourth quarter.

"I thought we had some open shots and didn't knock them down," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We missed some foul shots, we had six or seven turnovers in the fourth quarter. Turnovers all night killed us."

Down 78-65 with 10 minutes left after Jamison scored 10 straight Lakers points, the Suns went on an 8-0 spurt to 78-73. But Bryant's 22-footer with 6:05 left had Los Angeles ahead 80-73.

Phoenix outscored the Lakers 19-6 the rest of way.

"We seemed to be kind of a step behind," Bryant said. "We seemed to be a little sloppy, a little lackadaisical."

After Bryant threw up an airball under P.J. Tucker's tight defense, Jared Dudley sank a 3-pointer to tie it at 82 with 3:39 left. After a turnover by the Lakers, Beasley's 17-footer made it 84-82, then Luis Scola sank a 15-footer to complete a 13-2 run that had Phoenix ahead 86-82 with 1:55 left.

Bryant's driving layup cut it to 86-84 with 1:35 to go, then Nash knocked the ball loose from Scola for a turnover and Bryant's two free throws tied it at 86-86 with 1:07 to play.

That set up Beasley's drive. The Suns reserve, whose play has blossomed since Hunter took over, had the ball knocked away by Peace as the shot clock wound down, but managed to drive to the hoop for a layup that made 88-86.

"Once I picked it up and seen I had 2 seconds to go, the only thing I was trying to do was get it toward the basket," Beasley said. "It was just that kind of a night, I guess."

Bryant's driving miss followed and the Suns wrapped it up from the foul line.

"Michael Beasley was incredible tonight," Hunter said. "He's been working really hard to get to this point and I really see promise in his future and just continue to encourage him."

A video tribute to Nash during a first-quarter timeout drew a rousing standing ovation from the crowd, a mixture of Lakers and Suns fans. Nash responded with a wave as the Lakers came back onto the court.

It was a warm remembrance of the high-flying style that Nash, with D'Antoni his coach, brought to Phoenix. Nash won two MVPs and the team made the Western Conference finals twice in Nash's eight seasons. Nash, who turns 39 on Feb. 7, left the Suns for Los Angeles in a sign-and-trade deal at the end of last season.

"This is a very special place for me and to be recognized by the fans is incredible," he said. "I am definitely very grateful for the reception but also for my time here, which are among the best years of my life."

Nash finished with 11 points and two assists.

Marcin Gortat had 14 points and 12 rebounds as five Suns reached double figures.

Neither team led by more than five points in the first half with the game tied at 41 at the break.

The Lakers outscored Phoenix 23-10 to start the third quarter, taking a 64-51 lead on a layup by Peace with 3:26 left in the period. He also had a pair of 3s in the run.

Jamison finished the quarter with a long 2-pointer, followed by a 3, and the Lakers led 73-63 entering the fourth.

It was a stretch of 10 consecutive points for Jamison, whose layup made it 78-65 with 10 minutes to play.

Notes: The Suns were in black uniforms for the first time since 2000. ... The Lakers don't play at home until Feb. 12, against Phoenix. ... Suns C Jermaine O'Neal missed his fifth straight game because of an irregular heartbeat. ... D'Antoni had lunch Wednesday with good friend Gentry. ... 18-time Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps was in the crowd.

Copyright 2013 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


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View More Photos
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Points Beasley (PHX), 27
Rebounds Howard, 14
Assists Bryant, 9
Steals Beasley (PHX), 5
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D'Antoni:

On losing control of the game in the 4th quarter:
“We just didn’t score. We only had 13 points in the quarter. I thought we had some open shots and we didn’t knock them down . We missed some foul shots, we had like six or seven turnovers in the fourth quarter. Turnovers all night killed us – and again, just like New Orleans when you’ve got somebody down you just need to step on their throat and we didn’t do it.”




Kobe Bryant:

On frustration of losing tonight’s game after a three game win streak:
“This is not like it was earlier in the year – this is a little different. We’re playing well. I mean, they got back in the game, they made some good shots and they ended up winning the game tonight, but I’m not too concerned about it.”

On if the offense is using Nash to his full potential:
“We get it to him and he penetrates and makes plays for others. He shoots when he has opportunities – I think he’s doing well.”




Steve Nash:

On ovation from the fans:
“It’s a great reception, obviously this is a very special place for me. To be in front of these incredible fans – I’m very grateful for the reception but also for my time here, which was the best years of my life.”

On the lack of offense in the 4th quarter:
“Like I said, we got stagnant; that caused turnovers, that caused us to – I think make shots more difficult. The turnovers helped their offense a little bit, but I think also losing Dwight was big. That’s the way our season has been. We have lost him twice in games where we were leading and he’s such a presence for us defensively and on the offensive glass, you know, it’s tough but last night and tonight we lost the tempo of the game in the fourth quarter and it really cost us.”

On if tonight was a setback after the three straight wins:
“Tonight was big setback for us especially… we were in control of the game and couldn’t close it out. That’s disappointing.”

On difficulty moving forward with Dwight not being 100 percent:
“It’ll be tough without him, you know, this team is built, I think, to play around a center. We are not athletic or fast elsewhere. We’re experienced and we have some skilled players, but I think it’s all predicated on having defensive presence and having a big body in the paint on both ends.”




Lindsey Hunter:

Opening statement:
“Our fans were incredible tonight, the atmosphere was just electric. It’s everything you want to see in an NBA game. That was exciting. Michael Beasley was incredible tonight. He’s been really working hard to get to this point and I really see promise in his future and just continue to encourage him. Our staff has done an awesome job with our players working with them and being patient with them and taking baby steps. I know there is more to come. Our defense is getting better, we still have things to work on, but we really made some great efforts.”

On …Coaching Style:
“One thing I try to encourage the guys to do is if you take a bad shot or make a mistake don’t look to the sideline, don’t look to us and think it’s the end of the world. On to the next play. We don’t worry about that, we talk about shot selection, but ultimately when they are on the floor they have to play with feel and play with freedom. ”

We are a work in progress, we are no where near where we want to be. We keep saying to ourselves one bit at a time, one practice at a time, one game at a time. Ultimately we know where we want to go and how hard it is to get there, but our guys are trying very hard.

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.”




Goran Dragic:

On tonight’s big win:
“It was a sweet game for us. We played really well. Everybody was on the same page. We were hustling on defense. Our rotation was really good, but they made a couple of open shots. But you know that was the plan. The plan was weak shots have to be inside and let Kobe pass to the corner and if [Metta World Peace] is gonna make shots, he is gonna make shots. Of course, the pick and roll with Steve, we left everything under. I was a little bit afraid before the game, but everybody played really well.”

On playing against Steve Nash:
“It is always weird playing against Steve. We were together two years in a half and he was great to me. He helped me a lot and I will always appreciate that. I wish him all the best in L.A. You know he is that guy that I will always be grateful for. For all my life and what he did for me.”




Michael Beasley:

On Beasley’s second half performance:
“It’s nothing to talk about individually. We got a big win and it was definitely a team effort. Some big rebounds, some great defense by PJ Tucker and we just did it together. Me, I just did what the team allowed me too.”

On difference between 3rd and 4th quarter:
“We came together. You know that has really been our problem this whole season, the end of the third and fourth quarter. We just told each other we do not want to lose, especially in front of a crowd like that and on national TV. It just was not an option for us. We went out there and executed where we needed to execute.”

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LAKERS-SUNS PREVIEW

By ALAN FERGUSON

Posted Jan 30 2013 3:21AM

The Los Angeles Lakers are on a roll heading into their longest road trip of the season, and one of their players should have a little extra motivation to perform well in the opener of that seven-game trek.

In his return to Phoenix, Steve Nash will try to lead the Lakers to a fourth consecutive win while preventing an eighth straight road loss Wednesday night against the Suns.

Nash missed his first chance this season to face the team that drafted him 15th overall in 1996 and brought him back for a second stint with the club spanning eight seasons from 2004-12.

The point guard, who helped the Suns reach the Western Conference finals three times and was named league MVP in 2005 and 2006, was recovering from a small fracture in his left leg during the Lakers' 114-102 home win Nov. 16.

This is his first visit to Phoenix since a sign-and-trade deal - at his request - sent the 38-year-old Nash to Los Angeles for four draft picks over the summer.

"(The Suns) were very apprehensive and didn't want to do it," Nash said at the time. "Fortunately for me, they reconsidered. They saw that they were able to get assets for their team that will make them better."

He should at least get a warm reception from his former teammates. Jared Dudley tweeted in July that Nash "has not only been the best but the most unselfish player I ever played with. I only wish him the best. He deserves everything."

Things haven't gone quite as Nash expected in Los Angeles, but the Lakers (20-25) are hoping their three-game winning streak behind a new style of play is reason for optimism. Nash hit a key 3-pointer with 1:21 remaining in a 111-106 win over New Orleans on Tuesday.

With 12 points, he was one of six Lakers in double figures. Dwight Howard had 24 after being held to single digits in four of the previous five games, and Earl Clark scored 20, his most in nine games as a starter.

Kobe Bryant had double-digit assists for the third straight game with 11 and finished just short of a triple-double again. He had eight rebounds Tuesday after pulling down nine in each of his previous two contests.

"It's working pretty well," Bryant said of his new approach as a playmaker. "It's very easy for me to look over the defense and know where they're coming from, just kind of line my guys up in the right way and just pick them apart."

The Lakers now try to snap their longest road losing streak since they dropped nine in a row March 14-April 5, 2005.

Los Angeles, which is 5-15 on the road, will face a Suns team that's dropped back-to-back games after winning its first two under interim coach Lindsey Hunter. Phoenix (15-30) didn't provide too much of a challenge in a 110-95 loss at Dallas on Sunday.

"We'll get back to work, and make sure we're better prepared next time, and make sure we're a better team on our next showing," Hunter said.

Nash's replacement, Goran Dragic, had a team-best 18 points in the losing effort and scored 22 in the loss to the Lakers in November.

"Every player wants to play well, especially against Steve because he is one of the best point guards," Dragic said.

Bryant scored 31 points and Metta World Peace chipped in 22 in the Lakers' win over the Suns earlier this season, but they've lost their last two games in Phoenix, including a 125-105 defeat April 7.


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 #17 Tucker  
  #6 ClarkPF #14 Scola  
  #12 Howard C #4 Gortat  
  #24 Bryant SG #3 Dudley  
  #10 Nash PG #1 Dragic  


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Lakers Steve Blake
(abdominal surgery) is out.
Jordan Hill
(torn labrum, left hip/herniated disc) is out.
Dwight Howard
(torn labrum, right shoulder) is probable.
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Jazz Channing Frye
(enlarged heart) is out.
Diante Garrett
(D-League) is not with team.
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11/16 - PHX 102 @ LAL 114
01/30 - LAL @ PHX
02/12 - PHX @ LAL
03/18 - LAL @ PHX
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