Pau Gasol, Shawne Williams, Wesley Johnson
Pau Gasol, Shawne Williams, Wesley Johnson
|W. Johnson||SF||P. Tucker|
|P. Gasol||PF||C. Frye|
|R. Sacre||C||M. Plumlee|
|K. Bryant||SG||G. Dragic|
|S. Blake||PG||E. Bledsoe|
K. Bryant: Achilles Probable
S. Nash: Back Out
Jordan Farmar: Hamstring Out
E. Okafor: Neck Out
Kobe Still Winless, Suns Beat Lakers 114-108
By Greg Beacham
December 10, 2013
LOS ANGELES (AP) Goran Dragic scored 31 points and the Phoenix Suns beat the Lakers 114-108 Tuesday night, keeping Los Angeles winless with Kobe Bryant back in the lineup.
Bryant led the Lakers with 20 points while playing 29 mostly sharp minutes in his second game back from a nearly eight-month absence with a torn Achilles tendon. He led a fourth-quarter rally by the Lakers, who got within four points with 3 minutes left before Phoenix held on for its first three-game winning streak of the season.
Marcus Morris scored 22 points and Eric Bledsoe had 18 points and nine assists for the surprising Suns, who never trailed after the opening minutes. Phoenix held off the Lakers with superb fourth-quarter play from both Morris brothers. Markieff Morris added 15 points.
Phoenix hadn't beaten the Lakers at Staples Center since November 2010.
Bryant made just three turnovers against Phoenix after committing eight in his season debut two days ago, but had just two rebounds and three assists.
Pau Gasol scored 19 points while Jodie Meeks, Nick Young and Jordan Hill added 13 apiece for the Lakers, who have lost three of four to fall back below .500. Los Angeles' NBA-best bench contributed 43 points while using just four reserves, but Phoenix dominated the boards, outrebounding the Lakers 43-33.
Dragic hit two 3-pointers and didn't miss any of his 11 free throws, finishing one point shy of his career high in his latest outstanding performance against the Lakers. Phoenix's small, active lineup led by Dragic and Bledsoe was too much for the bigger, slower Lakers in the final minutes.
The game was another bump in a long road for Bryant, who had nine points in a rocky season debut on Sunday night. He was unable to rally the Lakers late in a loss to trade-depleted Toronto, and he gave his performance an "F" after the game, but upgraded the score to a "D" on Monday.
Bryant felt fresher than expected after his first game since April. Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni doesn't want to play Bryant more than 30 minutes per game early on, hoping to keep him healthy during the team's stretch of four road games in five nights starting later this week.
Bryant started off his night against Phoenix with his first dunk of the season off a two-footed leap in the first quarter. Bryant still emphasized playmaking over shooting, but played a more polished floor game in the first half with 10 points, just one turnover and two assists, including the pass for Gasol's buzzer-beating jumper.
But Phoenix jumped to an early lead with a prolific display of perimeter shooting and fast-break opportunism. Dragic was outstanding, hitting three 3-pointers among his 15 first-half points, and Marcus Morris led a second-quarter rally to put the Suns up by 12 points.
NOTES: Shawne Williams got a technical foul in the final seconds of the first half for putting a forearm into Dragic, who crashed to the ground. ... D'Antoni changed his lineup, putting Meeks and Williams in the starting five and bumping C Robert Sacre to the bench. ... Phoenix C Alex Len didn't play with a sore left ankle.
All-Time Series Notes: The Lakers split the 2012-13 season series with Phoenix 2-2 after
splitting the 2011-12 series 2-2 ... The 2011-12 season’s split ended the Lakers run of four
straight season series victories over Phoenix ... This will be the 226th meeting between the
two teams with the Lakers leading the all-time series 132-93 ... The Lakers are 21-7
against the Suns all-time at STAPLES Center (regular season) and 9-1 in their last 10
home games against Phoenix ... On the road, the Lakers have gone 5-5 in their last 10
visits to the Valley of the Sun ... During the 2012-13 season, Lakers G Kobe Bryant
scored 48 points 1/10/12 vs. Phoenix, marking the highest scoring output of his career in a
game in which he did not make a 3-point field goal …. In 59 career games against the
Suns including 52 starts, Bryant is averaging 26.2 points ... In Bryant’s most recent
meeting against Phoenix on 2/12/13, however, he finished with just four points (1-8 FG),
five rebounds and a game-high nine assists, scoring the fewest points in a game in which
he started and played at least 11 minutes in his NBA career … In 2010-11, the Lakers
defeated the Suns in triple overtime at STAPLES Center on March 22, 2011 ... The 3-
overtime contest was the second ever in Los Angeles (1-1), fourth since the team moved
West prior to the 1960-61 season (2-2) and tied for the 2nd longest game in franchise
history behind a 4-overtime loss in January of 1980 at Cleveland …. In February of 2009,
Bryant shared MVP honors with then Sun Shaquille O’Neal at the 2009 All-Star Game in
Connections: Lakers Head Coach Mike D’Antoni (2003-04 to 2007-08) and Assistant Coach Dan D’Antoni (2005-06 to 2007-08) held the same positions with the Phoenix Suns
… D’Antoni won the 2004-05 Coach of the Year Award with Phoenix … Lakers G Steve Nash, who came to the Lakers via trade in 2012, spent 10 seasons in Phoenix (1996-98,
2004-12), averaging 14.4 points, 3.1 rebounds and 9.4 assists in 744 career regular season games while winning back-to-back MVP awards in 2004-05 and 2005-06 .... Lakers F
Wesley Johnson also played for the Suns during the 2012-2013 season ... Lakers F Xavier Henry played with Suns twin forwards Markieff Morris and Marcus Morris at the
University of Kansas (2009-2010) .... Lakers G Jodie Meeks (2006-2009) and Suns guards Eric Bledsoe (2009-2010) and Archie Goodwin (2012-2013) all attended University
of Kentucky ... Lakers F Jordan Hill (2006-09) and Suns C Channing Frye (2001-05) both attended the University of Arizona .... Lakers G Steve Blake (1999-2003) and Suns C
Alex Len (2011-2013) both attended the University of Maryland ... Laker C Chris Kaman and Suns C Emeka Okafor were teammates on the New Orleans Hornets (now
Pelicans) from 2011-2012.