Lakers Gameday | 03/12/10 | Suns

Box Score
Play by Play

2 Assists away from a triple-double for Kobe Bryant, who scored 21 points with 10 boards and eight dimes.

5 Starters with at least 15 points, led by 21 from Bryant, 18 from Andrew Bynum and 15 each from Derek Fisher, Ron Artest and Pau Gasol.

6 Three-pointers made by Fisher and Artest, both of whom nailed three. The Lakers made 9-of-25 triples, while Phoenix connected on 6-of-21 from distance.

9 Missed free throws by the Lakers, which nearly came back to bite ‘em. Phoenix hit 22-of-27, L.A. 13-of-22.

49.4 L.A.’s terrific shooting percentage, including 8-of-12 from Bynum and 7-of-11 from Gasol.

Mike Trudell, Lakers.com

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  • GAME RECAP
  • QUOTES
  • GAME PREVIEW
  • INJURY REPORT
  • GAME NOTES

Lakers get physical to take season series against Suns

By Jerry Brown, for NBA.com

After the game, a battered and bruised Phoenix forward Lou Amundson said he felt like he'd gone 15 rounds with the champ -- which, of course, he had.

Even with five days off to rest and prepare for the defending NBA champions, Amundson and the Suns didn't have enough in reserve to get over the top against the Lakers, who came off the ropes in the fourth and claimed a unanimous 102-96 victory.

"We just took what they gave us," said Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, who had 21 points, 10 rebounds and cancelled out his seven turnovers with eight assists. "We attacked wherever they put two guys. Wherever they doubled, we did a good job of spacing, out and making shots."

So much for any whispers that the Lakers, who had lost three of their last four and were a pedestrian 5-5 over the last 10 games, were showing signs of a glass jaw. They won the season series 3-1, avenged a December loss here and ruined Phoenix's bid to go undefeated at home against the Pacific Division (they finished 7-1 overall).

Los Angeles did it with some good shooting (49 percent), balanced scoring from their starters (all five scored between 15 and 21 points) and some good old-fashioned physicality against the smaller Suns.

The rough stuff reached its apex with 5:06 left to play when, of all people, Pau Gasol took Amundson to the floor with a hard foul across the face. Incensed a flagrant foul wasn't issued, Suns coach Alvin Gentry charged the floor and was ejected by referee Mike Callahan.

Two minutes later, Amundson was sent to the floor again with a forearm by Lakers center Andrew Bynum but was whistled for the foul himself.

"I felt like a boxer out there," Amundson said afterward, his face puffy in several places. "Every time out, I had to have [Suns trainer Aaron] Nelson come over and patch me up. It was a hard foul, but I don't think [Gasol] is a dirty player or anything. He was just trying to make a play on the ball."

Teammate Ron Artest felt Gasol's past history worked in his favor on the foul. "If it was me, it definitely would have been a Flagrant 2," he said, smiling.

Phoenix's Grant Hill took three stitches in the lip in the first half after taking a Sasha Vujacic forearm to the mouth. Amundson got his licks in as well, contributing 11 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks, getting Gasol and Bynum three seconds apart before a smothering rejection on Bryant at the rim.

"It was really physical all night," Amundson said.

After some initial problems dealing with Phoenix's zone defense, the Lakers gained the lead before halftime and built a 15-point lead in the third, scoring both inside and out.

Amar'e Stoudemire had 17 of Phoenix's first 26 points and finished with 29, barely missing his fourth 30-point game in a row to match a career best. But the Lakers clamped down inside and the Suns had trouble from 3-point range (6-for-21).

"I think we started playing a little bit better on the screen and roll defense," said Bynum, who finished with 18 and nine rebounds. "In the third quarter we really pounded then on the inside and that's what got us back in the game."

The Suns ended the third with a 17-4 run and took an 82-81 lead on Amundson's alley-oop dunk with 9:10 left. But the Lakers immediately responded with 12-1 run and clamped down defensively.

"We played hard, we just couldn't get over the hump," Gentry said. "They're a great team and you can see that. "

Phoenix hoped that the addition of Robin Lopez to the starting lineup would have an impact on the NBA's biggest team. But while Lopez picked up two quick fouls and failed to grab a single rebound in 19 minutes, Amundson and Jarron Collins succeeded where he failed.

But Bryant put the defensive clamps on Jason Richardson (5-for-15 shooting) and tried to get his teammates involved on the other end. Artest, Gasol and Derek Fisher each pitched in 15 points.

The Suns played without key reserves Channing Frye (NBA suspension) and Leandro Barbosa, but it was the Phoenix's starters that the Lakers took advantage of most.

"I was ready. It was a big game for us," said Stoudemire, who also had a game-high 16 rebounds. "They're fighting for home-court advantage and we're trying to move up a few notches. We left it all on the court, but the Lakers are the defending champs and they played extremely well out there."

 

Copyright 2010 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



Lakers’ Coach Phil Jackson

(On Tonight’s Game)

“The execution wasn’t so great. I thought we tried to do some things that were beyond our level; running out, shooting threes on fast breaks, but the effort was there. The pace of the game was really important. They didn’t shoot the ball well obviously. They’re three point shooting was pretty quiet most of the game. I think Amundson tore it up. So I wasn’t that pleased with our physicality out there. I think we could have been a little bit better at stepping in. They took the charges, they got some of the things going their way but we were aggressive and guys stayed aggressive out there.”








Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant

(On Tonight’s Game)
“We just took what they gave us. Shot distribution was pretty good. I think all in all we attacked where ever they put two guys. Where ever they doubled we did a good job spacing out, making shots, shot the three ball pretty well. That opened the game up for us. Defensively we’re very solid. We had a couple of moments in transition where we gave up easy opportunities but for the most part, we did a good job.”







Lakers’ Center Andrew Bynum

(On Tonight’s Game)
“I think we started playing a little bit better on the screen and roll defense. In the third quarter we really pounded them on the inside and that’s what got us back in the game.”






Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry

(Opening statement)
“I thought we played well in the first quarter, then we had a tough second quarter and then it was an uphill battle from there. We couldn’t quite get over the hump, but I thought we did a good job of trying to get back into the game and we had a couple of late turnovers that really cost us, but I was extremely happy with the effort that we played with. There was a stretch in there for a couple of minutes that I didn’t think we played very hard, but for the most part I thought we played really good job of competing. We started out shooting very well then struggled to score the second quarter and couldn’t quite get it in the basket. I thought Lou (Amundson) came in and gave us a lot of energy and I thought Amar’e (Stoudemire) had a good start. We played hard and did a good job; but we just couldn’t quite get over the hump. They’re a great team, and you can see that.”







Suns Forward Amare Stoudemire

(On the game)
“I think the second quarter was what got us – the Lakers took advantage of it. Once you get down against those guys it’s tough to get back. I think we played hard, we left it all out on the court and I think this is a game where we have to be down – the Lakers are the defending champs and they played extremely well out there. We did a good job being undermanned and played well and just have to get ready for Sunday’s game against New Orleans.”

(On having a big game)
“I was ready – before the jump ball. It was a big game for us – two Pacific Division teams and two Western Conference teams and they’re fighting for home court advantage and we’re trying to move up a few notches, so it was a big game for us. I think we all came out with the same intensity defensively and played well, but we just couldn’t get the win.”






Suns Forward Lou Amundson

(On the Pau Gasol foul in the fourth)
“It was a hard foul, but I don’t he’s a dirty player or anything – I think he was just trying to make a play on the ball. It was really physical all night, so I wasn’t surprised.”

(On the Andrew Bynum foul in the fourth)
“Same thing (as the Gasol foul). We just kind of got locked up and it was a physical game and I didn’t think it was intentional or anything – I didn’t think he was trying to hurt me or throw me to the ground. It was a physical game all the way through so I was just trying to play through it. It was crunch time and that’s not the time you want to complain to the refs about fouls, so you just have to keep playing.”

(On xx)
“I don’t know – you’d have to ask them. I was just going out there and really trying to give us a spark. I thought we started the second half lackluster and were just lacking energy there in the first few minutes so I was just trying to come in and give a spark and give some energy and make some plays.”



Lakers vs. Suns Game Preview

By JUSTIN EINHORN

Posted Mar 11 2010 1:31PM

Another late game-winner from Kobe Bryant didn't make the Los Angeles Lakers feel much better, and this may be their last chance for a while to get a true boost of confidence.

Before a very easy stretch of the schedule, the Lakers desperately want a strong all-around performance Friday night when they visit a well-rested Phoenix Suns team which has been playing well.

While Phoenix (40-25) has won 14 of 18 to move into a virtual tie for fifth place in the West, Los Angeles (47-18) has split its last 10 to see its lead atop the conference dwindle to 2 1/2 games over red-hot Dallas.

"We need to play harder and execute a little better," said forward Ron Artest, averaging 6.3 points on 4-of-24 shooting in the last three games. "Overall, we are not playing great."

Bryant has been very critical of his team, particularly on defense, and referred to the Lakers' most recent effort as "garbage" after a 109-107 home win over Toronto on Tuesday. It was nearly their fourth consecutive loss, but Bryant's 17-foot fallaway with 1.9 seconds left provided the difference.

"We scored a lot of points tonight, (but) that's not going to win championships," said Bryant, averaging 32.8 points in the last four games. "You've got to stop people."

That could be tough against a Phoenix club which leads the league in 3-point shooting at 40.5 percent and with 109.5 points per game.

Plus, the Suns should have fresh legs after getting the last five days off in a strange schedule quirk this late in a season.

"It's important because we're a little banged up," coach Alvin Gentry told the team's official Web site. "A lot of times it would be a bit discouraging because we've been playing with a good rhythm and you hate to break that up by going a full week without playing. But with us, I think it's OK because we could use this week to get guys right."

The Suns' only four losses in the past six weeks were to teams among the West's top eight.

The Lakers' next three games after this one are against the West's worst teams - Golden State, Sacramento and Minnesota - followed by a matchup with a last-place team from the East - Washington.

"It's giving these teams a quiet confidence where they think they can beat us," an angry Lamar Odom said after the narrow win over Toronto. "I don't expect that. We've got to take it to teams."

Opening a three-game trip, the Lakers look to avoid losing five consecutive road games for the first time since March 4-15, 2007.

Los Angeles has lost two straight in Phoenix, giving up 118 points in each. Amare Stoudemire's 26 points helped the Suns to a 118-103 home win Dec. 28 in the most recent meeting.

"Everybody in Phoenix seems to dislike the Lakers which definitely gets us excited about playing them," reserve Jared Dudley said. "But I think any time you're playing one of the league's best teams you're going to get up for it."

Stoudemire totaled 26 points in the previous two matchups this season and the Lakers won by a combined 39. He's scored 30 in each of his last three games.

Another big man providing a lift is Robin Lopez, whose post presence defensively has helped Phoenix go 16-8 since he joined the starting lineup. Now Lopez tries to limit the effectiveness of Andrew Bynum, averaging 17.4 points and 10.4 rebounds in his last seven games against the Suns.

Lopez could see extended minutes because backup center Channing Frye was suspended for this game for throwing a punch in a 113-105 win over Indiana on Tuesday.

Copyright 2010 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








Lakers
Ron Artest
(sprained left thumb) is probable.
Kobe Bryant
(avulsion fracture, right index finger) is probable.
Sasha Vujacic
(sprained right shoulder) is probable.
Luke Walton
(pinched nerve, back) is out indefinitely.

Mavs

Channing Frye (suspension) will not play.













SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
The Lakers lead their current season series with Phoenix 2-1 after having won each of the previous two season series with the Suns by a 3-1 margin. The Lakers series victory in 2007-08 snapped a run of three consecutive losing seasons to the Suns from 2004-07. This will be the 213th meeting between the two teams with the Lakers leading the all-time series 124-88. The Lakers are 16-6 against the Suns all-time at STAPLES Center and 7-3 in their last 10 regular season home games against Phoenix. On the road, the Lakers have gone 3-7 in their last 10 regular season visits to Phoenix. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 25-14 against the Suns during the regular season. In 48 career games against the Suns including 41 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 25.9 points. On February 20, 2008 at Phoenix, Bryant surpassed 1,000 career points against the Suns. Last season, Bryant shared MVP honors with Shaquille O’Neal at the NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix. Additionally, last season, the Lakers defeated the Suns by 26 points 2/26/09 at STAPLES Center. The 26-point margin of victory was the Lakers largest over the Suns since January 4, 2002 when Los Angeles defeated Phoenix 118-86 at STAPLES Center. Suns forward Jared Dudley was a teammate in Charlotte with both Shannon Brown and Adam Morrison while Lakers forward Luke Walton and Suns center Channing Frye were teammates at Arizona for two seasons (2001-02, 2002-03). Also, Suns assistant coach Bill Cartwright won three championships as a center for Phil Jackson’s Bulls from 1990-92 and served as an assistant coach under Jackson from 1996-98 when the Bulls won their final two championships of the 90’s.

WINNER WINNER CHICKEN DINNER
For the 6th time this season, Kobe Bryant helped secure a victory for the Lakers in the final seconds on a 17-foot fade-away jumper with 1.9 seconds remaining 3/9 vs. Toronto (109-107). According to the Elias Sports Bureau, since the stat began being tracked prior to the 2000-01 season, Bryant now has the most game winning field goals of any player in a single season over the last 10 years (FGM in last 10 seconds of the 4th quarter or overtime). Carmelo Anthony ranks second on this list with five game-winning field goals made during the 2005-06 season. Bryant’s game winning shots this season include three shots at the buzzer with no time remaining (3-point FG 12/4 vs. Miami (108-107), FG in overtime 12/16 at Milwaukee (107-106), FG 1/1 vs. Sacramento (109-108)) and three shots in the final seconds (7.3 seconds left 1/31 at Boston (90-89), 4.3 seconds left 2/23 at Memphis (99-98), 1.9 seconds left 3/9 vs. Toronto (109-107)). In all, Bryant has 20 field goals that have given his team the lead within the last 10 seconds of a fourth quarter or overtime since the start of the 2000-01 season, the most in the league over that span (second most is 13 by Vince Carter).

THIRD TIME’S A CHARM...USUALLY
With consecutive losses 3/4 at Miami, 3/5 at Charlotte and 3/7 at Orlando, the Lakers suffered their FIRST three-game losing streak since January of 2008. Since the acquisition of Pau Gasol on February 1, 2008, the Lakers had yet to lose three consecutive games until dropping their March 7th contest at Orlando. With Gasol, the Lakers have only lost two-straight games 11 times overall (9 regular season, 2 playoff streaks) including their current 3-game skid. Of the 11 two-game losing streaks, the Lakers played the third game of the streak without Gasol four times, snapping two-game losing streaks with victories 3/18/08 at Dallas, 3/30/08 vs. Washington in overtime, 11/17/09 vs. Detroit and 1/10/10 vs. Milwaukee. Prior to their early March 3-game skid, the Lakers last three-game losing streak came just a week before the trade, with consecutive losses at San Antonio, at Dallas and vs. Cleveland from 1/23/08 through 1/27/08.

Additionally, the Lakers loss at Orlando marked the first time that Los Angeles has been swept on a three-game road trip since April of 2005 when they lost 4/2 at San Antonio (94-95), 4/3 at Memphis (82-102) and 4/5 at Phoenix (99-125). They did, however, go 0-4 on a four-game road trip in March of 2007, falling 3/4 at Phoenix (94-99), 3/6 at Minnesota (107-117 2OT), 3/7 at Milwaukee (90-110) and 3/9 at Philadelphia (92-108).
The last team to lose three straight regular season games and win a NBA Championship was the 2007-08 Boston Celtics, who suffered one 3-game losing streak in February of ‘08. The last Lakers team to lose three straight games and win a NBA Championship was the 2001-02 Lakers, who dropped three in a row in February of ‘02.

ARTEST POSTS FIVE OR MORE STEALS IN THREE CONSECUTIVE GAMES
With six steals 2/28 vs. Denver, five steals 3/2 vs. Indiana and five steals 3/4 at Miami, Ron Artest grabbed at least five steals in three consecutive games. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the longest such streak for any NBA player since Chris Paul had a three-game streak for New Orleans in March 2009. The last NBA player to have five or more steals in four consecutive games was Baron Davis in 2003. Furthermore, the last Laker to post three consecutive games with five or more steals was Magic Johnson in March 1981. Johnson also holds the Lakers franchise record with four straight games with five or more steals in October 1980.

WORKING OVERTIME
The Lakers 111-114 overtime loss 3/4 at Miami was the team’s 5th overtime contest of the season. The Lakers are now 4-1 in overtime games this year after going 2-1 in three overtime games last season and 4-0 in four overtime games during the 2007-08 campaign. During the 2006-07 season, the Lakers’ 10 overtime contests established a new Los Angeles era record for overtime games in a single season. With their overtime loss at Miami, the Lakers all-time overtime record is now 131-90 (.593).

DOUBLE-DOUBLES FOR EVERYONE
In the Lakers 95-89 victory February 28th vs. Denver, Lamar Odom (20 points, 12 rebounds), Pau Gasol (15 points, 14 rebounds) and Kobe Bryant (14 points, 12 assists) all posted double-doubles, marking the 5th time this season that three Lakers have recorded double-doubles in the same game (12/19 at NJ: Bryant, Gasol, Odom; 12/29 vs. GS: Bryant, Gasol, Odom; 1/13 at DAL: Bynum, Odom, Artest; 1/27 at IND: Bynum, Gasol, Odom). Prior to this season, three Lakers had last posted double-doubles in the same game back on March 4, 2008 at Sacramento. In the 2007-08 campaign, three Lakers posted double-doubles in the same game three times: 3/4/08 at SAC, 1/29/08 vs. NY and 11/9/07 vs. MIN. Prior to the 2007-08 season, three Lakers had not posted double-doubles in the same game since 3/27/05 vs. Philadelphia: Bryant (34 points, 10 rebounds), Chris Mihm (17 points, 11 rebounds) and Caron Butler (13 points, 10 rebounds).

BRYANT MOVES TO 13th ON NBA’S ALL-TIME SCORING LIST
Kobe Bryant, who earlier this season moved past Jerry West (25,192) for first on the Lakers all-time scoring list and 14th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list, passed Reggie Miller (25,279) for 13th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with his first field goal of the night 2/24 at Dallas. Next on the all-time list ahead Bryant (25,486) are Alex English (12th/25,613), John Havlicek (11th/26,395) and Dominique Wilkins (10th/26,668).
Bryant passed West with a slam dunk at the 4:14 mark of the third quarter February 1 at Memphis, finishing the game with 44 points (West’s retired number). Less than a month earlier, with 22 points 1/5 vs. Houston, Bryant moved past Patrick Ewing (24,815) for 15th on the NBA’s all-time scoring list. In November, with his free throw at the 6:07 mark of the third quarter 11/19 vs. Chicago, Bryant moved past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (24,176) for 2nd on the Lakers all-time franchise scoring list while with 41 points 11/6 vs. Memphis, Bryant moved past Allen Iverson for 16th on the all-time list. Bryant has been steadily moving up the list the last few years and last season alone, passed Charles Barkley (23,757) for 17th, Robert Parish (23,334) for 18th, Adrian Dantley (23,177) for 19th, Elgin Baylor (23,149) for 20th, Clyde Drexler (22,195) for 21st, Gary Payton (21,813) for 22nd and Larry Bird (21,791) for 23rd.