By Ben York, Suns.com At 11-9 on the season, the Suns head to Los Angeles tonight to take on the 10-10 Lakers. Winners of four of the last six meetings, two of the Suns’ recent visits to STAPLES Center have been stellar games: March 22, 2011, the Suns’ overcame a 21-point second-half deficit and used multiple clutch, closing-second shots to force triple overtime. In the previous meeting, Phoenix made a franchise-record 22 threes, one shy of an NBA record. The game will be televised on FOX Sports Arizona at 8:30pm and fans can listen to the radio broadcast on Arizona Sports 620. Click through to see five things Suns fans should watch for during #SunsAtLakers.
Streaking The Suns, winners of two straight, are seeking their first three-game winning streak of the season after now having won two straight five times this season. The Suns rank 1st in the NBA with 20.0 fast break points per game (Oklahoma City is next with 17.5) and rank 1st in the NBA with 19.7 percent of the team’s total points coming on the fast break (next highest is Washington with 17.1 percent).
Games After Rest The Suns are 9-2 this season when playing on one day of rest (1-4 on zero days, 0-2 on two days, 0-1 on three days). Facing the Lakers tonight, their last game was at home on Friday, Dec. 6 against the Raptors. Phoenix will play just three games in eight days during this stretch, so coming out aggressive and cohesive in Los Angeles will be a priority.
The Return of Kobe Kobe Bryant scored nine points (5-7 FT), grabbed eight rebounds and dished out four assists in his first game back after Achilles surgery on Dec. 8 in a loss against the Raptors. Bryant wasn’t happy with his performance, so there is little doubt he’ll want to continue improving tonight against the Suns. P.J. Tucker, one of the best defenders in the league, will have his hands full.
Bledsoe on Fire Eric Bledsoe has scored 20+ points in a game six times already this season, after doing so just four times in his first three seasons combined. Bledsoe’s career-high for points per game for a season is 8.5 with the Clippers in 2012-13; this season he is a threat to average over 20 points. The last NBA veteran to average at least 20 points for a season after never before having averaged at least 10 points was Zach Randolph who averaged 20.1 points for Portland in 2003-04, his third season in the league. Entering 2003-04, Randolph’s previous best average for a season was 8.4 points per game in 2002-03.
Frye Finding His Groove Over the last nine games, Frye has led the team in scoring twice, scored 20+ points twice and is averaging 14.3 points, 5.8 rebounds, 1.2 steals, 0.8 blocks and shooting nearly 57 percent from the floor and 47 percent from downtown. With the Lakers’ depth in the frontcourt, Frye will be relied on heavily tonight on both ends of the floor.