Suns News

Suns-Lakers Preview: 11/14/2011

Richardson is the Suns' leading scorer this season at 20.8 points a game.
(Andrew D. Bernstein/NBAE/Getty Images)
By Brett Huston
Posted: Nov. 14, 2010

The Los Angeles Lakers knew their first loss would come at some point, but they weren't too pleased with the way it unfolded.

The NBA's two-time reigning champions enter Sunday night looking to bounce back from blowing a double-digit, fourth-quarter lead as they visit the Phoenix Suns, who already were a victim of the Lakers' fast start.

Los Angeles (8-1) won its first eight games for just the third time in franchise history and looked like it was well on its way to win No. 9 on Thursday night in Denver.

The Lakers led by as many as 14 points in the third quarter and had a 10-point edge early in the fourth, but things unraveled from there. The Nuggets went on a 16-0 run, part of a 33-point final period to hand Los Angeles a 118-112 loss.

"It (stunk)," coach Phil Jackson said of the Lakers' fourth quarter. "We just didn't take care of the basketball and we sat back and let them run out."

Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol needed 49 shots - making only 17 - to get their combined 51 points, but Los Angeles' biggest problem may have been a lack of offensive production from Lamar Odom. After averaging 15.8 points and shooting 62.1 percent in the first eight games, Odom was held to three points Thursday.

Since the start of last season, the Lakers are 35-8 when Odom scores more than 10 points and 30-18 otherwise.

Odom was certainly a factor when Los Angeles visited Phoenix (4-4) on Oct. 29, scoring 18 points and pulling down a season-high 17 rebounds in a 114-106 win.

That was part of a four-game stretch in which the Suns allowed at least 112 points each time, but Alvin Gentry's team comes into this meeting off its best defensive effort of the season. Phoenix held Sacramento to 40.9 percent shooting while Steve Nash delivered his best offensive performance - 28 points, 14 assists and seven rebounds - just hours after the birth of his son in a 103-89 victory.

Kings coach Paul Westphal called Nash's effort "unspeakably sensational." Suns forward Hakim Warrick had a somewhat different take after scoring 18 points - including three baskets off Nash's assists.

"It's like having that big brother out there just making everything easy for you, and all you have to do is go out there and finish," said Warrick, whose 13.0 points per game are the second-most in the Western Conference among bench players.

"And he takes control as the general out there. He saw that they were out there blitzing and he makes adjustments just like a great quarterback."

Nash, who has posted three straight double-doubles, had a season-low eight points against the Lakers.

The Suns play five of their next six games on the road, and they can't be too excited about the location for the opener of that stretch. Phoenix has lost seven straight to the Lakers at Staples Center - three in the West finals - by an average of 15.0 points.

Odom has averaged 13.4 points and 11.6 boards in those games while shooting 68.9 percent. Los Angeles has averaged 118.7 points and shot 52.6 percent overall.

The Lakers might want to get Odom and Gasol plenty of looks against Phoenix and not rely on Bryant too much. They've won nine straight in the series when Bryant has scored 30 points or fewer, while losing four of six in which he's gone above 30. 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