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Wednesday, January 30, 2013
Rapid Reaction: Suns 92, Lakers 86

By Dave McMenamin

PHOENIX -- They say you can't go home again, and nobody knows that more than Steve Nash this season.

Less than two weeks after the Los Angeles Lakers returned to his native Canada and laid an egg against the Toronto Raptors, L.A. had a similar fate against Nash's former team, the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers should have had everything to play for to try to get a win for Nash against the team he was a part of the past 10 seasons. Instead, they let him down and continued to let their season slip away from their postseason goal.

How it happened: After a sloppy first half when neither team could get going and went to the locker rooms tied at 41-41, the Lakers turned it on in the third, scoring 32 points in the quarter and pushing their lead up to as many as 13. Phoenix surged back in the fourth after Dwight Howard went out after re-aggravating the labrum injury in his right shoulder, the Suns taking a four-point lead with a late 9-0 run. Bryant was able to tie it up again with four points of his own, but in the final minute, Michael Beasley made a layup and Bryant missed a layup and the Suns were able to salt it away with free throws.

What it means: To borrow a line from a recent column by J.A. Adande, Bryant continues to prove that his fancy passing is not a passing fancy, racking up nine assists after averaging 13 in his previous three games, but we also learned that Bryant's passing isn't a cure-all for this team. There are still problems lurking under the surface, despite the recent three-game winning streak.

Hits: Antawn Jamison had 13 points in 13 minutes on 5-for-6 shooting.

Misses: The Lakers had 19 turnovers compared to just 11 for the Suns. The main culprits were Bryant with six and Pau Gasol with four.

Metta World Peace shot just 6-for-17 on mostly wide-open looks and let Beasley (27 points on 12-for-20 shooting) have his way with him on the defensive end.

Stat of the night: The Lakers are now 5-16 on the road, including losses in their past eight in a row.

What's next: The Lakers have an off day in Minnesota on Thursday before continuing their seven-game trip against the Timberwolves on Friday. We'll see if the day is enough for Howard to get his shoulder back in order in time for the Wolves.