Wednesday, January 15, 2014
Rapid Reaction: Suns 121, Lakers 114
By Dave McMenamin
PHOENIX -- The Los Angeles Lakers might have only won once in their past 12 coming into Wednesday's game against the Phoenix Suns, but that didn't stop coach Mike D'Antoni from dreaming big for the team's seven-game Grammy trip.
How well could the Lakers do? 5-2? 4-3?
"I hate to do that, in the sense of you don't want to say, 'OK, that game we can't win,' " D'Antoni said before Wednesday's game. "You try to win them all. But, at the same time, realistically, we'd like to have a winning record coming off of it. But, it starts with us and we have to do a better job."
Nothing started in a better direction against the Suns.
L.A. fell to 14-25 after a 121-114 loss and now will have to finish the trip 4-2 to get that winning record D'Antoni was aiming for.
How it happened: The Lakers responded to Nick Young's second-quarter ejection with a 13-4 run, but the Suns stayed within four points at the half. That's when L.A.'s all-too-typical third-quarter dip occurred, as the Suns outscored the Lakers 34-24 to take a six-point lead into the final period. The Lakers kept the deficit at six after a Wesley Johnson dunk with 4:17 remaining, but the Suns quickly pushed the lead back to double digits at 10. The Lakers made one final push when Pau Gasol scored an and-1 layup with a minute left to cut it to five, but the Suns salted it away with free throws.
What it means: A night after L.A. got 28 points from Young and 26 points from Jodie Meeks, it was encouraging to see two other players step up with some of their better efforts of the season in Johnson (22 points) and Chris Kaman (18 points). But the Lakers' ship has sprung so many leaks that when one thing goes well, there always seems to be a couple of things that go wrong. Wednesday it was Young's ejection, Kendall Marshall's shooting (4-for-16) and again, poor rebounding (Phoenix owned the boards 53-43). As D'Antoni admitted Wednesday, "We don't have a big margin of error every time we go into a game." It shows.
Hits: Playing in a fourth consecutive game for the Lakers after collecting four straight DNP-CDs, Kaman shot 6-for-7 from the field and 6-for-6 from the free-throw line.
Gasol had 24 points, nine rebounds and five assists a night after putting up 20 and 12.
L.A. held Phoenix to 4-for-19 on 3-pointers (21.1 percent), shoring up its perimeter defense after Cleveland carved up the Lakers by going 13-for-17 from beyond the arc.
Misses:Gerald Green, who scored 22 points the last time the Lakers played the Suns, had 28 points on Wednesday on 12-for-18 shooting. Green, of course, was on the Lakers' D-League team, the L.A. D-Fenders, a couple of seasons ago. Making things worse, Green came into the game shooting just 7-for-33 in his last two outings.
The Lakers had 17 turnovers leading to 18 points for the Suns.
Stat of the game: The Lakers allowed their opponent to score 110 points or more for the sixth straight game (0-6 in that stretch).
Up next: The Lakers get a day off in Boston on Thursday. They continue their trip against the Celtics on Friday, a game in which Rajon Rondo is expected to make his season debut.