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Lakers' defensive struggles continue in 114-108 loss to Suns

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The Lakers struggled defensively against the Phoenix Suns, falling, 114-108, Tuesday night.

Point guard Goran Dragic, almost always a difficult player for the Lakers to handle, finished with 31 points to lead all scorers. Marcus Morris contributed 22 off the bench on 10-of-13 shooting. His twin brother, Markieff, scored 15.

The Lakers were led by Kobe Bryant who gave a better showing in his second game back from Achilles' tendon surgery, scoring 20 points (with three turnovers).

Pau Gasol scored 19 for the Lakers, but had a difficult time stopping the younger, athletic Morris twins. Nick Young, Jordan Hill and Jodie Meeks scored 13.

Steve Blake led the Lakers with 10 assists. Former Clippers guard Eric Bledsoe had 18 points with nine assists for the Suns.

As a team, Phoenix shot 51.8% from the field and 19 for 21 from the line. The Lakers hit 48.8% of their shots from the field and had 32 free-throw attempts (making 25).

Phoenix held a sizable advantage on the boards with a 43-33 advantage, led by P.J. Tucker with a game-high 11.

The Lakers fall to 10-11, losing their second-straight game. They'll start a four-game road trip in five nights on Friday in Oklahoma City.

The Suns (12-9) return home to host the Sacramento Kings, also on Friday.

Suns 79, Lakers 74 (end of third quarter)

For the third straight quarter, the Suns extended their lead over the Lakers to 14 points. For the third straight quarter, the Lakers closed the gap by the end of the period to five.

The Lakers actually climbed to within a single point, down 73-72, but the Suns pushed back with Eric Bledsoe scoring at the buzzer.

Goran Dragic led all scorers with 19 points. Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with 14.

The Lakers shot 49.1% from the field. The Suns hit 50.7%.

Suns 56, Lakers 51 (halftime)

Pau Gasol hit a jump shot at the halftime buzzer to even the second-quarter scoring at 30 apiece.

The Suns had pushed their lead back to 14, and once again the Lakers whittled their deficit down to five by the end of the period.

Kobe Bryant had 10 in the first, including a Kobe Bryant-looking jump shot. The Lakers All-Star guard is still rounding into form.

Jodie Meeks helped carry the offensive load with 13, making a number of circus shots.

Suns 26, Lakers 21 (end of first quarter)

Kobe Bryant made his second appearance of the season, thrilling the crowd with his first dunk.

The Suns opened an early seven-point lead before the Lakers pushed back to tie at 14. By the end of the period, Phoenix had extended their advantage back to five.

Jodie Meeks scored five to lead the Lakers. Bryant scored just two.

Pregame

The Lakers (10-10) play their second game with Kobe Bryant this season on Tuesday as they host the Phoenix Suns (11-9).

Phoenix has been surprise this season.  The Lakers won't have an easy night against the Suns' youthful depth.

Bryant, along with the rest of the Lakers' starting unit, looked rusty in a loss on Sunday against the Toronto Raptors.  The team will improve over time but will they be ready for Phoenix on Tuesday night?

For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers vs. Suns.

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Email Eric Pincus at eric.pincus@gmail.com and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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Pro BasketballSportsBasketballLos Angeles LakersPhoenix SunsKobe BryantToronto Raptors
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