Lakers lose to long shots
The Lakers will come across plenty of bizarre plots on their long, unpredictable road to a possible “three-peat.”
In fact, they were three-beat Sunday.
The Phoenix Suns buried them with a three-point barrage and almost set an NBA record in a 121-116 victory at Staples Center.
Jason Richardson had 35 points and the Suns made 22 of 40 shots from long distance (55%), stunning a Lakers crowd that expected a victory against the mostly mediocre Suns (5-4).
The Suns were hot, no doubt, but the Lakers were already starting to leak defensively, following up their 118-112 loss Friday in Denver with a weak effort Sunday. Phoenix was one three-pointer shy of the NBA record set by Orlando in January 2009 against Sacramento.
It’s officially time to end all the talk of the Lakers challenging Chicago’s record-setting 72-10 season in 1995-96.
The Lakers (8-2) also had some unsettling medical news, with two players scheduled to visit doctors Monday morning for MRI exams. Lamar Odom was slowed somewhat by a sore right foot, saying it felt like the top of it was burning, and Theo Ratliff continued to be bothered by a sore left knee.
“It’s been aching, especially in the morning,” said Odom, who limped out of the locker room after the game. “But I’ve been playing a lot of basketball. Hopefully it’s just wear and tear. Hopefully there is nothing wrong.”
The Lakers had plenty of offense from Pau Gasol (28 points), Kobe Bryant (25 points) and Odom (22 points), who played 42 minutes, but scoring wasn’t their problem.
Richardson made seven of 10 from three-point range, Hedo Turkoglu made five of seven and Channing Frye made four of nine.
You could almost hear a collective exhale from Lakers fans after Richardson was long on a three-point attempt late in the third quarter.
“They were on fire and they made all of them it seems like,” Bryant said. “If you can do that four games in a playoff series, God bless you. Even guys in a gym by themselves can’t shoot that percentage. It was a historical night tonight almost.”
It was a big enough onslaught that record books were being cracked open in the third quarter.
The Suns made 18 of their first 28 from long range and eventually broke their own record for three-pointers by a Lakers opponent (19 in their 108-97 victory over the Lakers in April 2005).
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson couldn’t remember anything like it.
“Obviously, no,” he said. “That’s remarkable shooting.”
The Suns also broke their team record of 20 made three-pointers in a game, and the teams almost tied the NBA record for combined three-pointers in a game (32 by Phoenix and Seattle in double overtime in January 2006).
The Lakers, who made nine of 23 three-point attempts, moved within 111-109 on Odom’s layup with 53.7 seconds to play, but he was called for a technical foul after crying out for a foul.
Steve Nash made a free throw, Turkoglu followed with a three-pointer, and the Lakers were pretty much done after that.
Bryant and Jackson said referees were too quick to punish animated player conduct that late in a game, Bryant even calling the increased sensitivity a “bad, bad rule.”
The Lakers’ defense in recent games could be described with similarly bad terms.
The Lakers surrendered 33 points in the second quarter and 36 in the third against Phoenix after giving up 33 points in the fourth quarter at Denver.
The Lakers had been allowing opponents to shoot 34.1% from three-point range, good for 11th-best in the league, but the Suns blew past that percentage.
Bryant had some final words for Lakers fans who might be agonizing over consecutive losses.
“They’ll get over it,” he said.
All things Lakers, all the time.
Get all the Lakers news you need in Dan Woike's weekly newsletter.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.