Lakers winless on the road in January
Suns 92 - Lakers 86 (end of regulation)
The Lakers (20-26) lost a game they needed to win, falling to the Suns (16-30) in Phoenix with a fourth-quarter collapse.
Where the lead was once 13, the Lakers were stuck on 78 points for almost four-full minutes. The Suns had closed within five when Dwight Howard re-aggravated his injured right shoulder, clearly in a significant amount of pain
Howard would not return and the Lakers looked frazzled, especially defensively.
Michael Beasley had a huge night with 27 points on 12-20 shooting, along with five steals. Beasley’s lay-up under pressure with 42.5 seconds left proved to be the game winner.
Kobe Bryant had a chance to tie but missed a lay-up that he would likely convert 97 times in a 100 attempts.
The Lakers were out-scored 29-13 in the fourth quarter, losing their eighth-straight road game. They won’t win an away game in January and have yet to get one in 2013.
Bryant led the Lakers with 17 points and nine assists. He made a concerted effort throughout the game to pass the ball, even in the fourth quarter as his team started to melt down.
Metta World Peace missed numerous open looks, off of Bryant passes, scoring 15 points on 6-17 shooting. Too often in the final minutes Bryant would look for cutters but find no one to pass to.
Turnovers were also a major problem for the Lakers, finishing with 20 (nine in the first quarter). The Suns shot 45.8% from the field. Howard finished with nine points and 14 rebounds. Pau Gasol had 14 on 13 shot attempts.
Given how poorly the Lakers have played on the road, they’ll need to find a solution quickly with the next six games in Minnesota, Detroit, Brooklyn, Boston, Charlotte and Miami.
Lakers 73 - Suns 63 (end of third quarter)
With turnovers finally under control (just two in the third), the Lakers extended their lead over the Suns to 10.
The Lakers played well defensively, holding the Suns to 40.3% shooting from the field while keeping them off the line (just eight attempts). Michael Beasley led all scorers with 17 points. Marcin Gortat had 14.
Kobe Bryant dished nine assists with 11 points. Steve Nash also had 11 points but just a single assist.
Metta World Peace was the Lakers’ leading scorer with 15 as the Lakers shot 50.9% from the field.
Earl Clark struggled with foul trouble. Pau Gasol scored 12 off the bench on 6-11 shooting.
Lakers 41 - Suns 41 (halftime)
The Lakers “only” turned the ball over three times in the second quarter (12 in the game). After an 8-0 run put the Lakers up by five, the Suns caught up at 41 in the final moments of the half.
Neither team shot particularly well, the Lakers hit 43.2% of their shots but were just 3-13 from three-point range. The Suns shot 39.1%, led by Marcin Gortat’s 12.
Michael Beasley scored 10 on 4-9 shooting, including a late three-point play to tie at 41.
Kobe Bryant led the Lakers with eight points and five assists. The Lakers had eight different scorers not one in double figures.
Suns 26 - Lakers 22 (end of first quarter)
The Lakers struggled in the first quarter against the Phoenix Suns, turning the ball over nine times in the first 12 minutes.
Michael Beasley was hot early, scoring seven points as the Suns shot 47.8% from the field.
After a standing ovation from the fans for Steve Nash (on his return to Phoenix), the Lakers point guard scored six points to lead his team in scoring. Kobe Bryant dished four assists but turned the ball over three times.
The Lakers shot 46.7% from the field as a team.
The Lakers (20-25) visit the Phoenix Suns (15-30) on Wednesday night, playing their second game on back-to-back nights.
The Suns have struggled this season, falling to the bottom of the Western Conference. The team parted ways with Alvin Gentry, bringing in Lindsey Hunter as head coach. After two strong wins under Hunter, Phoenix has lost two straight.
If the Lakers have seriously turned the corner, as their three-game winning streak suggests, they’ll take care of the Suns.
Based on the pattern this season, the Lakers might be heading into a letdown.
For a more in-depth breakdown, check out Preview: Lakers at Suns.
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