Kobe Bryant sits out as Lakers look for second straight win

The Lakers' Jordan Clarkson, left, goes for a layup against Detroit's Ersan Ilyasova on Nov. 15.

The Lakers’ Jordan Clarkson, left, goes for a layup against Detroit’s Ersan Ilyasova on Nov. 15.

(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

The Lakers (2-8) have their second chance to build a winning streak this season when they visit the Phoenix Suns (5-4) on Monday night.

After defeating the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, the Lakers will play on back-to-back nights against one of the six teams in the Western Conference with a winning record.

Kobe Bryant, who played a season-high 36 minutes against Detroit, will sit out against the Suns.


Markieff Morris (knee) and former Lakers guard Ronnie Price (concussion) are questionable for Phoenix.

Key matchup

The Suns attack teams primarily through the guard play of Eric Bledsoe and Brandon Knight.

Bledsoe, formerly with the Clippers, is off to a strong start this season, averaging 23.2 points, 6.2 assists and 2.1 steals a game, while shooting 49.7% from the field and 40.0% from three-point range.

Knight isn’t far behind him at 19.1 points, 3.7 assists and 1.1 steals, at 44.3% and 38.3%, respectively.

If Morris doesn’t play, the team’s next-highest scorer is guard/forward T.J. Warren at 10.9 a game.

If the Lakers can slow either of Bledsoe or Knight, or both, they might be able to steal the win on the road.

The challenge will be for guards such as D’Angelo Russell, Jordan Clarkson and Lou Williams to stay in front of the Phoenix twosome.

The Lakers are still waiting for Russell to break out. He’s averaging 8.9 points a game while shooting 39.4% from the field. Clarkson is the team’s second leading scorer at 15.3 a night, behind Bryant’s 16.9.

X factor

If Lakers center Roy Hibbert can protect the paint well, the Lakers may be able to force Bledsoe and Knight to shoot from the perimeter. Hibbert will likely play through a broken nose, an injury sustained Sunday against the Pistons.

The Lakers also need big performances from Julius Randle and the team’s starting small forward, possibly Metta World Peace, who filled in previously when Bryant was out with a back injury.

Larry Nance Jr. has impressed in his role off the bench, shooting a team-high 61.5% from the field. Meanwhile, Lou Williams has struggled, scoring 12.6 points a game primarily at the free-throw line. He’s otherwise shooting just 30.7% from the field and 20.0% from three-point range.

The Suns need offensive support from players such as Jon Leuer, Alex Len, P.J. Tucker, Tyson Chandler and Warren.


The Lakers have improved in recent games defensively, but the Suns are an explosive team offensively. The Lakers may surprise, but put the home team down for the win.

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