Hard to believe these are the same two teams that tangled just two days previous in Staples. Way back then the Los Angeles Lakers was the team that played with all the energy of a two-year old with Red Bull in its bottle. The Phoenix Suns were burnt out and got blow out in that one.
What difference a building makes.
US Airways Center must have made all the difference because the exact opposite was true of both teams tonight. It was the Suns that burned bright while the Lake Show went dark in a fooling final score of 102-90, the loss ending L.A.’s three game win streak.
Both the final score and the box score might have your mind playing tricks on you. On paper it looks like this one was a somewhat close contest. It wasn’t. Phoenix hung 63 on the board in the first half and had a 27-point lead at one point.
One of those stats the box score freaks always point to is opponent’s field goal percentage as some sign of stellar defense. Tell that to the 42% Phoenix shot tonight. Sure, Mike Brown got his guys to give a rip about defending after halftime but that was too little too late.
By the time the Lakers actually gave it a decent effort the clock was against them. On several occasions the Lakers had chances to make this a single digit game but they just couldn’t find the touch. Part of the problem for this team is that there is no way to get points in bunches. When the Lakers needed to be rushing up court to get into their offense they were walking the ball up and taking their sweet time to try and get Kobe Bryant a good look.
As you’d expect when KB24 sees those Suns, he led all scorers with 32 points. Kobe also lapped everyone in turnovers with a sickening 10 giveaways. That was good for more than half of the 18 the Lakers amassed as a team.
Turnovers were the silent killer tonight.
Well…turnovers and Jared Dudley. The former BC Eagle was unconscious tonight dropping 25 on only 15 shots.
Another guy that is starting to have the Laker killing look is Marcin Gortat. He followed up his 21 and 16 performance in L.A. with an all too familiar 21 and 15 in Phoenix. He’s always been a solid player so it really shouldn’t surprise that Gortat is balling playing big minutes.
The Gortat trend is a recent development in this Pacific rivalry. A trend that is more played than Jeremy Lin puns are Kobe, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum being the only Lakers in double figures.
Gasol and Bynum were in their typical form combining for 33 and 22. The good news is that the Spaniard shook off his shooting slump by going 6 of 11 from the field. The bad news is that neither Drew nor Pau were enough of a factor.
Bynum continues to get off to hot starts while fading late. Meanwhile Gasol is the exact opposite. He is invisible early and then seems to turn it on late when it’s too late.
The most disturbing trend of all this season is how this team plays on the road. You can officially call off any championship chances. There is no chance of a team playing this poorly on the road being a factor in the title chase.
Nothing from the bench. Nothing from Metta World Peace. Nothing from Derek Fisher. Nothing but trouble for Coach Brown.
For whatever reason Brown keeps mixing his rotations on a nightly basis. The most amazing sight of all was Luke Walton checking-in in the first half. What was that?
On the road there is a total lack of effort this season. Friday night the energy and effort was there. Tonight it was nowhere to be found. The really bad news is that the rest of the week is the final test of this team. Yes, I’m calling it now. If the Lakers can’t make better showing against the Blazers, Mavs and Thunder then it is an almost certainty that changes are coming. Until then, the mixed results in the effort department must be corrected quickly. A gauntlet of games is coming and efforts like tonight’s will lead to some embarrassing Ls.