Only in Phoenix. All that was missing was Raja Bell and a horse collar on Kobe. This was a game that had everything. Fights. Three point shots. Kaman being Kaman. Gerald Green doing his best Kobe imitation. Unbelievable Kendall Marshall passes. Wes Johnson scoring 20. Disorganized D’Antoni defense. Lakers teammates leaving Nick Young to fight by himself. It hardly resembled the second game of a back to back, it was hard to tell who was the aggressor. But coming into this game the Suns had the motivation to run the Lakers out the building. They had 5 defeats out of 7 games. They came out hungry taking a 6-0 lead.
But every once in a while Wes Johnson reminds you how athletic he is. And that he was a lottery pick. He had layups and drives to the rim. Jordan Hill who was back in the starting lineup instead of Robert Sacre was very active in the post. Lakers went on a 5-0 run capped off with Wes Johnson attacking the rim by gliding. Then Jodie Meeks dunked. Nick Young entered the game after a Dragic three point play and the Suns had a six point lead. Nick Young had a three point play of his own. The Suns were up 22-14 when Gasol went to the free throw line with four minutes in the first quarter. Nick threw a beautiful half court pass to Wes Johnson for the finish. Kaman entered the game and took control of the paint. He was able to set up on the block and the deficit was cut to 4. Kaman was 3-3 in the quarter. At the end of the first quarter the Lakers were up by 1, 27-26.
Chris Kaman continued his hot shooting in the second quarter, giving the Lakers a three point lead 29-26. But the Suns took the lead back at 34-33. Then all hell broke loose. Nick Young was hit in the face when he was fouled in mid air and came down hard. He was hot. He shoved Alex Len, Alex Len pushed back, the teams had to be pulled apart but not before Nick threw punches at Dragic’s head. But that wasn’t the worst part. The worst part was the reaction of his teammates. They didn’t come to his defense quickly enough, they were spectators to the fight. Both Young and Alex Len were ejected. The Lakers got inspired. Kelly hit a three. Marshall hit two threes in the quarter. Gasol hit a mid-range shot. Jordan Hill worked in the post and the Lakers had a 13 point lead. But the Suns ended the half on a 11-2 run and trailed the Lakers by four, 58-54. The Lakers led each quarter, a rarity these days. They were outrebounded by 5 and Phoenix, of course, had more points in the paint.
The Lakers are an abysmal third quarter team. If they are leading at the half it won’t last long. And true to form it played out in Phoenix. Their third quarter defense was in a state of confusion. They doubled when they shouldn’t have and left Gerald Green open for threes again and again. He was the leading scorer for the Suns. He had 28 in the game. The Lakers on offense walked the ball up and tried to execute out of half court sets instead of pushing the ball. With five minutes left in the quarter the Suns had a 1 point lead 74-73. Gasol had a big quarter. He was aggressive and both a facilitator and scorer. When Ryan Kelly came in the Lakers defense took a turn for the worse. He just cannot play one on one defense at this stage in his young career. His mistakes led to easy baskets or the Lakers having to scramble. The game was manageable until Kendall Marshall had a clear path foul. The Suns turned a one point lead into a 5 point lead. Then a 7 point lead and the game was slipping away from the Lakers. The Suns speed eventually wore the Lakers down. When they couldn’t convert on offense they had no way of keeping up with the Suns in the open court. The Lakers were outscored in the quarter by 10. The Suns lead was 88-82.
In the 4th the Lakers went to Kaman again and again. Channing Frye was no match for Kaman’s post skill. The Lakers tied the game on a Wes Johnson three. 91-91. But the Lakers were pretty defenseless against Dragic, he did whatever he wanted and the Lakers without Nick Young did not have enough reliable weapons. The Suns went on a 5-0 run and then D’Antoni took out his best player of the quarter-huh?- Chris Kaman and subbed for Pau. The lead ballooned to 9 and the Suns were in complete control. With 7 minutes left they already had 104 points on their way to another 120+ points for a Lakers opponent. The Lakers cut it to 6 but a Dragic blow by and a Gerald Green pull up jumper put the game out of reach and the Lakers misery lasts one more game. They were outrebounded by 10. They were outscored in the paint by 18. Phoenix had more fast break points by like a thousand. They were outscored in second chance points 24-8. And the beat goes on. Next up Boston.
Yes, they said that:
James Worthy: They are getting worse. They are certain things you learn in the 7th grade you never forget. Rotating. Taking charges. They are not learning anything from game to game.
Nick Young: What I’m mad about is it was 1 on 5. I didn’t mean to hurt Dragic. That is my guy. I just got caught up in the moment.
Mike D’Antoni: Defensively we have a hard time stopping people at the rim. We scored 114 points so obviously they (Phoenix) don’t play defense either.
Kendall Marshall: Nick kinda saw what he wanted to see. He got fouled hard. It wasn’t a basketball play. But we got 7 guys. Maybe at that time you have to chill out.
Pau Gasol: It was unfortunate we couldn’t get a guy between Nick and the three or four guys he was fighting. We reacted too slow.