It was not the win they deserved, but it was the win they needed.
The Suns took their cue from some of the final words of “The Dark Knight” and beat the Lakers in blowout fashion 99-76. The Suns haven’t played well almost the entire season, with the exception of a couple nights where the game meant too much to lose. This was one of those games.
It was only made possible because Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were both injured, L.A. was on the second night of a back-to-back, and yet Los Angeles head coach Mike D’Antoni still kept his rotation to only seven players until garbage time when the benches were cleared.
In the beginning of the game it didn’t look good for Phoenix. P.J Tucker had the defensive assignment on Steve Nash and they were going under the screens to force Nash to take a shot instead of dump it off to Howard on the pick-and-roll that would be way too easy for him. Nash was making the Suns pay, as he had 10 points in the first quarter.
The Suns turned it around in the second quarter for a 47-44 halftime score. Phoenix increased their lead by a basket through the third period, but the final quarter was where they did their damage. The men from Hollywood only scored 10 points in the final 12 minutes, while the men in orange scored 28, causing a 23-point victory.
“It’s good to get a win like this for our guys’ morale,” said Suns head coach Lindsey Hunter after the game according to the Suns official Twitter feed.
For Phoenix, it was a true team effort as six players got into double-figures scoring and Markieff Morris finished with nine.
Goran Dragic had 12 points, 10 assists, two steals, two blocks and one spectacular “nutmeg” on his former mentor Steve Nash that will certainly be seen on Sportscenter and NBA tonight in the next couple hours.
Wesley Johnson scored 14 points, while also grabbing nine rebounds and adding a couple steals and a block in his starting role. Off the bench, Luis Scola copied Johnson by finishing with 14 points and nine rebounds, while Jared Dudley added 13 points and a couple steals.
“For us it’s consistency. We’ve lacked that this year,” said Dudley.
Kendall Marshall had 11 points (!) on 3-4 shooting behind the three-point arc (!), along with five rebounds and five assists, while Michael Beasley added 10 points, both as reserves. The surprising thing (and somebody is going to have to check some Suns fans to make sure they didn’t have a heart attack) is that Marshall had a +26 plus/minus and Beasley’s was +25!
For the Lakers it was a different story. Only seven players were in the game more than three minutes . . . on the second night of a back-to-back. That is called not having ANY faith in your reserves, which makes sense because their franchise didn’t have any money left after paying their superstar starting lineup (most of which is injured in some way).
Steve Nash had 19 points, while Dwight Howard had 16 points, 11 boards, a block and a steal. Steve Blake had 13 points off the bench, but that was in 34 minutes, and he had a -21 plus/minus. Metta World Peace (Ron Artest) was the only other player on L.A. who scored in double-figures with 12 points in 39 minutes.
Kobe must have been fuming on the sidelines when he saw the game slipping away, knowing he couldn’t do what he regularly does. Usually he just checks himself in, makes an insane amount of dagger jumpers, defends whoever the opponent’s best player is, therefore metaphorically saying to the other team, “die, die, die, I’m going to win my sixth championship!”
Phoenix got their victory over their rivals, shutting out Steve Nash in the valley of the sun as a Laker, by coming out victorious in both the Suns’ home games this season.
Now, they can lose all the games the rest of the season with dignity and get that number one position on draft day.