Phoenix Suns 114, Los Angeles Lakers 108 –Team Foe


The Phoenix Suns used strong contributions from many players to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers 114-108 in a game that they controlled for its entirety.

Goran Dragic led the way with 31 points, got the offense going early by scoring 10 of those in the first quarter and helped to get the Suns off to a quick 10-3 start. Marcus Morris scored a season high of 22 points and was smoking hot when he came off the bench by scoring 11 quick points before the first TV timeout of the second quarter.

In the game, the Morris brothers combined for 37 points and 11 rebounds and dominated a three minute stretch late in the fourth quarter that pretty much sealed up the win by scoring 11 straight points including a Marcus Morris block that led to a Dragic transition basket giving the Suns an 11 point lead with 2:30 to go in the fourth.

Eric Bledsoe also had a major impact in the game and carried the Suns at moments, especially coming out of the gate to begin the second half. He forced two turnovers, which led to five Suns baskets to quickly increase a five-point Suns lead to 14 before the Lakers knew what happened. Bledsoe ended the quarter by making two acrobatic layups that just made you shake your head in disbelief. He finished the night with a near double-double of 18 points and nine assists in his first game back at Staples since being traded by the Los Angeles Clippers over the summer.

Let’s see how the pregame questions were answered.

Will Kobe disrupt things enough to give Phoenix an advantage?

I would say yes for the simple fact that the Lakers are still adjusting to Bryant being back in the line-up, as any team would when a player comes back from an injury. Bryant actually had a decent night on the court leading the team with 20 points on 6-11 shooting and making all eight of his free throw attempts. Bryant got the crowd oohing when he made a nice spin move to get by PJ Tucker to throw down his first dunk of the year in the first quarter.

Bryant had a much better overall game than he did in his season debut on Sunday in Toronto by committing five fewer turnovers and having a smarter shot selection. He is still a step slow and slightly out of shape, but those should not be an issue for Bryant within a month or so.

Evidently, Magic Johnson doesn’t think Kobe should be needed to beat the Suns with this tweet after the game.

Should the Suns run?

They should have ran more. When the Suns had transition opportunities they converted more times than not tonight. Bledsoe came out guns blazing to start the third quarter leading the Suns to the first nine points of the quarter by converting two steals into five points on the break. Whenever Bledsoe or Dragic got the ball in transition, they made something happen.

On the defensive side of things, the Suns kept the Lakers in check and did not let up many transition chances. The Suns could have ran a bit more than they did, but they kept the pace of the game in their favor for the majority of the contest.

Does the Lakers bench get cookin’?

It was too little too late for that vaunted Lakers bench. Going into tonight the bench for the Lakers led the NBA in scoring with 48.1 point per game, and the Suns kept them under that average tonight. They only had 14 points at halftime and didn’t get going until Bryant left the game at the 3:38 mark of the third quarter. The Lakers bench went on to score 19 of the next 21 points and kept the purple and gold in the game until Bryant and the starters came back at the 6:11 mark of the fourth quarter.

Jordan Hill and Nick Young led the bench scoring with 13 points each, though Hill was the much more effective player of the two. Young struggled missing four free throws and took some ill-advised shots at big moments, including a momentum killing forced jumper after the Lakers scored six straight cutting the Suns lead to one late in the third. His missed jumper led to a transition hoop for Bledsoe and the Lakers never got as close to taking the lead again. Xavier Henry struggled until the fourth when he scored 10 of his 12 points.

Tags: Eric Bledsoe Goran Dragic Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Marcus Morris Phoenix Suns

  • SHAZAM

    fantastic having you write for this site jeffrey

  • Al

    Anyone else like Marcus and his high arc shots over a defender? or is it just me? It’s great watching those shots of his fall in the basket. I hated watching Hill score on the Suns. He looked liked a mini Kareem with those hook shots.
    Suns played some decent defense overall. Although I felt that PJ was trying too hard to anticipate Laker plays and gave Kobe open lanes to cut to the basket. It also seemed that Bledsoe or Dragic would get caught on screens and a Big would try to help by double teaming but it was just not very effective.
    Overall, it was a good win, even though it still came down to the wire…kinda…

    I wonder if the Suns will make any trades before the deadline. I was looking at some trade possibilities Suns might make and Gerald Wallace name came up. Would it be surprising if McD called up Boston and offered Okafor for Gerald Wallace, Marshon Brooks, and 1 or 2 first round picks? Wallace is still athletic and can be a good defender on the perimeter. He can also play the four in a small ball lineup and is a good rebounder at his positition. Brooks can be a decent shooter off the bench or he can just be like Wesley Johnson from last year. The objective here would be to acquire the future pick(s) by giving Boston cap relief while also adding some serviceable role player(s).

  • Scott

    It’s nice to see Marcus AND Markieff playing at a fairly high level. Usually they would trade off, one playing well while the other played poorly, but now they are getting to where they are both consistently fair to good.

    Right now, Marcus has a 18 PER and Markieff has a 19 PER, both of which are higher than the PER for anyone on the team at the end of last season.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Markieff played center for nearly the entire 4th quarter.

    Len better buy some more suit coats & ties.

  • foreveris2long

    Shazam I agree with ya that Jeffrey writes an exceptional column. Listening to the Lakers announcers last night was pretty entertaining (always is when they lose). Before the game James worthy said Dragic reminded him of Ginobli and James Harden. However after the game he kept comparing him to Harden. I had never made that comparison before but considering how Harden use to run the point sometimes for OKC and Dragic’s scoring ability, I can see the analogy. They looked really good together last night (not as a couple).

    During the game announcer Stu Lantz commented what a special player Bledsoe was. IMO this was their best game playing together. Both Dragic and Bledsoe took turns attacking and looked comfortable taking turns running the show.

    Hawki funny stuff about Len. I think Coach Horny probably became a little frustrated with Plumlee last night especially at the end of the 1st half when for reason unknown he left Gasol wide open for a 15 footer. He also was not ready for a pass under the basket which should have been an easy layup/dunk.

    Yeah Markief playing in the paint is a welcome site. Marcus, man he has really stepped up his game playing small forward. However you cannot tell Gasol he is a small forward after he blocked his 5 foot shot.

    Archie is still getting decent minutes which is good. He is going to be really good in due time. Yeah Hawk he will not get 20-25 minutes a night that I thought he would get before the season when you were going to institutionalize me for crazy optimism, but he is getting quality minutes.

    Great day to be a Suns fan.

  • chris13akane

    @ al— why would you do such a trade for gerald wallace? we have a good enough rotation to hopefully not qualify for tha playoffs! remember this year is supposed to be tank year to get the highest pick possible! it isnt working quite as well as we hoped we are winning and we are looking really good doing it also! we just need to buy out okafor or trade him for picks! but we cant take on a gerald wallace and give him minutes! we need macus and markieff to get as much playing time as they can to develop. were starting to see some of it now but we can expect more if morris twins starts being consistent they we are gonna be good in 2-3 years!

  • Luka

    The Suns played well on offense. They took advantage of fast break opportunities. The Morris brothers showed up. Dragic had a great game. Bledsoe took it to the basket when he had to. The defense though was somewhat spotty throughout the game. They got the job done though. Timely stops like Markieff’s block on Gasol sealed the win for us.

  • john

    I think it’s abundantly clear at this point that Bledsoe and Dragic are on the same level. Bledsoe looks like he might have another level beyond his current play that he can reach, while I believe this is Goran’s prime (and that’s not a slight on Goran, he’s playing fantastic basketball right now, possibly all-star caliber). It’ll be interesting to see what kind of offers Bledsoe gets in RFA. If someone offers him max, I’m going to be really bummed. I really don’t think he’s worth it, but the Suns will be practically forced to match.

    Anyways, enough with that incoherent rant. It’s fun to be a Suns fan right now. They’re about 7 or 8 wins better than any analyst would have predicted, and I think it’s legit. These guys can ball.

  • Eric

    Chri,s better get use to the idea of the Suns not being in the top ten draft this season just not going to happen probably a 7 or 8 seed or just miss but they have enough picks to get something or get some good players to build on the future. But, enough of this tanking dream it’s for losers and Milwaukee fans.

  • Eric

    No trades unless we are trading Channing Frye, for a real PF but I can stand his terrible defense and lack of rebounding for the occasional offense he brings.

  • EBJM

    Al I think it would be very surprising, Wallace is owed $10 million per through ’15-’16. No way McMiracle gives away his cap space for a player that doesn’t make a difference for the Suns. I like Tucker and Marcus at the “3″ and Frye and Markieff at the “4″, so Wallace is redundant.

    Suns will be at $38 million this summer compared to Boston’s $48 million, why screw that up for Wallace? By the time the Celtics have to pay all those 1st rd players that they will be selecting over the next three seasons Wallace will come off the books.

    Eric, Masai Uriji and the Raptors are the obvious tankers this season. He is going crazy up in Toronto, he just waived D.J. Augustin after dumping Gay for expiring contracts and Hayes who expires the following season.

    After all of that, his payroll will be at $41 million.

    Phoenix will have the 2nd lowest payroll next summer. Some unrestricted free agents this summer will be the Celtic’s Brooks and Humphries. Luol Deng, Alan Anderson, Xavier Henry & Jordan Hill.

    I would rather wait until summer to see the next McMiracle signing or trade and draft picks.

    Phoenix just moved into the 8th spot, a 1st rd match-up against Portland. They are 2-1 against them and then could face the Rockets in the 2nd rd and they are 1-0 so far against them. If the playoffs were to start today.

  • Voqar

    The new GM is making good moves so I’m not going to be too crushed if we don’t get a top 5 pick this year. You don’t necessarily have to sink to rock bottom to rebuild.

    Most of the teams that’ll be so bad they’ll get the top picks are teams that are going to stay bad no matter what picks they get.

    I would’ve preferred a 20+ point crushing of the Lakers and it should’ve been possible. Suns seemed to only play with energy in limited bursts.

    Kobe and Pau look like they’re moving in slow motion – it’s kind of painful to watch.

    I like Plumlee but he needs to be fully engaged at all times. Suns aren’t going to run that many plays for him so when he gets chances he needs to capitalize, not fumble passes that hit him in the hands. Plus, his defense is good but you can’t have brutal lapses totally losing your man – that’s the old suns style, not the new stuns style! I still like to see him in there – his rim protection is often very good and when he’s not in there, there’s little to no backup to perimeter defense.

    Good to see Goodwin get some productive PT.

    I like Green but he doesn’t deliver nearly as well off the bench – something that needs to improve. When he was starting he was making good things happen on both ends of the court. Can’t really start him outside of an injury to 1-3, so he needs to get his head together.

  • Solarion

    And with the 17th pick in the 2014 NBA draft the Phoenix Suns select a player that no one ever heard of, and will not be on the 2014-2015 roster, yay for mediocrity!

  • EBJM

    If the season ended today Phoenix would be selecting at #16 (Wizards), #18 (Their own pick), & #30 (Pacers).
    The Wolves would be at #12 but their pick is protected through #13.

  • Luka

    I’d agree standing pat for the moment seems like a good idea. The Suns don’t have to depend on the draft exclusively to get better. As mentioned they’ll have plenty of cap room and Okafor’s expiring contract to work with.

    As far as Gerald Wallace is concerned he is a good athlete but he’s injury prone, and not a great shooter. Not to mention he’s overpaid. PJ Tucker provides us plenty of defensive toughness and rebounding and doesn’t cost the Suns upwards of 9 million a year.

    IMO the Suns need a rim protector. You’d have hoped Len would’ve filled that role, but he’s definitely looking like a long term project at best. Maybe if we get Okafor healthy we can close that gap.

  • Foreveris2long

    Speaking of rim protectors, which I agree Luka, the Suns could use in a big way, Pau Gasol looks terrible. He is slow and not very athletic. I do not recall him ever looking this bad consistently. The Lakers feel their lack of interior defense is killing them. Someone I would love to have off of their team is Jordan Hill if the price was right this summer and if we cannot get a good four otherwise.

    On another note while creating your xmas list, go to the NBA store online and look at the Suns Second Half jackets for about $100. Actually the Heat have the best one in my opinion with their championship trophy on the back but I like the Suns jacket as well.

  • BUTLER

    Always pleasing to beat the lackers, and this was the first time since J-Rich was a Sun that it happened in LA.

    Looking at the various positions, it appears the Suns have competency across the board. I can’t say there’s one playa on the team I would single out as being ineffective. The Mo Twins seem to be reaching a level of consistency and confidence that overshadows G-Green’s lack of production as a bench wing.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    Forever….Would never dream of having you institutionalized….but you would be the King of all Jailhouse Lawyers :)

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  • Zak

    Almost everyone (including me) usually thinks of Okafor as an expiring contract/trade chip but he’s a pretty good player too. Anyone heard anything about when he might actually be able to play again? He may never actually put on a Suns uniform but once he’s healthy again he becomes an even more attractive trade chip.

  • Foreveris2long

    John, Consistent with your thoughts about Bledsoe, The Bleacher Report said this about him today (It think)

    “But if Phoenix is going to spend its time and energy on anything via the Internet, it should take up a concerted campaign to get Eric Bledsoe into the 2014 All-Star Game. Bledsoe’s overall numbers (18.8 points, 4.2 rebounds, 5.9 assists and 1.6 steals) aren’t on that level just yet, though those from his most recent outing in a win over the Houston Rockets (20 points, seven assists, three rebounds, two steals and a block) point to a player who will be there soon enough.”

  • Foreveris2long

    I meant to say “I think” the article was today.

  • EBJM

    Why get Bledsoe in the All-Star game? That would pretty much guarantee the Suns would have to match a max contract to keep him.

    Dragic has paid his dues, lets get him into the All-Star game!

  • Foreveris2long

    EBJM, I have no problem with Dragic going as I too believes he has played well enough to get consideration for the all-star team.