Phoenix Suns 117, Los Angeles Lakers 90 -- Beat(down) LA

PHOENIX — Things have changed since Mike D’Antoni left Phoenix after the 2007-08 season, but the former Suns coach knew that offense still reigned supreme inside US Airways Center.

Asked whether Monday night’s contest between Pacific Division foes would be a shootout, D’Antoni, now in his first full season with the Lakers, didn’t hesitate to respond.

“They’ll be shooting, and I hope we’ll be shooting,” D’Antoni said. “To beat them, we will have to make baskets.”

He was right, but his team was off.

The Lakers, who came into Phoenix without Jordan Farmar (torn hamstring), Kobe Bryant (fracture of the lateral tibial plateau) and Steve Nash (nerve root irritation in his back) looked disheveled, disorganized and at times disinterested in running any semblance of a half-court offense.

Feeling no sympathy for their division rival, the Suns outclassed the Lakers in every imaginable fashion. Miles Plumlee had his way with an ailing Pau Gasol (upper respiratory illness) and Robert Sacre en route to the most complete game of his career (17 points, career-high 20 rebounds and two blocks), Gerald Green kept his hot streak going from the perimeter (24 points on 6-of-11 from three-point range) and Eric Bledsoe feasted on a point guard-less lineup (16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists), as Phoenix ran away with its second win over Los Angeles in less than two weeks by a final of 117-90 — the largest margin of victory in 2013-14.

“With everything that shows up on the stat sheet, I think this was definitely the best game,” Plumlee said. “I left a lot of easy things on the table too, so it’s exciting I guess because I know that I can do a lot better.”

In D’Antoni’s mind, however, Plumlee did more than enough damage.

“You certainly don’t want it to be your opponent,” D’Antoni said of Plumlee’s monster night. “You would rather watch it on SportsCenter. He had a great game. He was dominant on the boards and finished everything around the basket. I have always known he could do that. He did that back in his Duke days. I am certainly proud of him.”

With the win, the Suns extended their home winning streak against the Lakers to five games — the most since a six-game stretch from Nov. 19, 2004 to April 13, 2007.

They also set a season-high with 62 rebounds, hit at least 14 three-point shots for the second consecutive contest and sent Los Angeles home with their worst loss since Oct. 30.

Here’s a look at how the 27-point victory answered Kevin Zimmerman’s pre-game questions.

How does Kendall Marshall look?

Marshall’s highly-anticipated homecoming, albeit unexpected since he was just signed by the Lakers last week, came and went much the same way his one year in Phoenix did. In fact, the former first-round pick played the same role Monday night that he did for most of the first half of his rookie season: bench cheerleader.

For the second time in three games, Marshall appeared headed for a DNP-Coach’s Decision. However, Marshall finally made his triumphant return with 3:49 left in the fourth quarter.

As for how he looked when he got on the court, well, outside of the purple and gold uniform not much else seemed different. Better put, his presence was not really felt. His lone attempt, a three-point shot from the right of the arc, hit off the front rim.

Can the Suns score in the paint?

They can, and they did. However, it took about a half of basketball for their paint prowess to come to the surface.

In the first quarter, the Suns relied on a few putbacks by Plumlee, a few dribble-drive penetration moves by Bledsoe and 13 conversions at the charity stripe to carry them offensively. The three-point shot was the primarily focus in the second frame, as Phoenix hit seven of its 11 attempts, including four by Green. From there, Los Angeles made a concerted effort to lock up the perimeter.

The Suns promptly adjusted with 12 paint points in the opening four minutes and 52 seconds of the third quarter to push their lead to a comfortable 24 points.

For the night, Phoenix scored 40 points in the paint – 24 of which came in the third quarter.

Can Phoenix avoid playing into the Lakers’ hands?

Absolutely. The Suns slowed the game down early on by going deep into shot clock on most possessions, built their lead with free throws, offensive rebounds and three-point shooting, and then let the Lakers shoot themselves out of contention late.

Without the services of Bryant, Farmar and Nash, D’Antoni was forced out of necessity to use Jodie Meeks, Nick Young and Xavier Henry as his primary ball-handlers. The result was ugly to say the least.

The trio along with power forward Shawne Williams had no problem forcing up bad, contested shots whether from just inside or just outside three-point range – playing right into the Suns’ hands.

On the night, Los Angeles shot 37 percent from the field, with Henry, Meeks and Young combining to go 15-of-44.

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  • Al

    Man, this was the best Suns game I’ve seen this season. It was BEAUTIFUL. Always happy when Phoenix beast LA. This Suns team is just one player away in the front court…I wonder if Kevin Love is aware how much Sun fans want him to wear the orange jersey before the end of the trade deadline? He should compare his Minnesota team that lost to the Lakers recently and the Phoenix team that completely dominated today.

  • Jeremiah

    If there is a scenario where we get Love without gutting our core than I would be good with it. Otherwise I would rather just keep these guys together and just build on what we already have. Some of the building might be just developing some of the players already on the roster (Len, Goodwin and even Bledsoe).

  • Al

    The only players that are traded are Frye, Okafor, plus the picks. Suns get Love and random player, Minny gets Monroe & Okafor, Detroit gets Frye and other random player. Plus the Suns picks. It could work.

  • Jeremiah

    I would do that in a heartbeat, but I don’t really see why Detroit or Minny does that trade.

  • Melon Man

    Love does nott bring us a championship.

    Nice to see that Slava almost outrebounded Pau in 3 mins vs 20 mins. Lakers blow.

  • john

    Who does bring the Suns a championship? Is it LeBron or bust? Get real, people. Championships are hard to come by, and they’re not the only thing worth having.

  • hawki

    That was such a thorough beatdown that I almost felt sorry for the lakers.


  • john


    The Lakers could go 50 seasons without scoring a point and I wouldn’t feel even slightly bad for them.

  • JK

    Best game from the Suns that I’ve seen all year. If the Suns continue to succeed and make the playoffs as a 6-seed or higher, I can see several awards heading Phoenix’s way by the end of the season. McMiracle is definitely in the top 3 for the GM of the year award and Hornacek is basically running away with the coach of the year award as of right now. I could see Plumlee earning the Most Improved Player award too if he continues to dominate. Couldn’t be more excited about the Suns’ future now that we have the right people running the show.

  • vtsunrise

    Hawki!!!!! Yer getting soft on us. Go do some suicides!

    Almost sorry? Never.

    This team is a gift. No need to search for some savior, just watch this special thing unfold. I’m with Jeremiah and John. This team has very special chemistry. I don’t see egos. I see young guys who are having a blast and have no pressure, only more and more cohesion with every game.

    And now the league is taking notice and the buzz is building. I’m glad I was in the building to catch the early buzz. And get back on the buzz.

    Play on.

  • Elviro (Italy)

    how beautiful these suns!

    I read kevin love …. is there any chance that changes to orange?

    Of course I’d love to … but I’d hate to sacrifice some of the young players on our team ….

    Frye sacrifice …. but I do not think it can be an exchange feasible …!

  • Foreveris2long

    Count me amongst those who are not a Kevin Love fan. He cannot guard his shadow. If you ever watch an opponent’s broadcast of a game against Minnesota, they will frequently say, get the ball to whoever Love is guarding. I would much rather Monroe from Detroit if he ever becomes available. I am not in a rush to get that power forward.

    I love these Suns. What a beat down of the enemy. We will be on tv next Christmas Planet Orange

  • Voqar

    Great game to watch.

    Why do people waste time coming up with trades that aren’t going to happen?

  • hawki

    My apologies to all Suns fans
    Not sure about the suicides VT, but I will get “back on the buzz” asap.

    Frye’s understudy is now toiling for Michigan St.
    Goes by the name Adreian Payne.

    Another under the radar name to follow:
    Bobby Portis
    The 6’10″ 230 lb freshman plays at Arkansas & can really run the floor and has a pretty good jump shot for such a young (and big) player.

  • EBJM

    Hawki it is too bad we didn’t bet the farm on the Suns over/under win total of 21.5.

    I haven’t been this depressed since I refused to listen to my gut before the Tyson/Douglas fight when the odds were around 32-1!

  • Foreveris2long

    Hawki, You know I have been a Payne fan since last season. He should be attainable with one of the Suns multiple 1st round picks. I have not seen Portis so thanks for the tip. Bleacher Report did an article today on freshmen who should stay another year in school and the first one listed is Zach Levine from UCLA. Their concerns included a weak preseason schedule, weight (180lbs) and questionable ability to get to the rack.

    EBJM I did not know the over/under but admit after the Gortat trade I would have considered the under. With both Green and Plumlee playing out of their mind I would be broke, standing next to the 15 freeway offering to work for a Happy Meal.

  • Foreveris2long

    If you have time for additional reading visit Hoopshype Rumors today as Sarver concedes a couple of things. Way to man up Bob.

  • hawki

    EBJM….If I had a farm to bet, I would have….long gone are the days when I practically lived at Caesars Palace…..remember the Douglas-Tyson fight….Robin Givens had Iron Mike’s mind all messed up…..I think he had just found out that Robin was making it with Brad Pitt.

    Forever…..NBA Draft Net has Zack Levine going in the Top 5…..crazy…..he definitely needs another year at UCLA.

  • Jeremiah

    Just looking at the numbers that Payne is putting up this and I have to imagine he goes top 10. The only hope we have for drafting him is to hope that teams will pass because they feel he is an old prospect due to playing 4 years in college. Though for people like me that just means he should be more NBA ready.

  • hawki

    Jeremiah…..I haven’t seen a mock draft yet that has Payne going in the top 10…most likely for the reason you cited…of course, things can change but I see Payne going in the mid to late teens.
    If there’s a better 3 pt shooting PF in college basketball, I haven’t seen him… he is very rugged on the boards.

    MERRY CHRISTMAS Everyone !

  • vtsunrise

    Forever, thanks for the Hoopshype Rumors tip. Even better is the original article in full:–surprising-season-began-with-change-in-philosophy-025610267.html

    Anyone who is not on the bus now is missing something special. This is not a fluke, just smart management too long in the making.

  • foreveris2long

    vt, I just read the complete Yahoo article. The Suns vision was great to read on Christmas morning. McD is not a fan of chasing ping pong balls as he believes it is often a recipe for disaster as too many good things have to happen to make it work.

    For the first time in many years I believe with a winning record, great coach, great GM and a pretty young team, the Suns will be in the mix for prime time free agents. Yeah vt this is an accelerated turn around that no one should miss. Thanks for the article and Happy Holidays.

    Hawki, I too doubt Payne goes in the top ten and could be available with one of the Suns picks. If he is not he could be in reach if we chose to moderately move up in the draft. Merry Christmas.

  • john

    If I were a betting man, I would have bet a month’s salary on the over, even after the Gortat trade. That was an easy call, in my mind. I didn’t think they’d be as good as they are now, but it takes an awful team to get 21 wins or fewer. The Suns had too much talent and youth to win fewer than 21.

  • Eric

    As big ten fan have watched Ap for 4 years and he will be an avg pro at best great college player but McGary or Ejim from Iowa State would be better for Suns. McGary’s injuries worry me but a big man who can pass and dribble and run the floor along w the effort Plumdogg brings every night is what I want. Payne takes nights off all the time stay away from AP. McGary, Ejim, Randle of course or maybe CJ Fair from Cuse as a 3 would work well w the Suns. That great white hope from Wisconsin could be a perfect Suns players as well.

  • foreveris2long

    Eric, Your points are noted. I will takes a peak at Mcgary and others you mentioned.

    John, props to you and others who thought this would be a 20 plus win team after Gortat trade. Other than Bledsoe who had never been a regular NBA starter and Dragic, I did not see any dependable talent. Plumlee only played 55 minutes last season and Green who did not play much in Indiana, Len coming off of double ankle surgery and Frye recovering from a heart condition gave the Suns many more questions than answers. I honestly did not see the talent or experience.

    Either way I am really enjoying this ride as they are wildly exceeding my expectations.

  • vtsunrise

    Imagine being a Brooklyn Nets fan. Imagine being the owner. Of course, he can afford to piss away money, but what an absolute waste.

  • vtsunrise

    I meant Brooklyn Nyets.

  • Scott

    @hawki -

    Portis seems like he might wind up being a Goodwin-like pick, in a way. If he declares, he could be a late first rounder because he’s young, has unknown potential, but seems a cut above the guys who usually make up the 2nd round. A team would have to give him time to develop.

    I’d circle that name and – at this very early date – say that’s who the Suns take with a late first round pick.

    As for the other sorts of comparisons to Goodwin, I don’t have enough scouting on Portis to judge. As usual, though, I’d be looking for a young guy with IQ, good work ethic, motor, defense, character, lateral quickness, wingspan, toughness, killer instinct, and preferably elite athleticism.

    So far, a high percentage of players on the DX draft board are lacking these characteristics.

    Suns might also take lesser twin Aaron Harrison, if he declares, … because. ;)

  • hawki

    @ Scott

    Had a nightmare that the Suns took the Harrison twins in the 1st round and the Wear twins (UCLA) in the 2nd round.

    @ Eric
    Thanks for the info…
    Have you seen Georges Niang (6’7″ 245 lb Iowa St. soph) play & if so, what are your thoughts ?
    Guy put up big numbers as a true frosh last year.

  • vtsunrise

    @ Hawki, For the nightmares, I think you could see a therapist.
    For the double vision, here’s a link.
    Good luck good luck.

  • EBJM

    From that artickle VT linked us to:

    “McDonough had long scouted Plumlee, studied him closely in the summer league, and Forever believed he was a starting NBA center.”

    Forever, I knew you were consulting with McMiracle! Next time you guys chat ask him if he is considering bringing Okafur into the mix.

  • EBJM

    In regards to those who believe the Rockets were desperately seeking a stretch four for Asik did you watch the Christmas game with the Spurs and Rockets?

    Terrance Jones had a monster game with 21/14/3 and Howard had 15/20/2. Duncan did go for 11/14/6 but his Spurs lost. Daryl Morey would rather keep an unhappy Asik than give him away. Asik didn’t even play in that game.

    Doug Collins thinks the Suns are for real and he believes they should make a trade for a player that could put Phoenix in the same mix as the Spurs and Rockets.

    It is rather strange with all the talk about the Suns that we can’t get any word on Okafur’s health and whether he could help Phoenix this year.

  • Al

    Did anyone else feel like Miami went easy on the Lakers until the last quarter? It seems they didn’t want to blow them out and kept it mildly entertaining for the audience.

  • hawki

    VT….I called up the Mayo Clinic & they sent me the Foreigner CD “Double Vision” :)

    Caught some of the lakers v heat Christmas game

    Looked like the lakers were playing in their underwear.

  • vtsunrise

    @EBJM, I see you capitalized on a good story.

    @ Hawki, call them back and see if you can change it for Stevie Ray and Double Trouble.

  • Dave:f32

    @Al -

    Omg! I thought that very same thing while watching the Heat/Lakers game.

    It seemed like the Heat were just pacing themselves to keep it competitive until the last qtr, when it could have easily been a blowout, but wasnt.

    Another thing, i thought it somewhat convenient in content and timing when the Wade-to-James alleyoop was followed up so neatly with footage of Wade’s kids coincidently practicing and finishing that same alleyoop in their hotel room the night before!

    Great timing just in time for a holiday telecast. Nice ;)

  • foreveris2long

    EBJM, Man McD has this Suns team under total control. I doubt he seeks outside advice. The Suns remind you a little of the CIA, so secretive. Anyway at least we received a slight clue that we may see Len in January in his uniform. Okufur remains CLASSIFIED and they are not going to let guys like you and I who have trouble with background checks, get our hands on this sensitive information.

    With Plumlee playing so well I can see the temptation to add a defensive minded power forward to try and make considerable playoff noise now. If they do that I hope he is 26 years old or younger or has an expiring contract in the 2014 summer. If they wait I am ok with that as well as opposed to getting someone with 3 or 4 years left on their deal who has a big hole in their game.

    Dave:32 those were the James boys not Wade’s. However I agree the timing was excellent. Yeah it was an enjoyable game and like you said it seemed as though the Heat were always in control.

  • EBJM

    Hey Forever, I’ll throw this name out there just for giggles as he fits your criteria.

    28 year-old Kris Humphries, a former #14 pick of the Jazz.

    He is the odd man out in Boston, playing behind Bass and Sullinger and sometimes at center.

    Humphries has talent. The 6-foot-9 power forward averaged 13.8 points and 11 rebounds during the 2011-12 season, and two years in a row landed in the top 10 in the league in both total rebounds and total rebound percentage. If you guys recall, he always seemed to have career rebounding games against Phoenix.

    Like Okafor he has an expiring contract and McMiracle could probably send Okafor and a 2nd rd pick for him, seeing as Ainge is McMiracle’s old boss.

  • Scott

    I think we’re not hearing about Okafor simply because medical news is slow in coming. Think about how long we had to wait for updates on Frye’s condition.

    I’ve read elsewhere that Okafor will probably have a medical review and injury update in January.

  • Foreveris2long

    EBJM, I like the way you think, low risk and potential reward as Humphries is a good rebounder and decent defender. His career went down hill after Kim K. dumped him but hopefully he is over her by now. This is genuinely a good suggestion.

  • EBJM

    You know Forever that trade is actually a possibility seeing as how the Celtics want a true center and went after Asik hard but refused to cave in to Morey’s outrageous asking price.

    BUT, who do rather have, Humphries or a healthy Okafor?

    I’m going with Okafor.

  • john

    If you want a center, there’s no question you’d want okafor, I agree. I hope the Suns can turn him into something, but it’s looking more and more like the only thing he’s good for is his expiring contract.