Phoenix Suns 121, Los Angeles Lakers 114 – No love for Kendall


PHOENIX – Kendall Marshall pumped in his second three-pointer to give the Los Angeles Lakers a 13-point lead with three minutes left in the first half. He jawed at the Phoenix Suns bench with a smile as he ran back down on defense.

If the Suns didn’t have enough motivation before — like a three-game losing skid and in simply playing the rival Lakers — then they did now.

The way Phoenix went at their former lottery selection in a 121-114 win on Wednesday was as aggressive as the franchise was to rid itself of the Lance Blanks era. In the third quarter, Goran Dragic put the pedal to the floor when Marshall was assigned to him. When the Lakers switched their point guard onto Gerald Green, Phoenix showed Marshall no mercy, sending Green into the post.

Green finished with 28 points, his rhythm finally found thanks on post-up attempts and fadeaways, most of which were over Marshall.

And as it is any time the Lakers and Suns meet, there was drama. A Kobe-less, Nash-less, Bledsoe-less game couldn’t stop that.

[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NfYh9iW4ZN4&w=560&h=315]

With the Suns leading 36-35 and 7:33 to play in the first half, Nick Young took two Alex Len hands to the face on a dunk attempt, and after a hard foul came up shoving the Suns rookie. A brief scuffle ensued. It included a few pushy Morris twins and then Dragic taking Young’s elbow to his face.

An apparently complicated play finally resulted in Len’s ejection with a Flagrant 2 foul, Young’s ejection for hitting Dragic and a technical on Marcus Morris for shoving Young.

Jeff Hornacek earned his own technical with four minutes left in the first half after he decided to walk onto the court to contest whether a block on a Gerald Green dunk was in fact a foul.

Yep. It was your classic Suns-Lakers battle with the Suns running off 36 fastbreak points to edge themselves ahead of the injury-plagued Purple and Gold.

To Jeff Sanders’ preview questions.

Who is going to help out Goran Dragic on offense?

Markieff Morris seemingly got the hint. Hornacek had played the power forward for eight minutes against the Detroit Pistons before he was ejected just nine minutes into the game on Monday against the Knicks.

Morris hit his first three shots, first going into the paint and drawing a foul on an aggressive spin move, then hitting a three-pointer. He scored 24 points to go with seven rebounds and four assists.

In the third quarter, Green scored 16 points after getting going with Marshall on his back, and Channing Frye also added 20 points.

Can the Suns start fast?

They started fast alright, and they did so by attacking Kendall Marshall on the first play. But after trying to separate with a first unit that was beating the Lakers down the floor, the second unit defense – Markieff Morris especially – had issues with big man Chris Kaman, who scored six straight inside as Los Angeles took a 27-26 lead after the first quarter.

Kaman scored 18 points against the smaller Phoenix bench. The Suns’ second unit didn’t help as they fell behind 56-43 late in the second quarter before a rally put the score at 58-54 going into the halftime intermission.

Can the Lakers hit some threes?

The Lakers started 1-for-8 until Kendall Marshall hit a 26-footer atop the arc with the shot-clock winding down. Jodie Meeks added another a minute later to give the Lakers their biggest lead to that point, 49-41.

Marshall’s second made three gave the Lakers their largest lead of the game, but in the end Los Angeles hit just 6-of-20 three-point attempts. Phoenix did little better in going 4-for-19.

  • CART jeff

    Gerald Green looked Pippen like. Fantastic. He should average 19+a night. Now the staff has to work with Plumlee. The baby-hook is just ineffective. A very low percentage shot. I will take a square up 15′ jump shot over a 4′ baby hook every time. Go Suns!

  • ShanMan

    Didn’t watch the game, but saw the highlights. I question whether Len hitting Young was on purpose or if it was because he is an inexperienced 7 foot oafs. He was looking at the ball the whole time so who knows. Young was probably like what’s going on? The same guy offered to help me up while pushing me at the same time. haha. Poor Dragic always getting hit in the face.
    Glad to see the Suns take this game. Would have been bad news if they are slumping so bad to no beat this Lakers squad.

  • ShanMan

    By the way, how mind numbingly bad is the East this season? The Suns would be 3rd place over there. The East is almost as bad as the typos in my previous post.

  • Voqar

    What’s silly is, yeah, len hit young in the face – so lightly it was almost a caress. Later in the game Kaman brutalized one of our players – a very hard foul – a clean hard foul – but it was 10x as “flagrant” as the one Len did. But as per utterly stupid NBA rules contact with the head, even if it’s minimal, is penalized, and a “clean hard foul” that could cause amputation is just dandy.

    It’s about as stupid as replay being used – but not to get calls right or to call fouls that were missed…but to see which team gets possession…usually in cases where one player was mugged and there was no call.

    I like how the refs can’t SEE a blatantly obvious clear path (the one on marshal) and need to replay that to figure it out. 3 refs. Blatant clear path. Not one of them was paying attention? Nice.

    Anyways.

    Suns are really lackluster lately. The energy isn’t there consistently. Hopefully it’s just being weary from the road trip and having to deal with horrible officiating for the 5 games of the trip.

    And where was LB tonight? He’s looked better than I expected. Pretty sad that Goodwin couldn’t get much PT even without LB playing…and he even played well during his 90 seconds. At least he didn’t put Xmas in.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com hawki

    ShanMan….”I question whether Len hitting Young was on purpose or because he is an inexperienced 7 foot oaf” ?

    answer….he is an inexperienced 7 foot oaf

  • foreveris2long

    I think that was a legitimate flagrant foul by Len as he struck Young in the head/face without making a play on the ball. What made it worse was Young was defenseless as he had already left his feet. I think in most games Len gets ejected. However I am glad Morris twins were there to protect Len and shove Young around.

    What is kind of funny is Lakers announcers Worthy and Horry were critical of the four other Lakers who were on the court at the time of the altercation who did not come to help or protect Young from being bounced around. The one they were the most critical of was our boy K. Marshall as he apparently just stood and watched from the top of the key. They interviewed Marshall after the game and Marshall essentially said Young overreacted. I suspect he and Young will have words later.

    In his brief stint, Len looked good mixing it up before getting the boot. He will likely get suspended for the next game for the flagrant 2 foul.

  • foreveris2long

    You have to love Green for acknowledging his short comings against the Knicks and balances his shots against the Lakers with shots in the key and perimeter jumpers. That type of balance will make him a much better player. I think I saw in the other Zimmerman article Green is going to pay the fine for Len. I am becoming a huge Green fan.

    Nice of Markieff to show up and make some layups.

  • http://valleyofthesuns.com Emanuel

    Suns are lacking energy right now, guys are walking the ball up the court…….that is not their game……i’ll take the win, but these guys need to step on the gas……Go Suns……..

  • BCrayZ

    @Emanuel – Coach Jeff & I both agree with this.

    This is why I’m concerned that Leandrinho is hurt.

    Suns desperately need him healthy again & back to his game. Just look what he did to those poor Knickerbockers before he left the game. Gogi (Dragic) & Chinga (Frye) love playing with “The Blur”. Have him start & finish in Eric’s spot. Make it so Jeff.

    MUST start & finish with LB. Let’s go SUNS!!!!

  • http://thehardwoodboreal.blogspot.com m.i.milliman

    I know I’m late but someone needs to let Swaggy know that in a fight, nobody’s intimidated by the guy with the self given moniker Swaggy P.

    A few things I learned last night: Swaggy P hates foreigners, Marshell is better than I thought but still not very good, and the Suns miss Bledsoe.

    The Suns have a very fragile ecosystem, and when that ecosystem is disrupted, like is is with Bledsoe out, than they stuggle against teams like the Lakers. If thats the case, they’ll be out of the playoffs this year. Either way, it’s still a fun team to watch night in and night out. Dragic is so my favorite player right now.