Preview: Los Angeles Lakers (14-24) vs. Phoenix Suns (21-16)

Posted by on January 15th, 11:05 am

Time: 7 p.m. MST

TV: FSA

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There are many reasons for Suns fans to start panicking over the team’s 2-5 record since Eric Bledsoe has been out of the lineup, and rightfully so.

Outside of Goran Dragic’s abilities, you do not know what you are going to get from the offense on a consistent basis. The team has been among the bottom of the league in rebounding throughout the season and more recently the bench has not been producing. Even with the struggles, the Suns still sit in the top-eight in the Western Conference and were in position to win four games instead of lose four if they got a couple of bounces on their recent road trip.

With that said, the Suns enter what I am calling a make-or-break stretch of their schedule if they want to be true contenders for a playoff spot.

You may think it is too early for such talk being that it is only Jan. 15, but the schedule says otherwise.

From now through a game against the Chicago Bulls on Feb. 4, the Suns only play four games against teams with plus .500 records, including Indiana twice, Dallas at home and another home game against a Denver team that is just one game over .500. The Suns’ three road games outside of Indiana are against three of the bottom-five teams in the Eastern Conference.

That is a very manageable 11-game stretch without Bledsoe that gives the Suns a chance to right the ship.

After that it doesn’t look too bright. Six of the next seven after the Chicago game are against some of the top teams in the league, including Miami, San Antonio, Golden State and Houston.

We have no idea when Bledsoe is going to be coming back, but it won’t be until after those 18 games at the absolute earliest. If the Suns tank these next 11, they very well may be out of the playoff race by the end of February. And March gives them no favors to get back in it under that scenario.

The Suns’ final 21 games feature four road back-to-backs with four of the final five coming away from U.S. Airways Center. With or without Bledsoe, that is a daunting task.

Based on the schedule, the Suns most important 11 game stretch begins tonight against a tired Los Angeles Lakers team that played late the night before.

Here are the pregame questions for tonight’s game.

Who is going to help out Goran Dragic on offense?

Dragic is coming off a 48-minute performance in New York that saw him tire out in overtime. His legs were just not there at the end of the overtime period to finish his shots and that is due to a mixture of it being the end of a road trip and his increased workload of the team depending on him in the past week. Until Gerald Green heats up again, someone needs to step up and take the pressure off Dragic. Barbosa helped out in the fourth quarter of the New York game, but they need it all game long. I am looking at the Morris brothers to pick up the slack. Green and Channing Frye are both streak shooters that bring a different dynamic to the offense when they are on. P.J. Tucker has limited offensive skills and Miles Plumlee is usually a 10-14 point guy in the post, at best.

That brings me back to the Morris brothers. Markieff is just one for his last nine with an inexcusable early ejection in New York. His absence forced Hornacek to go to a four guard offense at one point that allowed the Knicks to score six straight points before quickly getting out of it. Marcus has been a bit better the past two games but overall has only averaged 8.7 points per game this month. I am looking for one of these two to get going and help Dragic carry the load.

Can the Suns start fast?

The Lakers are not a good basketball team and they will quit if they get down early as we saw in the teams’ previous meeting at U.S. Airways Center. The Lakers lost a tough 120-118 game to the Cleveland Cavaliers last night and if the Suns can open up a double-digit lead early and force the Lakers to play from behind, then I can see them cruising to this victory.

Can the Lakers hit some threes?

The Purple and Gold get dependent on the three-point shot. Most notably it is important not to let their irrational confidence guy, Nick Young, get going. Last night he led the team with 28 points on 4-for-8 shooting from behind the arc. Jodie Meeks also made 6-of-10 last night and our old Friend Wesley Johnson is capable of shooting from deep. A key tonight is to shut down the Lakers deep shooting game.

Jeffrey Sanders

Jeffrey Sanders is a ValleyoftheSuns staff writer currently working toward his degree in broadcast journalism at Arizona State University. He is also involved in on-campus groups, such as the Blaze 1330 AM and CronkiteSports.com.

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Tags: Los Angeles Lakers · Phoenix Suns · Phoenix Suns Preview

19 responses so far ↓

  • 1 EBJM // Jan 15, 2014 at 11:46 am

    The Warriors G.M. Bob Meyers just pulled off a McMiracle trade making the Warriors even deeper than they already were.

    He acquired PG Jordan Crawford and wing MarShon Brooks from the Celtics by sending Toney Douglas to the Heat. The Heat dump the contract of Joel Anthony onto the Celtics who received a 1st and 2nd for their troubles.

    Suns could have used Crawford and Brooks if the Celtics were giving them away.

    Lakers have their own pick, they should go for maximum lottery ping pong balls.

  • 2 sunsn7 // Jan 15, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    Bring on the PURPLE TANK

  • 3 sunsn7 // Jan 15, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    ….but BEAT L.A.!

  • 4 sunsn7 // Jan 15, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    Kendall Marshall 10 pts 16 ast last night against Kyrie Irving and the Cavs. Wonder how many to’s he had. Anyhow should make for an interesting matchup with Dragic.

  • 5 EBJM // Jan 15, 2014 at 1:40 pm

    He only had three which is his season average with the Lakers through 10 games.

    10 pts/8 dimes/-3 boards/3 T.O. while starting 6 out of 10 games.

    The Lakers are 1-9 in their last 10 and have lost 5 straight.

  • 6 Go Phx // Jan 15, 2014 at 2:08 pm

    We don’t need more so-so guards. Glad we didn’t get in on that. We need forwards. As for tonight, we are going to demolish the Fakers.

  • 7 EBJM // Jan 15, 2014 at 3:06 pm

    Crawford and Brooks are upgrades from Smith and Christmas that didn’t cost much.

    In 39 games replacing Rajon Rondo he is averaging 14 & 6. He is only 25 and 6′-4″.

    Brooks averaged over 12 points per as a rookie for the Nets while earning All-rookie 2nd team.

    Dionte Christmas is not an NBA player.

  • 8 Zak // Jan 15, 2014 at 3:36 pm

    I’m glad McD didn’t get involved in this trade. Crawford and Brooks would only be marginal upgrades and wouldn’t be able to be included in any other trades this season. That could limit the Suns trade options later and with over a month until the trade deadline I wouldn’t want them to do that.

    I really don’t expect the Suns to do any big trades this season but doing small trades before the deadline could limit their opportunity to get involved in one in the future if the opportunity presents itself.

  • 9 EBJM // Jan 15, 2014 at 4:15 pm

    Marginal? Smith has only started seven games his entire career and is only 6′-0″. He gives the Suns 3/2.

    Christmas sucked so bad when he finally got some burn, the Suns went out and signed Barbosa. Brooks started as a rookie and scored 12 points per game.

    I really don’t mind the hating but at least be smart about it.

    Who cares if Crawford and Brooks couldn’t be traded again this year? By saying that you are implying Christmas and Smith are valuable trading chips, which they aren’t.

    The were minimum contract roster filler on a Suns team that was clearing cap space.

    Crawford and Brooks have STARTED a combined 148 games between them in their young careers. Marginal upgrades? That is just comical to say the least.

    The Warriors dump Toney Douglas who failed in D’Antoni’s SSOL and get TWO experienced youngsters in return, one (Crwford) a PG specifically obtained to back Stephen Curry and it is insignificant?

    Since getting Iggy back the Warriors are 9-1 and just improved their bench while Phoenix has gone 4-6 while losing Bledsoe. During Barbosa’s BEST season he only averaged 4 dimes per game and that was seven seasons ago.

    As Hawki recently pointed out Barbosa still CANNOT find the open man when he drives to the rim. He never could. His game his head down drives full-speed to the basket OR stopping at the three-point and jacking up threes like Frye.

  • 10 EBJM // Jan 15, 2014 at 4:18 pm

    BTW Barbosa himself has only started 111 games and he is seven years older than Crawford or Brooks.

  • 11 Zak // Jan 15, 2014 at 5:05 pm

    I’m just glad the McD is the Suns GM instead of you EBJM.

    YES, Crawford and Brooks are better players than Smith and Christmas. But Smith and Christmas can be used as “filler” in future trades where Crawford and Brooks could not.

    If you have a crystal ball and are willing to predict that Crawford and/or Brooks are going to be future NBA stars, please do so. Otherwise – I REPEAT – they would be MARGINAL upgrades for the Suns this season and limit their ability to trade later on.

    The Suns don’t need more guards. They need a PF. Barbosa is a short-term solution to Bledsoe’s injury.

    I really don’t care if agree with me or not. What is really “comical” is that you somehow think that my admittedly amateur opinions deserve a response!

  • 12 Dave:f32 // Jan 15, 2014 at 5:11 pm

    Kendall Marshal is a smug arrogant prick and a self-absorbed punk! He has no game, and i hope that life deals him a little bit of humility. As for him becoming a Laker starter, it only took 5 PGs to become injured before he got some burn, if thats saying anyhing about Kendoll’s game.

    I recently was on a bball site and happened to see a real mature tweet from KButter where he posted a pic of a receipt from a restaurant he ate at.

    Right on the receipt where it said Tip, he wrote “Nah” and circled it and the cheap bastard left without tipping out! On a bill for right around 23 bucks! What are they paying 2nd year scrubs these days?

    Dude is bad news. Period!

  • 13 Dave:f32 // Jan 15, 2014 at 5:21 pm

    @EBJM -

    I agree with you on the Brooks/Crawford stance but disagree about the Barbosa stance.

    Suns need to do any and everything possible to upgrade and if they were giving these players away, McD Celtics connect should have facilitated for far better talent than Smith and Christmas.

    Barbosa does what he does best, which is to score.

    I have seen some passes within the offense recently that show he understanda how to play in this Suns system far better than others on this team.

    You dont sign LB expecting him to dish like a Nash and rack up assists so c’mon and let Barbosa do his thing. The reason they got him is because of NEED! So lets welcome him back ti the Suns fam with open arms!

    #NBASixthMan #LB10

    Hes better coming off the bench but with this squad has to start and finish games.

  • 14 sunsn7 // Jan 15, 2014 at 6:07 pm

    Damn didnt hear that noise about Marshall but cant say im surprised..Wouldn’t trade for guards…

    unless its Dragic for Rajon Rondo..Yep.

  • 15 Suns Fan in Portland // Jan 15, 2014 at 7:38 pm

    Dragic > Rondo…

  • 16 J // Jan 15, 2014 at 7:48 pm

    Markieff comes out playing well offensively. McD needs to be dialing up people at half time trying to make a deal… Dragic looks like his ankle is bugging him. And Nick Young is a punk and about as stupid as they come.

  • 17 sunsn7 // Jan 15, 2014 at 8:20 pm

    Great job by Alex Len getting ejected!

    Seriously

  • 18 Phoenix Suns 121, Los Angeles Lakers 114 – No love for Kendall // Jan 15, 2014 at 10:16 pm

    […] To Jeff Sanders’ preview questions. […]

  • 19 Rudy // Mar 12, 2014 at 7:17 am

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