Suns and Lakers Fight for Last Place in the West

Phoenix Suns (17-39) v Los Angeles Lakers (19-38)

Wednesday 2/15/2017 7pm
Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ
Fox Sports Arizona/Arizona Sports 98.7FM

Season Series – Series Tied 1-1
All-Time Series – Los Angeles leads 135-104
Last Matchup – December 9, 2016 Phoenix won 119-115
Suns’ Last Game – Loss to the New Orleans Pelicans 110-108
Lakers’ Last Game – Loss to the Sacramento Kings 97-96
Suns’ Scoring Averages – PTS/G: 106.4 (11th of 30) Opp PTS/G: 112.6 (29th of 30)
Lakers’ Scoring Averages – PTS/G: 104.5 (19th of 30) Opp PTS/G: 110.3 (27th of 30)

Preview

Two teams headed in the same direction – down – face off tonight in the Valley of the Suns, each hoping for the goal of a top-three pick, though each with a different perspective on the pick itself.

The Phoenix Suns received two first-round picks from the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade for Steve Nash in 2012. One of the picks was highly protected in the lottery, with it transferring to the Suns in 2017 should it fall outside of the top-3. In 2015 Phoenix traded the pick to the Philadelphia 76ers, essentially for Brandon Knight, but the Lakers, who were hoping that the addition of Nash in 2012 would have helped them to win a Championship, have since faded from serious competition and would like to retain that pick for one more season.

Therefore, they are tanking, and tanking hard.

Phoenix on the other hand too is looking for a very high pick of their own, though they are still attempting to remain as competitive as possible with the hopes that that competition drives growth among the team’s younger players. The impending trade deadline also plays a role in the Suns’ attempted to win vs tank as the Suns may trade players that hurt the Suns this season or help them though addition by subtraction. There is certainly also the variable that the Suns add someone that helps immediately, though based on what General Manager Ryan McDonough appears to be searching for, that seems unlikely.

Either way, tonight’s game should be a very competitive game, of sorts, not only because of the natural rivalry, but because the fans of each team want a loss, and so too many the franchises themselves.

5 Interesting Facts

Phoenix Suns

1. Although both teams have struggled for the most part in the past five seasons, Phoenix is 13-5 against the Lakers since the 2012-13 season, the best 18-game stretch vs the Lakers in Phoenix Suns history.

2. The Suns backcourt of Eric Bledsoe and Devin Booker have had their way against the Lakers this season averaging a combined 51.5 points, 9 assists, 5 rebounds, and 2.5 steals.

3. This season the Suns have upped their three-point shooting average against the Lakers, averaging an even 38.0%, nearly four percentage points above their season average.

4. The Suns’ two-headed rebounding monster of Tyson Chandler and Alex Len are each averaging double-figures in rebounding for a combined 23 rebounds per game against LA.

5. Brandon Knight was either feast or famine against the Lakers this season, scoring only 2 points on November 6, but also 14 points on December 9.

 

Los Angeles Lakers

1. Lou Williams is averaging a career-high 18.5 points this season for the Lakers. The 35 points he scored against the Suns on December 9 is still the second-highest scoring night on the season for him, coming only a few games after his season-high of 40 points against the Memphis Grizzlies.

2. Though not necessarily a scoring center, Timofey Mozgov has only reached double-digits in scoring 17 times this season. He is also averaging 4.9 rebounds and has reached double-digits in rebounds – twice. By comparison, Brandon Knight, who has had an awful year, has reached double-digit scoring 34 times, and Eric Bledsoe has reached double-digit rebounding once, though he too averages 4.9 rebounds per game.

3. Prior to 2013-14, the Lakers franchise – including both Minneapolis and Los Angeles – had finished a regular season at or below a .333 win percentage only twice in their franchises history, in 1957-58 and 1959-60 both in Minneapolis. The Lakers are currently at .333 this season, for the fourth year in a row at or below that level.

4. Do not expect many assists in tonight’s game as the two teams are two of the worst-5 teams in assist in the league, the Suns anchoring the league at 30th, with the Lakers in 26th.

5. Although the Suns are the league’s worst fouling team at 24.9 per game, the Lakers are fouled 4th least in the NBA at 18.8 per game.