Evanescent Lakers Visit the Valley of the Rising Suns

Feb 15, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young (0) drives to the basket against Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker in the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports
Feb 15, 2017; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Young (0) drives to the basket against Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker in the first half at Talking Stick Resort Arena. Mandatory Credit: Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports /

Phoenix Suns (21-43) v Los Angeles Lakers (19-45)

Thursday 3/9/2017 8:30pm
Talking Stick Resort Arena, Phoenix, AZ
TNT/Arizona Sports 98.7FM

Season Series – Phoenix leads 2-1
All-Time Series – Los Angeles leads 135-105
Last Matchup – February 13, 2017 Phoenix won 137-101
Suns’ Last Game – Loss to the Washington Wizards 131-127
Lakers’ Last Game – Loss to the Dallas Mavericks 122-111
Suns’ Scoring Averages – PTS/G: 107.8 (10th of 30) Opp PTS/G: 112.8 (29th of 30)
Lakers’ Scoring Averages – PTS/G: 104.0 (19th of 30) Opp PTS/G: 111.0 (27th of 30)


For the majority of the season the Phoenix Suns have found themselves behind the Los Angeles Lakers in the standings, anchoring the Western Conference, and holding the second worst record in the NBA. In recent weeks (as predicted) the Suns have begun to slowly show improvement, while the Lakers have fallen into full-tank mode with the hope of keeping their draft pick this season, which will only occur if it remains in the top-3.

The most recent meeting between these two Pacific Division rivals came on the eve of the NBA All-Star weekend, beginning as a matchup of the two worst teams in the West, and ending with the biggest blowout of the Los Angeles Lakers in Phoenix Suns franchise history, 137-101. Not only did Phoenix dominate from the opening tip and from one end of the court to the other, but the Lakers literally looked as if they did not care to be on the court and were more worried about their bye week plans, and less about the game for which they are paid millions  to play in. For a complete wrapup as well as several fascinating stats about that game, read here.

Since that point the Suns have traded P.J. Tucker, benched Tyson Chandler and Brandon Knight, won three straight for the first time in 475 days, and own a 3-4 record. The Lakers announced Magic Johnson as their new President of Basketball Operations, traded their best player Lou Williams to the Houston Rockets for next to nothing of relevance, and lost six straight (as part of a “we hope we never win again,” eight-game losing streak).

What the Lakers are doing in their attempt to tank for Markelle Fultz or Lonzo Ball is truly spectacular. Of course many Suns fans too have been wanting the Suns to lose as often as possible for the best possible opportunity at selecting number one overall in this summer’s draft. However, Phoenix has at least remained competitive (obviously unfortunately winning a few along the way). The Lakers on the other hand have gone farther into the darkness of tanking than one would have ever thought possible for that franchise, and they will likely entrench themselves in the second worst spot in the draft by weeks end – especially if the Suns beat them tonight (which is expected) and distance themselves by three games in the standings.

Three Interesting Stats

Phoenix Suns

1. This matchup will be the two teams’ 241st regular season clash. The Suns are 16-5 in their last twenty-one games against Los Angeles, their best win-loss record over that stretch of time, ever.

2. The Suns backcourt has feasted on the Lakers this season with Eric Bledsoe averaging 24.7 points, 5.3 rebounds, and 8.0 assists, while Devin Booker is putting up 25.7 points (5th most against any team he has faced this season) 3.3 rebounds, and 4.0 assists.

3. The Suns are 0-19 this season when allowing 120+ points to their opponents and are allowing 115.7 to their opponents since the All-Star break. However, the Lakers are averaging 99.7 points per game since the break and have only scored 100+ three times in their last eight games.

Los Angeles Lakers

More from Valley of the Suns

1. Since Phil Jackson resigned the second time following the 2010-11 season, the Lakers are 170-288. In that same stretch the Suns are 189-269.

2. The Lakers have already missed the playoffs the last three seasons and are expected to miss out this year as well. Their prior longest streak without a playoff appearance is an unbelievably short two seasons set in 1975 and 1976.

3. The statistical next best player on the Lakers behind Lou Williams is/was D’Angelo Russell. He now leads the Lakers in points and assists with 15.0 and 4.8 on the season. Since Lou’s departure, Russell is averaging 20.8 points, 3.0 rebounds, 5.5 assists, and 2.2 steals.