Lakers vs. Suns: In-game report
Suns, 118, Lakers 103 (final)
When the Lakers and Phoenix Suns met twice earlier this season, the Lakers won by double digits each time.
The Suns were looking for a measure of respect from the Lakers, for themselves.
Phoenix got it Monday night at US Airways Center.
The Lakers now have lost two of their last three games.
This one was ugly, the Lakers trailing by as much as 22 points, their porous defense giving up a season-high in points.
Other than Kobe Bryant scoring 34 points, no other Laker really offered much.
As for the Suns, Steve Nash had 14 points and 13 assists, Amare Stoudemire added 26 points and Channing Frye finished with 14 points and 11 rebounds.
The Suns were 12-for-23 shooting (36%) from three-point range.
The Lakers won the first game by 19 points and the second game by 20.
But Lakers Coach Phil Jackson knew that wasn't a true Suns team. Phoenix had played the night before both times.
This time, both the Lakers and Suns had Sunday off, a day to practice and rest before the Pacific Division rivals met.
The Lakers were coming off a double-overtime victory Saturday night at Sacramento, and they never quite looked ready to play. The Lakers seemed to lack energy.Suns 89, Lakers 77 (third quarter)
The Lakers played no defense in the third quarter tonight, allowing the Suns to have their way.
The Lakers gave up a 33-point quarter to the Suns in the third, when Phoenix went five-for-11 shooting from three-point range.
If not for Kobe Bryant scoring 15 points in the third, the Lakers, who once trailed by 19 points, would have been down by more.
The Lakers were making their move in the third, their defense looking better, their offense in a better groove.
Then the Lakers had a slight loss of composure when Derek Fisher was called for fouling Steve Nash on a drive. Fisher than pushed Nash, earning a technical foul.
That seemed to energize the Suns, who went on an 10-0 run to open an 84-66 lead.
Suns 56, Lakers 50 (halftime)
The Lakers had a better effort in the second quarter tonight, but it still wasn't enough for them to overtake the Phoenix Suns by halftime.
Kobe Bryant got hot for the Lakers in the second, scoring 13 points to finish the half with 17.
Amare Stoudemire went to work for the Suns in the second quarter, scoring 10 of his 15 points.
Lamar Odom sprained the index finger on his right hand after he fouled Leandro Barbosa on the head in the second. Odom returned to play later in the quarter.
But that wasn't the only problem for the Lakers in the first half.
Andrew Bynum picked up his third foul in the second quarter and was forced to take a seat.
That forced Lakers Coach Phil Jackson to go to his bench and use third-string center DJ Mbenga.
Bynum had been playing well up to that point. He had scored 10 points, grabbed seven rebounds and blocked one shot in the first half.Suns 25, Lakers 23 (first quarter)
The Lakers were off the mark in the first quarter tonight, shooting just 28% from the floor against the Phoenix Suns.
They looked liked a tired team, like a team that played a double-overtime game the last time they were in action.
The only thing is that the Lakers played two overtimes Saturday and had a day off before playing tonight.
Kobe Bryant, who strained his right elbow against the Kings, was just one-for-five shooting from the filed. Derek Fisher was zero for three and Lamar Odom was one for four.
For the second consecutive game, the Lakers will play without small forward Ron Artest, who was home in Los Angeles recovering from a concussion he sustained Friday night at his home after the Christmas Day game.
Artest saw a neurologist for the third consecutive day Monday, but still wasn't cleared to play tonight when the Lakers face the Suns in Phoenix.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, who still hadn't talked with Artest, said he hoped Artest would be available when the Lakers play the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night at Staples Center.
Without Artest on Saturday night, Jackson started Lamar Odom at small forward.
That gave the Lakers a big frontline of 6-10 Odom and seven-footers Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol against the Sacramento Kings.
Jackson wasn't happy with how that big lineup played, but still was considering starting it again against the Suns.
Jackson said by starting Odom instead of bringing him off the bench like he normally does when Artest is playing "changes our bench entirely."
"It changes how we manufacture the game," Jackson said. "(It changes) how we rest Drew in his period of time, [Derek] Fisher's moments of getting some rest. It changes us up a little bit."
-- Broderick Turner
Photo: Lakers center Andrew Bynum gets past Phoenix's Channing Frye for a shot Monday night. Credit: Mark J. Rebilas / US Presswire
Related: Photos from the Lakers-Suns game