The Lakers have played much improve ball as of late. Their 11-4 record since the All-Star break is proof of that. However, sometimes a team just has one of those nights, and hopefully for the Lakers, Monday’s game against the Phoenix Suns was just that.
The Lakers played with little energy from tip-off to the ending buzzer. In the fourth quarter of last night’s game, the Lakers were outscored 28-10 by the Suns, with the Lakers only shooting 19 percent in the closing quarter. It appeared as if the Lakers simply ran out of steam, and the younger Suns took complete advantage of that fact.
Steve Nash posted a team-high 19 points, but only earned four assists in 32 minutes. Nash played 35 minutes on Sunday night against the Sacramento Kings. The 39 year old veteran said after the game on Monday:
“We just hit the wall,” Nash said. “Our ninth game in 14 days in seven cities and you could just kind of see the wheels fall off. Especially lately, with some guys being injured, we’ve been playing a seven-man rotation and I think it caught up with us a little bit. Our legs just came undone.”
Phoenix, who has a younger roster, used their youth, athleticism and fresh legs to capitalize on the Lakers apparent fatigue. However, the team is choosing to move on from Monday’s game, get rested and rejuvenated and regroup to get back on track. As Dwight Howard put it after the game:
“We did miss a lot of shots and they made a lot of shots but we were a step slow tonight,” Howard said. “They capitalized. All their guys hit tough shots and they were running the floor. They had a good game. It’s one game. We can’t allow it to stop us from what our mission is.”
The Lakers can’t afford many mistakes, and really have no room for error. Therefore, games like Monday cannot be repeated. Fortunately for the Lakers, they have three days off until their game against the Washington Wizards on Friday.
Also, the Utah Jazz lost last night, meaning the Lakers remain one game ahead of them in the standings. Finally, Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol are both hopeful to return to the lineup on Friday, which will be essential for the team to make its final push this season.