The Los Angeles Lakers found out before the tip that star Kobe Bryant would not play in tonight’s game. Bryant had not missed a game for quite some time, so it was definitely unusual to see him not in action.
The Lakers were coming off a tough loss to the Houston Rockets, so there was no doubt they wanted to come into this game and restore order.
The Los Angeles Lakers did not have Kobe Bryant for this game, but they did not lose a step on the offensive end. The Lakers were hitting their shots and everyone, including Devin Ebanks, contributed for the Lakers. The offense was running smoothly and the Lakers were playing well on both ends of the court. With 7:21 left in the quarter, the Lakers were up 12-8.
The Lakers’ big men played very aggressive in the opening quarter as they had to dominate the scoring load with Kobe Bryant out. Gasol started off by hitting four of his first six shots, whereas Bynum had a slow start with 1-7 from the field. However, Ebanks’ six points helped fill the void for Bynum’s bad start, and the Lakers led 18-12 with 4:59 remaining in the period.
Despite the continued struggles of Bynum, the other Lakers players stepped up big and maintained a lead. Gasol led the way for the Lakers with ten points, and five other Laker players scored in the opening quarter. After 12 minutes of play, the Lakers held an eight point lead, 32-24.
The Suns opened the quarter with some added energy and they were doing whatever they could to cut into the lead. The team was hitting some outside jumpers and their bench players were knocking down open shots. However, the Lakers answered back on nearly every possession and were controlling the offensive glass. Eventually the momentum was too hard to overcome and the Lakers allowed the Suns to get back into the game. With 9:06 left in the quarter, the Lakers were up just three, 38-35.
The Lakers could not regain their confidence and once the Suns put a dent into the lead, they did not fall back. The Lakers’ defense was not as strong as it was before, and they were lucky that shots were falling on the offensive end. Gasol’s 14 points were extremely valuable, but Michael Redd for the Suns completely changed the landscape of the game. He scored 12 consecutive points for the Suns and gave them a 45-44 lead with 6:00 left in the half.
The Suns eventually took over the game and they continued to ride the hot hand of Redd. Phoenix was rolling on both ends of the court and tensions began to rise on the Lakers’ side. Redd was absolutely on fire for the Suns and the Lakers had no answer for the Olympic gold medalist. He scored 17 points in ten minutes for the Suns, and led them to a 54-48 lead with 3:34 remaining in the period.
The Lakers did make a nice push towards the end of the half, but their momentum came to an end after a three-point play by Sebastian Telfair. After 24 minutes of play, the Suns were up 62-57 after outscoring the Lakers 38-25 in the second quarter.
The Lakers continued to shoot the ball well in the third quarter, but the Suns were also having their way on the offensive end. The Suns had an answer for the Lakers’ every shot and their guards were hurting the Lakers in the open court. Phoenix’s six three pointers were key to its success and helped the team open a 71-63 lead with 9:03 left to play in the quarter.
The Suns eventually found themselves up by double-digits and the Lakers’ defense was sub-par. They were not closing out on the Suns’ shooters and could not do anything to prevent the Suns’ guards in the fast-break. The Lakers were trying to feed the ball to the big men, but they could not find success in the paint and their seven turnovers did not help. On top of that, the Suns had eight three-point shots and that gave them a 79-67 lead.
The Lakers did make a run to cut into the lead and they were finally going back to the style of play that got them the lead. The two seven-footers were hitting their shots and their defense was able to stop the Suns from scoring. However, just when it seemed as though the Lakers would make a push for the lead, the Suns answered back with their own surge. Shannon Brown was hot from the field and his 20 points helped the Suns maintain their advantage. With 3:47 left in the quarter, the Suns were still ahead, 87-77.
After 36 minutes of basketball, the Lakers were getting blown out, and it was mostly due to the hot shooting from Brown. The former Laker dropped 24 points for the Suns and they held a 99-83 lead over the Lakers.
The Lakers made a diminutive push in the opening minutes of the fourth quarter and they were getting their points by pounding the ball inside. The Lakers needed a near perfect period for them to come out with a victory but a quick 6-2 run was a good start for the comeback. After a Metta World Peace bucket, the Lakers were facing a 101-89 deficit.
The Suns made their first field goal after four minutes of play in the quarter, but the Lakers did not do much to cut into the lead. They did not let the Lakers put a major dent into the lead and Los Angeles was helping the cause with some poor decisions. The Lakers were not taking smart shots and their defensive return to its old ways. The deficit remained at 14 and the Lakers were down 107-93.
Gasol was doing whatever he could to help the Lakers stay in the game and his 30 points were crucial for the team. The Lakers eventually cut the lead down to ten, 109-99, with 3:46 left to play, but it seemed like there was little chance for the team to make a strong push.
However, the Suns made their shots late and the Lakers could not do anything to stop them. The game was wrapped up and the Suns walked away with a convincing win over the Lakers, 125-105.