The Suns were back at it on Sunday night after getting torched by the Sacramento Kings the previous night. Traveling down to Los Angeles, the Suns took on the Lakers, who have won their last two games. The Suns have not been the same since Bledsoe went down with an injury, and this game was no different. The Suns lost to the Lakers 97-77, expanding their losing streak to nine games. The Suns will play their next game back in Phoenix, taking on the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday night.
Back in the starting lineup, John Leuer was able to get the first points for the Suns, with a nice move down low. This was one of the early bright spots, in opening minutes where the Suns took bad shots and turned the ball over. This type of play allowed the Lakers to take an early lead in the first. A nice post fade-away from Devin Booker gave the Suns six points, but the Lakers were able to score 12 points in that same amount of time. The Suns couldn’t stop the Lakers in transition, letting them either score or were forced to foul. The Suns were only able to get their point total up to 10, and the Lakers were able to continue scoring, getting up to 25 points themselves. The Suns only shot 24% from the field in the first, and looked like a team that was tired.
Archie Goodwin was able to get the first points for the Suns in the second, missing twice, but staying with the ball, getting two rebounds before getting the points. The Suns weren’t able to get anymore points until Goodwin got to the line with 8:30 left in the second quarter. By that time, the Lakers were able to push their lead to 20 points. P.J. Tucker was able to push the Suns’ point total to 20 with a baby hook after two missed lay ups of his own. The Suns missed two opportunities to take the last shot of the half, with Ronnie Price missing a three point shot, and then turning it over with one second left in the half. This let Lou Williams hit a fade-away three as the half ended, giving the Lakers a 43-22 lead over the Suns. The Suns were only able to make 9 of their 46 shot attempts(19.6%) and couldn’t hit any of their 10 three point shots in the half.
Leuer was able to get the first points for the Suns in the third, hitting a reverse layup in transition. The third quarter never got better for the Suns. The Suns were able to get some good scoring looks from Booker in the third quarter. Tyson Chandler and Alex Len were both able to get looks at the rim to go down, which was welcomed after Chandler missed two dunks in the first half. Mirza Teletovic was able to hit a shot from behind the arc with two minutes left in the third, which was the first make from deep for the Suns after missing the previous 14. The Suns scored 29 points in the third, but were still down 81-51 heading into the fourth.
The Suns continued to fight, and bridged a 26-9 run that started in the third quarter and went into the fourth. The Suns cut the lead to 19 with 7:50 left in the fourth off of a Teletovic three, looking to get back into the game with an up tempo offense. Ronnie Price played well in the second half, but fouled out with 1:54 left in the game. The Suns couldn’t get any closer than 14 points, and the Lakers were able to win the game by a score of 97-77. Knight was the leading scorer for the Suns, scoring 25 points off of 10-25 shooting. He also finished the game with three rebounds and nine assists. The Suns shot 32-89(36%) from the field, with 6-27(22.2%) from the three point line, and 7-9(77.8%) from the free throw line. The Suns play the Charlotte Hornets on Wednesday in Phoenix, and will look to bounce back after a disappointing road trip.
Price doesn’t get much kudos for his defensive effort from some fans, and his hustle on defense helped the Suns get back into the game. Price only had five points, but his four steals were big for the Suns defense. His ball handling also took pressure off of Knight in the second half.
Teletovic was able to put up big points when they mattered in the second half.He scored 16 points on 6-14 shooting, with 3-9 coming from behind the arc. He pulled in eight rebounds to go along with his points. His three point shooting helped the Suns get back into the game, and it continues to be huge off of the bench.
The Suns scored a total of 22 points in the first half, which is the lowest in team history. Down by as much as 38 points, this wasn’t a strong game for the Suns. The Suns continue to struggle without Bledsoe, and need to find a way to get a win without their best player.
T.J. Warren had a rough night, scoring zero points and only attempting three shots. Warren played some good defense, but looked tired in his 21 minutes of playing time. T.J. will get his game going again, and this is probably more of a factor of being the second night of a back-to-back.