Preview and Chat: The Phoenix Suns

Darius Soriano —  February 12, 2013

Records: Lakers 24-28 (10th in the West), Suns 17-35 (Last in the West)
Offensive ratings: Lakers 105.0 (8th in the NBA), Suns 99.0 (27th in the NBA)
Defensive ratings: Lakers 103.3 (T 17th in the NBA), Suns 105.2 (26th in the NBA)
Projected Starting Lineups: Lakers: Steve Nash, Kobe Bryant, Metta World Peace, Earl Clark, Dwight Howard
Suns: Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley, PJ Tucker, Luis Scola, Marcin Gortat
Injuries: Lakers: Pau Gasol (out), Jordan Hill (out for the season); Suns: Channing Frye (out for the season)

The Lakers Coming in: The Lakers are finally home, a 4-3 record on the Grammy Trip in their back pockets. The team has won seven of their last 10, the wins the product of a shifting offensive style, some better defensive performances, and steadier play from the reserves. There are still plenty of issues to sort out (especially on the court) and obstacles to overcome (especially Pau’s injury), of course. And, it will be interesting to see if the Lakers make any sort of smaller personnel moves to try and fortify their roster for the stretch run after the all-star break. But, overall, if this team is able to win 70% of their remaining games, we’ll all be satisfied and they’ll be right there in the hunt for one of final playoff spots. Whether this current formula has that type of staying power remains to be seen, but the fact is, this is the level they need build up from in order to get where they want to go.

UPDATE: Uh, this isn’t good news:

There’s a possibility Clark still plays tonight should the MRI show nothing significant. That said, this season continues to confound and frustrate on the injury front. With Gasol already out and inconsistency and depth issues persisting on the wings, Clark — once the Lakers 14th man — has become a vital player to their success through is versatility on both ends and better than expected offensive game. To state the obvious, missing him would be a major blow.

We’ll update this thread as we know more, but for now, let’s collectively wish Earl Clark some good results on his MRI.

UPDATE II: Earl Clark will play tonight against the Suns:

Obviously very good news for a Laker team that can’t afford to have any other players out with injury. We’ll have to see if Clark is in any way limited, however. If he’s not up to playing heavy minutes, that may mean more minutes for Jamison or lineups with Ron at PF, Kobe at SF, and either Blake or Meeks at SG.

The Suns Coming in: The Suns have lost seven of ten and are coming off back to back defeats to the Thunder in a home and home series. In the second of those games, the Suns flirted with a franchise low for points, scoring one point more than the low of 68. That contest saw no starter score double figures and only one Sun (Markieff Morris) break that threshold (12 points on 13 shots) all night. And while that game represented a low for the Suns, it’s also indicative of where they are as a franchise. This team, for all intents and purposes, is one of the worst in the league. They have ill-fitting parts and seem to lack chemistry and togetherness when they play.

What’s strange is that the team is currently popping up in trade rumors to try and improve their team with names like Al Jefferson and Iman Shumpert popping up lately. Whether there’s any truth to these reports is less important than whether or not the Suns know what they have in their current group and if they have a plan moving forward. What seems best for this team is to play out the season, get a high draft pick and start their rebuilding process through the draft. During the off-season they can look to trade some of their veteran role players for more draft picks or young players with upside and continue their trek up the rebuilding mountain. Because what they’re doing now certainly shows that they need to think about their future, not mortgage it by giving up picks or any of their young players to try and improve the roster today.

Suns Blogs: Check out Valley of the Suns for insight and analysis on L.A.’s Pacific Division rival.

Keys to game: The first game back from a long road trip is typically a difficult one to navigate. After being away from the all the comforts of home, teams often have let downs after sleeping in their own beds and returning to a bit of normalcy after living out of a suitcase for nearly two weeks. The Lakers, then, will need to concentrate on bringing their best effort tonight, even though the Suns aren’t a very good team.

What may help to counter against a letdown is the fact that the Lakers just lost to this team on the first game of the Grammy Trip. After being up big in that game, Dwight Howard injured his shoulder and then the starters came in to close out the game but instead proceeded to give back the entire lead and struggle down the stretch. Of the three losses on the roadie, it’s the Suns’ game that likely sticks in the players’ minds as the one that stings most and the game that cost them a better showing on the trip.

Tonight, the Lakers must remember what they did well in that game to get the lead in the first place and replicate that. Early on, Kobe established the post against PJ Tucker and initiated the offense when help came. This created open shots for teammates and kept the Suns’ D off balance. The Lakers’ bench was also key as Gasol anchored that unit with his passing and Jamison had an efficient night scoring by hitting his outside shot. Tonight, of course, Gasol won’t be able to anchor the bench but getting Kobe involved early via post ups (especially from the right block) should loosen up the Suns D enough to generate good looks at the basket.

That said, the Lakers must also find sustainable offense from actions that don’t involve Kobe working from the post. Namely, they must start to find some chemistry in their pick and roll game. This action — especially between Nash and Howard — hasn’t yet clicked, so sorting that out should be a priority. Against the Suns, I’d like to see Howard set firmer screens and dive hard, but I’d also like to see secondary passes lead to quick entries into Dwight after he dives should the initial pass from Nash not be there. The Lakers wings are often very quick to look for their own shots when they act as release valves in the P&R and that does little to involve Howard in the game beyond him chasing offensive rebounds when his teammates shoot. I’d especially like Ron to show more discernment in his game and choose to hit Dwight fighting for position down low rather than settling for the outside jumper. In the last Suns game, Ron shot 6-17 from the floor (3-10 from behind the arc), tying for the team lead (with Kobe) for FGA’s. A little more restraint would be nice, especially if his shot isn’t falling.

Defensively, the Lakers must keep the Suns out of transition. Phoenix in is the top 10 in pace and will try to force tempo tonight by pushing the ball after misses and makes, trying to score before the Laker D can get set. Finding a man early in a defensive possession will be key for every Laker and the bigs must get back quickly to combat against wings streaking up the floor hoping to get lay ups ahead of the pack.

If the Lakers can turn this into a half court game, they have a much better chance of slowing the Suns’ O, but that doesn’t eliminate the threats. The Suns have some very good individual offensive performers who can get hot and put points up on the board. The Lakers saw that last game as Michael Beasley lit them up for 27 points on countless isolations that no defender could stop. Besides Beasley, the Lakers must also be aware of Dragic’s desire to create in the P&R and limit his ability to turn the corner and generate good looks for himself or teammates when the defense collapses. Rotations will be key tonight and hard hedges and recovers by the big men will be needed to stop Dragic’s momentum and then limit the dives by Gortat and the pops by Scola for open jumpers.

We say this all the time, but every game is important at this point and especially ones against bad teams visiting Staples. These are the types of games the Lakers must win if they’re to make any sort of run towards a playoff berth and they’ll need to come out tonight and play with purpose to get it done.

Where you can watch: 7:30pm start time on TWC Sportsnet. Also listen on ESPN Radio 710AM.

Darius Soriano

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145 responses to Preview and Chat: The Phoenix Suns

  1. since when are the kings from LA? lol i gotta catch up

  2. oh the hockey team? my apologies my mind cant stretch past basketball at the moment

  3. So now it’s Earl. It never ends. This Laker season can only be graded incomplete because of the injuries. That’s the reason I’m reluctant to bury Dwight Howard. This season would have been challenging under the best of circumstances. With all of the setbacks due to injury, the Lakers’ struggles are not surprising. Not an excuse, just a realistic assessment.

  4. KobeBeefandNashPotatos February 12, 2013 at 1:27 pm

    Wounded animal time.Gotta keep clawing back to .500…

    If MWP keeps struggling I hope we unleash Ebanks. Guy has shown he can play a solid 10-15 mpg.

  5. Darius, from the prior piece or thread concerning around the vast interwebs:

    From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: Nobody is questioning that Dwight Howard is playing through shoulder pain. What Steve Nash on the court Sunday and countless others off the court have questioned is why that means he can’t move his feet quickly?

    Did Kurt and the countless others not see Stephen Smith’s interview of Howard? He has a radicular numbness and tingling in his one leg, which means that a nerve root exiting his spine at the one level is being impinged. You’d otherwise think that Nash would get this, since he has spondylolisthesis, which is condition wherein the one vertebra essentially slips position onto the immediately below vertebra. Perhaps one saw, during Nash’s time in Phoenix, Nash lying supine there on the sideline. That was to deal with his condition by taking pressure off his spine. I don’t otherwise know what grade spondylolisthesis Nash has, but a severe case or grade of the same can result in the same numbness and tingling in the leg owing to the slipped disc impinging on an exiting nerve root.

  6. Does anyone else think that Dwight Howard has Kwame Brown hands?
    Maybe it’s just me, but damn, he’s always getting the ball pokes away, slapped outta his hands or just plain can’t catch it cleanly.

  7. difference between Nash and Dwight…either he played and gave 100%, or he didn’t play..none of this half stuff. Also, Nash missed very few games over the 17 year career (until this year of course).

  8. Dwight doesn’t have a reputation for having ‘stone’ hands. If he only has ‘stone’ hands this year, might it not be related to his injuries?

    I am not prepared to give Dwight a pass, but we all seem so sure we know exactly what the problem is and, of course, the solution. We really have not a clue and listening to the “talking heads” simply multiplies our misinformation by several times.

    From all the anguish coming from the blog, I don’t think any of this hand wringing is making anyone feel any better. Right now our team needs us to simply hold our solutions and support each game as it comes.

    Here’s to Earl playing tonight.

  9. Slappy,
    Nohing can be done to rid the moron out of the sophomoric. Everyone is killing Dwight Howard for something he can’t control… A major back surgery that zapped his athletisism. I think Dwight is handling himself pretty well all things considered. How would a 27 year old Kobe Bryant deal with not being able to run or jump anymore? It’s sad. Just like its sad to see Ricky Rubio play today or Derek Rose tomorrow. Watching great athletes after career changing injuries is just depressing. But to blame his attitude, personality, or will to win is just silly. Until this season Dwight was one of two players who could single handedly take his team to the NBA Finals.

  10. Slappy,

    I’ve wondered if Howard’s aversion to the PNR has something to do with his back. Because there is no logical reason why he wouldn’t want to do the PNR other than some level of discomfort. Maybe the initial collision with the defender being screened causes him some pain. I notice that whenever he does set a pick he never stands in place long enough to absorb the contact. Maybe that is just to get a jump on his defender rolling to the rim. I speculating here. But there is more going on with Dwight than is being disclosed.

  11. T. Rogers, that’s a good point. I can’t recall seeing Dwight set a single, solid pick this season. It infuriates me whenever he jogs out to the permieter, starts to set the pick, then immedately gets out of the way and rolls to the basket without creating any space for the guard. He is either the league’s worst pick-man, or is purposely avoiding contact because of pain.

  12. Aaron: What would 27 year old Kobe have done? Well if it was pain – he would have played through it. If he could not run or jump, he would have become a pure shooter. If he could not play offense he would have focussed on defense. If he could not play + win titles with Shaq, he would do so with Pau. If he could not play for and win titles with Phil —– well everyone has limitations.

  13. T. Rogers: That’s basically what I said in my email to Kevin Ding (yes, I sent him an email in response to his piece on Howard/Nash)(no reply back as of yet). But that’s what I ended with, him slipping the screen before the contact comes. I referenced the subconscious mind and John Stuart Mill, i.e., the subconscious mind is trying to live up to Mill’s remark concerning the seeking of pleasure and the avoidance of pain, and so he slips just about every screen before the contact comes. I’m fairly certain that it is his back and not his shoulder and, worst of all, if we will all notice, he has gotten progressively worse at movement on the court over the course of the season, so he seems to be deteriorating before our very eyes. I can see that happening with him continuing to play with an injured low back. And for one last word on his subconscious mind, if there is pain on contact, and there most likely is, you can imagine that he would get ever the more passive the less the ball comes his way, i.e., what the point of absorbing the contact and experiencing the pain when he won’t be seeing the ball. And so he stops moving on the offensive end. Related to that, what with his injured low back, there’s also this season’s singular inability to seal off his defender.

  14. Aaron,

    As an occasional critic of yours (but also an admirer), I want to go on the record and give you credit for seeing deeper into the health issues facing this team than anyone else I can remember. You were right in your health concerns about Dwight… and more surprisingly imo, you were right in what you said about Nash. I still think you may have been a little premature when you condemned him as a mediocrity (for a starting PG) last season, but you were certainly closer to the mark than I was in my confidence that he was – and would remain this season – a better PG than anyone not named Paul, Rose, Westbrook, Rondo or Williams.

    I don’t like being wrong (especially when my position is bullish about the Lakers), but I also don’t like it when people refuse to own up to their mistakes. I salute you, sir.

    * * *

    I really hope the Lakers (and Clark) can bounce back strong tonight and keep building off the slowly growing momentum that seems to be surrounding this team at last….

  15. I’ve updated the post as well, but Earl Clark will play tonight. All the tests/scans on his foot came back negative.

  16. Hard to believe the Lakers won’t make some sort of deadline move. The need for frontline help is ther for all to see.

  17. Kobe Alert: KB registered 9 dimes against the Heat (11-19, 28 points, 9 dimes, 6 rebs) to move by Larry Bird for 34th all time. Next up is Nick Van Excel (77 away). Kobe has not hit a three pointer in forever, and has actually been re-tied for 11th by Vince Carter. He is 510 away from Wilton Norman Chamberlain.

  18. Let’s count how many times Dwight loses the ball in the post tonight. I’m predicting 5 times.

  19. Even if Earl can play, this team really needs to bring in another big as insurance against any further injuries.

  20. Darius, good lookin’ on the notification and subsequent update on E-Clark. Good to hear that all of the tests results came back negative. IMO, losing him, for any extended period of time, would have been the final nail in the coffin pertaining to this season. Now we need to go about exacting revenge on the Suns later on tonight.

    Slappy, solid posts and thanks for the knowledge. I, for one, commend Dwight for pushing through and playing through all that he’s had to play through this season. Truth be told, with both the lingering effects of the back surgery and now the torn labrum within his shoulder causing so much pain, it would be easy for him to shut it down. Especially considering that he’ll be an UFA after the season who’s guaranteed to get a max deal (short of losing a limb) no matter what. Whether it’s from the Hawks, Mavs, Rockets (our chief competitor for his services if you ask me) or our Lakers. But, minus a few games, he’s laced them up night after night. It’s unfortunate that he’s receiving so much criticism for his play; instead of praise for trying to battle through the injuries.

  21. Well it looks like Jim Buss wasn’t joking when he thought this team was still a title contender, or maybe they have just giving up on this season. Injuries or not, I am convinced Dwight Howard is not a franchise player. His physical limitations this year have nothing to do with his immaturity and childish behavior. The guy is just not mentally strong enough. With a fully healthy Dwight, we can get a dominant defensive presence in the paint, a guy who can block shots and rebound with he best of them, but that’s about it. It is evident that he has a very limited offensive game and is even more limited because he can’t make free throws. Dwight might be worth keeping just because of his defense, without him, the Lakers would not have a defense, but this is not the guy to build your team around when the future comes either.

  22. If, as posters are speculating, D12 is hurting too much to set screens and move his feet, then he should sit. let someone else play that is willing and able to expend energy and effort. the Lakers would be better off IMO. if he is so sore, then sit out of the All Star Game, right?

  23. Portland lose to the Heat. I hope Utah and Houston will lose also.

    Sounds bitter but we need a win tonight. LOL

  24. I remember when the original Dwightmare started and there was talk of trading Bynum for Howard. I was dead set against it because with Bynum your biggest concern with health – when on the floor dude was a competitor and played with edge. That attitude is contagious.

    During the off season when they traded for Dwight I was apprehensive. Then Bynum went and did his Bynum thing (damaged his unhurt knee bowling while rehabbing the other knee) and I thought – well whatever happens we got the better end of this deal – at least we will have a center that can play.

    Well what I forgot was that issue of attitude and how it rubs off on the team. Make no mistake, part of what is wrong with this team is chemistry – and it is clearly and obviously due to Dwight’s pouty narcissistic demeanor. Forget his sub-par play, because he actually has played well for an average center in the league (forget that he is supposed to be the best). Dwight’s real damage has been his refusal to play team basketball and accept his role which should be the anchor the defence and wreak havoc on the offensive end running p&r’s and crashing the boards. Not once this year have I heard Dwight ask ‘what can I do to make the team better’. I have only heard him ask ‘what can the team do to make me look better’.

    Unless that changes (and there is no reason to think it will) this is NOT the guy you want to build your franchise around.

  25. I think Dwight has finally dumped the stupid headband.

  26. I am starting to despise Metta on the court.

  27. Ron Artest with a short corner 3, hopefully that will get him going on offense, hopefully.

  28. Seriously somebody tell MWP not to run down and do a one man fastbreak.

  29. If Metta only played against the Suns every game…

  30. Admittedly, PHX is an offensively-challenged team—but that said, the “D” looks pretty engaged so far, and is the key to the current Laker run. Lots of one-and-dones for the Suns, with some transition opps for LA

  31. You can tell who is Kobe’s man. Tucker for wide open shots. Looking for career high. ya have to at least get within 5 feet Kobe.

  32. The Lakers always make me nervous whenever they bring the ball up from the backcourt – they always seem to just beat the 8-second count.

    It started out with Fisher a couple of years and then Kobe, but Nash is starting to do it too.

    I know this has been discussed to some extent but I took the liberty of watching some games from our championship years (especially the first three-peat under Phil) and noticed just how different it was from now. A young Fisher or Kobe always had it past halfcourt around the 19 to 20 second mark, giving us valuable seconds to set up the offense and explore other options when we were denied our first or second ones. It really does make a huge difference.

  33. for all his offensive woes this year, Dwight is still a really hood defensive presence.

  34. Too many three pointers…the Suns have no shot blocking…take it to the rack.

  35. I know “limited” doesn’t even begin to describe Sacre’s abilities on the offensive end, but this small lineup just hasn’t cut it against anybody defensively…Clark is versatile, but defending the “5” is too much to ask. Either play a legitimate “big” at that spot (I know I just used the word “legitimate” in reference to Mr. Irrelevant), or make a deal for one soon…

  36. Blake has looked pretty good since his return from injury. If all the pieces are there, the Lakers have a chance to do damage.

  37. Earl Clark is playing very well. What a pleasant surprise!

  38. Shoot the stupid ball Kobe.

  39. Kobe is overpassing….wait…what?!

  40. Kobe needs to stop being so cute with the pass. There is nothing wrong with shooting the ball once in a while.

  41. OKC got beat up by Utah….thanks for nothing.

  42. Kobe overpassing. Being too unselfish. When the obvious shot is there, just shoot it.

  43. What’s with Kobe taking 0 shots?

  44. Exactly, Ken. This pass happy Kobe is pissing me off! Does it have to be one extreme or another? No need to jack up 30 shots a game, but zero?! How bout a happy medium? The Suns are just expecting him to pass, and it’s obvious!

  45. Enough of this showing off to Shaq Kobe!

    NO SHOTS in the half. What are you trying to prove because it’s not funny any more. Play basketball! He let 6 easy shots go and only 2 ended in baskets.

  46. Kobe looking to pass a little too much has zero FGs attempted. Not sure when was the last time that happened in a half with no FGs attempted. Howard with a nice first half with 12 points and 9 rebounds. Lakers with 18 assists on 22 FGM.

  47. Are you seriously telling me Kobe did not take a shot the whole first half?? Has this ever happened before??

  48. Kobe’s shooting too much.

  49. I really think it’s some kind if bet with Shaq, he passed up 4 flat layups. Perhaps someone should show him video if last Sun game.

    Lakers should be up by 20 right now.

  50. Lakers are up 9 and people are MAD that he has no shot attempts? cmon guys.

  51. He probably made a bet with Shaq to see how long before he takes a shot.

  52. Radius

    Go watch last game aganist these guys. Up 13 in 4th quarter. He is hurting team over passing with 5 turnovers.

  53. This team had better wake up! Loser mentality is back. Play the game right Kobe. Lose this one and you can call it a season!

  54. radius,
    We’re up ONLY 6 at HOME against a high school team. Again, I’m not advocating a 6-32, zero assists game. But if you think having Kobe take zero shots in a half (now one shot) is a recipe for success, I’m gonna have to politely disagree.

  55. Suns hanging around with fast break points,

  56. 6th turnover for Kobe. This is what happens when you screw around. Get your head in the game or get off the court!

  57. Lakers are overpassing…and as a result they are losing the lead. Sometimes the right read is to SHOOT!!!

  58. Attempting to force the ball inside is killing the Lakers. Kobe now has 5 t.o.’s trying to force passes to Dwight.

  59. Even Stu just said this is ridiculous!!

  60. Kooo i watch every game like you do. kobe’s fine. too many turnivers for sure, but i like a kobe overpassing better than over shooting.

  61. This is why Kobe has never been my favorite player in this team. To some, that’s his immaturity on display. Just play basketball, man. Wtf.

  62. I am so angry at Kobe right now! He is making a mockery of this game. Grow up Kobe! You are acting like a fool right now.

    This is a crap team that is in this because if Kobe’s play!

  63. Radius… They should be up by 20 if Kobe looked for his shot a little more. Sharing the ball is fine. Turning down open shots and forcing passes into traffic is stupid.

  64. A game that showed so much promise at the beggining is turning into just another pathetic showin against a piece of crap team another lead blow at home unbeliavable…

  65. Dude, I don’t care what he wants to prove, Kobe will be indefensible if we lose this game and miss the playoffs.

  66. Ummm…while I would agree that Kobe is forcing too many passes, the vitriol posts claiming some vast Kobe conspiracy are misplaced in my view. Kobe is not exactly passing up wide open shots, he is just not taking his normal assortment of contested long 2’s.

  67. Nobody on the team has the guts to bench Kobe or stand up to him? This is just unreal.

  68. Kobe was fouled but no call instead he gets the technical. FT missed, Ball Don’t Lie.

  69. Kobe needs to stop messing around and play his game we should be up by 20

  70. Collapse in progress…

  71. There is no guarantee that if Kobe shot we’d be up 20

  72. Instead of complaining about Kobe not shooting, how about redirecting some of that criticism towards the Lakers who are not converting on wide open shots as a result of Kobe passes.

  73. Kobe’s play of late just reminds me of how great lebron is. I’m not a lebron fan and Kobe has been my favorite play since I was 9 years old and I’m 24 now. But kobe decides to a facilitator and he stops scoring. Hell he just kept passing up shots to force a pass. Lebron does everything so seamlessly. I understand lebron is in the prime of his career and Kobe isn’t, but Kobe is still elite but he does stuff like this to prove a point .

  74. Im done if they lose this game cant defend homecourt after a long road trip against one of the worst teams of the league? Im done

  75. This is just disgusting

  76. Kobe has 7 TO’s & 8 assists. He is playing a ridiculous game and it is of his choosing. Very disappointed in Kobe tonight.

  77. The loss of this lead and the crappy third quarter is not all on kobe passing up shots. He missed the 3 he took. 12 minutes left. Let’s see what kind of energy the lakers can pull out here.

  78. Joe

    You don’t decide to completely change your game at this point. Kobe is completely blowing this game, 7 turnovers and no baskets? That is a joke and yet this stupid coach does nothing.

    Mind games. This team sucks and Kobe is just garbage tonight. Nothing done by worthless coach on a 18 to 2 run. This team wants to lose and every fan Should boo them off the court.

  79. I think Kobe put some zap the Lakers energy in their water. Because this team can’t defend, rebound or make a basket, no energy. I presume that that dastardly Kobe is to blame.

  80. Absolutely ugly 3rd quarter 3-20 from the field.

  81. No there is no guarantee but they would had a sizable lead dont tell me Kobe would be 0 of whatever this game is on him. If we collapse and lose im saying it again im done with this team this is disgusting amd embarrasing, the coach dont have any control over this team whatsoever we bash Howard but now we have to deal with baby Kobe too. With the talent we have we should be winning by 20 even w/o Pau this is not the Thunder or Heat we playing against

  82. James Worthy Rage-o-Meter is on volcanic right now.

  83. This team make last season team looks like a juggernaut

  84. KOOO…slow down buddy. I think you need to finish your homework and eat your vegetables before posting on this site. You’re innundating the post with your stream-of-consciousness ramblings.

  85. “this team wants to lose…”

    OK. now I remember why I stopped coming to the message board.

    Back to twitter for some rational basketball analysis. Thanks for reminding me.

  86. Kook. It’s the coach who has Kobe playing the on ball guard instead of his 2 time MVP all star point guard. This in turn is to appease their all star center who doesn’t want to play p&r (Nash’s specialty), so we need a guard to penetrate and feed him under the basket (enter Kobe).

    MDA is part of the disease, he will never be the cure. Make no mistake, Kobe is passing because that is what MDA has geared the offence for.

  87. At least a little positive energy to start the fourth. Show some pride, Lakers.

  88. Guess Kobe’s not old enough for the childish games. Can’t get mad at Dwight if Kobe’s going to pull this stunt. Ego is stalling the team from fulfilling it’s potential. Kobe should’ve kept the same style of play he had vs Miami. It’s not like these games are speed bumps their road blocks where everyone has to check their ego at the door time and time again. Gets tiring.

  89. Peace is playing terribly right now, but I wish that the rest of the team would give the same effort

  90. Scarier laker with the ball on the fast break: fisher or MWP?

  91. Gonna go out of a limb here and suggest that there is a reason Kobe is not shooting. Dude ain’t right. He is having a huge problem just dribbling the ball right now with his right hand. Remember that is the hand with all the wonky fingers (and his shooting hand).

  92. If MDA have real guts he Pau Kobe this entire quarter

  93. Wow, something is wrong with Kobe, his ball-handling is off. The hope is that Nash will close this one.

  94. @ Joe–Kobe has a sprained right elbow (has for a few games now)—it might not be right tonight—we just don’t know.

    All I know is, this 12 point swing happened without Kobe shooting….Kobe hasn’t single-handedly caused 23 fast break points for PHX or twenty points off of turnovers….though his turnovers are attrocious tonight.

  95. What is Kobe doing? Terrible passes

  96. With 8 turnovers, he’s close to responsible for 20 points off of turn-overs, give or take a few.

    Or 9…

  97. Wow, Jamison wants to know why he can’t touch Scola but Scola can maul him?

  98. Thanks, mindcrime.

  99. Um, 8 official turnovers with at least 5 other near misses. What’s up with Mamba?

    We should’ve traded Pau for Scola and Lowry last year.

  100. Wow a Nash and Dwight p&r sighting

  101. The Lakers are fortunate that the Suns are so bad.

  102. I saw Kobe knock that rebound out of bound off Jamison’s hands.

    I guess Kobe can never be tired or hurt. The assumption is that he’s throwing the game. Unbelievable!

  103. rr–Thank Joe. He thought of it first.

  104. mindcrime,
    You could be right. We don’t know about injuries. I think the frustration is that it’s SO extreme, that’s all.

  105. Kobe finally gets a FG.

  106. Scola is so dependable such a workhorse. I always liked his game

  107. Howard walks and jogs like a guy whose back hurts and is locked up. People need to lay off the guy.

  108. Yeah, Howard cannot jump. AT ALL.

    Dude is hurt.

  109. Worst game in Kobe’s career. More turnovers then points. 1 for 8. Never happened before. Boy are Suns bad.

  110. @ Funky–Joe has a theory—and I’m starting to agree with him—that Kobe is flat-out not right tonight. Joe thinks fingers—I say the sprained elbow. Most likely a combination of both.

    For everyone suggesting that Kobe is playing a game within the game this evening—Not a chance. I think the fact that he still is avoiding shooting down the stretch should suggest something else is up. When was the last time Kobe’s only shot during the stretch run was an out-of-necessity offensive-rebound putback?

    Meanwhile—Artest has come up big in the fourth, and Dwight has looked decent as well.

  111. Kobe pushed Metta into Dragic. Get Kobe out of the game he’s sabotaging the Lakers.

    This team is challenged on more levels than a professional team should have to count.

    Jamison and Howard have looked pretty darned good. But, then again they usually do against lower-level teams. j/s

  112. Metta is just the worst with the ball ever. 4th time tonight. Clipper might beat them by 60 Thursday.

  113. Why MWP didnt stop and wait for his teammates and burn a full possesion? Thats what drives me crazy about him such a dumb player.

  114. A win is a win but it’d be great for them to only have the game to talk about. Somehow it’ll turn into what’s wrong with kobe tonight? Focus never stays on the LAKERS always any certain individual.

  115. On the other hand, Kobe played good team defense tonight – he was back in transition, he helped teammates, he closed out. The best off-ball defense I’ve seen Kobe play in quite a while.

  116. rr we know he is hurt its just that he keep reminding everyone again and again that he is

  117. Reminds me of the childish game that Kobe played against the Suns in the playoffs when he refused to shoot to try and prove some kind of point.

  118. Lost in all this kobe drama is Howard actually had a great game so good job dwight.

  119. Fern,

    People keep going off on his personality and attitude, but I think it seems clear that the main problem is the back.

  120. Although I suspect Kobe not shooting much onight had more to do with injury than anything else – could be dude was making a positive statement to the team (re:Dwight) about sacrifice. If Kobe is prepared to sacrifice his scoring and still hustle on D for the better of the team, then maybe others (re: Dwight) can sacrifice touches and still hustle on D.

  121. Nice game by Dwight…good for him…he is really injured but still with a bad attitude in some ways..

    and see what happens if he runs some PNR????????

    As for Kobe, this game would have been 100% on him if they lost this…him joking around with Shaq, and doing the weird “I am not shooting thing”, is like laughing in the face of the Suns and seemed to really fire them up, I was not surprised to see what happened to them in the 3rd after that odd display…that was a very bad joke… and then to go with the sloppy play with the ball….come on…this is not about proving to someone you can go a whole game without shooting, its about balance and flow and sharing the ball, not irrationally never shooting…

  122. The media is going to make a huge deal out of this, but it ended up being an ok win. We keep winning the games we supossed to win and we be in the playoffs. Eight of the last 11 the ship is righting but man its been a bumpy ride

  123. Mindcrime, that seems plausible. Haven’t seen Kobe so bad with the ball since the torn pinky ligament.

    Also liked what I saw from Dwight tonight, and Jamison was impressive off the bench, as was Blake. The third quarter was a disaster, but in this awful season merely avoiding another “worst loss of the year” is an achievement. Would love to see a win against the Clips, but won’t hold my breath.

  124. Let the psychoanalyzing begin.

    Kobe wasn’t making a statement this game. Dude couldn’t get consistent dribble penetration and of his 8 shots, 6 of them were short. Lets just hope he’s not breaking down as well.

    Dwight looks like a shell of himself. He’s barely getting off the ground anymore, even on wide open dunks. (This was the guy who dunked on the 11 ft rim in the Dunk contest).

    At least its a win (cuz the lakers can’t get a lottery pick this year anyways), but this type of play is going to wear down the main guys.

  125. Dwight has basically become Bynum without the post moves.

  126. It’s not about being extreme on any end. Shooting too much or passing too much. It is about playing the right way. Taking shots when you actually have them is just as important as ball movement.

    Just play the right way. Passing up easy shots to pass is just as disruptive to an offense as shooting to much.

  127. Is Kobe no longer allowed to have a bad game? Is any Laker not allowed to have a bad game? The over the top comments are disappointing, yet predictable. Especially since they come from the same band of complainers that always spew the same types of comments every game. I try not to comment about the commenters, but tonight I just can’t help myself.

  128. @ Funky–I agree everyone else picked it up at the end. If nothing else, the rest of the lineup should know they can close a game out, even if Kobe is having a horrible night.

    Re: Kobe’s injury—he’s had the sprained right elbow for awhile now. There was a moment late in the MIA game on Sunday where Kobe went down, and stayed down briefly, and he was flexing and rubbing his right hand. At the time, my wife said “Oh no, he’s acting like he broke his hand….” Then he got up and finished the game, and I didn’t give it another thought.

    I wonder if the elbow and hand reduced him to one effective arm tonight. He sure was terrible handling the rock.

  129. rr never underestimate attitude and self belief, it can take you a long way. Howard simply has neither.

  130. Much respect to Dwight for an excellent all around game. Gutted through another one when it’s quite obvious to the naked eye that he’s laboring out there.

    As Skip would say, ‘weird Kobe reared its ugly head tonight.’ Fortunately, we were able to eventually secure the victory.

  131. I’m not blaming Kobe for a tight game. The season is getting close to ending and the fans want to see an awesome 44 minute game vs Miami followed by another awesome game vs ___. Not a clunker like the team laid tonight. Lakers took a step forward in the win column but as far as developing an identity for the playoffs they continue to fail to do so.

  132. I don’t know what Kobe was doing out there tonight. Some say he was injured. Maybe they are right. He started off the game all right but soon was overpassing to the point of forcing passes and accumulating a ton of turnovers. Just a strange game by Kobe. It looked to me that he turned down good shooting opportunities. As Harvey M asked, Where’s the balance that comes with making the right play?

  133. @mindcrime Yea i saw him grabbing his hand again in todays game. I forgot what play but he was playing defense and he hurt his hand trying to block a shot I think. So if kobe really is injured, then the overpassing was just him trying to set up his teammates and facilitating.

  134. The Lakers had a terrible 3rd quarter. Thankfully, there was a fourth the Lakers got to play.

    Wins are starting to pile up, winning more than losing, aside from the PHX loss at PHX, Lakers have been playing really well even with all this drama. Dwight got 19 and 18 and 2 blocks with a tight back (evident at the end of game) amd a shoulder that can get re-hurt at any time.

    Keep figuring it out, and it will be an entertaining playoffs.

  135. darius,

    I get your frustration…I didn’t want to post a negative comment, but it was just weird with Kobe…if he was just bad that would be excusable and understandable…but it was the joking around with Shaq and the seeming joy he was taking out of the weird first half display which was a bit odd..

    Anyway, good about the win…they kind of need a blowout. for all of dwight’s injuries that was a very good game for him…he set a lot of high picks which resulted in a lot of good looks for him and his teammates. Well done…way to shut up the detractors.

  136. Joe M,

    You ever had back surgery, or lower back trouble? Ever tried to play basketball with it if so? Attitude can’t jump.

  137. No discussion from Kobe in interview about any injury. Just appears to be a bad night shooting and 8 TO’s. Kobe seemed to think it was funny. Odd. Needless to say it was lucky they played the Suns who just might be the worst team I have seen this year,

    I guess this game was more important to me then him. My bad.

    Hope the old Kobe shows up Thursday.

  138. Darius, you seriously expect people to not be negative when Kobe does not shoot for an entire quarter and does so while not taking shots that he could’ve taken?

    The thing is, Kobe has done this before against PHX in the playoffs. He has a history of intentionally doing this. It is not only natural but very reasonable to comment on this as it is a rare occurence to say the least.

  139. Of course players are allowed to have bad games, even Kobe. But IMO, a “bad” game is when a player plays the way he normally plays or does the things he normally does in a game, but just doesn’t do them well that game. If Kobe would’ve gone 5-20 in the game, 2-10 in one half and 3-10 in the other, then I would have no problem calling that just a bad game. But for a scorer like Kobe to purposely take ZERO shots in the first half and then end up 1-8, that’s just beyond odd to me. I have no idea what the reason was, but the “I was taking what the defense gave me” reason doesn’t fly here. And I’m all for getting others involved, but this was just too extreme. Who knows? Maybe he was hurt. But when was the last time even Lebron, one of the best at getting his teammates involved and at being unselfish, took ZERO shots in a half? That’s all I’m saying…

    Bottom line is that we got the W. Gonna need to play a lot better to beat the Clips on Thursday, though. Let’s hope we bring it and head into the break on a high note.

  140. I only recall 2 games where Kobe didnt shoot the 1st half of the @ Sacramento back in the day and the 2nd half of Game 7 against PHX. We should be happy we got the W and the team did not have to depend on Kobe which was great to see. Would still like to see another big due to our lack of size, I cant see Howard consistently playing 40 plus minutes night in night out with his condition. I feel we’ll be ready Thursday and get the W. On a side note, I can’t this era of sports “stat centric” journalism, my good ness enough ready. Wether QBR rating, PER, fantasy football, its getting out of hand. There is all of a sudden all these new meaningless made up categories ex. Lebron has 6 games in a row scoring 30 pts and shooting 60 plus %….really? what the more of an eye test kind of guy

  141. No Harold, that’s not what I said. What I did say was that Kobe can have a bad game every now and then without the board making claims he’s throwing the game or out to “prove a point”. To be honest (and I didn’t write this in the recap, which is up), but I thought Kobe did well to move the ball in the 1st quarter, tried to continue that in the 2nd to diminishing returns, and then when he tried to turn up his own offense in the 3rd he couldn’t hit a shot and the game sort of snowballed on him from there. He went back into passing mode but the Suns adjusted and his mistakes were compounded when he was indecisive with how he wanted to pass (he tried to jump pass A LOT).

    In the end, I just think it was a bad game. So, sure, it’s fair to criticize Kobe or “be negative”. I also think it was quite overboard in the thread and that, as I said, it’s the same cast of characters spewing the same harsh critiques only this time there was a lot of “Kobe” in their comments.

  142. Darius

    I seldom jump on Kobe. As a fan who watched most of his games I or we become spoiled. This was more then a bad shooting night. He was out of control with the ball. Never seen him that way and I guess what bothered me was it didn’t seem to bother him. Thing I always loved about Kobe was his intensity and will to be perfect. Almost as if
    he just didn’t care. It’s like he became Dwight and Dwight became him! Very little chance of winning Thursday so in my strange mind this
    game was a must, must win. Odd to see Kobe with his worst game in 7 years. Even odder that I care way to much.

  143. Wake up people! We were winning double digits in the first half when Kobe wasn’t shooting. It wasn’t til the awful 3rd quarter that we gave up the lead, and Kobe shot 0-5 that quarter. That’s a 20/game pace, and we don’t necessarily want him shooting that much. So clearly the problem wasn’t a lack of Kobe shooting, but his TURNOVERS. Eight is way way way too many. When he did shoot, he should’ve made more than 1-8, but I see everyone harping on his lack of FG when it was the excessive TO that almost cost us the game.

  144. The Robert above is not me, although I do not disagree with most of the comment.

    Robert – please use an initial or or different name so our comments are not confused. Thanks