From Elizabeth Benson, Lakers Nation: 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.
From Kurt Helin, Pro Basketball Talk: The Lakers caught a break with the schedule this week. Kobe Bryant was out of Monday night’s ugly Lakers loss due to a sprained ankle, but the team is off until Friday when they face Washington (in Los Angeles). Then they are off again until the next Monday. So will Kobe Bryant play Friday or sit out and give his foot a whole week to rest? Dave McMenamin of ESPNLosAngeles.com asked coach Mike D’Antoni.
From Kevin Ding, OC Register: This is what Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni had to say after the Lakers scored so easily in beating Sacramento without injured Kobe Bryant on Sunday night:”We don’t have to be one-player dominant. That ball has to move, and when it does, we’re really good.” D’Antoni got a wake-up call regarding life without Bryant on Monday night in Phoenix, where the Lakers’ bodies and the passing slowed down in a 99-76 loss to the rebuilding Phoenix Suns. In the 69th game, it was the lowest point total of this tumultous Lakers season. The Suns had lost their previous four games by an average of 20 points. But they had the better energy to drop Steve Nash to 0-2 this season in his returns to Phoenix. Nash couldn’t kick up an offense in the second half that was bogged down early by Dwight Howard’s rushed attempts. Bryant had yelled advice to Howard late in the Lakers’ victory in Indiana on Friday night: “Take your time!” But Howard shot 6 for 18 from the field and fell one rebound shy of the 12 that he had the previous 14 games, tying a career-long streak. Howard described the Lakers as “a step slow.”
From Drew Garrison, Silver Screen & Roll: The Los Angeles Lakers walked into Phoenix to take on the Suns knowing they’d be only seven players deep during playing time that mattered. With Kobe Bryant out with an ankle sprain, Pau Gasol’s return being pushed back until Friday at the earliest, Jordan Hill missing the remainder of the season unless his “longshot” of a chance to play in late-April comes to fruition, and the bench scraps collecting dust since Mike D’Antoni settled on a rotation, there wasn’t much wiggle room for the Lakers both Sunday and Monday night. Or was there?
From Mike Bresnahan, LA Times: Rejoice, Lakers fans. There are no more games against the lowly Phoenix Suns. Everyone loves playing Phoenix this season but the Lakers keep throwing away potential victories here, their latest stumble a bad 99-76 loss that made them 0-2 at US Airways Center. It stung because the Lakers (36-33) could have kept pace with seventh-place Houston and created separation from eighth-place Utah in the Western Conference. It was embarrassing because the Suns (23-45) were tied with New Orleans in the West’s basement when Monday began. It was lame because there were only 76 Lakers points, a season low for a team that couldn’t afford to be this bad this late in the regular season.