Suns Strokes: Phoenix puts up fight, Lakers win late
Sure, you could read the box score and know who won, but we all know that won't tell you everything that happened in a basketball game. So, we will give you Suns Strokes, providing you with the analysis, quotes and notes from the Suns' 91-85 loss to the Lakers on February 12.
The Suns ended the third quarter on an 18-2 run to take a 71-65 lead into the fourth. Over the final 8:58 of the period, Phoenix held the Lakers without a basket on 13 straight attempts.
Marcin Gortat put together another unimpressive performance (four points on 2-of-8 shooting), but backup center Jermaine O'Neal was terrific off the bench. O'Neal did an admirable job bodying up Dwight Howard in the second half and had himself a nice double-double (12 points and 13 rebounds) on the night.
Although Goran Dragic was effective against Steve Nash at the defensive end (10 points on 5-of-11 shooting), the Slovenian struggled with his shot at Staples Center, missing nine of his 12 attempts.
While O'Neal held his own against Howard, the seven-time All-Star still had his way in the paint regardless of who was defending him. The Lakers center finished with 19 points, 18 rebounds and two blocks in 41 minutes.
It's a hard task closing a game against a superior foe regardless of where the game is played, but the Suns' fourth quarter was yet another example of how far they've fallen this season.
Without a true identity at the offensive end, Phoenix took the Lakers' best shot (opened on a 16-4 run) over the final 12 minutes and simply didn't have an answer to counter with.
• With the win, the Lakers drew to within three games of .500. However, Tuesday night marked the latest both Phoenix and Los Angeles had losing records since the 1974-75 season.
• Kobe Bryant was not in attack mode Tuesday night. The former MVP had seven assists in the first half, yet didn't take a shot. His first attempt came at the 7:30 mark of the third quarter. His first make came at the 2:10 mark of the fourth quarter. On the night, Bryant was held to four points on 1-of-8 shooting and committed eight turnovers.
• Jermaine O'Neal became the seventh player this season to record at least nine technical fouls. The only problem for O'Neal is that the six other players on the list all average at least nine minutes more per game than he does.
The Suns (17-36) enter the All-Star break with the worst record in the Western Conference. With no players participating in the weekend festivities in Houston, the team will hit the court again in Portland next Tuesday at 6:00 p.m. MST.
Dave Dulberg, Web Content Editor - ArizonaSports.com
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