Below is a running diary of L.A.’s home contest against Suns.
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Odom and Gasol
Suns: Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Hedo Turkoglu, Robin Lopez
Steve Blake will miss his first game as a Laker tonight as he caught the stomach flu and has been placed on the inactive list.
7:39 Kobe Bryant electrified the sluggish Sunday crowd when he found himself alone at the free throw lane and decided to pass it off the backboard to himself and snag the easy layup instead of taking the leaning 15-footer. Not the first time Bryant has used this technique, but after seeing Drew Gooden pull it off recently for the Bucks he probably wanted to remind people who trademarked it. The basket gave the Lakers an early 12-9 lead.
2:46 Lamar Odom played just 25:33 Thursday night against Denver as the Lakers stuck with the hot shooting Shannon Brown and went small against the Nuggets. Tonight through the first nine minutes tonight Pau Gasol has dominated the boards (six rebounds) but Odom has been active on the offensive end tallying nine-points, all within three feet of the basket. Lamar remains on the floor with Kobe and Pau as Matt Barnes and Sasha Vujacic enter. With Steve Blake missing the game due to a stomach virus Vujacic will be relied upon more heavily than he has all season.
0:00 The Lakers out rebounded Phoenix 13-7 and shot a much higher percentage from the floor (52.4% to 38.1%) but the Suns were hot from behind the arc (5/9) to keep the game close, 25-23. Ron Artest, the only Laker to attempt a triple, made his first two from long range for LA, but finished the quarter missing his next three.
8:59 Phil Jackson continues to tinker with different pairings early in the season, this time leaving Brown, Vujacic, Ebanks, Barnes & Gasol on the floor to start the second quarter. They outscore the Suns 8-5 but are switched out after three minutes for the lineup of Brown, Bryant, Barnes, Caracter & Odom as Pau Gasol sits down for the first time tonight.
2:27 Phoenix started dropping bombs as soon as the Lakers had built up their largest lead of the game at 46-40. Three consecutive three-pointers from Turkoglu, Frye & Richardson pushed the Suns ahead with a 49-46 lead. Phoenix improved to an impressive 11/19 on the night from behind the arc.
0:00 The plan against the Suns remains the same for LA, pound it inside. So far tonight the Lakers have outscored Phoenix 38-14 in the paint, but Phoenix’s ridiculously hot 60% (12/20) shooting for three-point land gives them the 56-53 halftime lead. Lakers also dominating the boards to the tune of 25-16 including 11-5 on the offensive glass.
4:10 LA’s shooting goes cold to start the quarter (9/26) while Phoenix continues their torrid pace from behind the arc, extending their halftime lead to 79-71.
2:00 A 14-point lead gets opened up by Phoenix as Nash & Richardson drain back-to-back-to-back triples. While the Suns as a whole have been on fire from back there, Jason Richardson has been especially locked in, going 7/8 and upping his game total to 34 points. Phil Jackson inserts Brown, Walton & Vujacic along side Gasol & Barnes to finish out the quarter.
0:00 Through three quarters the Lakers starters not named Fisher are putting up some monster numbers. Lamar Odom with 19 points and 7 rebounds, Kobe Bryant 18 points and 10 assists and Pau Gasol with 24 points and 15 rebounds with 12 minutes left to play. As Kevin Ding noted on his twitter account the NBA record for three-pointers in one game is 23. The Suns are 18 of 29.
10:44 Quick 5-0 run capped by Sasha Vujacic’s first three pointer since October 31st (and just his second of the season) brings on a Suns timeout with the score 95-89.
4:55 Phil Jackson calls a timeout with the Lakers cutting back into the Suns lead, 104-100. Shannon Brown continues his strong play off the bench (4/7 shooting for 12 points) and is rewarded by remaining on the floor with Bryant, Barnes, Odom & Gasol as LA’s finishing lineup tonight.
53.7 Phoenix’s lead gets cut to 111-109 as Lamar Odom slams home the pass from Kobe Bryant, but Odom is whistled for a technical foul. Nash sinks the freebie to push the Suns advantage to three.
Final The Lakers launch up a barrage of three point attempts down the stretch but can’t get them to fall and lose to the Suns 121-116.
The team sets out on a three game midwestern road trip Tuesday, starting with Milwaukee before heading to Detroit and Minnesota.