LAL 105, PHO 125: April 7 Running Diary

Below is a running diary of L.A.’s Saturday evening road contest at Phoenix, the Lakers looking for a seventh road win in eight tries, with some comments drawn from our @LakersReporter Twitter account, and a few more details in case you missed any of the action:

Starters
Lakers: Sessions, Ebanks*, World Peace, Gasol and Bynum
Suns: S. Nash, S. Brown, J. Dudley, C. Frye, M. Gortat
*Here’s the big news of the night: Kobe Bryant would not play due to tenosynovitis of the shin, which he originally hurt against the Hornets on Saturday night. Bryant played through the bruised shin on Sunday, Tuesday and Wednesday, emerging from a win over the Clippers in a walking boot as the shin had not improved. Nonetheless, Bryant played in last night’s loss to Houston, though he was noticeably bothered by it, and since it still did not improve, head athletic trainer Gary Vitti shut him down for this game.

FIRST QUARTER
6:00 With Kobe in the locker room watching, L.A. got a balanced, all-around effort from the guys on the floor to open an early lead, with Ebanks impressing with two offensive boards for put-back layups plus a pretty Euro step layup in transition, the Lakers up 18-12.

1:00 Bynum had already taken 13 shots (!) with a minute left in the first, and while he’d made only three, his dunk put the Lakers up 28-20. He was leading all with eight boards

SECOND QUARTER
5:00 Phoenix came out firing in the second Q from a bench that really hasn’t been very good this season, getting five triples (three from Redd and two from Telfair) to erase what had been an eight-point Lakers lead early on. A turnaround jumper continued the Redd trend, the former Bucks All-Star suddenly totaling 17 bench points, which combined with 10 from Telfair and nine from Morris had the Suns up six points.

2:03 An extremely pretty reverse layup from Sessions, bursting down the court in transition, capped a quick 5-0 Lakers run that cut the Phoenix lead to three at 58-55. Sessions had seven points, while Gasol (16), Bynum (10) and Ebanks (10) were already in double figures.

0:00 Bynum’s bucket looked to have cut the Suns lead back down to two going into halftime, but instead, L.A. let Telfair sail all the way in for a buzzer-beating layup, plus the foul, to close it out with Phoenix up 62-57.

THIRD QUARTER
6:00 The Lakers continued to score with relative ease, getting consecutive Bynum dunks (19 points) to compliment Gasol’s 20 points, but the defense was collapsing on Nash penetration into the paint instead of forcing the All-Star to shoot over LAL’s trees inside, and he was punishing those decisions with 10 assists with the Suns opening a 10-point lead. Shannon Brown was doing damage, scoring 12 of his 16 in the period.

0:00 Brown continued the streak of ridiculous perimeter shooting from Phoenix, rising over Lakers contests to nail two more threes, giving Phoenix 10 in the game (matching Houston’s killer output from the game before) to reach 20 points himself in the quarter and put the Suns up 99-83.

FOURTH QUARTER
7:30 Gasol was on fire from the perimeter, swishing three lofted jumpers to get to 26 points on 12 of 20 field goals, but Phoenix maintained a 14-point lead by continued to score themselves on the other end, a Robin Lopez and-1 (missed FT) giving the Suns 107 points to L.A.’s 91.

2:46 Despite Gasol staying hot to quite hot, hitting two more J’s to reach a season-high 30 points, L.A. found itself down 13 when Frye hit a 3-pointer – the 11th for Phoenix. And that just about did it. Not a bad game for the Lakers overall without Kobe, as they dominated the Suns inside, but Phoenix barely missed a perimeter shot, as it seemed, all evening, with Brown (24), Redd (17), Morris (13) and Telfair (13) all scoring well above their averages.

0:00 Your final: 125-105, the Suns continuing to launch threes in the final two minutes, hitting three more for a season-high against the Lakers of 14. They also turned the ball over only three times, a season low for an opponent, in a tough loss for a Lakers’ team that had won six of seven on the road. Up next is a Monday tilt against New Orleans; we’ll see you there, and we’ll see if Kobe can play.