Another strong effort, another close loss for the Lakers. Los Angeles was able to stay close in the game behind some hot shooting, especially from three (tying their season high for threes with 12), but ultimately were unable to stop the Suns from scoring enough times to escape Staples with a win.
The new "reduced role" Kobe came out looking to facilitate, attempting to find his longest tenured teammate Jordan Hill in particular in the early going, including this dunk. Bryant's minutes and usage were much more sensible tonight (10 points on 10 shots, 7 assists, 8 rebounds, and 40% shooting in 32 minutes), and he even ceded a few crunch time possessions to Nick Young (like this one) on a night he looked especially motivated to conduct the offense rather than control it.
Speaking of Swaggy, Young checked in in at the end of the first, but promptly began erupting flames in the second period, hitting 4-4 threes and tying his season high of assists with two (he did not have another in the second half and finished with two). The Lakers rode this bout of hot shooting (66.7% from behind the arc in the first half and 60% for the game) to a 56-55 lead over a superior Suns team utilizing speedy counterattacks to take advantage of the Lakers inept transition defense (Phoenix had 16 fast break points in the first half, and 26 in the game).
For the Lakers, however, it came down once again to their inability to consistently hit shots throughout the entire game, and more importantly to come anywhere close to stopping the other team from doing so without resorting to fouling (the Suns shot 50.6% from the field, 40.9% from three, and took 24 free throws, making 19 of them). As has so often happened this season, the Lakers oppositions' ability or inability to hit open shots dictated whether or not they got a win rather than anything the Lakers did defensively. More often then not, that is a recipe for a loss, and was tonight.
The Suns two headed starting point guard monster of Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe both impressed, and would have had a triple double were they one player, combining for 46 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists on the night. The Lakers have now lost three games in a row, and will look to bounce back on Tuesday in Denver. Take us home Nick.