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GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Phoenix Suns 22 25 24 14 85
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 30 26 9 26 91
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Suns vs. Lakers
Nash finds Howard
Will Ferrell Works the Game
Suns vs. Lakers: First half
The Nash Clinic
Blake's Hustle Play
Shootaround Preview: Suns

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Lakers beat Suns with 4 points from Kobe

By GREG BEACHAM


Posted Feb 13 2013 1:09AM

LOS ANGELES (AP) Dwight Howard had 19 points and 18 rebounds, Antawn Jamison added 19 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers survived Kobe Bryant's bizarre four-point performance for their eighth win in 11 games, 91-85 over the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday night.

Bryant didn't attempt a shot in the first half and scored his first basket with 2:13 to play, finishing 1 for 8 with eight turnovers in one of the oddest games of his 17-year career.

Yet the Lakers survived against the Suns, getting 17 points from Metta World Peace and maintaining a small lead down the stretch of their 12th win in Phoenix's last 13 visits to Staples Center.

Michael Beasley scored 18 points and Luis Scola had 15 for the Suns, who have lost eight of 10. Phoenix is 5-23 on the road.

In a Lakers season jam-packed with ugly losses, statistical improbabilities and general weirdness, this victory will rank among the biggest curiosities. Along with Bryant's disappearing act, they won despite managing just nine points in the third quarter, their lowest-scoring period of the season.

Los Angeles returned from its longest road trip of the season with its fourth straight home win, but Bryant - the NBA's third-leading scorer this season - contributed little to the Lakers' win over the Suns, who beat the Lakers in Phoenix to start the trip last month.

Bryant took his recent propensity for playmaking to an uncomfortable extreme in the first half, accumulating eight assists without taking a shot. Kobe even passed up fairly decent looks to force passes to his teammates on a few occasions, voluntarily removing the shooting skills of the fifth-leading scorer in NBA history from the Lakers' offense.

Bryant finally started shooting in the third quarter, but was just as inept as his teammates, missing all five of his attempts. The Lakers didn't make a basket in the third quarter after World Peace's 3-pointer with 8:58 left, and Phoenix took its first lead late in the period despite its own poor shooting while the Lakers missed 16 of their 19 shots and went 9:21 without a basket.

Los Angeles fell behind by six points before finally mounting a comeback led by World Peace and Jodie Meeks, whose layup reclaimed the lead with 8:40 to play. The Lakers kept that small lead down the stretch, and Bryant finally got a bucket, an 8-foot leaner in the waning minutes.

The Lakers finally got home after being displaced by the Grammy Awards during a seven-game trip. Although the cross-country jaunt was fraught with injuries, poor performances and the usual drama surrounding this team, Los Angeles went 4-3 and built a little momentum for the first time in weeks.

The Lakers began that trip with a 92-86 loss at Phoenix on Jan. 30, blowing a big second-half lead and losing Howard to the shoulder injury that still dogs him.

NOTES: F Earl Clark played the Lakers' entire road trip with pain in his right foot, with the Lakers attributing it to inflammation or tendinitis. Clark says the pain reminded him of a stress fracture from his college career at Louisville, but he intends to play through it. ... The Lakers were home for the first time since losing Pau Gasol for at least six weeks with a foot injury.... Will Ferrell and Shaquille O'Neal watched the game from courtside seats underneath the basket on the Lakers' end of the floor. During a third-quarter timeout, Ferrell donned the red blazer worn by Staples Center security personnel and stood on the court. Ashton Kutcher and Mila Kunis also sat courtside.

Copyright 2013 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited


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Points Howard/Jamison, 19
Rebounds Howard, 18
Assists Bryant, 9
Steals World Peace and Scola (PHX), 4
Blocks O'Neal (PHX), 5
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POSTGAME QUOTES



Mike D'Antoni:

On the game and the team’s energy:
“When you come off the road it’s one of those things. The energy went out. It was out of the building, but because of us. Our energy went away and that’s why it’s a tough game anyway and we were up 12 points and we messed with the game and we don’t just take the easy stuff and we try to pinpoint everything. We’re just still struggling on just playing, just play and whoever gets it gets it. It’s not a chess match out there and you can’t mess with the game, you got to play the game and we messed with it today. We got lucky and get to the next game, but it’s lucky.”

On Kobe Bryant’s struggles:
“I guess every seventeen years he’s allowed that. I wouldn’t be too tough on him. It was just one of those nights. He was trying too hard to get everybody else involved. You got to walk the fine line and he’s way over the other line and he’s got to get back in the middle where he facilitates and he’s aggressive. He’s got to flow that way, and then once you get out of rhythm then at the end of the game you have no chance to get back in rhythm. So it’s just one of those games. Just chalk it off and write it off and get to the next one.”

On Dwight Howard and Steve Nash playing together:
“It was good. Obviously when you get 19 [points] and 18 [rebounds] and a big presence underneath the rim it’s good and it should be that way all the time. I think that if he were to get with Steve [Nash] and they can get that going a little bit, get some easy buckets. I thought Steve controlled the game pretty well down toward the end so it was some better stuff, not great yet, but a lot better.

On the team struggling to string together good games:
“We just for whatever reason struggle playing the game and just getting the chemistry right and getting guys comfortable and just taking what’s there and there’s so much going on, ‘you got to do this, you got to do that’ we’re way overthinking the game. We just need to play harder, play better and just move the ball and it’s pretty simple stuff but you’re right. The string, we probably got up to five [well played games in a row] and then we fell off and then we go into a tailspin and then we get it up to three and then we fall off again and we got to quit that.”

On moving forward:
“We won 8 out of the last 11, I don’t know just keep on going, we just got to keep going, and we’ll be ready Thursday. We know the Clippers and how good they are, but again just every once in a while we have these nights where we can’t figure out who to make happy and it’s just tough, tough to go.”




Dwight Howard:

On how they pulled out in the fourth quarter:
“Play defense, get rebounds. We did a good job of that at the end of the game, and that’s how we got the win.”

On his shot blocking and rebounding:
“I just try to do a good job of protecting the basket. Try to force them to take tough shots and that’s what we did, and I was able to get rebounds.”

On their recent performances:
“Our defense is getting a lot better, we’re sharing the ball, we just got to continue to do that.”

On what the Lakers have to do against the Clippers Thursday:
“Same thing. We got to play hard, play defense, contain Chris Paul, and do a good job with their bigs down low.”




Metta World Peace:

On Kobe Bryant’s performance:
“I don’t think he was off, he only took 8 shots. He would have taken 10 more shots; he would have made all 10, so for the most part he was getting everyone else involved. He had 9 assists, that’s a big game. When you watch basketball, people have to understand, assists makes a good all-star. That means you’re playing with your team.”

On his energy:
“I’m trying to play hard and getting that energy back the last 10 games I guess…no excuses but for the most part I’m able to run a little bit, I’m getting my legs back under me so I’m feeling really good about that.”

On Dwight Howard’s performance:
“The thing about Dwight (Howard), people forget this guy just had back surgery. People really need to understand that he’s got a lot of heart, even off that back surgery.”




Earl Clark:

On taking back the lead:
“It was our defense and rebounding. Once they started missing some shots, we got the rebounds, we got out and we scored. I think also it was the turnovers. We cut the turnovers down. We were turning the ball over in the 3rd quarter too much, which allowed them back in the game with easy fast-break points. We have to cut that out because it can carry over to the next game. We have to learn how to take care of business when we’re up and just finish the game up.”

On overcoming a bad game by best player [Kobe Bryant]:
“We have great players on this team. It’s basketball that’s going to happen. I’m kind of glad it happened because I know come Thursday he is going to come out with fire in his eyes, ready to go. It was just a good team win.”




Antawn Jamison:

On overcoming a bad game by best player [Kobe Bryant]:
“We should be able to do that with the personnel that we have here. It just lets you know that you can trust us no matter if Kobe is feeling or not. It should be the same way if Dwight is in the same situation. We have some very key guys at certain positions that can really come in and pick up the slack if our superstars are not feeling it.”

On Dwight’s performance tonight:
“That is what should be happening on a night-in night-out basis. He should be controlling the paint on both ends of the floor and tonight he was able to do that. In order for us to get to where we need to get to he needs to do that very consistently.




Steve Nash:

On what decided the end result:
“I thought we got a good contribution from the bench. In the third quarter got out of a rhythm offensively. We were not only not getting good shots but giving up fast-break points, we kind of lost control of the game. The bench came in and did a good job and in the fourth quarter we just got back to a little more movement, broke the defense down, got some good shots, also got some offensive rebounds and I thought that was key.”

On Dwight’s performance tonight:
“I thought Dwight was great. I don’t always feel like the numbers tell a story with Dwight. I think he is capable of huge numbers. I think the numbers tonight, and I don’t even know if the numbers tonight were huge for him he’s so capable, but his impact is huge regardless of the numbers. He could have had 12 and 10 today and he would have had a big impact just because he put a lot into the game. Defensively he was a huge presence. Offensively I thought he put energy into the game.”




Kobe Bryant:

On tonight being a frustrating night:
“I thought it was great actually. I think obviously going 1 for 8 isn’t necessarily a recipe for success but I think that the important thing is that we just moved the ball. Just moving, it’s not about us individually it’s just about what we can do to help the team.”

On making a conscious effort not to shoot:
“I’ve been doing that since January, just trying to make the right play to keep everybody involved. They took away my post-ups they wanted to see if the other guys could beat us or maybe if I’d get frustrated and start forcing things a little bit. It just took the double teams and we just have to try to make the right play.”




Lindsey Hunter:

On the game:
“When you put yourself behind the way we did in the first half and they are fighting uphill, it is tough. You can’t fight back and be even with them. You have to fight back and kind of take a big lead and we could never quite pull away. ”

“I think we are slowly making progress. Defensively, we still get stagnant at times and we get lost, but I think the third quarter was probably one of the best quarters we have had defensively this season. When you see signs of things that we have been working on, it is encouraging. But, we still have to keep working until that is done every single time, not just one quarter. So we will go home over the break and watch film and evaluate. And like we said, if some things need to be tweaked and changed, we will do that.”

On Kobe Bryant:
“I think Kobe is smart. He is one of the greatest ever and I think he knows what mode he is in. And I think he realizes when he needs to be aggressive and when he doesn’t. You just always have to be aware of him and we never take it for granted when he is on the floor. We are going to know where he is and we are going to close out to him just as if he was going for 30. But, obviously he knew how he wanted to play the game tonight and they beat us.”

On Metta World Peace’s defense:
“He is great. When he can get his body into people, he is still one of the best. He really wreaked some havoc for us tonight and came up with some key steals at some key times in the game.”




Michael Beasley:

On the team being able to contain Kobe Bryant:
“I wouldn’t go that far to say we held him down. He’s a great player, but we definitely did what we wanted to do as far as our assignments; we just didn’t finish.”

On how frustrating tonight’s loss is:
“It’s real frustrating. We have to look forward to the next game and try not to make the same mistakes. I think our defense really hurt us tonight, except for the third quarter. In the third quarter I felt like we played great defense. We held them to nine points or something like that. Other than that, the first half and the fourth quarter they got whatever they wanted and our defense just wasn’t where they were supposed to be. We just have to work hard and look forward.”

On the team’s play since head coach Lindsey Hunter took over:
“We’ve come around a lot, especially on the defensive side. That’s what we wanted to do; play defense with passion, play hard, and let our defense turn into offense. It’s definitely turning around and we’re heading in the right direction.”




Jared Dudley:

On how frustrating tonight’s loss is:
“We get so close, and play so well in the third quarter and figure it out. Then we went away from it in the fourth quarter for some reason. Kobe [Bryant] has four points and eight or nine turnovers and they win the game, and we didn’t even have a chance to win the game. The third quarter was encouraging and I thought the best we’ve played in a long time. We did everything right in that quarter, but overall they executed their game plan. Kobe [Bryant] wanted to be a facilitator and he was a facilitator. Antawn Jamison was the “X factor,” he got a lot of offensive rebounds and easy buckets, and when you do that to role players it gets them going.”

On what went wrong tonight in the fourth quarter:
“I thought we just got away from what we were doing. Before, we were getting defensive stops, we were running, we were sharing the ball and getting quality shots. We just didn’t get that. We started not running on the break, we started doing half court sets and taking bad contested shots, and when that happens, that’s how they end up propelling themselves and getting the lead.”




P.J. Tucker:

On what was the problem in the fourth quarter, not being able to close:
“That’s just the story of our team this year, just not being able to come up with the victory in the end. We had some help side miscommunications, they made some tough shots, and Steve [Nash] made a couple tough ones. But, like I said it’s just the story of our team this season. Just not being able to close the game out and being able to be in a position to win the game. It’s just something we have to keep trying to get better at.”

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SUNS-LAKERS PREVIEW

By JORDAN GARRETSON

Posted Feb 11 2013 6:50PM

A lengthy road trip seemed to take its toll on the Los Angeles Lakers, possibly contributing to an uncharacteristically poor rebounding performance in their last game.

They'll likely be happy to return home for Tuesday night's matchup against the struggling Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers (24-28) are looking to avenge a 92-86 loss at Phoenix on Jan. 30, which started their seven-game trip. It also gives Steve Nash another shot against his former team after he had 11 points, two assists and two turnovers in his return to Arizona.

Los Angeles bounced back from that loss with wins in four of the next five games. The schedule, dictated by Staples Center hosting Sunday's Grammy Awards, saw the Lakers travel over 6,500 miles in a span of 13 days, the effects of which perhaps manifested in a 107-97 loss at Miami on Sunday.

Los Angeles, third in the league in rebounding at 44.7 per game, was outrebounded 38-29 by a Miami team that averages a league-worst 38.9 rebounds per game.

"There were moments that we gave up a foul shot or a rebound that turned into a three-point shot," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "There were extra shots that we gave them and we didn't rebound."

Kobe Bryant drew extra attention for his increased role as a facilitator as he totaled 39 assists in the three games before the Lakers left Los Angeles, a trend that continued to a lesser extent. He had eight or more assists four times on the trip.

Bryant had 28 points on 11-of-19 shooting with nine assists against the Heat, but Metta World Peace shot just 3 of 11 for nine points.

"For the most part, we played hard," said Bryant, whose scoring average of 27.4 per game ranks third.

The Suns (17-35) have lost seven of nine and are coming off two blowout defeats at the hands of Oklahoma City, falling 127-96 on the road Friday, then 97-69 at home two days later. Wesley Johnson's tip-in with 7.8 seconds to play Sunday prevented the Suns from setting a franchise scoring low. The team scored 68 at Kansas City on March 8, 1981.

No starter scored more than eight as Phoenix shot 33.0 percent - its worst clip since hitting 26.8 percent in a 110-72 loss at New Jersey on March 27, 2006.

Markieff Morris was the only player in double figures with 12 points, while Goran Dragic, Phoenix's leading scorer with 14.2 ppg, was held to six on 2-of-7 shooting. It was his lowest total since scoring four in a loss to New York on Dec. 26.

"It is like having a bad day at work and nothing goes right for you," interim coach Lindsey Hunter said. "Look at it and you go on. ... You do not hang your head and dwell on it, you move on. And that is what we are going to do. That is my job not to let the guys have pity parties." That could be tough for the Suns with their next three games on the road.

Phoenix owns the league's second-worst road record at 5-22, while Los Angeles has won five of six at home.

The Lakers also defeated the Suns 114-102 in Los Angeles on Nov. 16, their 11th win in the last 12 meetings at Staples Center - including the playoffs.

Bryant had 31 points in the November matchup, and is averaging 39.3 points during the Lakers' four-game home winning streak in the series.


Copyright 2012 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
Probable Starters .
  Lakers    
  #15 World Peace SF #17 Tucker  
  #6 ClarkPF #14 Scola  
  #12 Howard C #4 Gortat  
  #24 Bryant SG #3 Dudley  
  #10 Nash PG #1 Dragic  


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Lakers Pau Gasol
(strained plantar fascia, right foot) is out
Jordan Hill
(torn labrum, left hip/herniated disc) is out.
Dwight Howard
(torn labrum, right shoulder) is probable.
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Jazz Channing Frye
(enlarged heart) is out.
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11/16 - PHX 102 @ LAL 114
01/30 - LAL 86 @ PHX 92
02/12 - PHX @ LAL
03/18 - LAL @ PHX
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