3:30 PM ET, March 1, 2009
US Airways Center, Phoenix, AZ
Shaq nets 33 as Nash-less Suns snare season's first win vs. Lakers
Give this one to Shaq and the Suns.
No Help From Friends
Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol were left out to dry in Sunday's loss to the Suns. The dynamic duo pumped in a combined 79 points, but the rest of the team scored just 32 on a paltry 31-percent shooting effort. Here's a look at the disparity:
|Kobe/Gasol||Rest of Team|
O'Neal scored 33 points and Phoenix overcame Bryant's 49-point performance to beat the Los Angeles Lakers 118-111 on Sunday.
Matt Barnes added 26 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists as the Suns, without Steve Nash for the third straight game because of a sprained right ankle, defeated the Lakers for the first time in four tries this season.
Pau Gasol added 30 for Los Angeles, loser of two in a row for just the third time this season.
"We're going through a period right now where everybody's just kind of tired a little bit," Bryant said. "It happens. ... Everybody kind of goes through it a little bit. And this two games, we've been playing lethargic. It's that point in the season where we kind of hit it. The key for us is to snap out of it."
After his 45-point game against Toronto on Friday night, O'Neal has consecutive 30-point games for the first time since March 5-7, 2004, when he and Bryant were teammates in Los Angeles.
"It's what I do," O'Neal said. "I've been doing it since 1992. If you don't believe it, Google me."
• The Lakers have lost two straight games, marking the third separate occasion they've dropped two in a row this season.
• Kobe Bryant (49 points) recorded his 96th career 40-point game, the third-most in NBA history after Wilt Chamberlain and Michael Jordan.
• Shaquille O'Neal (33 points) completed his first back-to-back 30-point games since March 5-7, 2004, when he was a member of the Lakers.
• Bryant attempted 38 shots Sunday, the most of any player in a game this season.
-- ESPN research
"A lot of people thought I lost it," O'Neal said. "It's kind of funny to me, when I say 'I'm injured,' no one believes me. Last year I was injured and this year I'm feeling pretty good."
Bryant was asked if O'Neal reminded him of the Shaq of old.
"No, not quite," Bryant said. "But he's playing extremely well, obviously. The thing is they're looking for him, they're going inside to him. Tonight, I mean, Pau is giving up 250 pounds [a bit of an exaggeration]. There's really not much he can do in that situation and Shaq took advantage of it."
Bryant made 18 of a season-high 38 attempts in the 96th 40-point game of his career. He scored 17 points in a span of less than four minutes early in the second half.
Leandro Barbosa added 22 points and Grant Hill 17 for the Suns, who improved to 6-2 since Alvin Gentry replaced the fired Terry Porter and returned the team to Mike D'Antoni's fast-paced style. It was the Gentry-led Suns' first win, though, over a team with a winning record.
"Obviously a great win for us," Gentry said, "against what I think is still the best team in the league."
Entering Sunday night's competition, Phoenix was 1 1/2 games behind Dallas for the eighth and final playoff berth in the West, but only three behind Houston for the No. 4 spot.
Coach Phil Jackson, whose team was coming off a 90-79 loss at Denver, said the Lakers' loss came at the free throw line, where Phoenix was 26-for-42 and Los Angeles 19-of-20.
"It's tough to win when you gave up that many free throws," Jackson said. "We gave up 37 on Friday and 42 tonight. You know, that's tough."
Barnes scored seven in a row to put Phoenix ahead 114-103 with 1:26 to play. He started the spurt with two free throws, sank a 3-pointer from the top of the key, then added two more from the foul line.
The Lakers finished with an 8-1 spurt but ran out of time in a game they trailed most of the way.
Phoenix led by as many as 15 in the first half was up by 10 at the break.
Then, Bryant scored his remarkable 17 in a 19-2 Lakers outburst that erased a 12-point deficit and put Los Angeles ahead 75-70 on his 3-pointer with 6:24 left in the third quarter. Bryant made two 3s and converted a three-point play on a driving layup and foul by O'Neal during the surge.
Bryant had a tooth knocked out of place when he was hit in the mouth during that run.
"Don't ask me nothing funny. I'm not smiling. You're not seeing my tooth," he said afterward. "It feels foul. It feels like I can't chew anything, like Roger Rabbit or something."
The Lakers' lead was short-lived.
After a time out, Phoenix scored the next 13 to go up 83-75 on O'Neal's three-point play with 3:33 left in the quarter. Robin Lopez blocked Jordan Farmar's layup try, leading to a breakaway layup by Barbosa at the buzzer that put the Suns ahead 91-81 entering the final quarter.
The Lakers' Lamar Odom fouled out with 8:31 to play after scoring four points on 2-for-3 shooting in 23 minutes.
"Lamar just really had an awful day," Jackson said. "I mean, there were a couple of really bad calls against Lamar that limited his time."
Nash planned to give the ankle a try, but was scratched from the lineup shortly before tipoff. ... The Lakers' only first-half lead was at 2-0. ... The Suns begin a four-game, six-day road trip Tuesday night at Orlando. ... Phoenix is 4-4 without Nash this season. ... The Lakers last lost two in a row Jan. 14-16, at San Antonio and home against Orlando. ... The Lakers won the season series with Phoenix 3-1 for the second year in a row.
Team Stat Comparison
|FGM-FGA||42-94 (.447)||43-77 (.558)|
|3PM-3PA||8-26 (.308)||6-18 (.333)|
|FTM-FTA||19-20 (.950)||26-42 (.619)|
|Fast Break Points||10||14|
|Fouls (Tech/Flagrant)||32 (1/0)||19 (0/0)|