It wasn’t long ago that a trip to the Staples Center to lock horns with the Los Angeles Lakers was a virtual loss. This season, the exact opposite has been expected.
Maybe that is why the 115-99 dismantling the Suns incurred from a hapless Lakers squad stings as bad as it does. On the surface, it is just one loss; similar to the other 29 times it has happened this year. When looking deeper, a loss to a team without Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, Steve Nash and Xavier Henry playing resembles more of an embarrassment than a slip-up.
The streak of being bitten by ghosts of Phoenix Suns past continued on this evening as former first-round pick Kendall Marshall reminded Suns fans of just how high his ceiling was coming out of North Carolina. It took a steady amount of playing time at the highest level for him to find his jumpshot, but he has always been a more than willing passer, a true point guard even. Going for 13 points, 11 assists, three steals, and a ridiculous +30 while on the court, Marshall provided an unwelcoming reminder as to what the Suns may have given up too early on.
Had Marshall been the Suns only problem, the contest may have been more evenly matched. Seemingly, out of nowhere, former Central Michigan Chippewa Chris Kaman turned the clocks back to his prime, going for an astounding 28-point, 17 rebound and six-assist effort. On the list of things many Suns fans thought they would never have to endure, a near demolition at the hands of Chris Kaman (he of the sleeping on the bench meme that has taken the internet by storm, mind you) has to be near the top.
As to where the listless Lakers shot 53% from the field on the night, the Suns could only muster a paltry 38.5%. It’s not a mystery that the number was so low with Channing Frye (1-for-7), P.J. Tucker (2-for-8) and Eric Bledsoe (1-for-9) all pitching in miserable nights. Had it not been for the energy that Gerald Green brought off the bench to chip in 22 points, the score could have been even more lopsided than it projected. In fact, the starting five only managed to score 39 points the entire game. The bench contributed the remaining 60 points, which would have been a fine number had the starting frontline given more than 12 points.
Trailing by a score of 61-43 at the half, the Suns were never able to dig themselves out of the trench they were buried in. Even as the Morris twins played exceptionally well (particularly Markieff who finished with 16 points and 12 boards), their efforts were for naught as the lottery-bound Lakers laid the hammer to Phoenix.
Those being optimistic about the Suns chances for the six seed in the West will be pleased to hear that the New York Knicks went into Golden State and did Phoenix a huge favor by knocking off the Splash Brothers. With everybody staying pat, the Suns are still just a game and a half back.
Then, there are the pessimists. They recognize that while the Suns are currently positioned in the number seven slot, they recognize they are just a half a game away from not making the Postseason whatsoever. They’ll also be quick to point out that the next three game stretch for the Suns is as lethal as a team can be dismayed to face. Home for the Clippers, then out to Portland, followed by coming home for the Thunder does not sound a pleasant way to ring in the new month of April.
Wednesday night at 7 PM it will be the Clippers getting a view at an old foe, as Eric Bledsoe looks to make an impression against his former club. The Suns have lost their last two meetings against Los Angeles and with Dallas and Memphis breathing molten lava down their backs, winning becomes imperative. Tune in Wednesday night to see if the Suns can stave off their hungry challengers.