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Suns’ Dragan Bender posts career-high 15 points in loss to Lakers

Phoenix Suns forward Dragan Bender, right, drives past Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bogut (66) to score during the second half of an NBA basketball game Monday, Nov. 13, 2017, in Phoenix. The Lakers won 100-93. (AP Photo/Ross D. Franklin)

No matter how well Phoenix Suns power forward Dragan Bender is playing defensively, he needs to put together his offensive game at some point.

Suns fans got a sneak preview of what that could look like down the line for the 19-year-old in the team’s 100-93 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.

Bender scored a career-high 15 points, using some impressive moves in the fourth quarter to reach the high mark.

One came via the post, where Bender has shown he needs to be more effective in taking advantage of mismatches.

Instead of backing down Lakers swingman Corey Brewer, though, Bender showed off a pretty fade-away jumper on the sideline in the form of LaMarcus Aldridge.

Later in the quarter, Bender showed what he can do once defenses respect his three-point shot and make him put the ball on the floor.

Using his quickness, Bender flew by Brewer, and with Lakers center Andrew Bogut coming to protect the rim, he rose and finished with the left hand to avoid the contest.

After taking a rough fall in the second half, he had his right wrist taped up. Bender said after the game it was a little sore and should be fine the following day.

Bender’s struggles offensively have been evident. He entered the game shooting 37 percent from the field and 33 percent from deep. If Phoenix continues to see signs of growth like they did earlier in the season and on Monday night, though, the numbers in the past won’t matter as much as the Croatian grows into a legitimate player on both ends.

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