The final score may not reflect the fact the Los Angeles Lakers gave the Phoenix Suns a good run for their money Monday night.
The two teams were knotted at 26 after one quarter, and the Lakers led for a good portion of the second period at US Airways Center before the Suns pulled it to a 51-51 tie heading into halftime.
Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas were the only ones providing much offense for the home team in the first half, but their teammates started coming alive in the third quarter.
The Suns started to put a little distance between their competitor midway through the third period, and they would hold onto the lead through the end.
Nick Young fueled a late Lakers run that put a little scare into the home crowd, but Dragic and Markieff Morris scored the last nine points of the game, and Phoenix had itself a 115-100 win, completing a season sweep over the division rival.
The victory was Phoenix’s third in a row and sixth straight at home. Jeff Hornacek’s group remained eighth in the Western Conference with a 25-18 record. Los Angeles, who was missing star Kobe Bryant on Monday, is on a five-game losing streak and has the fourth-worst record in the NBA at 12-30.
Here’s a look at Monday’s entertaining contest, by the numbers:
Leading the Suns in rebounding, of all people, was the 6-foot-3 Dragic, who grabbed nine boards — one shy of his season high. Three of the seven-year guard’s rebounds were on the offensive end. The Slovenian also added five assists, one steal and shot a torrid 11-for-15 in the game. The Suns, however, came up slightly short in the category, as L.A. pulled down 46 boards — led by Ed Davis’ 11 — to Phoenix’s 41.
The Suns allowed Lakers point guard Jeremy Lin to reach double-figures in assists for just the third time this season. The 26-year-old guard had a double-double Monday with 10 points and 10 assists. The Lakers are now just 1-2 when he hands out 10 assists or more.
The sixth straight home win was also the third on Phoenix’s current eight-game homestand. The Suns were once 6-7 at US Airways Center, but they are now 12-7. By comparison, they are 13-11 on the road this season.
The Suns poured in more than 10 threes on the Lakers for the second time this season, and Monday marked the third time they shot better than 40 percent from downtown against Byron Scott’s group. In Monday’s win, Phoenix went 13-for-32 (40.6 percent) from long range, led by Thomas’ four threes in six attempts. The Lakers were actually more efficient, but they didn’t take nearly as many; they went 8-for-17 (47.1 percent) from behind the long line, led by Young’s four makes in seven tries.
After struggling to create separation from the visitor in the first half, Phoenix led for the final 20 minutes and 23 seconds of the contest, kicked off by an Eric Bledsoe three-pointer. The Suns built a lead as big as 19 at one point, but the Lakers whittled it down to six with just under three minutes to play before the home team closed out on a 9-0 run.
Phoenix racked up 16 steals in the win, which were part of a whopping 23 Lakers turnovers. Thomas led the Suns with five takeaways, tying his season high. The Suns also won the fast-break battle, outscoring L.A. 24-17 in that category. The Suns weren’t perfect handling the ball, however, as they had 15 turnovers themselves.
The Suns also claimed victory in their 43rd game of last season to improve to 25-18, which is where they are now. That win in Cleveland kicked off a five-game winning streak, four of which were on the road. If this year’s version of the Suns wants to keep pace with last year’s, they’re going to need to win their next four contests.
Los Angeles had a wealth of opportunities from the charity stripe, as the team got to take 35 free throws. However, they made just 24 of them — a percentage of 68.6. Despite the Lakers’ many opportunities, none of the Suns even fouled out; in fact, only two players — Morris and Dragic — had four fouls. Phoenix was slightly more efficiently from the free throw line, hitting 16 out of 22 attempts (72.7 percent).
The home team finished exactly 50 percent from the field (43-for-86) in putting up its most points in seven games. The Suns improved to 34-1 when shooting at least 50 percent in the last two seasons. The Lakers weren’t terrible from the floor, but they did take 11 fewer shots. They finished 34-for-75 (45.3 percent) on the night.
Phoenix’s three main point guards lived up to their top billing, combining for 65 points. Dragic and Thomas each dropped 24 on the Lakers, while Bledsoe added 17. Another guard, Gerald Green, did pretty well for himself with 13 off the bench. For the Lakers, Young came off the bench for a team-high 24.
The Suns pulled off their first season sweep of the Lakers since 2004-05 — 10 years ago, if you’re counting. When that last happened, Phoenix beat the Bryant-led Lakers by a combined 45 points that year. This season, the Suns won all four games by a combined 50 points.