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Knight’s big stretch drive helps Suns beat Lakers 95-90

Phoenix Suns guard Brandon Knight, right, is fouled by Los Angeles Lakers guard Lou Williams during the first half of an NBA basketball game in Los Angeles, Friday, March 18, 2016. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

LOS ANGELES — Brandon Knight scored nine of his 22 points in the fourth quarter after Phoenix nearly blew a 19-point lead, and the Suns hung on for a 95-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night.

Knight, who recorded his first NBA triple-double with a career-high 15 assists against the Lakers in the Suns’ 120 -101 win on Nov. 16, finished the game with four free throws, a 3-pointer and a 14-foot running jumper.

Rookie Devin Booker had 21 points and seven assists for the Suns in a matchup of teams with second- and third-worst records in the league. The Suns are 19-50, and Lakers 14-55, with the team with the worse record having a better chance of winning the draft lottery.

Lou Williams scored 30 points off the bench for Los Angeles. Kobe Bryant didn’t play again because of his chronically sore right (shooting) shoulder.

The Lakers have 13 games left in his 20th and final pro season, and none are more important to the NBA’s No. 3 career scorer in terms of his health than his scheduled swan song on April 13 at Staples Center — one of the most coveted tickets in franchise history.

The Lakers are 6-27 since beating Phoenix 97-77 at Staples Center on Jan. 3 for their season-best third straight victory. That was the night the Suns had their lowest point total ever against their Pacific Division rivals.

No player on either team reached double digits in scoring until Tyson Chandler’s follow shot gave Phoenix a 52-40 lead with 8:31 left in the third. The Lakers shot a measly 28.1 percent entering the fourth quarter and trailed 68-54.

The reserves then took over for Los Angeles and reduced the deficit to 84-83 on a 3-pointer by Williams with 3:52 remaining.

Ryan Kelly had a chance to put the Lakers ahead for the first time since the opening minutes, but missed both free throws with 1:18 to play. Kelly was called for offensive goaltending 29 seconds later on an attempted tip-in of Larry Nance Jr.’s missed layup on the Lakers’ next possession.

The Suns, who were held under 70 points for only the fourth time in franchise history on Thursday night in their 103-69 loss at Utah, led the Lakers 47-32 at halftime following an 18-4 run capped by Jon Leuer’s layup with 3:52 left the second quarter.

Los Angeles missed 10 of its first 11 shots and finished the half at 27.3 percent, including 2 for 12 from 3-point range. Power forward Julius Randle was 1 for 9 from the field with two points in 26 minutes.

TIP-INS

Suns: Interim head coach Earl Watson is one of two former UCLA players to become head coaches in the NBA. The other was Kiki Vandeweghe (Nets, 2009-10). “I’m learning a lot, which is why we hired Bob Hill,” said Watson, who is 5-15 since replacing Jeff Hornacek on Feb. 1. “I want Bob beside me so that he can yell at me and we can debate a lot. He always talks about when he was at Indiana, he had Reggie Miller. Or when he was in San Antonio, they had David Robinson. But all we have right now is Tyson Chandler. So we argue all the time — but that’s great because I don’t want to surround myself with a coaching staff that agrees with me a hundred percent. I like debates, I like to be challenged, and I get to challenge right back.”

Lakers: Longtime trainer Gary Vitti, who is retiring at season’s end, will be honored by the club on April 3 when the Lakers host Boston. . Bryant has missed each of the last four meetings with the Suns, including three this season. “Kobe felt pretty good this morning, then this afternoon he didn’t feel good. So he informed us that he wasn’t going to play tonight,” coach Byron Scott said. “From my standpoint, I kind of understand it. When he tells me that he can’t go, I know he’s hurting. My thought process when it comes to him is: ‘I know you’re trying to fight through it, but you’ve got to do what’s best for you as well.’ He’s got to think about his future after basketball. He doesn’t want to do so much damage to his shoulder that he has to go back five or 10 years from now and get surgery again.” . Bryant has missed 16 of the Lakers’ 69 games. They are 4-12 when he’s out of the lineup.

UP NEXT

Suns: Host Memphis on Monday.

Lakers: Host Memphis on Tuesday

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