Suns Strokes: Phoenix dominates Los Angeles Lakers on opening night
Winning on opening night is good.
Winning on opening night against the Lakers is great.
Winning on opening night against the Lakers in blowout fashion is fantastic.
Six Suns players reached double figures, including all five starters, while 10 of the 12 available players scored in the 119-99 victory over the L.A. Lakers in front of 17,523 at US Airways Center on Wednesday.
It was the Suns first season opening victory in four tries against the Lakers, who were playing their second game in as many nights.
In his first game in a Suns uniform, Isaiah Thomas led the team with 23 points playing only 20 minutes. He shot nine-of-11, including five-of-seven from 3.
Marcus Morris also made five threes, trying a career-high. His fifth 3 of the night gave the Suns their largest lead of the game, 95-66, with 2:34 remaining in the third quarter, a quarter in which the Suns outscored the Lakers, 39-23.
Goran Dragic (18), Eric Bledsoe (16), Markieff Morris (12) and Miles Plumlee (10) also hit double digits in scoring. Bledsoe was well on his way to a triple-double with nine rebounds and six assists until he was ejected in the third quarter.
Kobe Bryant scored a game-high 31, his 25th career game of 30 or more points against the Suns.
Thomas made a good first impression. Checking into the game at 4:51 of the first quarter, he made his first field goal attempt as a Sun, a 3, less than 90 seconds later. Thomas nailed a second 3 to cap a 10-0 run in which he accounted for eight of the 10 points — five points and an assist on a Marcus Morris 3.
Dragic exploded for 12 points, hitting five of his seven attempts in the third quarter. He scored 10 of those points during a 34-11 run; not bad after he had missed four of his five shots in the first half.
Alex Len’s stat line: three points, five rebounds and one block shot, may not stand out, but the second-year center was a plus-25, the only reserve with a plus/minus in the positive.
The Suns’ 16 3s surpassed their season-high from last season (15, four different times).
The Suns shot better than 60 percent in both the second and third quarters.
Bledsoe’s night ended with 30 seconds left in the third quarter after receiving his second technical foul, which earned an automatic ejection. He and Bryant were whistled for a jump ball after getting tied up going for a rebound. Bledsoe suffered a bloody lip in the process but no foul was called. Frustrated, he walked over and kicked the scorer’s table.
The Suns were outscored 9-1 to begin the second quarter, part of an overall 13-1 Lakers run that trimmed an 18-point lead to six. The Lakers got as close as four on three separate occasions with Bryant scoring seven of his team’s nine points during that stretch. He finished the quarter with 12 points.
Foul trouble limited Plumlee to only 15 minutes of court time through three quarters. He picked up two quick ones in the third, fouling Wesley Johnson on a 3-point attempt just 11 seconds into the second half and fouling Jeremy Lin in the backcourt four-and-a-half minutes later.
The Suns won the rebounding battle (40-38), but allowed 12 offensive boards leading to 18 second chance points for the Lakers.
STAT OF THE GAME
20: The Suns won by 20 points, tied for the fourth-largest margin of victory in a season opener in franchise history. In each of the previous four seasons in which the Suns have won their season opener by 20 or more points (1980-81, 1989-90, 1990-91, 2004-05), they won at least 54 games and advanced to the playoffs.
HE SAID IT
“When these guys are getting slapped in the face and they’re not calling it, then I don’t mind a guy getting upset like that,” said head coach Jeff Hornacek, referring to Bledsoe’s ejection in the third quarter. “Eric’s been into every game we’ve had this year in terms of intensity, and so sometimes that’s going to happen. At that point, we were up by 25 or however many it was…we were OK, but we’ll have to get his attention if the game’s a little closer. We can’t afford to have him out.”
The Suns beat the Lakers for the fifth time in the last six meetings in the series.
Bledsoe needed only seven shots to score 16 points, hitting three of his four 3-point attempts.
The Suns improved to 17-0 when both Bledsoe and Dragic score 16 or more points in the same game.
The Suns shot 45-of-82 (.549) from the field; last season, the Suns went 20-0 when shooting at least 50 percent from the field.
The 10 returning Suns players from last season is tied for the seventh-most in the NBA on opening night rosters, trailing playoff teams San Antonio (14), Portland (13), Atlanta (12), Indiana (11), Memphis (11) and Washington (11).
Another home game.
The Suns host the defending champion San Antonio Spurs on Friday, Oct. 31. Tip off is scheduled for 7 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
The Spurs won three of the four meetings last season, but the Suns won the last meeting at US Airways Center by 21 points, a 106-85 victory on Feb. 21, which marked the largest margin of victory by the Suns in the series since 1998-99.
The Spurs went on a 19-game win streak after the loss.