PHOENIX — Catching an opponent on the second game of a back-to-back doesn’t guarantee victory, but it does provide a nice advantage for the team that did not play the night before.
The Phoenix Suns (6-4) took advantage of such an opportunity — again — and won their season-high third in a row behind Brandon Knight’s first career triple-double in a 120-101 victory over the L.A. Lakers in front of a sold-out Talking Stick Resort Arena on Monday.
The Suns’ last three wins have all come against teams playing the second game of a back-to-back.
Knight had 24 points on 11-of-23 shooting, 10 rebounds and a career-high 15 assists.
Six other Suns scored in double figures, including four players off the bench.
T.J. Warren led the reserves with a career-high 19 points, 12 coming in a fourth quarter the Suns dominated, 40-26, to pull away from the Kobe Bryant-less Lakers (2-9), who were coming off a home win against Detroit the night before.
The Suns’ bench outscored the Lakers’ bench, 55-36.
Eric Bledsoe added 21 points to extend his streak of 20 or more points in a career-best fifth straight game.
The Suns have won five straight and nine of 10 against the Lakers plus nine in a row at home, their best such stretch against L.A. since winning 10 in a row from 1977-1981.
– After four points in 16 minutes against Denver, Alex Len matched that total in his first 67 seconds on the court in the first quarter. His back-to-back dunks started a 9-0 run to close the period and give the Suns a 26-22 lead. The Lakers missed six consecutive shots and twice turned the ball over in the final 3:20 of the quarter.
– During one 55-second stretch of the second quarter, P.J. Tucker scored seven straight points. It began with a 25-foot 3-pointer, continued with a five-foot hook shot and ended with him following Knight’s miss with a put-back layup. Tucker finished the first half with 11 points, setting a new season-high, in 15 minutes.
– Bledsoe and Knight each scored 14 first-half points. Bledsoe was responsible for the Suns’ final nine points of the first half hitting three field goals, including a 3-pointer, and two free throws. Knight, meanwhile, got off to a hot start with nine first-quarter points. He added six assists, five rebounds and two steals in his 22 minutes of play.
– Mirza Teletovic had three three-pointers for the second straight game. After starting the season 1-of-7 from beyond the arc in his first four games, Teletovic is now 11-of-16 (68.7 percent) in his last six games. He finished 3-of-8 from long distance.
– Of Knight’s 15 assists, six came in the fourth quarter. At one point, he assisted on five straight made field goals, the last of which was on Warren’s six-foot jump shot which gave the Suns a 103-86 lead with 5:41 to play. Warren finished 9-of-13, his ninth career game making at least two-thirds of his field goals on at least nine attempts.
– The oldest player in uniform made the Suns look silly in the first quarter. The ageless one, Metta World Peace (once referred to as Ron Artest), who turned 36 last Friday, scored 10 of the Lakers first 16 points. He went 4-of-4 in the quarter with two made 3s, the second of which gave the Lakers a 16-11 lead at 6:36.
– Trailing by six in the second quarter, the Lakers scored on six consecutive possessions for a 13-7 run to tie the game at 35 with 7:36 remaining in the half. Lou Williams scored five, Nick Young four; the two combined for 18 points on 7-of-10 shooting in the quarter. It was Williams’ 3-point play that knotted the game at 35.
– One of the reasons the Lakers hung around for so long was because of the play of second-year guard Jordan Clarkson. He scored seven of his team-high 20 points in the third quarter with two field goals, including a 3, and two free throws. Clarkson has put up double digits in scoring in seven of the last eight games.
STAT OF THE GAME
4: According to Elias Sports Bureau, Knight became just the fourth player since steals became an official stat in 1973-74 to record a triple-double with a line of at least 30 points, 15 assists, 10 rebounds and four steals; he joined Russell Westbrook (30-17-11-4 vs. Toronto, 3/8/15), Magic Johnson (33-17-15-6 vs. Denver, 3/29/81) and Pete Maravich (42-17-10-4 vs. Seattle, 1/17/75).
HE SAID IT, part I
“I still don’t think so because we haven’t seen him dunk yet,” head coach Jeff Hornacek said on whether Knight is 100 percent from offseason ankle surgery. “We know he can (dunk). He gets in there and he can really go up there and dunk it on people, when you see that first one you’ll probably know he’s 100 percent. He’s obviously feeling better because he’s driving it to the basket more.”
HE SAID IT, part II
“Those two are very explosive and Brandon Knight had an unbelievable game tonight and Bledsoe is a guy that can put up numbers as well. Those two guards are exciting to watch because they play extremely hard,” Lakers head coach Byron Scott said.
– The Suns’ 6-4 mark is their best 10-game start to a season since also starting 6-4 back in 2010-11.
– The Suns have won three straight games by 14 or more points for the first time since four in row from Nov. 22-29, 2009.
– Archie Goodwin (12 points) made his 100th career appearance with his 18th career double-digit scoring game.
– Markieff Morris (left knee sprain) missed his second straight game, giving Jon Leuer his second straight start.
– Ronnie Price (concussion) missed his second straight game but is expected to return to practice on Tuesday.
The Suns close out their four-game homestand with a visit from Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Pau Gasol and the Chicago Bulls on Wednesday.
It’s Chicago’s one and only appearance in Phoenix this season.
Tip-off is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. with pregame coverage beginning 30 minutes earlier on Arizona Sports 98.7 FM.
The Suns and Bulls split their two meetings last season with the home team winning each matchup.
Overall, the Bulls have won 10 of the last 13 games in the series; though the Suns are 10-6 in the last 16 meetings played in the Valley.