Phoenix Suns Set Los Angeles Lakers in Regular Season Upset
Both teams coming off of great wins, the Lakers and the Suns face off for the second time in a week and the last time in regular season play. Both the Lakers' Andrew Bynum and Phoenix's star point guard Steve Nash did not play in today's game due to injury.
First Quarter: The first quarter started off with a couple of lead changes, ending with Phoenix taking a small lead of five points for the majority of the quarter. With about four minutes left Lakers caught up to the Suns.
Immediately after the catch up, Matt Barnes for the Suns made a clutch three-point shot from the right wing causing Lakers coach Phil Jackson to call a time out. Jackson's pep talk did not seem to have the right effect since the next three runs down court included a turn over, then a missed shot and a defensive foul.
The quarter picked up its pace for the last two minutes with back and forth scoring action. The quarter ended with Matt Barnes scoring another hard three-pointer, putting the Suns up eight points at the end of the quarter.
Pau Gasol of the Lakers played a huge role in L.A.'s offense, scoring 12 points. Leandro Barbosa and Grant Hill also had in important quarter, both scoring nine points a piece. The first quarter score was Phoenix 34, Los Angeles 26.
Second Quarter: The second quarter continued this back and forth scoring with a very high intensity. Phoenix really showed their "run and gun" game strategy this quarter. They put the ball down low in the post several times for Shaquille O'Neal and Grant Hill went on a rampage scoring once within three seconds of the Suns possession.
The Lakers strong offense kept them scoring , but they were one step behind the Suns on the defense and that is what made the Suns stay ahead by nine points for most of the quarter.
With five minutes left and just when it seemed like Phoenix could not move any faster, they picked up their game to another level. Barnes pulled off yet another three-pointer and then a quick steal in the back court put them up by 11.
O'Neal made it to the foul line several times later in the quarter making five of seven baskets and totaling 13 points for the quarter, 19 points for the game so far.
Kobe Bryant had a good quarter scoring 15 of the Lakers' 30 points in the quarter.
The score at the half was Phoenix 66, Los Angeles 56. Phoenix was up by as many as 15 points and had four players with double digit points by the half.
Third Quarter: The third quarter started out how many would have expected. The Lakers pulled the lead down to six points with a couple turn overs by Phoenix and several steals.
Suns tried to keep pressure in the Lakers, but the ball kept ending up in Kobe Bryant's hands as he made 17 of 23 points in the quarter for the Lakers. At 6:51 minutes left in the quarter, the Lakers take their first lead since early in the first quarter.
The Suns were not out of the game yet. The Lakers largest lead in the quarter to this point was only five points and with 4:41 minutes left in the game, Barbosa put the Suns back up by 1 point.
This was followed by Matt Barnes rebounding and scoring another two points then a bloc by Grant Hill and a break away two points by Barbosa. O'Neal adds to this by making it a 13-0 run.
The Lakers' Pau Gasol fired back with back to back layups byt Barnes dropped one more three-pointer. With 1:41 left, Bryant and O'Neal both go to the bench as Phoenix's lead jumps back to 10 points.
The quarter ended with a 21-6 run by Phoenix who lead the game Phoenix 91, Los Angeles 81.
Fourth Quarter: The quarter started with back to back three-pointers by Trevor Ariza and Sasha Vujacic, then answered by a three-pointer by Jared Dudley and re-answered by Ariza with another three-pointer. With 10 minutes left in the game the lead was cut to two points.
At this point Louis Amundson turned the momentum around with a monster block on Ariza and then O'Neal tried to make a submission to the highlight reel on a lob pass, but was fouled in the process. He missed both shots at the line, but rebounded for a dunk.
At 8:30 minutes left in the game, Lamar Odom fouls out of the game and then Kobe Bryant goes into foul trouble with 8:18 minutes left, getting his fourth foul. At 7:00 minutes left, Grant Hill picks up his fifth foul against Bryant.
Jason Richardson turns on his jets on a pass from Barbosa with 5:56 minutes left. He pulled off a 180 degree layup on the right side of the basket and made it a five point game again.
For the last five minutes of the game, Phoenix slows down their offense and tries to get it low to the post for O'Neal where he had been extremely successful today.
With 2:48 minutes left, O'Neal went into foul trouble with five fouls as Bryant went 10-10 from the line. Gasol gets his fifth foul against Barnes who makes both shots.
On the two minute mark, Barnes hits his fifth three-pointer of the game, putting the lead to nine points and then going to the line to score two more (giving him his season high).
Bryant attempted to take the game into his own hands but Phoenix locked down their defense and both Amundson and Richardson both stop him cold.
Phoenix can put a big "W" next to this game. They played to win tonight and succeeded. The final score was Phoenix 118, Los Angeles 111.
Despite Steve Nash being absent from the game, the Suns played an amazing game against the best team in the league. Barbosa, O'Neal, Hill and Barnes all had above average games.
Barbosa had seven assist, two steals, and 22 points. O'Neal had seven rebounds and 33 points in the game. That is the most points that O'Neal has ever scored against the Lakers.
Hill had six rebounds, two blocks and 17 points. Barnes had 10 rebounds, seven assists, three steals and 26 points for the night. He hit five 3-point shots and had his record high in scoring.
The Lakers' Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Trevor Ariza had very good games as well. Bryant had 11 rebounds and 49 points for the night. Gasol had seven rebounds and 30 points. Ariza had four assists, four steals, and nine points on the night.
Overall the game came down to Phoenix's fast paced strategy and the Lakers being unable to defend it without getting into foul trouble.
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