The Los Angeles Lakers traveled to US Airways Center Thursday night, where Steve Nash made his long-awaited homecoming against the Phoenix Suns. The game looked as if it was in L.A.’s control most of the way, but an awful fourth quarter resulted in a disappointing 92-86 loss for the road team.
This matchup was the first of a seven-game road trip for Los Angeles, and it began in competitive fashion. The themes for this team as of late have been efficiency and selflessness, and while those two weren’t on full display this time around, their talent level alone made up for an abundance of early turnovers.
After losing the first quarter by four points, the Lakers finally started to establish momentum. They were still missing open looks, but they were putting the ball in the basket at a much higher rate than a Suns offense that had gone ice cold.
Phoenix’s defense would finish the quarter strong, and the game was tied heading into halftime.
The third period was the first time we truly saw the Lakers moving the ball well as a team. Kobe Bryant—or more accurately, the new Kobe Bryant—was looking for his teammates the whole game, but ball movement never appeared to be a focus of the team until the second half.
A 73-63 lead going into the fourth was a big boost for Los Angeles, but the Suns weren’t done yet.
Phoenix’s offense found the touch late in the game, but it was again their defense that helped them get back in it. With just under four minutes to go, the Lakers had scored just nine points in the quarter, and Phoenix had found the spark to tie the game behind a scoring outburst by Michael Beasley.
The pace of the Suns troubled L.A. late in the contest, and they were outscored by 16 in the game’s final period.
Los Angles entered this game having played the best basketball of its season, but it also entered having lost seven straight road contests. Something had to give, and unfortunately for the Lakers, they couldn’t overcome their road troubles against the struggling squad from Phoenix.