The Los Angeles Lakers had an opportunity to tie the Houston Rockets for seventh in the West with a win against the Phoenix Suns. Unfortunately, it was the Suns that came out with energy, and played like their playoff berth was on the line, winning 99-76.
Although the Phoenix defense has been one of the worst in the league all season long, it was able to hold the Lakers to 33 percent shooting from the floor and 5-of-22 from deep. Phoenix also forced 18 Laker turnovers and out-rebounded Los Angeles 55-45.
Six Suns scored in double-digits, but it was Gordan Dragic and Luis Scola who killed the Lakers. Dragic finished with 12 points and 10 assists and was able to have his way with every Laker defender that attempted to guard him. Scola sealed the game for Phoenix by scoring all 14 of his points in the fourth quarter.
Lindsey Hunter's decision to insert Scola into the lineup in the fourth was a smart one. Scola dragged Dwight Howard out of the paint on defense and was able to knock down multiple jumpers to put the game out of reach.
Steve Nash paced the Lakers with 19 points, but the offense was stagnant all night. Los Angeles scored a pitiful 10 points in the fourth quarter and was unable to limit anything Phoenix wanted to do on offense.
Despite a weak Phoenix front line, Howard shot a miserable 6-of-18 from the floor and scored 16 points. Howard should have been able to dominate the Suns bigs, but he looked tired most of the contest and was consistently frustrated by veterans Jermaine O'Neal and Luis Scola.
Final score: Suns 99, Lakers 76