LOS ANGELES — With Pau Gasol missing his fourth straight game due to vertigo, Chris Kaman picked up slack offensively as he scored a season-high 28 points to go along with 17 rebounds to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 115-99 win over the Phoenix Suns.
After building as much as 19 point lead in the first that included a first half double-double for Kaman of 18 points and 10 rebounds, the Lakers continued to keep the Suns’ offense at bay as they held a sizeable margin throughout most of the third quarter. However, Phoenix finished the quarter on a 12-2 run that cut the deficit to a 15 points at 89-74.
In the fourth quarter, Los Angeles had an answer for every shot made the Suns and did not allow them get any closer than 11 points in the quarter. Ryan Kelly led the way in the final quarter as he scored seven of his 17 points for the game that helped his team secure the win.
“I missed two [shots] early on and I thought, ‘hey, it could either way,’ and then I hit some more and it felt good,” Kaman said. “I was just trying to feel the game out a little bit. In the second, I missed an easy wide-open jumper and an easy wide-open jump hook, so it was kind of frustrating, but you always want to improve.”
Head coach Mike D’Antoni was pleased by not only Kaman’s impressive performance, but also by the team’s ball movement throughout the game.
“Chris can do that, he is just that talented,” D’Antoni said. “He came in to play obviously. Again we played with the ball moving and sharing combined with the talent he has we will score a lot of points. He did a great job of every time we needed a bucket he kept getting them. They couldn’t guard him on the other end, so that helps. He had a great performance. “
For Kendall Marshall, it was the team defense on the Suns’ potent backcourt as they held Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe to 27 points on 25 percent shooting (7-for-25) and snapped their seven-game winning streak.
“It’s entire team effort,” Marshall said, who had just his second double digit output in the last 19 games with 13 points to go along with 11 assists. ” Those guys are extremely hard to guard, but when we are rotating and our bigs are showing hard. We were showing multiple bodies, and it discourage them from making plays. It’s a total team effort when it comes to that.”
It was a drastically different team performance by the Lakers from Friday’s 143-107 blowout loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, one that could not be explained by Ryan Kelly but credits to the fast start offensively that helped keep them even-keeled throughout the game.
“There’s not much of an explanation,” Kelly said, whose 17 points led the bench in scoring. “I think when we start games well and when we move the ball well, everything tends to go better. Not to mention that we had a great crowd tonight that was live, and that always helps too.”
Kaman lead the way early as he scored eight of the Lakers’ first 12 points for the game, and they used a 14-5 run to stretch their lead to as much as 13 points in the quarter. Although the offense was flowing in the first quarter it was the defense that stood out for Los Angeles as they held Phoenix to just 25 percent shooting from the field that included 0-for-9 from 3-point range.
However, the Suns’ offense quickly picked up to start the second quarter as they shot 75 percent(8-of-12) with Gerald Green leading the ways 11 of his 13 points for the quarter that was capped off by back to back 3-pointers that gave his team a 37-36. The Lakers answered back with 21-4 spurt to head into halftime that included a 17-0 run and 11 points scored by Jodie Meeks that stretched their advantage to a first-half high of 19 points.
The Lakers’ defense played a major factor in the second quarter run as they forced Phoenix to shoot just 1-for-8, while they shot 89 percent (8-of-9) to end the quarter.
Photo Credit: Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times / March 30, 2014
Bob Garcia IV
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