NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, February 12th (All times Eastern)
Phoenix Suns (17-35) at Los Angeles Lakers (24-28), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers completed their seven-game Grammy road trip 4-3 and finally return back to the Staples Center Tuesday night against the Phoenix Suns.
The Grammy trip began with a loss in Phoenix, but the Lakers rattled off three straight wins after that setback. They lost two of their last three, lost big man Pau Gasol, but still played good basketball.
Problem was, they made up almost no ground in the standing. The Lakers are still a disappointing 10th in the Western Conference, still have no Gasol and Kobe Bryant and Dwight Howard are still not on the same page.
"Pau's injury is a big setback on this road trip," admitted Bryant. "I felt like this trip could have been a little bit more successful. All in all, it's okay."
Okay is not enough for the Lakers anymore. They only have 30 games left to try and get into the playoffs with four Hall of Famers on their roster.
The Lakers last loss of the trip came on Sunday in Miami against the defending champion Heat. L.A. fell 107-97 as Bryant had 28 points and Earl Clark added 18. Steve Nash netted 15 and is 13 points short of 17,000 for his career. Howard also had 15.
In Nash's return to Phoenix on Jan. 30, the Suns buried the Lakers in the fourth quarter, 29-13, to get the victory.
Since that emotional win, the Suns are 1-5. They lost both games of a home- and-home series with the Oklahoma City Thunder and the most recent setback came at home on Saturday, 97-69.
"I think everybody saw we were outplayed in every aspect of the game," said interim head coach Lindsey Hunter. "You look at games like that and you take it for what it is worth. You move on. We have to start getting ready for the Lakers."
The Suns committed 23 turnovers, shot 33 percent from the field and 28 percent from the 3-point line. Markieff Morris was the only Suns player in double figures with 12 and starting two guard Jared Dudley only played a little over eight minutes.
"I wanted to try and get us kick started with Goran (Dragic) at the two (guard)," Hunter explained. "Then when the game got away and we really couldn't get back there was no sense of bringing him back. I just let him sit and we will try again next game."
"I can't control playing time," said Dudley. "When I'm out there I'm going to play the right way."
The Suns own the Western Conference's worst road mark at 5-22 and three of those five wins have come in 2013.
Phoenix and L.A. split their two meetings this season with the home team winning both times. The Suns are 2-9 in their last 11 in Los Angeles against the Lakers.
02/12 10:29:34 ET