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Lakers lose to Suns in Nash’s return to Phoenix

Jan 31, 2013, 4:19 AM EDT

Steve Nash

PHOENIX — Steve Nash returned to Phoenix for the first time as a member of the Lakers on Wednesday, after leaving the Suns team he played eight seasons for via a sign-and-trade deal that sent him to Los Angeles last summer.

It hasn’t turned out to be a better situation for Nash with his new team necessarily, just one with higher expectations and more scrutiny under the national spotlight as the failure to reach those goals continues.

After the Lakers blew a 10-point fourth quarter lead on their way to losing 92-86 to a Suns team near the bottom of the Western Conference standings, Nash was left searching to explain what went wrong as he has tried to do so many times this season.

“We got really stagnant,” Nash said of his team’s fourth-quarter offense which manufactured just 13 points in the game’s final 12 minutes. “We got pretty one-dimensional and stagnant and the ball stuck a little bit and we got a little predictable.”

The Lakers looked dreadful in the first half while turning the ball over 12 times, playing sloppily and finding themselves tied with a Suns team at the break that managed to knock down just 18 of its 46 shot attempts.

The third quarter was a thing of beauty for L.A., as the turnovers slowed to just two in the period, while the ball moved to the open man for high percentage shots. Pau Gasol snapped out of his first-half funk to hit three of his four shots in the period, after coming in earlier than normal thanks to Earl Clark picking up his fourth foul less than a minute into the second half. Kobe Bryant had four assists in the period, and the Lakers connected on 65 percent of their shots, including hitting four of five from three-point distance.

The fourth quarter was a disaster, however, and the game seemed to turn when Dwight Howard re-aggravated the shoulder injury that forced him to miss three games a couple of weeks ago. The Lakers led 78-73 with 6:56 to play when Dwight left the game for good with the injury, and were outscored 19-8 the rest of the way.

Michael Beasley played brilliantly offensively for Phoenix, and finished with 27 points on 12-of-20 shooting, 10 of which came in the fourth quarter. Beasley got red-hot, and was able to create his own shot and score from both inside and out with relative ease.

With the game tied at 86, Beasley was able to get all the way to the rim and lay it in to give the Suns the lead for good with 46 seconds remaining. Bryant tried to return the favor on the other end, but his shot rimmed off, and the Suns finished the game at the free throw line to snap the Lakers’ three-game winning streak.

“We’re disappointed because we let one get away,” Bryant said afterward. “But we played well. We played well defensively, outside of the stretch at the end of the ballgame where we let Beasley get to his strong hand, let him get all the way to the rim with no support. That’s not acceptable.”

For the most part, the Lakers talked about missing too many easy shots and the offense not clicking as the reasons for letting this one slip, but the loss of Howard was big, both for this game and for the team’s future. Dwight was in a lot of pain afterward, and while he said he didn’t want to be shut down in order to rest the shoulder, he may not have a choice if he can’t play through the injury.

Despite the loss, this was Nash’s night in Phoenix. He received a strong ovation from the fans during pregame introductions, and an even larger one later in the first quarter during a timeout when the Suns honored him with a video tribute on the scoreboard.

Nash finished with 11 points, two assists, and two turnovers, while shooting just 3-of-8 from the field. He played just OK, but couldn’t do enough to will his team to victory as he had so many times in the past with the Suns. He remains, however, one of the most intelligent players in the game, and did a good job of explaining the issues his new team will face should Howard be forced to miss extended time with the injury.

“It’ll be tough without him,” Nash said. “This team’s built, I think, to play around a center. We’re not athletic or fast elsewhere. We’re experienced and we have some skilled players but it’s all predicated on having that defensive presence and having a big body in the paint on both ends.”

It wouldn’t seem to be able to get much tougher for these Lakers.

  1. kavika6 - Jan 31, 2013 at 4:32 AM

    I didn’t watch the game but I think I understand what Nash meant when he said ““We got pretty one-dimensional…” Could that be the “Kobe” dimension?

    What is Nash’s assist to turnover ratio? It can’t be too good this year.

    • eventhorizon04 - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:30 PM

      7.7 APG compared to 2.7 TO PG (2.9 A/T ratio)

      Roughly in line with his career average of 8.6 APG and 2.9 TO PG (3.0 A/T ratio)

  2. dko83 - Jan 31, 2013 at 4:34 AM

    I actually thought for a second the Lakers were going to right the ship and sneak into the playoffs.. It’s official, they’re done. Dwight injured and this loss, forget it. I’ll be surprised if they finish 10th in the West. Celtics and Lakers this year.. wow, their fates must really be intertwined..

    • drunkenjunk - Jan 31, 2013 at 5:09 AM

      agreed, i thought they’d at least make a decent run and pick up the 7th/8th seed. it’s gotta hurt when Beasley is the one that puts an end to your season.

    • cosanostra71 - Jan 31, 2013 at 4:11 PM

      last night’s game was painful to watch. Though I guess it’s fitting to watch the Lakers’ season end with Dwight Howard on the bench and Kobe missing a three with the rest of the team standing around watching.

  3. getsome99 - Jan 31, 2013 at 4:43 AM

    Lakers suck.

  4. fotydaze - Jan 31, 2013 at 6:29 AM

    What would be the point of sneaking into the playoffs, to lose to OKC our San Antonio in the first go round? No thanks

    • drunkenjunk - Jan 31, 2013 at 6:59 AM

      don’t really think it does anything. it’s just this team was expected to make the playoffs and make some noise. now they won’t even make the playoffs. i hope for the lakers sake that they get rid of d’antoni this off season. admit it was a mistake and move on.

    • lmoneyfresh - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:42 AM

      Seriously, they should play for a better draft pick….oh wait.

  5. rickyspanish - Jan 31, 2013 at 6:50 AM

    I love those old Phoenix uniforms, classic.

  6. 32magicman - Jan 31, 2013 at 6:59 AM

    Can L.A. and Phoenix do a coach swap please? Why were Kobe and Nash sitting so long in the last quarter?!?!?

  7. bucrightoff - Jan 31, 2013 at 7:10 AM

    Mediocre basketball team is mediocre.

  8. buffalo65 - Jan 31, 2013 at 7:20 AM

    Lol, I knew they’d suck back in training camp. At least they aren’t tied to Howard. Guess the magic wasn’t so bad after all eh smart guy???

  9. loungefly74 - Jan 31, 2013 at 7:37 AM

    cold shooting in the 4th (plus Howard’s injury) doomed the Lakers. when Howard went down, they went away from the “move the ball” approach. Kobe, taking it upon himself, missed some easy shots and the team had several turnovers. very disappointing.

  10. paulhargis53 - Jan 31, 2013 at 8:32 AM

    Get used to this Lakers fans. This team is going to be a yo yo all year long. They are NOT making the playoffs.

  11. tigerpork - Jan 31, 2013 at 8:35 AM

    you’re a sorry ass team when you let a pot-smoking-sponge-bob-like micheal basely drop 30 on you.

    • lyndseymarieee - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:37 PM

      Do they get random tests? If not I’m willing to bet a lot of the guys are pot heads.

  12. patfic15 - Jan 31, 2013 at 8:41 AM

    I got ripped for saying Denver won this trade a fee months back. Hahahaha

    • badintent - Jan 31, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      Karma. the good guys won.I miss Galinari for my Knicks team. He missed theNY Little Italy food too.

  13. omniusprime - Jan 31, 2013 at 9:13 AM

    Geez Trash Nash thinks that the Lakers are built around a center, he doesn’t even know because he’s clueless and should have stayed in Phoenix. Trash Nash doesn’t even understand the Modus Operandi of the Lakers has been playing around a great big center for decades. We got rid of one old point guard in Fisher only to pick up an older slower one in Trash Nash. Way to go little idiot buss boy and Kupcake!

    The collapse of the Lakers in the 4th quarter began just before Howard got injured and afterwards just got worse as Kobe tried to play hero ball again instead of getting the whole team involved. If the Lakers can’t even beat the worst team in the Western Conference on the road then they have no business in the playoffs. If Howard needs 6 months to heal after shoulder surgery then best the Lakers not make the playoffs to get Howard fixed up for next season.

    Once again we see just how worthless Dumbtoni is as a coach. Dumbtoni always reacts to what other coaches do instead of forcing them to react to his moves. Tonight’s loss was a major coaching malfunction and the only way to fix that is to fire Dumbtoni!

    Fire Dumbtoni!!! Trade Trash Nash!!! Trade Steve Flake!!! We Want Pau!!!

    • truprof - Jan 31, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      Your first paragraph revealed your own cluelessness. Nash states that the Lakers are built around center, then you state the same thing. You’re on the same page, fool! Omniusprimeexample of a kneejerk idiot!

      • eventhorizon04 - Jan 31, 2013 at 1:34 PM

        Yeah, his comment is probably one of the dumbest I’ve read on here.

        “Stupid Nash thinks the Lakers are built around a Center? Little does he know, the Lakers are built around a Center! Wow – What kind of trash doesn’t understand that!”

    • lakerfan4life - Jan 31, 2013 at 2:55 PM

      I agree his comment about Nash was totally off base.

      On the other hand, his comment regarding ‘No D’Antoni was spot on. I hope the Lakers get rid of him as soon as the regular season is over (because no way they make it to the playoffs).

      Of course, it still won’t matter unless they re-hire Phil.

      • cosanostra71 - Jan 31, 2013 at 4:17 PM

        I don’t even think they have to re-hire Phil. They made the mistake of needing to hire a “name”. Look at some of the coaches who are having strong seasons this year: Jacque Vaughn (the record might not be great but he’s gotten a lot out of them), Mark Jackson… these guys may not have the coaching “name” of a D’Antoni or a Brown, but they’re good coaches. Lakers need to look beyond just the recycled trash heap of big name coaches. I would love to see Brian Shaw come back but that’s pretty unrealistic. But what about a guy like Mike Malone, Kelvin Sampson, Mike Budenholzer?

  14. grizzlystrike - Jan 31, 2013 at 10:22 AM

    I know the suns are at the bottom of the conference but this article just keeps talking about the lakers lost the game how bout the suns played well and kept them on the perimeter the last ten minutes and that won them the game. Even when the lakers are water trash they still get all the love

  15. teambringitstrong - Jan 31, 2013 at 11:38 AM

    Unacceptable meltdown……….

  16. BigBeachBall - Jan 31, 2013 at 11:44 AM

    Nash felt bad for leaving phoenix and he wanted to show his gratitude to the fans by losing this one… his teammates were cool with it… it’s just a karma loss…

  17. rando74 - Jan 31, 2013 at 12:02 PM

    The answer is simple. They’re garbage and refuse to see it.

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