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Fatigue catches up with shorthanded Lakers in blowout loss to Suns

Mar 19, 2013, 2:41 AM EDT

Kobe Bryant, Robert Sacre, Metta World Peace

PHOENIX — The Lakers haven’t won both games of a back-to-back set all season long, and thanks to Kobe Bryant missing his second straight game with an ankle injury, along with Mike D’Antoni refusing to expand his rotation beyond the seven remaining healthy players he trusts, L.A. continued that tradition as it suffered a 99-76 loss at the hands of the Suns.

“I just wasn’t ready to grasp at straws,” D’Antoni said afterward, when asked about only going seven deep into his rotation until the final few minutes. “After it’s over with, yeah [I would have used more players], if you would have told me it was going to be that way.”

There was energy from the Lakers early on, as both Steve Nash and Dwight Howard were extremely active to start things off. Howard had 11 points and six rebounds in just nine first quarter minutes, while Nash took a more proactive approach to the offense by scoring 10 first quarter points of his own.

As the game wore on, the offense was tougher to come by. Metta World Peace and Antawn Jamison, who had both contributed so much to the Lakers’ last two wins, were largely ineffective, while Nash and Howard managed just nine and five points respectively the rest of the way after their fast starts.

Howard seemed particularly affected by fatigue, on both ends of the floor.

“I tried to do my best to get in certain spots, but they did a good job of spreading the floor tonight,” he said of his defensive effort. “They forced me to make longer returns back to my man. It’s not easy. They’ve got [Goran Dragic] coming down the lane trying to make plays, then he kicks it out to my man on the perimeter, and I have to make a long run. So it’s tough, but we’ve just got to keep fighting.”

When asked if that’s something he can improve upon, Howard stressed the difficulty of that task.

“I don’t think it’s easy for anybody to do that,” he said. “Protect the basket as a big, close out to a guy shooting the ball at the three-point line. It’s not that easy, but we’ll continue to get better, continue to push through fatigue, and I’ll get myself in better shape for the playoffs.”

Offensively, while Howard’s activity level was high to start the game, he managed to shoot just 4-11 in the first quarter, and finished just 2-7 over the game’s final three quarters. D’Antoni seemed to think Howard was pressing to get through the physical way the Suns were defending him a bit too much.

“I just thought he kind of took it personal and tried to go at ‘em,” D’Antoni said of Howard’s offensive struggles. “We need to do more pick and rolls, roll him into the post, get him a little bit on the move, get the ball into him. And we just kind of — because I think we were tired — we just kind of got stuck in mud and tried to wrestle our way through it.”

Howard paused and chuckled a bit when asked if the physical play affected his game, presumably due to the fact that he would need to choose his words carefully to avoid being fined for his comments. But the contact that was being allowed seemed excessive at times, yet Howard did his best to take the high road, both during the game and afterward.

“A lot of stuff happened in the paint, and for me, I’ve just got to do my best and not say anything to the refs,” Howard said. “It’s hard, but I continue to talk to myself, push myself to leave the referees alone, and hopefully they might look down there a couple times.”

The Lakers weren’t taking this loss too hard, as seemingly everyone was aware that the circumstances of playing without Bryant, on the second night of a back-to-back, with only a seven-man rotation had as much to do with it as did the Suns’ inspired play. Nash in particular seemed to have his explanation chambered for the assembled media that came looking for post-game answers.

“We just kind of hit the wall,” he said. “It was our ninth game in 14 days in seven cities, and you could just kind of see the wheels fall off. Especially lately, with guys injured we’ve been playing a seven-man rotation, and I think it caught up with us a little bit.”

  1. dko83 - Mar 19, 2013 at 3:07 AM

    I thought we had like 10+ Laker fans talking about how deep the team was a few posts ago? Don’t seem very deep losing to the WC worst team.

  2. norcal031 - Mar 19, 2013 at 3:53 AM

    Fatigue???? The headline should have read “Lakers blown out by lowly Suns”. This just shows how good LeBron really is and shows that Kobe is not that good of a leader. I mean thinking about what LeBron did with what turned into the no. 1 pick is just amazing. He is a true leader of men. When you are a leader like LeBron you can will and bring the best out of everyone because you make them believe that they can play on your level. He got bitten like so many young leaders who put too much trust in others and have to bail them out, only to fail under pressure. Well it seems that he has learned that and feels comfortable knowing that others can’t do what he can and just does it himself. Wen a leader knows how to put his people in the perfect position not to fail then he will be great. Kobe just yells at everyone and complains and does not get people in the proper position to succede. He then yells at them. He needs to look at himself as a so called leader. Remember Lker fans the radio clip from a few years ago…..YES I WANT TO BE TRADED turned into…I LOVE LA I DON’T WANT TO GO ANYWHERE like a day later. he is fake.

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 19, 2013 at 7:04 AM

      are you drunk posting?
      you better keep cheering for the Raptors.

    • loungefly74 - Mar 19, 2013 at 8:27 AM

      garbage. all you do is spew garbage. you make no sense. i don’t know who has the worse secret man-crush on Kobe…the arse-clown or progress?

      10 points in the 4th is bad. the Lakers clearly were fatigued.

    • socalgal64 - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:32 AM

      Aren’t you running late for your short bus?

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:19 AM

      You should check the box score- Kobe did not play last night. He’s been out the last two games with an injured ankle.

    • ron05342 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:42 AM

      You, sir, are an absolute moron.

    • ron05342 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:47 AM

  3. jgray30 - Mar 19, 2013 at 4:23 AM

    Yea….I remember all that. Lebron said the same thing and actually did leave. what’s your point LBJ sack boy?

  4. jgray30 - Mar 19, 2013 at 4:29 AM

    Lebron was such s great leader then ytf didn’t he win in the ship Cleveland when they were the best team in the NBA 2 yrs. straight? get off his sack. not a good look for a grown a$$ man

    • fanofevilempire - Mar 19, 2013 at 7:09 AM

      I like LeBron and glad he has become a true great player having said that do you remember
      when Nike spent all that money on the commercials with the puppets, with Kobe looking for his championship rings and LBJ getting tired of Kobe puppet talking. The only person who delivered was Kobe as he took another championship, LBJ didn’t even make it to the championship series.

    • bucrightoff - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:22 AM

      This is not an argument Laker fans want to get into. LeBron took a bunch of scrubs in Cleveland to the Finals. Kobe may play on two teams with 4 HOFers (04 and this year) and not win a ring. Speaks volumes…

  5. djohnson11882 - Mar 19, 2013 at 4:33 AM

    Norcal031???? Likely name Stephen A. Smith, we know its you!!!!!

  6. omniusprime - Mar 19, 2013 at 8:57 AM

    The Lakers lost because ignorant Dumbtoni was too stupid to use more players, no wonder the 7 he played got tired in the 2nd half. Just can’t wait for season to end and for Dumbtoni to be fired for his gross incompetence. No surprise that Ancient Trash Nash was ineffective after just a few minutes, the man needs to be put into a retirement home.

    I hope Kobe rehabs his ankle and gets back for the next game along with Pau, the Lakers need these two stars to perform at their best. The rest of the team really needs to suck it up and play harder and smarter.

    Thanks Dr. Buss, Rest in Peace!!! Fire Dumbtoni!!! Get Well Soonest Kobe & Pau!!!

  7. dalucks - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:10 AM

    Fatique is an excuse, lack of talent and poor coaching is the real problem for the Lakers.

    • asimonetti88 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:18 AM

      The fatigue is a clear function of bad coaching. Despite missing two starters, D’Antoni did not expand his rotation to cover it. The Lakers looked really good in the first quarter but they lost their legs in the second quarter and never recovered. I’m not a huge Chris Duhon fan, but I have a hard time believing that he’s THAT much of a dropoff in talent that he can’t even get 6 or 7 minutes to give Nash and/or Blake a breather. He doesn’t even have to give these bench guys big minutes, 6 or 7 minutes off the bench can make a big difference on the second night of a back-to-back.

  8. bigrele - Mar 19, 2013 at 9:28 AM

    Fatigue my azz! Just another BS article making excuses for the Lakers! Like they’re the only team in the league that has a back-to-back, ha! The headline should’ve read: Suns DESTROY Lakers in Nash & D’Antoni’s Return! Lmao, this team is a joke bottom line & has no chance and/or shot at a deep playoff run with or without Kobe, bottom line! I mean its not like they’ve played .500 ball ALL SEASON even with Kobe huh? Hahahahaha 99-76 :oD

  9. cosanostra71 - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:24 AM

    Lakers would have had a chance but D’Antoni refuses to play his bench. James Worthy and Robert Horry plastered him on the post game as they should have. Force him out please Dwight!

  10. mazblast - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:27 AM

    Every team has to play back-to-backs, even the “mighty” Lakers. Deal with it.

    Or you can be like the Lakers and their fans, having some cheese with their whine.

  11. imthedudedude - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:31 AM

    Nothing better than beating the lakers. Twice. Haddadi and jermaine made Dwight look like a scrub after this first quarter. He was crying all game long, keep it up, LA loves a drama queen, u can replace Kobe in a couple years.

  12. miamatt - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:33 AM

    Isn’t it being mediocre that’s catching up with the Lakers?

    • patfic15 - Mar 19, 2013 at 10:43 AM

      Amen.

  13. jgray30 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:28 AM

    @jacrightoff…Yea he took some scrub in a scrub conference to the finals. what happened after that? THEY GOT SWEPT! but I guess he deserves a reward for getting there right? Hell no. and everyone knows if they were in the west, they wouldn’t have made it out the second round. GTFOH!

    • bucrightoff - Mar 19, 2013 at 12:05 PM

      And had LeBron played with 4 HOFers at any point in his career, let alone twice, he’d have cashed in. Kobe failed once and is destined to fail again this year. Face it Laker fans, LeBron makes his teammates better besides being just straight up the better player than Kobe.

      Basically, if I was picking one guy for a one-on-one game, Kobe would be near the top. One guy to build my team around? Kobe wouldn’t be in the top 10 or anywhere close.

      • loungefly74 - Mar 19, 2013 at 2:35 PM

        that’s nice. good for you. Laker fans ultimately care about titles…we have 5 in the past 13 years…not bad. so…okay, Lebron is a better player. fine. Lakers are still the NBA crown jewel…

  14. baymac408 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:53 AM

    Lebron is a real teammate and the best b ball player in the world!! NOT KOBE!! Kobe is a P.o.s. cry baby!! Cheer on biggest bandwagon group of America!! FAKERS FANS. !! P.s. you guys are b**ches

    • dannymac17 - Mar 19, 2013 at 2:22 PM

      I dont like the Lakers or their pathetic fans, but there is nothing worse than a Golden State fan with a loud mouth.

      Be quiet and be happy your team is somewhat relevant this year.

  15. baymac408 - Mar 19, 2013 at 11:56 AM

    GO WARRIORS!!!!!!!

  16. jgray30 - Mar 20, 2013 at 4:20 AM

    @gaymac. You fail to remember that it wasn’t lebrons teamates. He failed to come through in the clutch. and what 4 HOF did Kobe play with? I can only think of Shaq and gasol. this yr he plays with a washed up Nash and soft gasol, and offensively challenged DH. Nothing like what lebron has on his team. And NO lebron didn’t make his heat teammates better. they were already good. if anything wade made him better he’s the one with 2 ships. Lebron just got out of his “not being able to handle pressure stage”. he’s s great player but he didn’t make them better players. made it easier for them tho.

  17. jgray30 - Mar 20, 2013 at 4:26 AM

    oh and if u were referring to the team with GP and Malone that wasn’t moves team then. but I guess u can throw in 2 old a$$ players at the end of their career and expect to win huh? so when he did win His 5 rings there wasn’t 4 HOF’s on the team so what exactly is your point? oh yea that’s right, he didn’t need them. Lebron needs 4 HOF’s though? you don’t even know what you talk in bout kid. ridem cowboy….

  18. jgray30 - Mar 20, 2013 at 4:44 AM

    as a matter of fact Kobe was hurt that season in the playoffs besides the fact it was shaqs team.

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