A 27-point deficit was too much to overcome, even for Kobe Bryant, and the outcome left the Los Angeles star annoyed at Lakers management.
Jared Dudley scored a season-high 25 points, Marcin Gortat had 21 points and 15 rebounds and the Phoenix Suns held on to beat the Lakers 102-90 Sunday night, ending a four-game losing streak.
The Lakers, who had won three straight, trailed by 23 at halftime and 27 in the third quarter before cutting it to 10 in the fourth.
Bryant scored 32 points but was 1 of 8 on 3-pointers and committed 10 turnovers, one shy of his career worst.
Afterward, Bryant lashed out at the Lakers’ front office over the issue of whether teammate Pau Gasol will be traded. Bryant used a couple of profanities and said it’s not fair to Gasol to try to play while wondering where he will be the following day.
Bryant said he doesn’t want Gasol to be traded but ”if they’re going to do something I wish they would just … do it. If they’re not going to do it, come out and say you’re not going to do it.”
Gasol had 17 points and 12 rebounds and Andrew Bynum added 16 points and 10 boards for the Lakers.
Grant Hill scored 15 points and Steve Nash had 14 assists for the Suns.
The teams were playing for the second consecutive game. The Lakers won in Los Angeles 111-99 on Friday night.
Los Angeles had beaten Phoenix twice at home this season.
Dudley said the idea was to put more pressure on Bryant than the Suns did the previous two games.
”Even though Kobe still had a good game and shot the ball a lot, I want him to shoot the ball like that on the run and not get his teammates involved,” Dudley said.
The US Airways Center crowd was revved up for what seemed to be the first time this season.
”There were a lot of Lakers fans, which I think pumps up our fans,” Nash said. ”We made a bunch of shots and got rollin’ so it made for an enjoyable evening.”
The loss matched the most one-sided defeat for the Lakers this season. They had never trailed by more than 23.
Bryant, not surprisingly, got the Lakers back within striking distance. The NBA’s scoring leader had the last 11 points in a 13-2 run that cut the lead to 80-65 with 51.8 seconds left, including a 16-footer as he was falling down and his first 3-pointer of the night. Phoenix led 82-67 entering the fourth.
With 7:32 to play, Bryant scored inside and was fouled. He missed the free throw, but got the rebound and then found Troy Murphy open in the corner for his second 3-pointer of the quarter to cut the lead to 88-77 with 7:22 to play.
Bryant’s two free throws made it 91-81 with 4:21 left, but Dudley sank a 17-footer, then blocked Bryant’s shot from behind. Channing Frye made one of two free throws to boost the lead to 94-81, then Dudley’s baseline drive put Phoenix up 96-84 with 2:10 to play.
Los Angeles gave up a season-worst 63 first-half points to a Suns team that came in averaging just under 94 points per game. Frye’s 3-pointer with 31.9 seconds left gave Phoenix its biggest first-half lead at 63-38. Bryant’s 22-footer with 16.2 seconds left made it 63-40 at the break.
”It was simple,” Los Angeles coach Mike Brown said. ”We didn’t come out with the mental focus to compete defensively. To give up 63 points as easily as we did has nothing to do with offense. It’s going to be tough to win ballgames when you dig yourself a hole like that.”
Phoenix won from the foul line, going 27 of 32 to the Lakers’ 17 of 25, and from 3-point range, where the Suns made 7 of 20 to Los Angeles’ 3 of 18.
Nash thought the Suns played their best ball of the season in the first half.
”Our cohesion was great,” he said. ”We made a bunch of shots, so it was a fun half for sure.”
There was an abundance of statistical evidence to explain the Suns’ big halftime advantage.
Los Angeles was 0 of 6 on 3s in the first half and had zero second-chance points to the Suns’ seven. Phoenix made 18 of 19 free throws in the first half to 6 of 9 for the Lakers.
The Suns used an 18-2 run against the turnover-plagued visitors in the first quarter to lead 31-14 on ex-Laker Shannon Brown’s layup on a pass from Dudley with 1:51 to play. Gortat had nine points and nine rebounds in the quarter, while Nash had seven assists and four points.
The lead reached 41-22 when rookie Markieff Morris blocked Matt Barnes’ shot, then sank a 3 at the other end. Bryant stole the ball from Hill and his layup capped a 6-0 spurt that cut it to 49-35 with 4:21 left in the half. But the Suns responded with a 14-5 run to take their 25-point lead, before Bryant’s lone long jumper of the half made it a 23-point game at the break.
The Lakers committed seven turnovers in the period, three by Bryant, to the Suns’ two.
Notes: The Lakers’ previous high for points allowed in a half was 56, in the first half against Chicago in their Christmas Day opener and in the second half at Minnesota on Jan. 29. … Nash has had 16, 17 and 14 assists in the last three games. … The Suns have played 12 games in February, more than any other NBA team. … Phoenix fell four shy of its season high for points in a half, 67 at Milwaukee on Feb. 7. … The Lakers’ Josh McRoberts drew three fouls in 3 1/2 minutes in the first half. Murphy had three fouls in 7:20.