Preview: Suns vs. Lakers, 6:30 p.m., FOX Sports Arizona
The pre-All-Star break portion of the Suns’ schedule comes to a close on Wednesday night when the Suns host the Los Angeles Lakers at Talking Stick Resort Arena.
The Lakers (19-38) and Suns (17-39) have split their first two meetings — both in Los Angeles.
Both teams are at the bottom of the Western Conference standings, but it is clear from their most recent outings that they haven’t given up.
The Lakers rallied from a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit to tie the Sacramento Kings on Tuesday night before eventually losing 97-96 on their home court. The Lakers had won two of their previous three.
The Suns also suffered an agonizing loss in their last outing — 110-108 to New Orleans on Monday night. Phoenix led 108-107 with 1:12 to go, and then missed three shots at a possible tying basket in the final 24 seconds.
Eric Bledsoe, who scored 37 points in the loss, had the first of the three misses. P.J. Tucker subsequently grabbed his 15th and 16th rebounds of the night, but he couldn’t convert short-range follow shots after either as time ran out.
When it was over, Suns coach Earl Watson applauded the effort.
“Amazing hustle, amazing play,” Watson said of Tucker’s sequence. “I thought he got fouled twice, but I’m not the referee. He kept the ball in play; he gave us fight all the way to the end.”
Bledsoe enjoyed a big game two days after he was given a healthy night off in Houston. He started each of Phoenix’s first 54 games. The point guard shot just 22 of 66 in his previous five games, prompting the breather.
First-year Lakers coach Luke Walton, like Watson, said he’s working hard to keep his team fighting through the difficult results.
“Whether you’re the Golden State Warriors or Brooklyn, every team in between, (a priority now) is keeping your guys focused,” Walton said. “This part of the season, it’s been long, it’s been hard, everyone’s tired. Guys are banged up. We’re aware of that. We talk about it, and we’ll continue to do our best to stay focused.”
If it is any consolation, the Lakers are significantly better off than last season, when they hit the All-Star break with an 11-44 record. The Suns also have an improved record at the break, having gone 14-40 a year ago.