Suns put on show in rout of Lakers

PHOENIX — Over a marathon 82-game season, there will be transcendent nights when the turbo-charged Suns embarrass their NBA enemies. And there will be nights when the enemy will be alarmingly capable of embarrassing itself with very little assistance.

Wednesday’s season-opening date with Kobe Bryant and the Los Angeles Lakers was an intersection of both possibilities.

During a 119-99 rout at US Airways Center that included a prolific 16-for-32 performance from 3-point range, the Suns built a 29-point cushion in the third quarter and eased to the finish line.

"It’s fun to watch," Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said of an all-cylinders effort that co-stars transition baskets and bombs-away marksmanship. "I told the guys in the locker room afterward, when you pass the ball, move it and make those extra passes that give someone a wide-open shot, that’s fun for coaches to see them doing that and I thought we got a lot of good shots tonight."

It seemed pretty enjoyable for anyone who endorses "Beat L.A."

Though poleaxing the Lakers isn’t exactly cause for cartwheels regardless of scheduling circumstances. Kobe (31 points on 25 field-goal attempts) still provided a few moments of joy for those in attendance wearing his replica jersey, but "Showtime" won’t be on the menu in L.A. for a while.

"We’ll take it," Hornacek said before noting the visitors had a variable or two working against them. "They’re coming off back-to-backs. It’s always tough when we’re sitting here waiting for this game and they played last night."

The Suns, whose planned uprising sequel will require a noticeable improvement in defense and rebounding, limited the Lakers to 43-perecent shooting. But with Jeremy Lin, Wesley Johnson and Ronnie Price logging big minutes for L.A., we’re not sure this small sample is evidence of anything the Suns can be giddy over.

Suns 119, Lakers 109

They allowed Ed Davis and Jordan Hill a combine 11 offensive rebounds, which is a creepy reminder of how Phoenix struggled in box-out duty last season.

The Suns’ ballyhooed three-point-guard coalition (PG3) looked downright nasty (in a good way), and combined for 57 points (on 20-of-30 shooting), 14 assists, 12 rebounds and just four turnovers.

Eric Bledsoe, who was ejected with a second technical foul late in the third quarter, had 16 points (including 3 of 4 from beyond the arc), nine assist and six rebounds before his early departure.

Goran Dragic put 10 third-quarter points on the Lakers, and finished with 18 and five rebounds.

And Isaiah Thomas demonstrated he’s already pretty cozy with this system with a game-high 23 points on 9-of-11 shooting (5 of 7 from 3).

"That’s what coach wants us to do," Thomas said after his first game as a Sun, "play to our strengths and try to score as early as possible and shoot a lot of 3s.

"They happened to go down tonight; we played a pretty good game. It’s tough when we’re clicking."

OK, so dealing with the point-guard triad is no hayride. But the weary Lakers had to attempt it while the Morris twins also were dialed in. That was especially true of Marcus, who made 8 of 14 shots (5 of 9 from 3), delivering 21 points and enough defensive effort against Bryant to keep Kobe from going absolutely bonkers.

"He stayed down on pump fakes," Hornacek said of Morris, who worked alongside brother Markieff in the starting unit while incumbent P.J. Tucker served the first of a three-game suspension. "I thought that was a big key."

Suns, Lakers rue loss of Nash

So was starting with a 33-point flourish in the opening quarter while limiting L.A. to 19 points on 28-percent shooting.

"I think the first quarter was amazing," Dragic said. "We were moving the ball, we were hitting shots, layups.

"I think it was a great start for us. I think we got everyone involved and it will give us confidence for the next game."

That next game, by the way, will happen here Friday night and co-stars the defending champion San Antonio Spurs.

As long as most of the Spurs and their coach attend, there figures be little opportunity for visitor embarrassment or apologies.

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