Suns look to regain aggressiveness as they take on Lakers

BY foxsports • March 18, 2016

The Phoenix Suns wrap up a back-to-back road trip on Friday night in Los Angeles, taking on the Lakers and looking to find the aggressiveness that was missing in Thursday night's 103-69 loss at Utah.

The game can be seen on FOX Sports Arizona and FOX Sports GO, starting at 7 p.m.

Phoenix had a five-game win streak over Los Angeles end the last time these teams met, a 97-77 defeat on Jan. 3 in which Kobe Bryant did not play. Bryant has not faced the Suns this season, has missed six of the last nine matchups and hasn't played in a victory over Phoenix since he made 1 of 8 shots for four points and eight turnovers in a 91-85 win Feb. 12, 2013.

The Lakers played without Bryant in Tuesday's 106-98 loss to Sacramento. The retiring veteran continues to battle shoulder problems, and coach Byron Scott termed Bryant's chances of playing Friday at "50-50."

The Suns shot a season-low 34.1 percent and had their lowest scoring output of the season in Thursday night's loss at Utah.

"We played passive aggressive in the first half," coach Earl Watson said. "In the second half, we played timid. We couldn't hit a shot. We couldn't stop their runs. That isn't acceptable, that can't happen."

Brandon Knight scored a team-high 17 in his third start since missing 21 games with a strained groin. He has totaled 55 points and 24 assists this season versus Los Angeles with his first career triple-double in a 120-101 rout Nov. 16.

Rookie Devin Booker was held to seven points on 3-of-14 shooting Thursday after he entered averaging 23.6 in his first eight games in March.

The Lakers (14-54) have lost three in a row and own the league's second-worst record. If they continue to struggle, it will improve their chances of earning a top-three pick in this season's draft, but if they fail in the lottery and slip to the fourth pick, the choice will go to Philadelphia.

Surpassing Phoenix (18-50) in the standings would hurt the Lakers' lottery odds. These teams meet twice in the next six days after splitting their first two meetings.

"As far as I'm concerned, we're not in a weird position," Scott said. "We play Phoenix and we're trying to win the game."

If Bryant doesn't play, Scott said he will give Metta World Peace his second straight start.

Bryant is the NBA's worst shooter among qualifying players at 35.6 percent overall and 27.5 percent on 3-pointers. The Lakers have won four of their last 11 games he has missed.

The Lakers expect to have forward Brandon Bass back after he sat out Tuesday because of a corneal abrasion in his right eye. He may have to wear goggles.

"If they say I have to wear the goggles, I don't have no choice, right?" Bass said. "But if they say I don't have to, then I don't have to, then I ain't gonna wear 'em. But we'll see how it goes."



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