Suns notebook: No mercy for 'little brother'
Returning to where he won two championships with the Lakers and guard the man who calls him his "little brother," Kobe Bryant, Shannon Brown knew Tuesday at Staples Center would be a whirlwind of emotions.
And after Bryant dropped 48 points on Brown and the Suns in a 99-83 win -- the most by any player in the NBA so far this season -- none of it surprised the player who saw it up close as a teammate for years.
"It was crazy. I knew he wasn't going to let up," Brown said. "I tried not to let his 'little brother' comment soften me up. When it was time to play ball, I knew he was going to come out firing and he did. It was great to get out there and guard him."
Guarding him in so many practices gave Brown a good book on what was coming from Black Mamba -- not that it helped. "He caught me with a little pump fake I knew it was coming but I bit on it anyways," Brown said.
The Suns led early, hung on most of the way but imploded at the end when Bryant led a 16-2 run that turned a tight came into a walkover.
"He's the best player in the world," two-time MVP Steve Nash said of Bryant. "You come to expect that type of performance from him. He does it regularly throughout the season and he was phenomenal (Tuesday)."
The Suns return to Phoenix for back-to-back road games against Cleveland (Thursday) and New Jersey (Friday) and they need the wins before heading out on a daunting five-game road trip against playoff-caliber competition.
--Last week in Dallas, the Suns gave up 10 offensive rebounds in a loss to the Mavericks and the same culprit was a problem against the Lakers, who grabbed 14 offensive rebounds -- five of them off the bench by Luke Walton. "They had way too many offensive rebounds and it wasn't just their bigs," Nash said. "They're always going to pose that type of problem for us so we need to do a better job on the glass."
--Gentry toyed with the idea of making changes to the starting lineup before the Suns pulled off two convincing wins at home and appeared more comfortable with the rotation. But after the starters built an early nine-point lead, the bench promptly gave up a 10-0 run to wipe out all the early hard work. The two most likely scenarios for change involve moving players who have had success coming off the bench -- Channing Frye and Jared Dudley -- back into those roles. Veteran Hakim Warrick or rookie Markieff Morris would be likely candidates to start at forward, while Brown could start at the shooting guard spot.
--F Grant Hill not only had very little success slowing down Bryant, he had very little success on the other end as well. Hill missed 11 of his 12 shots from the field and produced only four points in 33 minutes on the floor.
--C Marcin Gortat had another double-double with 16 points and 12 rebounds, but he struggled offensively in the fourth quarter along with the rest of his teammates. During a key possession of the fourth quarter, he wound up taking a 20-foot jumper with the clock winding down -- part of a poor run of execution down the stretch for the Phoenix offense.
--Frye is back in sync. After breaking out of an early-season slump with 16 points against Milwaukee on Sunday, Frye backed it up with 17 points on 7-for-9 shooting and nailing three of his five 3-pointers in the process. Frye only had three rebounds in 32 minutes and was a minus-10 in his time on the floor, but one thing at a time.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "We played 43 good minutes of basketball; we have to put together the other five. We've got to play those last almost six minutes, and we have to be able to come up with baskets, and we have to keep the game close enough that we have a couple of shots here and there that can make the difference. We gave too much separation." -- Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry.