Green, Plumlee lead Suns past undermanned Lakers
PHOENIX (AP) — Gerald Green hit six 3-pointers and scored 22 points, Miles Plumlee grabbed a career-high 20 rebounds, and the Phoenix Suns dominated the paint in a 117-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Monday night.
Plumlee added 17 points while having his way inside with an ailing Pao Gasol in the Suns’ third straight win.
Marcus Morris added 19 points on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range for Phoenix, which held a 62-39 edge on the boards in their eighth win in nine games.
Nick Young scored 19 points and Jodie Meeks 18 for the undermanned Lakers, who fell to 1-2 since Kobe Bryant was sidelined with a knee injury.
Gasol, who sat out Saturday’s loss to Golden State with an upper respiratory infection, started but had little energy as Plumlee scored on alley-oop dunks, post moves and putbacks.
The second-year player from Duke, who played sparingly as a rookie in Indiana, hit 8 of 14 shots and blocked two shots as the surprising Suns moved to 17-10, their best start since 18-9 in 2009-10.
Gasol had 10 points and four rebounds in 20 minutes before he left the game for good midway through the third quarter after bumping heads with Plumlee. That opened a gash that left him bleeding from the corner of his right eye.
It was that kind of night for the Lakers, who watched the Suns hit 14 3-pointers in their sixth loss in nine games.
The Lakers only healthy point guard was ex-Sun Kendall Marshall, signed last week and who committed four turnovers in six minutes in his debut Saturday. He didn’t play until the game was decided in the fourth quarter.
The 6-foot-6 Xavier Henry again started at point guard with Steve Blake (elbow), Jordan Farmar (hamstring) and Steve Nash (back) all sidelined.
Henry then committed three first-quarter fouls, the last a silly reach-in in the backcourt that brought him an earful from coach Mike D’Antoni.
But despite being outrebounded by Plumlee alone (9-8) and committing 10 fouls in the first quarter, the Lakers only trailed 28-24.
Then the Suns got hot from the outside —- again.
After hitting just 1 of 7 3-pointers in the first quarter, Phoenix drained seven of their first nine in the second, including four from Green as the Suns built a 62-46 lead.
The Suns, who extended their team record of hitting at least seven 3s to 19 games, built a 24-point third-quarter lead behind an array of driving layups, hot shooting and Plumlee’s work inside.
Eric Bledsoe contributed 16 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists for Phoenix, which has won five straight over the Lakers at home.
NOTES: D’Antoni is "optimistic" Farmar will return Wednesday vs. Miami. Farmar will meet with doctors Tuesday. . While Blake is still weeks from returning and wearing a brace on his right arm, he’s been able to work on his opposite hand and said he can now consistently make free throws lefty. . Suns coach Jeff Hornacek said C Alex Len (ankle) is slowly improving, but there’s no timetable for his return. . Plumee air-balled a first-quarter free throw. . D’Antoni still looks fondly on his time (2003-08) as Suns coach. "I wouldn’t change that for the world," he said.