Lakers open Grammy trip with loss to Suns
PHOENIX (AP) — Gerald Green had a strong second half to finish with a season high 28 points and lead the Phoenix Suns in a 121-114 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night.
Channing Frye had 10 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter and Markieff Morris scored 17 of his 24 in the first half to help the Suns snap a three-game skid. Goran Dragic added 18 points, 10 rebounds and seven assists.
Pau Gasol scored 24 points to lead the Lakers and Wesley Johnson had 22 against his former team.
Los Angeles, already short-handed with five players — including star Kobe Bryant — out with injuries, lost leading scorer Nick Young midway through the second quarter when he was ejected for throwing a punch at Dragic.
After being hit in the face going up for a layup by Phoenix center Alex Len, Young retaliated by shoving Len and then punching Dragic in the face while being pushed away from the fray.
Len was ejected as well, and the Suns’ Marcus Morris was issued a technical foul for his role in the fracas. Young, who had nine points at the time, took off his jersey and tossed his undershirt into the crowd on his way to the locker room.
The Lakers led by 13 points in the second quarter after Young’s ejection. A 3-pointer from the top of the key by Kendall Marshall gave the Lakers a 56-43 lead.
The Suns finished the quarter on an 11-2 run, topped off by P.J. Tucker’s layup at the halftime buzzer to cut the Lakers’ lead to 58-54.
The Suns led by eight in the first quarter, but the Lakers scored the last nine points of the period to take a 27-26 lead into the second. Back-to-back baskets by Chris Kaman put Los Angeles ahead.
Green scored 16 of his points in the third quarter, and his block Gasol’s layup attempt started a fast-break that resulted in a basket by Dragic that put the Suns ahead 72-70.
Green’s step-back 20-foot jumper gave the Suns a 79-74 lead with 4:09 left in the third. His chest-pass assist for Frye’s dunk made it 86-79 for Phoenix with 55 seconds left.
The Lakers tied the score at 91 with Johnson’s 3-pointer at the 9:53 mark of the fourth quarter. But back-to-back layups from Suns reserve Ish Smith made it 102-93, and the Suns were never seriously threatened the rest of the way.
NOTES: The Suns are a win away from their first regular season sweep of the Lakers since the 2004-2005 season. … Suns G Leandro Barbosa hurt his right shoulder late in the loss at New York on Monday, according to Phoenix coach Jeff Hornacek. Barbosa did not play Wednesday but Hornacek hopes to have him available Friday against Dallas. … Hornacek was issued a technical foul in the second quarter after arguing a non-call. … With three point guards out, the Lakers went with former Suns first-round draft pick Marshall as the starter. Marshall, the 13th overall pick of the 2012 NBA draft for Phoenix, finished with 10 points and 13 assists.