NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Tuesday, March 22nd (All times eastern)
Phoenix Suns (35-33) at Los Angeles Lakers (50-20), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - The Phoenix Suns will finish up a three-day, two-game trip to Staples Center Tuesday, when they face the red-hot Los Angeles Lakers.
The Suns opened up their quick sojourn by taking on the Lakers' co-tenants, the LA Clippers, on Sunday. Steve Nash finished with a game-high 23 points to go along with 13 assists in that one as the Suns topped the Clippers, 108-99.
Channing Frye connected on five shots from three-point range, finishing with 19 points, and Marcin Gortat posted 17 points and 13 rebounds in a reserve role. Jared Dudley added 14 points and six rebounds while Hakim Warrick added 12 points for the victors, who have now won consecutive games since a four- game slide and 10 of their previous 11 with the Clippers.
"I am happy with the way we played," Suns coach Alvin Gentry said. "We were able to take away some of their plays. All and all our defense was good today."
Phoenix remains in the Western Conference playoff hunt and is currently 2 1/2 games behind Memphis for the final spot with 14 games left in the season.
The playoffs are of course a foregone conclusion for the two-time defending champion Lakers, who just wrapped up their fourth straight Pacific Division crown after an 84-80 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Sunday in LA.
Kobe Bryant scored 22 points, including four during a late eight-point burst that helped the second-seeded Lakers claim the win, their 12th in 13 games since the All-Star Break. LA is a game ahead of Dallas in the standings.
The Lakers (50-20) also secured their 50th win for a fourth straight campaign as Lamar Odom finished with 16 points, 11 rebounds and six assists, while Pau Gasol had 14 points and 13 boards.
Phil Jackson's club earned the win despite being without the services of center Andrew Bynum. Bynum was assessed a two-game suspension for a flagrant foul, penalty two call against Minnesota forward Michael Beasley back on March 18 and will serve the second game of his penalty during tonight's contest.
The Lakers have taken two of three from the Suns so far this season and have won nine of 12 overall versus Phoenix. These two teams have split the last 14 encounters at Staples Center.
03/22 10:38:29 ET