NBA Preview from The Sports Network
Friday, February 17th (All times eastern)
Phoenix Suns (12-18) at Los Angeles Lakers (17-12), 10:30 p.m.
(Sports Network) - Pacific Division rivals renew hostilities at Staples Center on Friday when the Los Angeles Lakers open up a home-and-home series with the Phoenix Suns.
Fresh off a 3-3 Grammy Road Trip the Lakers returned to SoCal on Tuesday and topped the Atlanta Hawks, 86-78. Pau Gasol led LA with 20 points and 13 rebounds in that one, doubling up the struggling Kobe Bryant, in the win.
Bryant, averaging an NBA-best 28.7 points per game, had a season-low 10 points on 5-of-18 shooting without visiting the foul line for the Lakers, who have beaten the Hawks six straight times at home and won 19 of the last 22 meetings between the teams in LA.
"Tonight, we had to find a way," said Gasol. "We got some energy going on in the second half and hit some big shots. Any time you hold a team down to 78 points is huge."
The Suns, meanwhile, have dropped three straight after losing to those same Hawks, who rallied to beat them, 101-99, on Wednesday in the desert.
Steve Nash paced Phoenix, scoring 22 points and dishing out 16 assists. Grant Hill posted 18 points and Channing Frye dropped 13 and pulled down 11 rebounds for the Suns, who have lost four of five overall.
"It sounds like it's Groundhog Day all over again," said Suns guard Jared Dudley, who scored 11 points. "We had a lead, a double-digit lead, and they came back. It's happened a little too often. We're having these dry spells of scoring."
The Suns have lost six of seven to the Lakers at Staples Center, including a 99-83 setback back on Jan. 10 when Bryant went off for a season-high 48 points.
Phoenix will turn around and host LA in the desert on Sunday.
02/17 10:59:00 ET