Below are five things to take from the Lakers’ 113-106 loss to the Phoenix Suns Tuesday at Staples Center:
1. Lakers had issues on defense. Offensive chemistry means very little if the Lakers don’t defend.The Lakers may have fielded a quicker and smaller lineup. But that didn’t stop Suns guards Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe b combining for 48 points on a flurry of open drives and jumpers. Nor did it stop the Morris twins from combining for 37 points. The Lakers were also outhustled on the boards, 43-33.
2. Kobe Bryant rounded into better form.. The Lakers star likely won’t give himself an F for this game. Sure, he’s far from the player that earned him fourth place on the NBA’s al-time leading scorer. But considering the eight month layoff from the Achilles injury, Bryant made huge strides from his first and second game. Against Phoenix, Bryant posted 20 points on 3 of 5 shooting, three assists and three turnovers by doing plenty of things he failed to do two days ago.
Bryant scored two of his baskets off drives to the rim, including a one-handed dunk. Bryant cut down on his ball handling miscues with both better timing and allowing Steve Blake a larger share of the point guard duties (nine points on 3 of 7 shooting with six assists). Bryant also flexed his mid-range game and free throw shooting (eight of eight from the line). Bryant has a long ways to go toward becoming the elite scorer he once was. He showed some slow reactions on defense. And his turnovers remain an issue even if it’s an improvement from the nine he posted in his debut. But all in all, a great second step in his march toward recovery.