Lakers Fall to Suns, Howard InjuredBy Daniel J.
Just when the Lakers looked like they were starting to turn things around, they encountered another setback Wednesday night. On second thought, make that two setbacks.
The Phoenix Suns — one of the worst teams in the Western Conference and the league for that matter — snapped the Los Angeles Lakers’ three-game winning streak in a game that also saw Dwight Howard exit early after re-aggravating a shoulder injury that has plagued him recently.
Although Steve Nash received a warm reception from the Suns crowd, it was not a welcome home party for he or for Mike D’Antoni, as the Suns rallied from 13 points down in the fourth quarter to win 92-86, while handing the Lakers their 26th loss of the season. For the Lakers, the rally was obviously partially due to not having their inside presence Howard defensively, as he had to come out of the game with just under seven minutes to play when the pain in his shoulder flared up again.
After suffering a torn labrum in the same shoulder earlier this month, the injury has continued to bother Howard and the team understands that it may be a problem down the road, which is something they certainly don’t need any more of at the moment. However, D’Antoni is remaining optimistic that Howard will be able to play.
“It is my understanding that it is something that will hurt, then it will go away and he will be able to play,” D’Antoni said, according to ESPN.com.
With Howard ailing, Michael Beasley dominated for Phoenix. Beasley put in a season-best effort of 27 points, and scored the go-ahead bucket with under a minute to play. Beasley is starting to heat up for the Suns, as he scored his previous season-best 25 points just two nights ago.
“I’m just playing aggressive,” Beasley said. “I’m trying to turn over a new leaf. No more nonchalant Beas. I’m back to the Beast.”
Kobe Bryant had a chance to tie the game with 24 seconds to play, but missed a layup. He finished the game with 17 points and nine assists in the loss.
“We seemed to be kind of a step behind,” Bryant said. “We seemed to be a little sloppy, a little lackadaisical.”
You could say that pretty much sums up the Lakers’ season.
The Lakers are now 20-26 on the season as we enter February and seem no closer to finding “the answer” since D’Antoni took over as the head man. The Lakers are currently in 10th place in the Western Conference, four games back of Houston for the eighth seed. With Howard dealing with injuries, the team failing to gel and with Pau Gasol continuing to gripe about playing time, things aren’t looking so good in Laker Town. L.A. is still 16/1 to win the NBA championship this season, but that seems like a sucker bet at the moment.