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Plumlee, Green pace Suns in rout of Lakers

The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- An offseason trade with the Indiana Pacers was designed to give the Phoenix Suns a future first-round draft pick and salary relief.

The deal also yielded two of the key cogs in Phoenix's unlikely and unexpected resurgence this season.

The duo was on full display Monday. Center Miles Plumlee collected 17 points and a career-high 20 rebounds, and guard Gerald Green had 22 points and tied a career high with six 3-pointers as the Suns routed the Los Angeles Lakers 117-90.

Guard Eric Bledsoe added 16 points and 11 rebounds for the Suns, who earned their eighth victory in nine games. Phoenix (17-10) won its past two games -- 123-108 over the Dallas Mavericks on Saturday, plus Monday's decision -- by a combined 42 points.

The Suns obtained Plumlee, Green and a lottery-protected first-round pick from Indiana for forward Luis Scola on July 27. Plumlee and Green, who failed to blossom elsewhere, are playing key roles on a team that was expected to struggle but instead is two games behind the Los Angeles Clippers for the Pacific Division lead.

Plumlee, who had 18 points and 15 rebounds in his Suns debut Oct. 30, became the first Phoenix player to grab 20 boards in a game since Amar'e Stoudemire had 21 on Dec. 5, 2009, against the Sacramento Kings.

"I couldn't foresee that the opportunity we would get here would be so large," said Plumlee, who had a 22-rebound game in college for Duke against Maryland. "But I knew Gerald's ceiling is as high as he wants it to be, and I believe the same thing of myself. Things have just kind of worked out."

The Suns were everywhere against the beat-up Lakers, who didn't have injured shooting guard Kobe Bryant or a true point guard with Steve Blake, Jordan Farmar and Steve Nash all out. Phoenix had a season-high 62 rebounds, the most by the Suns in almost 16 years (67 at Dallas on Feb. 17, 1998). Phoenix dished out 24 assists, hit 14 3-pointers and used a 36-point second quarter take command.

Forward Marcus Morris added 19 points off the bench and made five 3-pointers for the Suns, who sank a combined 29 shots from beyond the arc the past two games.

"We had to warm up a little in the first quarter, but then we put it in a higher gear, played together, and it was a great game for us," Suns guard Goran Dragic said.

Guard Nick Young scored 19 points and guard Jodie Meeks had added 18 for the Lakers, who lost for the sixth time in the last nine games and fell to 1-2 since Bryant went back on the injured list. Guard Xavier Henry added 13 points for the Lakers (13-15).

Los Angeles led 3-0 to start the game but never again.

"They just picked us apart," Young said. "It's tough to come back when they are hitting 3s and you're making 2s. They played the system well tonight.

"We are still confident in each other. ... We are playing through a lot of injuries, so hopefully (some help) happens on Christmas. Santa has got to deliver some presents."

Lakers forward Pau Gasol, who missed Saturday's road loss to the Golden State Warriors due to an upper-respiratory infection, scored 10 points in 20 minutes Monday before his night ended early.

"We were down 20, and there was no use wearing him out," said Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni, looking ahead to the Christmas matchup with the Miami Heat. "We have a game in a day and a half. We need him back full strength."

D'Antoni hasn't coached the Suns in six years, but what he saw Monday likely reminded him of the run-and-gun team he twice took to Western Conference finals.

Two days after scoring a season-high 125 points in a win over Dallas, the Suns tied a season high with 64 first-half points. Phoenix held a 13-point lead at the break, and the Lakers never got closer in the second half.

NOTES: Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni hopes to have at least one point guard on the court for the Christmas Day game against Miami. Steve Nash (back) and Steve Blake (knee) remain out, but Jordan Farmar (hamstring) is on course to play against the Heat. ... The Suns began the night averaging 9.7 made 3-pointers per game, second best in the NBA. They made at least seven in a 19th consecutive game, the longest such streak in the league. ... D'Antoni on facing Phoenix's 1-2 point guard punch of Bledsoe and Dragic without any healthy point guards: "They are two very good point guards. Two mediocre point guards wouldn't bother us."... Phoenix is now 12-2 when it has one day of rest between games.
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