Scola's late heroics guide Suns past Lakers

The Sports Xchange
The SportsXchange

PHOENIX -- Suns fans at US Airways Center were delirious when his rare 3-pointer popped through the net to ice the game, but forward Luis Scola knew another audience that would be even happier.
"My kids always ask me to make a 3 and I never do," Scola said. "They weren't here tonight, but I have to get a tape. Tomorrow I'll show them and they'll be really excited."
Scola should get a tape of the entire fourth quarter, when he outscored and outrebounded the Los Angeles Lakers -- yes, the entire team -- and helped the Suns snap an ugly four-game losing streak with a 99-76 win Monday night.
Scola had all 14 of his points and eight rebounds in the final 12 minutes while the Lakers mustered 10 points and seven rebounds with Kobe Bryant in street clothes nursing his sore ankle. Scola had nine points during a 16-4 Suns run to open the fourth quarter, and his 26-footer off a broken play with the shot clock winding down made it 92-75 with 3:38 left.
The Lakers, who shot 33 percent from the floor and missed 17 of 22 3-pointers, fell to 5-9 in the second half of back-to-back games this season and have failed to sweep any of them in 14 tries.
Dwight Howard had 11 points and six rebounds in the first quarter but managed only five points and five rebounds the rest of the way as the Suns mixed and matched veteran Jermaine O'Neal, 7-foot-2 Iranian Hamed Haddadi and the 6-9 Scola on him defensively.
"We missed a lot of shots and they made a lot of shots, but we were a step slow tonight," Howard said. "They spaced the floor with Scola and I was in the pick-and-rolls a lot and Scola's not going to miss a lot of 15-footers. And then he throws in a running 3. Then they put Hadaddi in, who's like 7-5, and Jermaine ... they were all battling hard."
Lakers guard Steve Nash had 19 points but was 6 of 17 from the floor and lost for the second time as many games back in Phoenix this season.
"We just hit the wall," Nash said. "The ninth game in 14 days in seven cities and you could just kind of see the wheels come off with guys getting injured (Bryant, Pau Gasol) and playing a seven-man rotation caught up to us a little bit."
Scola played only eight minutes in the first three quarters before taking the Lakers apart in the fourth.
"He let us coaches know that we really don't know what we are doing and to leave him out there on Dwight," Suns coach Lindsey Hunter said. "He was tremendous. You can never measure a guy's heart and he showed it tonight."
Wesley Johnson finished with 14 points and Jared Dudley had 13 as the Suns, who had lost their last four games by a combined 85 points, beat the Lakers at home for the fourth straight time. Phoenix had six players, including four reserves, score in double figures.
The Lakers scored the fewest points by a Suns opponent all season, and a team that had won eight of its past 10 games and beaten Utah and Sacramento without Bryant took a step backward. The Suns have held 72 opponents to fewer than 80 points in franchise history and are 71-1 in those games. The Lakers have scored fewer than 90 only twice in their last 54 games -- both times in the past six weeks to the Suns in Phoenix.
"We didn't shoot well, we didn't take care of the ball (18 turnovers) and we got beat," Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said. "If you don't have Kobe, it's harder. If you don't have Pau, it's harder. But there's no excuse. They had more athleticism, more energy and more legs than we didn't."
The Suns expanded a three-point halftime lead with an 11-2 run late in the fourth quarter. Johnson hit a 3-pointer before Goran Dragic (12 points, 10 assists) took over, firing a pass between the legs of Nash for a Dudley layup before finding Markeiff Morris for a dunk and a 69-58 lead with 3:19 to go.
But LA's Antawn Jamison followed a Steve Blake 3-pointer with his first basket of the game, a 3-pointer, to cut Phoenix's lead to 71-66 after three quarters. That's when Scola took over and finished off the Lakers.
NOTES: Bryant has four days to rest before the Lakers host the Washington Wizards at Staples Center. That is their only game until they play the Golden State Warriors in Oakland next Monday. ... Phoenix's Michael Beasley came in averaging 19.7 points in three games against the Lakers, his highest average against any opponent he has faced more than once this year. Take away those three games and his 10.3-point season average sinks a point to 9.3. Beasley had 10 points on 5-of-13 shooting from the field. ... After starting the Morris twins the previous six games, Hunter replaced Marcus Morris, who did not play in the game, with P.J. Tucker on Monday.

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