LOS ANGELES (AP) — Lou Williams scored a season-high 30 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers sent Phoenix to its ninth straight loss with a 97-77 rout of the cold-shooting Suns on Sunday night.
The Lakers, coming off victories over Boston and Philadelphia, have won three in a row for the first time since Feb. 22-27 against Boston, Utah and Milwaukee. Rookie Larry Nance Jr. had 15 points and tied a season high with his second straight 14-rebound game.
Kobe Bryant sat out his second straight game because of a sore right shoulder, the same one he had surgery on last January to repair a torn rotator cuff.
The league’s third leading career scorer, who turned 37 in August, is averaging 17.2 points in 29 games. Bryant announced on Nov. 29 that this would be his the final season of his 20-year NBA career.
Brandon Knight had 25 points, nine assists and three rebounds for the Suns, who shot 36 percent from the field and trailed by as many as 38 points en route to their 21st loss in 27 games since beating the Lakers at Phoenix on Nov. 16.
Phoenix center Tyson Chandler, who was ejected midway through the third quarter of Saturday’s 142-119 loss at Sacramento, played only 19 minutes in this one and missed his first five shots before finishing with two points on 1 for 6 shooting.
The Suns were playing their fourth game in five nights and looked tired, making only nine of 46 shots in the first half (19.6 percent) and scoring just 10 points in the opening quarter before the Lakers built their lead to 43-22 – the lowest total in Suns history – by intermission.
Williams ended his 11-point second quarter with a buzzer-beating 3 off an inbounds pass after the Lakers took a 20-second timeout with 1.1 seconds on the clock.
The Suns had won nine of their previous 10 meetings with the Lakers. But despite this loss, they still have a three-game lead over Los Angeles in the race to stay out of the Pacific Division cellar.
Suns: The Suns (12-25) are 0-15 when scoring fewer than 100 points. … C Alex Len, limited to 6 1-2 minutes of playing time on Saturday because of a sore left hand, came off the bench for the third straight game and had six points and nine rebounds in 28 minutes. “They’ve taken X-rays and it’s not broken, but it’s really sore and he has a hard time squeezing his hand,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He’s going to continue to play and try to be a presence out there – at least on the defensive end and spell Tyson in some of those minutes. With all the traveling, every time he goes up in an airplane, it swells up again. So it probably won’t calm down until we get back home.” … The Suns are 0-10 when an opposing player has scored 30 or more points against them. … Phoenix is 0-5 since point guard Eric Bledsoe‘s season-ending injury to his left knee and subsequent surgery to repair a torn meniscus.
Lakers: A fan won a $95,000 for hitting a halfcourt shot after the third quarter. … Nance made seven of 10 shots in his first start against the team his dad starred for during his first 6 1-2 NBA seasons. … C Roy Hibbert, the only Laker to start all 35 games, had 13 points and six boards. … Bryant’s highest-scoring game without a 3-point basket was against the Suns, when he scored 48 points on Jan. 10, 2012, at Los Angeles. … The Lakers snapped a nine-game home losing streak against Western Conference teams.