National Basketball Association
Phoenix at L.A. Lakers
When: 10:30 PM ET, Friday, December 9, 2016
Where: Staples Center, Los Angeles, California
The Los Angeles Lakers are spiraling in the wrong direction with the momentum from a solid start evaporating, and they will try to regroup when they visit the Phoenix Suns on Friday. The Lakers have dropped a season-worst four straight games and seven of their last nine and were annihilated 134-95 by the Houston Rockets on Wednesday.
Los Angeles badly misses D'Angelo Russell (knee), who will miss his 11th consecutive contest, but the second-year point guard might be cleared to return next week. The Lakers played solid basketball when Russell was healthy and his absence has displayed his importance to the team as well as the vast improvement he is making under first-year coach Luke Walton. Phoenix also is struggling with five losses in the past six games and it suffered a 109-94 home loss to the Indiana Pacers on Wednesday, but coach Earl Watson is remaining positive. "We have a young group," Watson said after the loss. "We have to set the tone and identity on how we want to play. From now on, moving forward, defensively aggressive is how we have to play."TV:
10:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, FSN Arizona (Phoenix), Spectrum SportsNet (Los Angeles)ABOUT THE SUNS (6-16):
Second-year shooting guard Devin Booker scored a career-best 39 points against the Lakers earlier this season but Los Angeles prevailed 119-108. Booker is a tremendous sharpshooter but he had just 13 points on 4-of-13 shooting against the Pacers and knows how slim the Suns' margin is in terms of winning games. "We know we're not the most talented team in the league so we know every game has to be a dogfight for us," Booker said after the loss. "That's what we have to do."ABOUT THE LAKERS (10-14):
Guards Nick Young (calf) and Jose Calderon (hamstring) are out along with Russell but Walton said the absences were "not an acceptable excuse" and he strongly criticized the club's resolve while being pummeled by the Rockets. "We can't have that mindset," Walton told reporters. "Obviously, we're missing key players, and you're going to lose games. But if we're sitting around as a team (thinking), 'Hey let's wait for Nick and D'Angelo and this guy and that guy to get back,' what kind of mindset is that? You come out and you play hard." Shooting guard Lou Williams is doing his best to keep the Lakers afloat and is averaging 34 points over the past three games.BUZZER BEATERS
1. The win by the Lakers earlier this season was just their third in the past 14 meetings with the Suns.
2. Los Angeles PF Julius Randle scored a season-high 21 points and collected 10 rebounds against Houston for his fourth double-double in the past six games.
3. Phoenix C Tyson Chandler recorded a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds on Wednesday while playing in his 1,000th career game.PREDICTION:
Suns 105, Lakers 102
Stats and Records