Scola’s big fourth helps Suns rout Lakers
by Paul Coro, USA TODAY Sports
PHOENIX — Suns fans got a chance at rooting on their team without conflicted emotions Monday night.
Suns fans always enjoy beating the Los Angeles Lakers, but many of them also have kept the Suns’ draft lottery odds in mind as this season became more about building something for the future.
Monday night was a game for both interests. The Suns’ 99-76 thrashing of the Lakers at US Airways Center not only halted Phoenix’s four-game losing streak, but might prove to make the Lakers’ playoff chances a bit more tenuous.
The loss keeps the Lakers (36-33) just a game ahead of Utah for the eighth and final Western Conference playoff spot. If the Lakers miss the playoffs, the Suns will get their first-round pick as part of the Steve Nash sign-and-trade deal, but the pick the Suns get would drop to No. 30 if the Lakers make the playoffs and instead convey Miami’s first-round pick to fulfill the trade obligation.
All that was of little consequence to the Suns (23-45), who were more interested in saving face at home after an ugly road trip and a losing streak that saw them surrendering 113.3 points per game. The Lakers shot 33% and scored only 10 fourth-quarter points, one off a season low for a quarter previously set against the Suns last month. They were missing Kobe Bryant, who missed his second consecutive game after coming down with the flu Sunday on top off his previously sprained ankle.
The Lakers already were without Pau Gasol and playing on the second night of a back-to-back, helping the Suns close out the Lakers with a 28-10 fourth quarter.
The Suns were far sharper regardless, with better energy at home that was buoyed by the fourth-quarter play of Luis Scola, who went from a limited role in recent games and scoreless through three quarters to a 14-point, eight-rebound fourth quarter. Scola even sank his second three-pointer of the season while playing center. Dwight Howard did not take a shot in 10 fourth-quarter minutes and grabbed only two rebounds.
The Suns opened the fourth quarter with a 16-2 run with six points from … [For more on Scola's big fourth helps Suns rout Lakers without Kobe, click here.]