After a one-game homer, the Los Angeles Lakers are back on the road on the second night of a back-to-back, playing host to the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers snapped their four-game losing streak against the Detroit Pistons Sunday evening led by Kobe Bryant who flirted with a triple-double, scoring 17 points, adding nine assists, and nabbing eight rebounds.
Bryant played 36 minutes last night, exceeding his limit. Coach Byron Scott told reporters after the game that he is going to play Bryant heavy minutes on first games of back-to-back sets and rest him on second games.
Therefore, Bryant will not play against the Suns tonight, as he did not even travel with the team. After the contest, the 37-year-old admitted that he has been playing with lots of pain in his back and knees.
“Injuries are killing me,” Bryant stated after Sunday’s win. “I’m barely standing up. My back and my legs, it’s killing me. I’m not looking forward to walking to the car. Seriously.”
In addition to Bryant, Roy Hibbert broke his nose during Sunday’s outing but is expected to play Monday night with a protective mask.
The Suns haven’t played since Saturday when they ousted the Denver Nuggets, 105-81. Eric Bledsoe led all scorers with 30 points coupled with seven boards, four assists, and two steals on 11 of 16 shooting. Although Brandon Knight only scored 10 against Denver, he and Bledsoe have become a magnificent scoring duo, averaging a combined 42.3 points per contest.
It will be crucial for Los Angeles’ backcourt to keep those two out of the paint and limit penetration. In essence, Phoenix’s offense mostly runs through Bledsoe and Knight, so D’Angelo Russell and Jordan Clarkson will have their hands full in this matchup.
The Lakers will also need Hibbert’s interior defense to protect the paint from the driving Bledsoe and Knight. At the same time, the Lakers bigs will need to be aware of Tyson Chandler, who is an expert at tipping the ball out for offensive rebounds.
For Phoenix, they may be without two key players coming into this one. Markieff Morris, who did not play on Saturday, is nursing a knee sprain and is considered questionable. Former Laker Ronnie Price also sat out Saturday night and is not expected to play tonight either.
The Suns swept the Lakers last season, 4-0, and have won eight out of the last nine meetings between the two teams.
The Lakers, however, have not faced the Suns since they acquired Brandon Knight during the trade deadline. The last time these two teams played was on January 19, 2015, when it was Goran Dragic and Isaiah Thomas who led the way for Phoenix with 24 points apiece.
Tip-off for Monday night’s contest is at 9 pm Eastern Time at Talking Stick Resort Arena.