Who knew the Suns and the Lakers would play three overtimes on Tuesday evening? That's exactly what happened when the Lakers outlasted the resilient Suns attack, defeating Phoenix 139-137 in an epic regular season contest.
The Suns were led by some incredible individual efforts, including a 32 point, 14 rebound effort from Channing Frye and a 24 point, 16 rebound explosion from backup center Marcin Gortat. Steve Nash paced Phoenix with 20 assists.
The turning point in this game was when Grant Hill fouled out in the third overtime. No one else was able to defend Kobe Bryant, who scored 42 points and added 12 rebounds and 9 assists to his season totals.
Vince Carter had a miserable game against the Lakers, making only 7 of his 23 shooting attempts and having a -20 on the +/- scale. Those are Allen Iverson-esque numbers and the team deserves better from its $18 million man.
You can always pick apart a performance of this kind, whether it means to blame the referees or to wonder why Gortat played with zero urgency on the final possession of the game. But this game showed that Phoenix has a ton of heart. If they play with this type of passion against anyone other than Los Angeles, they will be victorious. That in itself is a good takeaway -- Phoenix is a playoff caliber team, and the time has come to earn it.
Phoenix plays another game tomorrow night against the Toronto Raptors. It will be interesting to see how Steve Nash, Grant Hill, and the rest of the Suns react to another game so soon after this epic contest. Hopefully, they play inspired basketball.