The Los Angeles Lakers were shocked 92-86 on Wednesday night in Phoenix. After leading by 13 points with 10 minutes remaining in the ball game, the Lakers’ offense shut down. They labored to only eight points over the final 10 minutes and only 13 points in the entire fourth quarter.
The Lakers gave the game away.
“It’s unacceptable,” Lakers’ forward Antawn Jamison said after the game. “There’s no way you come out play the way we played for three quarters and then, not find a way to win the game.”
Dwight Howard re-injured his shoulder and had to leave the game with seven minutes remaining, but the Lakers were still in a position to win even without Howard. However, the Lakers' defense walked to the bench along with Howard’s injured shoulder.
The Suns scored 29 points in the final period, and Michael Beasley was 5-6 from the field for 10 points.
The entire Lakers team had four field goals in the final 12 minutes. The Lakers shot 4-21 in the fourth quarter, 19 percent. The Lakers were ever worse from distance, going 1-9 in the fourth quarter. Amid the missed shots, Kobe Bryant grew frustrated and started shooting late in the game.
Bryant was 5-10 from the field through the first three quarters, but as the Lakers’ offense came to a halt, Bryant attempted to carry the team by making some shots. He shot 2-7 and scored six points in the final stanza, and he was one of only two players to actually make a shot in the fourth quarter. Jamison, who only played the opening three minutes of the quarter, was the other. The rest of the Lakers were 0-12.
Bryant finished with 17 points, nine assists, and five rebounds, but he could not manage a single assist in the fourth quarter. It is impossible to record an assist if a teammate does not make the shot.
Statistically, it may be easy to blame Bryant for the loss, but that would not be fair.
Five of Bryant’s seven fourth quarter shots came in the final four minutes when the Lakers had already blown their lead and were involved in a one possession ball game.
Ultimately, Bryant did not lose Wednesday’s game in Phoenix. He just didn’t win it.