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Lakers get burned in Phoenix, and Coach Mike D'Antoni gets hot

Suns thrive at expense of trading partner, routing Lakers 117-90, and D'Antoni is in testy mood after second straight blowout on road.

December 23, 2013|By Mike Bresnahan

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PHOENIX — The Lakers lost another game and generously gave another big man a career night, but Coach Mike D'Antoni didn't want to hear that any Lakers fans were discouraged.

"If they're discouraged, then find another team to root for," he said testily after the Lakers lost to the Phoenix Suns, 117-90. "We're not going to give up. Are you kidding me? Discouraged? That's not even fair to these guys."

He said "Discouraged?" the same way former Indianapolis Colts Coach Jim Mora incredulously exclaimed "Playoffs?" over and over after a bad loss.

BOX SCORE: Suns 117, Lakers 90

Pretty soon, the Lakers can start forgetting about the postseason if this keeps up. There are two-game trips, and then there are wastes of time, the Lakers losing to Phoenix and Golden State by a combined 46 points in a 48-hour span.

D'Antoni didn't want to hear about that either.

"Guys, I mean, it's like, OK, we lost two road games," he said. "It takes some adjusting. We've got to get somebody healthy. We'll be back. We're not going anywhere.

"We're going to fight and we're going to try and stay above .500. We've got a nice homestand coming up and if anybody hangs their head, they don't need to be on our bandwagon."

D'Antoni really didn't like being asked why he didn't put reserve Nick Young into the game earlier in the third quarter. Young had 15 first-half points and entered with 3:50 left in the third quarter.

"I think that was the whole game right there. I screwed that up," D'Antoni said facetiously. "Are you kidding me? I'll look at the tape. I mean, maybe."

D'Antoni then ended his news conference.

"I'm out, guys. I'm done," he said, walking away from reporters and into the Lakers' locker room at US Airways Center.

To no one's great surprise, the Lakers surrendered a career-high 20 rebounds to center Miles Plumlee, who added injury to insult by accidentally head-butting Pau Gasol in the third quarter, causing Gasol to bleed profusely near the right eye.

That's the Lakers in a sentence: Gasol comes back from an upper-respiratory infection, gets head-butted and leaves the game. Gasol is expected to play Wednesday against Miami.

The Suns earned their largest margin of victory this season and clubbed the Lakers on the boards, 62-39. Even their point guard, Eric Bledsoe, took a career-high 11 rebounds.

"We've got to man up," D'Antoni said earlier in his news conference. "We have to be a little quicker to the ball."

Suns fans were sad, if not angry, when the Lakers stole their beloved Steve Nash almost 18 months ago.

But now the Suns (17-10) are the ones having all the fun . . . not to mention the two first-round picks and two second-round picks they got from the Lakers in the Nash deal.

Gerald Green had 22 points as Phoenix made 14 of 32 three-point shots (43.8%). Plumlee scored 17 points, one shy of his career high, and became the first Suns player in four years to take 20 rebounds in a game.

Gasol played 20 minutes and defended Plumlee most of that time; he also had 10 points on four-for-12 shooting. He said he wasn't discouraged but his downcast body language suggested otherwise.

"We're getting hit from all types of different angles and there's not much we can do about it," he said.

Young had 19 points on six-for-17 shooting and said the Lakers took a "little bit" of a step back.

"We ain't got no point guards out there," he said. "Pau was out one game, he's still battling a cold. We've got a lot of odds against us."

mike.bresnahan@latimes.com

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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