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04-06-2005, 12:09 PM
Phoenix 125, LA Lakers 99

Preview - Box Score - Recap

By MEL REISNER, AP Sports Writer
April 6, 2005

AP - Apr 6, 12:49 am EDT
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PHOENIX (AP) -- When the postseason starts, the Los Angeles Lakers' season will be over.

They didn't go out in style either, falling victim to a record-setting 3-point barrage by the Phoenix Suns.

Quentin Richardson scored 21 of his 25 points on 3-pointers, and the Suns routed the Lakers 125-99 Tuesday night to knock the defending Western Conference champions out of the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.

``I think in their minds we were eliminated before tonight,'' said coach Frank Hamblen, who confessed to trying to play everyone so that the front office can evaluate the team's talent to rebuild in the post-Shaquille O'Neal era.

``There's some guys that aren't here who, the last five years we were in the finals, so I'd say that's what the big difference is,'' Hamblen said.

The Lakers, who lost for the 12th time in 13 games, played this one with Kobe Bryant resting his injured right leg.


Richardson had 25 points and 10 rebounds, and the Suns won their sixth straight.

Amare Stoudemire scored 23 points and Shawn Marion had 22 points and 12 rebounds. Marion and Leandro Barbosa, who scored 14 points, made four 3-pointers each as Phoenix set a franchise record with 17 from beyond the arc.

The Suns, leading the NBA in 3-point percentage coming in, exceeded their average by making 17 of 39 (43.6 percent). The number of attempts tied a franchise mark set Dec. 8 against the Lakers.

``When you're shooting that well, it definitely feels good,'' said Richardson (7-of-14). ``Every time you touch the ball you just want to put it up.''

Bryant's shin bruise forced him to miss a game for the first time since he was activated from the injured list Feb. 13 after sitting out 14 games with a sprained right ankle. He had triple-doubles in the two previous games against Phoenix, forcing the Suns to rally for both victories.

The Lakers couldn't afford another loss when Denver beat Memphis 94-91 earlier Tuesday night. The Suns completed the elimination and sent Los Angeles into the draft lottery for the first time since 1993-94, and only the second time since the NBA adopted the lottery system before the 1985 draft.

``It is definitely a different feeling knowing that I'll probably be watching the playoffs this year from home,'' Devean George said. ``So I guess it could be new motivation -- you know, try to get my body right, work hard over the summer.''

AP - Apr 6, 12:31 am EDT
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The Lakers' only lead against the Suns came on a jumper by Caron Butler in the opening seconds.

The score was tied four times after that before the Suns pulled away to increasingly larger leads.

Butler had 30 points for the Lakers, with Chucky Atkins scoring 14 and George 12.

Richardson made five 3-pointers in the first 5:44 of the second quarter, tying a franchise high with six in one half and sending the Suns to a 54-40 lead.

The game got even more out of hand in the third when Richardson capped a 9-3 spurt with his final 3-pointer. It boosted Phoenix to a 79-62 lead with 10:01 to go.

Atkins had two layups and two free throws in 2 minutes to get the Lakers within 90-80 with 2:57 left in the third, but that only started a 12-5 surge by Phoenix that Barbosa capped with two 3-pointers in the final 1:02.

``We were hitting 3s and they were hitting 2s, and that'show we were cushioning our lead,'' Marion said.

Reserves played much of the fourth quarter, preventing Phoenix point guard Steve Nash from matching John Stockton for the longest streak of double-digit assist games in the last decade. Nash had eight points and nine assists in 24 minutes, ending his career-best run of 14 straight games with at least 10 assists.

``The bench came in and gave us a lift,'' Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. ``It was good to be able to give Steve Nash 24 minutes and keep our other guys' minutes down.''


Stuntman Evel Knievel got a big hand between the first and second quarters when he helped the Suns mascot put on a helmet for a motorcycle jump -- over three mini-vehicles. ... Before the game, Fox color commentator Dan Majerle won $100 from Suns owner Robert Sarver by sinking a spur-of-the-moment 25-footer with no warmup. ... Lakers C Vlade Divac was activated from the injured list, replacing C Chris Mihm (sprained ankle) on the roster, but George started for Mihm. ... Los Angeles is 6-9 this season without Bryant. ... The Lakers lost their ninth straight on the road.


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