LOS ANGELES (AP) — The Lakers have been giving playoff-contending teams more trouble over the past week than clubs that are way out of contention — like themselves.
Chris Kaman had a season-high 28 points along with 17 rebounds while starting at center for the vertigo-stricken Pau Gasol, Jodie Meeks scored 22 points, and Los Angeles snapped the Phoenix' Suns' six-game winning streak with a 115-99 victory Sunday night.
It came just five days after the Lakers put a crimp in the New York Knicks' postseason plans with a 31-point drubbing at Staples Center. In between that game and this one were a pair of road losses to the league-worst Milwaukee Bucks and the Minnesota Timberwolves, who beat the Lakers by 36 points Friday night.
"We're trying to be the player-haters of the year. That's definitely what we're trying to do, and we embrace it," said point guard Kendall Marshall, who had 13 points and 11 assists. "We want to keep teams out of the playoffs and mess up seedings. That's our motivation right now. Any type of motivation we can get to grow as a team is good for us right now."
The undermanned Lakers shot 53 percent from the field, avoiding what would have been Phoenix's first season sweep over them since 2004-05. The Suns won the first three meetings by an average margin of 13.3 points, including a 117-90 rout on Dec. 23 at US Airways Center. This was the first meeting between the teams in 2 1/2 months.
"I don't know if we had a single guy who came with the energy that they usually have," coach Jeff Hornacek said. "We've had games like this before, where they think they're just going to show up and win a game. We're not good enough to do that. These guys have been winning games lately because they've been focused in, but tonight they just weren't."
The 25-48 Lakers beat a team with a winning record for only the eighth time all season. Gasol missed his fourth straight game because of his ailment, joining Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash, Xavier Henry and Jordan Farmar on the inactive list.
Gerald Green scored 22 points off the bench and Goran Dragic added 17 for the Suns, who missed their first 11 shots from 3-point range and finished 8-for-36 from behind the arc against a defense that came in having allowed an average of 119.1 in their previous 16 games and 108.9 overall — second-worst in the league behind Philadelphia. The Suns shot 38.5 percent overall.
"They're not shooting them to miss them," an agitated Hornacek said. "They all thought they were going to make them, and it's not always going to be there. So at that point, quit shooting them and drive to the basket."
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