LOS ANGELES (AP) — Chris Kaman had a career-high 28 points along with 17 rebounds while starting at center for the vertigo-stricken Pau Gasol, Jodie Meeks scored 22 points, and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped the Phoenix’ Suns’ six-game winning streak with a 115-99 victory Sunday night.
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.
The 25-48 Lakers, returning home from a 143-107 shellacking by the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday, 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.
The Suns’ first loss since March 17 at Brooklyn dropped them to 44-30 and put them into a tie with idle Dallas for seventh place in the Western Conference standings, a half-game ahead of Memphis.
Kaman, an 11-year veteran in his first season with the Lakers, secured his sixth double-double of the season before halftime with 18 points and 10 rebounds to help Los Angeles build a 61-43 lead at intermission.
Dragic, who came in with a team-best 20-6 scoring average, got seven of the Suns’ first 13 points — but didn’t get another one until his driving layup with 8:39 left in the third quarter trimmed the Lakers’ lead to 70-48.
The Suns, who came in fifth in the league in 3-point shooting at 37.7 percent, didn’t get their first one until Markieff Morris ended their drought with 8:45 left in the second quarter. His brother Marcus drained another one 34 seconds later and Green made a three-point play with 7:41 left in the half, tying it at 31 after Suns trailed by 13.
But the Lakers responded with a 28-9 run that included nine points by Meeks, and Ryan Kelly capped the rally with a pair of free throws to give Los Angeles a 59-40 cushion with 1:06 left in the third. The Suns got no closer than 11 points with 3:43 to play.
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