101-97, 22 seconds left, Bryant should be exchanging an Easter egg on his dome for a trip to the charity stripe, but…
As the title of the post suggests, the pivotal moments in the game occurred in the opening stanza with Nash getting the bulk of his points there. Because of the slow start, the mental toughness of this Suns team wasnâ€™t truly tested Sunday. An early lead may (and no 15-14 doesnâ€™t count) put just enough doubt into this Phoenix squad to get the Lakers a more favorable outcome.
The Lakers must also capitalize on the Suns getting into foul trouble, consequently staying out of foul trouble themselves. The Lakers went on their run (19-9) in the third when Bell picked up his third and fourth fouls.
Both coaches kept rotations tight which is typical of playoff basketball. Nash, however, logged only 38 minutes (compared to Kobe’s 47). This could become significant if this series becomes a war of attrition.
Look for Kobe to shoot only slightly more in the next game for the purpose of keeping himself in a scoring rhythm. This should allow the game to stay closer and allow Kobe to get the late baskets the Lakers needed. Other than that, this game plan seems to be one that will work. It is now a matter of execution.
You never forget your first time: Parker in his playoff debut was a decent -3, but his shot was not falling. Smush must continue to go at Nash offensively.
“I’ll predict that it will take Thomas another two weeks to harvest 15 more rebounds. The one advantage L.A. has is that they have a system (five parts moving in sync) to fall back on, whereas the Suns have more of a philosophy or ideal (with Nash as its principal avatar) to lead them. When things get rough, the Lakers can still boast perfect spacing, make a few passes and get an open look. But if Nash has an off day for Phoenix? Look out.”
To look for on Wednesday: 21 three’s (look for that to get closer to the season avg of 13), 32 free throws for the Suns (look for this number to drop as the Lakers play a more disciplined defensive game early on).
Kurt will, baby duties permitting, drop some of his keen insight for us either later today or tomorrow. His immediate reaction, “I’m not a big fan of moral victories, but that has to boost some confidence.”