From Silver Screen and Roll: Ready for an impossible question? Who’s riding higher right now, the Los Angeles Lakers or the Phoenix Suns? I certainly have no idea, and it’s going to make for one hell of an interesting series. In analyzing all the possible outcomes, I can’t honestly take anything off the table. A Lakers sweep? Behind 21 feet of inside domination and a masterful performance from Kobe Bryant, yeah I could see that. A Suns sweep? With a bench playing better than a lot of starting units, an offensive staple (pick and roll) that is right in the Lakers weakness wheelhouse, and the best offense in the NBA, can you really rule it out?
From the Lakers Nation: Jerry West gave Kobe some high praise and called him the “greatest Laker player we’ve ever seen.” He also says Kobe Bryant is the 2nd generation MJ. Check out his interview with Jim Rome!
From Basket Blog: Early on Tuesday morning, we posted a preview of the Lakers – Suns Western Conference Finals, focusing on the individual matchups at each position, and giving L.A. the edge at the shooting guard, small forward, power forward and center positions. In four regular season meetings between the two teams (3-1 Lakers), no matchup was as one-sided as the shooting guard position:
From the Los Angeles Times: First there was the youth of Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, then the brilliance of Utah’s Deron Williams, the reigning “Best Point Guard in the NBA,” at least until an injured Chris Paul gets the chance to fight for the right.
None other than a two-time most valuable player, Steve Nash of Phoenix, happens to be looming on the horizon for the Lakers’ Derek Fisher. Little ‘ol one-eyed Steve, who didn’t let six stitches and a swollen and shut right eye stop him from guiding the Suns to the Western Conference finals. Talk about the trilogy of point-guard terrors.
From the OC Register: The Lakers played the Phoenix Suns once after the NBA trade deadline passed — when the Suns had gotten comfortably settled in with no more concerns about Amar’e Stoudemire getting shipped out. That March 12 game in Phoenix was a good one, with the Lakers rallying from a seven-point deficit to take a seven-point lead entering halftime – then the Suns pushing the other way for an 82-81 lead before the Lakers responded with a 14-2 run. The Lakers held on to win, 102-96.
From the OC Register: We here at Miller Light were watching Celtics-Cavaliers Game 5 when we suddenly were struck by something. No, not the pathetic realization that we’re small-minded enough to be entertained by a 32-point basketball blowout. But rather this: An ultra-talented team folding up in a huge playoff game isn’t just a Laker thing; it’s an NBA thing. How can Cleveland lose by 18, win by 29 and then lose by 32 against the same Boston team?
From the LA Daily News: The Lakers went back to work Wednesday, two days after eliminating the Utah Jazz in Game 4 of their second-round playoff series and five days before meeting the Phoenix Suns in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals Monday. Rest, recovery and preparation were the major themes of the day. Getting center Andrew Bynum going again was another topic of conversation. The 7-footer’s production was hit or miss against the Jazz. For instance, he had 17 points and 14 rebounds in Game 2, but then went scoreless with four rebounds in Game 3.
From the Arizona Republic: The scent of disrespect must have hitched a ride on the Los Angeles-to-Phoenix jet stream. No one at Suns practice Wednesday was surprised by the heavy favoritism of the Lakers in the Western Conference finals. The latest jab came from Bill Plaschke, a Los Angeles Times columnist and ESPN personality who wrote Monday after the Lakers swept Utah that “the Phoenix Suns have no chance.” Ouch. “We love comments like that,” Suns guard Jason Richardson
said. “We invite comments like that.” Since you asked . . .
Practice Report from NBA.com (with video): The Lakers resumed practice on Wednesday after a day of respite on Tuesday … most of them, anyway, as Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant took the day off to get treatment on and strengthen respective injuries, while Pau Gasol was sent home with sinusitis. The Spaniard is expected back when the team resumes practice on Friday after another day off on Thursday in what is a rare off week leading into Monday’s Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, while Bynum and Bryant went through rather typical of late non-game-day routines.
From NBC Sports: Toying with the city of Cleveland’s fragile psyche, calling the NBA’s reigning MVP “LeGone” James would just be piling on, rubbing in salt. Besides, that would be predicated on LeBron first being somewhere. For all the numbers, for all the surreal passes and forays above the rim, the most breathtaking young player in the game is still at base camp in the legacy game. LeBron is gazing longingly toward the top of the mountain, where Kobe Bryant is about to plant a flag.
From ESPN Los Angeles: Sweeping the Jazz earned the Lakers six days off before the start of the Western Conference finals against the Phoenix Suns. They took Tuesday off totally, they’ll also take Thursday off, and Wednesday’s practice was described as “more mental preparation than anything” by Derek Fisher after the team went through a thorough film session followed by an intrasquad scrimmage (Kobe Bryant and Andrew Bynum sat out to rest their right knees, and Pau Gasol didn’t play because he was sent home with sinusitis).
From Yahoo! Sports: Kobe Bryant claims his desire for playoff revenge against the Phoenix Suns didn’t even make it back from Salt Lake City. The back-to-back playoff losses in 2006 and 2007 nearly drove Bryant away from the Los Angeles Lakers, frustrated with their direction and infuriated by a mediocre supporting cast. Moments after Los Angeles finished off the Utah Jazz on Monday, Bryant sarcastically said the Lakers would be after “just a little bit” of payback when the Western Conference finals begin next week.