Lakers/Suns: Game 1 Preview & Chat

Darius Soriano —  May 17, 2010

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Game day is fianlly upon us.  If we had to wait any longer I would have started linking to YouTube videos of Justin Bieber.  I don’t think  anyone wants that.

Since we’ve covered this series from a variety of angles already, there really isn’t too much else to say besides it’s time for the Lakers to play their best ball and see where that gets them.  However, since this is a game preview I thought I’d share a few other X’s and O’s on the Suns and some other things I’ll be looking for tonight:

*Injuries are a topic of interest, but I don’t think they matter at this point.  Yes Bynum’s knee is bothering him, but that is nothing new.  Yes Kobe’s knee was drained, but I think it’s fair to say that this isn’t the first time that has happened this year.  The Lakers are just going to have to deal with whatever limitations injuries are imposing on their players and move on.  This is why depth is important and this is why coaches put in schemes to help counteract those limitations.  There will be games where the players are not 100% and it’s on those nights where adjustments must be made.  I expect the coaches will respond accordingly tonight and react with a pre-established plan to whatever scenario plays itself out.  Basically, no excuses.

*Besides playing circa 2008 Boston Celtics level defense, there are no defensive schemes created to defend an on his game Kobe and firing on all cylanders Gasol.  And I think it’s fair to say that Phoenix doesn’t play that caliber defense.  But, what Phoenix can do is throw in defensive wrinkles to try and disrupt the Lakers offensive sets.  Look for the Suns to front the post, deny passes to wing, blitz ball handlers, and play some zone defense.  The Lakers have had a week off so I’m hoping that none of these strategies are too effective, but we’ll get to see tonight.  From my perspective, the Lakers must focus on doing the little things in their offense to counteract these types of maneuvers.  So, I’ll be looking for good, hard screens off the ball, crisp passing, and the ball moving to the corner to make entry passes more flat and easier to execute.  Against the zone, I hope to see the Lakers execute from the strong side so that the Suns defenders must play in man principles within their zone.  When the ball is on the weakside, three Suns can guard two Lakers and that numbers advantage will limit post entries and cut off driving lanes.  But in the end, what I’m looking for is attacking basketball.  Make Phoenix prove that they’re a better defensive team.  Make them guard the entire court by being perfect in their rotations.  And then make them prove that they can defensive rebound as a team by crashing the offensive boards hard.  I’ve been saying that the Suns look to be improved on the defensive end, but tonight I’m actually looking for proof of that against the Lakers.

*We’ve talked a lot about the Suns’ offense but there are two things that we have yet to really discuss.  First is the “Steve Nash treatment” and deploying it on the player whose name it carries.  Several years ago, Kurt coined this phrase to describe the defensive scheme where Nash is made into a scorer by staying home on the Suns’ shooters in a way that invites Nash to shoot the ball more than he normally would.  I expect to see the Lakers employ this scheme tonight because if Nash is getting double digit assists while still scoring 18+ points, the Suns are tough to beat.  However, if Nash is scoring in the high 20’s to low 30’s but his assist numbers are low the Suns offensive machine will sputter and not find its rhythm.  This is a long used technique from the Lakers and I think we’ll see it tonight.  For the second point I’ll let commenter Franky explain something he saw when looking at the Suns’ P&R:

In watching the Kevin Arnovitz video and others with regards to the Suns P&R, there’s one thing that sticks out to me. If you watch the clips you’ll notice it also. When Amar’e is the screener, he will almost never touch the man he is supposed to be screening. In the situations where he rolls to the hoop (he does this most of the time, as opposed to hang and pop), he’ll begin to roll before the opposing guard even passes him. The Spurs let him get in to the lane for a Nash pass way too easily.

If the Lakers decide to play strong on the ball when the screen comes, they can run right through most of them since they are weak screens at best. This will force Amar’e to stay home and actually set the pick with the guard running into him. This will ultimately slow his roll to the basket. Of course this easier said then done, and Nash will adjust to any way you try to defend him. But by making things a little more difficult on Amare, I think it will slow down probably their most potent offensive weapon.

I agree with what Franky’s saying and it will be interesting to see if the Lakers take this approach when defending the Suns’ P&R.  If we look back to the Finals vs. Orlando, the Lakers did an excellent job of fighing through screens and making Howard hold his ground when setting picks.  This slowed down his roll to the rim and allowed the defense to rotate to the paint in anticipation of of the dive.  If the Lakers can successfully bottle up Amar’e and make him less effective on his dive this will make Nash go to option number 2.  Mind you, Nash is more than willing to go to that option, but at that point it will be on the Lakers to rotate to shooters or to reset their defense in anticipation of another P&R.  If the Lakers can take this approach and make it work, the Suns will be working deep into the clock against the best defensive team that they’ve faced this entire post season.  In those scenarios, I think the Lakers have a good chances of securing stops.

*Speaking of Amar’e, he loves to get the ball at the left elbow and drive hard to his right hand and then explode to try and finish at the rim.  So, I’d love for the Lakers to force STAT to his left hand, be aware of his reverse pivot back to his right hand, and make him finish over extended arms.  If he doesn’t make his initial shot also understand that his ability to quickly execute a second jump for the offensive rebound is a strong suit and is something the Lakers need to be cognizant of and box him out after challenging that first shot.  It will also be imperative that the Lakers gang rebound on their defensive glass because Phoenix is a good offensive rebounding team on both interior shots (because of Amar’e) and on long rebounds from their missed three point attempts.  So, not only must the Lakers collapse the paint with their bigs to go after the ball, the Lakers guards/wings must also close down the FT line to gobble up those long boards off missed jumpers.

In the end, the Lakers won the regular season series against this team for a reason – the Lakers are the better team.  That said, this Suns team is on a roll right now and their confidence is sky high.  Guys like Frye, Richardson, Hill, and Dudley are playing better all around games than at any point during the season.  To beat this team tonight (and in this series) the regular season effort will not be enough.  That said, if any team understands that point, it will be these Lakers.  These Lakers have been to two straight NBA Finals and are the defending champions of the league.  These Lakers are led by the best coach of his generation and a surly superstar that can taste a 5th championship.  Based off all the evidence that I’ve seen from this team over the past several seasons, the Suns will not be taken lightly.  So to all us fans, just enjoy the ride that begins tonight.  The WCF are finally here, it’s time for the games to take center stage.

Darius Soriano

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173 responses to Lakers/Suns: Game 1 Preview & Chat

  1. Warren!

    LET’S GO LAKERS!!!!

  2. Guest of a Guest May 17, 2010 at 12:56 pm

    I love the smell of the sweep in May….

    Kobe

    Go Lakers!

  3. There’s a game tonight?

  4. #3. Indeed there is. Feels strange, no? Actual basketball action to look forward to that doesn’t involve Lebron or the Celtics in any way at all. Amazing.

  5. I agree with the previously mentioned notion that Lopez actually hurts the Suns more than help them. I’ll be interested to see whether Alvin Gentry decides to start him. I think going with Frye might be the better option, as it forces either Pau or Drew to guard a perimeter shooter. Whereas going with Lopez just means LA will go into the post with whoever he’s not guarding and could lead to potential quick fouls on Amare. I believe Gentry will go to Lopez to start, we will go on a run because the lane will be too clogged from sagging off on Lopez. Then, they’ll make a run to catchup when Frye enters the game and our reserves are outplayed. Again, nothing groundbreaking in the predictions, but definitely something I’ll be paying attention to.

  6. Not really much to say, I think everything has been said over the past week. But too bad I’ll have to wait another two days to actually watch a game because I’ll miss the game tonight. However, I will be checking the scores on my phone.

    So let the battle of styles begin. Well in another 5 hours or so.

  7. That half time playoff break was just too long for all of us. But watching CLE Lebrons implode in the mean time was quite enjoyable. Now, it’s time to get to some SERIOUs basketball.

    What I see tonight is the hungrier team showing its grit and resolve. If Los Suns lose tonight, there’s no chance that they win this series. It’s game 1, but it’s a must win situation for Los Suns because they won’t get another shot at stealing from the Lakers home game. We all know about PJ led team’s winning percentage when his team wins game #1. Sure, there’s that one loss for PJ, when he led 3-1 and lost the series a few years ago, but I’m sure PJ and the rest of the Lakers gang remember very well.

    So, whoever comes out and jump out to an early lead will be the ones that show that they’ve used this 7 day break wisely. However, as both teams are warriors this season, the lead probably will not turn into a bigger lead and turn into a blow out. There’s no ATL in this series. In the end, I think the team with the early lead will hold on to win this game 1, unless some heroic, miraculous performance by certain #24 ruins the opposing team.

    I expect that team to be the defending champions tonight. As Don said, we’ll get a big lead, lose it in the 2nd quarter due to boneheaded plays by our bench, then take a small lead into the half. Go back and forth in the 3rd and finally grab control of the game in the last 2 minutes or so.

    I hope it’s a blow out, but it won’t happen. Plus, blow outs are boring, and won’t tell you much about either teams, right? Lakers by 5! and in 5…

    GO LAKERS!

  8. I expect one of the sloppiest first quarters in playoff history.. followed by some spirited play in the rest of the quarters. I have a feeling that this is going to be a really close game won by the team that cleans their sloppy play the fastest.

  9. I hope that our Lakers bring the same defensive intensity they built up over the last 6 playoff games. This will help tremendously because I believe that our offensive rhythm may be off some from the week long layoff. At it’s best, the triangle (and all the iterations this year’s team has put in) is based off of reading the defense and executing in rhythm. And one more thing, don’t underestimate the value of revenge. While the Suns may only have 3-4 guys from those teams that beat us, we still have Kobe, Lamar, Bynum, Farmar, Walton and Sasha that remember the painful off-season stings from those losses. This will be a tougher series due to the recent uptick in Richardson’s play (and their bench) and it would not surprise me to see the Suns steal one of the first two – let’s hope our guys are ready to roll.

    One question – with Bynum’s miniscus torn and the week long layoff (followed by two games and then another 3 days off), was it ever brought to the table that he could have had surgery and returned for games 3/4 in Phx? I’m not in favor of it or against it, just asking.

    P.S. – Boston looked very tough yesterday. Just sayin’…..

  10. I took today off from work as a “mental health day” long before the game tonight was scheduled. I’m now very glad I did since I’ve been able to sped the day reading about it online. GO LAKERS!!!!!

    @Gr8 Scott
    AFAIK it was mentioned, but rejected by Bynum himself as far as several others. We all know he’s a slow healer, and Andrew himself said (paraphrased), “They’re saying it will be only two weeks of rehab, but if it turns into four or six then I’m out for too long and then I’ll get all the blame if we loose. **** that. I’m playing.”

    I think Kobe is rubbing off on him, and I like that. Everything I’ve seen is very clear that it’s only going to be painful, it can’t be damaged any more than it already is… and if that’s the case, if he thinks he can toughen up enough to play through it and contribute, more power to him.

  11. I said that the Lakers would sweep Utah and they did.

    I am stepping out here and boldly proclaiming that the Lakers will sweep the Suns, also.

    I for one was upset with the Lakers lack of urgency during the season, but they know more than I do about playing an 82 game season. The Lakers are 8 wins away from winning back to back championships, and there are many on this team that are realizing that they can make history.

    The bench mob is going to show up big time in this series.

    Lakers will eclipse the Suns in a sweep!

  12. All these reports about Kobe having his knee drained and Bynum’s knee being worse are making me start to question my initial overconfidence.

    We’ll have to wait and see how LA performs tonight…

  13. Finally. I don’t think I could have waited any longer. Just 4 hours left.

    I fully expect the suns to front in the post and to go with a zone. Its their only way of hoping to slow down Pau. I also expect to see a lot of Kobe in the post forcing the Suns to double and (hopefully) some great off ball movement from out other players. Don’t want to get into a 3 pt shooting contest with the Suns.

  14. Who in the world would pay “insider” money read to hollinger’s articles on espn??? Wonder why they made his articles “insider” as he only writes articles with stats twisted to back up his bs articles

  15. As i had posted the other day on a Suns blog. Part of a good defense is a good offense. Forcing the ball into the post on the offense, especially to Pau or Andrew, can get Frye and Amare into foul trouble. Especially Amare. If he gets into foul trouble the suns are in trouble. They have no other inside game and the LA defense can hang out at the 3 point line. Defending this team will be that much easier. Attacking frye on offense can put him out of the game too. That is what happened to him in 2 of the 3 games they played this year against us. Frye was in foul trouble and didn’t contribute much at all.

  16. I grew up in Phoenix and spent all of my formidable years being excoriated by Suns fans for my Laker fandom (my family were SoCal-to-AZ transplants back in the 80s).

    On a personal level, beating the Suns is as sweet as beating the Celts, and I will be satsified by nothing less than a thorough and merciless thrashing of the Suns…there’s baggage from 2006-07 okay.

    Looking forward to:
    1) Artest handcuffing J-Rich all series
    2) The Nash Treatment (here’s to 40 ppg)
    3) Frye finally being forced to pick on a perimeter defender his own size (ask Hedo and R-Lewis about the nightmares they’re still having of the LO and Pau treatment in 2009)
    4) Amare pouting on the bench in foul trouble
    5) the Lakers’ 3-1 lead heading back to Staples next week

  17. Go Lakers! First off in regards to Kobe’s knee I don’t see this as an issue as draining one’s knee happens when you get up in age and play basketball for a career, MJ used to do it as well. Kobe’s done it before and I don’t see it truly affecting him in any adverse way. Bynum I think will come out strong tonight and according to ESPN Lopez will start tonight to try & counter the Lakers front court. To me this is exactly what we want as I believe with Lopez on the floor the Suns are less dangerous offensively.

    Here’s hoping to see LO dominate in this series as I expect him too as I don’t see anyone capable of defending him, Frye is the same height but he doesn’t want to go into the post as he’s a spot up shooter and I think LO will have a field day if he’s guarded by Frye. Suns do shoot ridiculously well from 3pt land but we lead the league in defending that shot and if the 3 isn’t falling, we win.

  18. Tonight is going to be fun.

    Although normally I’d expect Killer Kobe to come out and set the tone, I don’t think we’ll see that right away tonight. If he truly hasn’t touched a basketball in a week, his rhythm and timing may be a little off. I think he’ll play purely the facilitator role early on and let our bigs go to work.

    That article on Rudy T is fascinating, I forgot he was still employed by the Lakers. It’s like having a 2nd secret coach. I’ll re-link in case people haven’t read it:

    http://nba.fanhouse.com/2010/05/17/lakers-secret-scouting-weapon-rudy-t/

    Good to see Sam Amick – a great writer, IMO – enter the online world after so many years writing for magazines.

  19. Also, Amare’s not above a dirty play:

    Asked if Bynum’s knee problems could perhaps turn Gasol into the defender of his younger years, Stoudemire went into ruthless mode.

    “If he’s banged up, we’re going to try to bang him up some more,” he said. “There’s no mercy man. It’s the Western Conference finals. We’re here to play, and we’re here to win.”

    This is the guy who shoved Bogut in the back, possibly contributing to his horrible arm fracture. If Amare gets frisky with Drew’s knee, I say we send in our Congo Enforcer to take him out with an elbow.

  20. @Snoopy
    I fully agree. Amare and Perkins are why we keep Mbenga on the roster. Bring. It. On.

  21. Finally, game time. Tired of all the Lebron chit chat.

    Enough has been said over the past week regarding this series (Good lookin’ Darius & Crew.) But since I haven’t posted in a minute, pls allow me to add my two cents.

    Everything seems to be breaking our way this post-season (not having to go through Denver or Dallas out West & the Cavs being eliminated). The reason why I mentioned those 3 teams is because, in my opinion, they were the teams (along with Boston) that matched up with us the best. In order for a team to pose a threat to us, they’ll need LEGIT Bigs, who play physical playoff b-ball and/or have exceptional skills. With Denver (Nene, Martin & Birdman), Dallas (Haywood, Dirk & Dampier), Cleveland (Shaq, Illgauskas, Varejao & Hickson) and Boston (Garnett, Perkins & Rasheed), you have that. OKC, Utah and now, Phoenix, doesn’t.

    As much as I respect A’mare, I expect him to have the same issues as Boozer and Milsap had in our previous series. Dealing with our length. Even though he’s listed @ 6’10, he’s what I like to consider “a short 6’10.” He’s not long. He doesn’t play tall. Which, I believe, is one of the reasons why he’s not an exceptional rebounder or defender. On the other hand, Channing Frye, who has length @ 6’11, plays small. He’s nothing more then a jumpshooter. No post up/back to the basket game @ all (I remember him fondly from his days as a N.Y. Brick). As for the rest of their Bigs: Amundson’s a decent hustle/role player, Collins should be grateful he has tall parents (because if it wasn’t for genetics, he, nor his brother, would be in the league) and I would be more concerned if we had to deal with Brooke instead of Robin Lopez (especially coming off of a severe back injury).

    That, on top of the fact that we’re quite familiar with this team; have home-court advantage; are better defensively; have better wing players (Kobe & Ron Ron vs. Richardson & Hill) on both ends of the ball; have had recent success in their building and a much better/experienced coaching staff. All this leads me to believe that this series will not last long.

    Granted, they have the better bench, but it’s not as if each teams top 5 bench players will take the court @ once. And we all know about the PG advantage, but (with all due respect to Captain Fisher), which team doesn’t have that advantage ‘gainst us. Just so happens that the so called PG discrepancy amounts to nothing when it’s all said & done (i.e.: Deron Williams, arguably, the best PG in the game).

    All in all, if we play disciplined & focused on both ends of the court and give maximum effort, it’ll be over in 5.

    ‘Nough Talk, Let’s Get It.

  22. The joys of living in PHX…having all my Suns fans over to watch the game. Yes, it will be quite enjoyable. I feel that all the injury reports are no more than things that go around the locker room all year and never get media attention. It’s been a week, the media needs something to talk about. If we play our game, we’re good. Here’s to playing a Jazz-esque series as opposed to a Thunder-brawl. As we all know, Los Suns are much similar to the former.

    Let’s go Lake Show.

    PJ is a riot; goes after Nash, as we all knew he would, and is becoming Favre-ish in his retirement talks! Haha

  23. I swear, this is the longest Monday in the history of Mondays. Can we just get the game started, please!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  24. Get excited for pre-game coverage!!! ; )

    Not that we haven’t had enough already, but we get a whole hour on TNT today!

  25. finally!

    finally!

    after this, i’m not sure if i want the lakers to win in 4 even if they could. the wait was way too long.

  26. Re: Bynum’s Knee Surgery
    It was said originally that Bynum would be able to play through his injury. So far… he has not been able to play through it and has gotten worse after every game. Knowing what we know now (Bynum can’t play through this relatively minor knee injury) he should have gotten surgery and risked not making it back for the Finals in time or being out of shape. Just my opinion.

    Re: Charles Barkley the comedian

    Charles Barkley on Russell Westbrook and Deron Williams going against Derek Fisher in rounds 1 and 2 after saying Fisher can’t guard one PG in the league- “They sent him a limo to make sure he got to the game on time.”

  27. Somethings going to happen to delay this game. Tip off is at 6 but still seems like it’s taking ages.

    The TNT commentary is muffled for me still :'(

    This should be a fun series, hope nobody gets injured on either side and that the Lakers play to their strengths and come out on top. Also I’d be happy to see the stat geeks proven wrong (well perhaps just a couple of them).

  28. This is probably the last of anyone’s worries right now regarding the game, but what’s the news on sasha?

  29. oh no Larry David is at the game!

    That must be a sign.

    This game is going to be a comedy for one team,

  30. Isn’t this just great, it is game time!

  31. Here in China, all we get for pre-game is montages of Kobe with Michael Jackson’s “Heal the World” playing.

    They’ve made sillier soundtrack choices, but this is up there. And don’t even get me started on the commentators.

    Anyway, let’s get it on!!!

  32. And the sloppiness begins…

    Artest on Nash, Fish on Hill? Nevermind, guess they were just switched.

  33. And Kobe opens up exactly the way we didn’t want him too. He gets JRich on a switch and leaves him WIDE open.

  34. Bynum is really not moving well out there.

  35. Typical Laker layoff. :)

    Expect a second quarter or second half defensive blitzkrieg.

    Although, I would prefer the latter.

  36. Artest doing a good job getting into the lane. They seem to be forcing him left and he’s taking it.

  37. Our defensive weak-link in this series could very well end up being Kobe and his penchant for playing “center field” rather than sticking to his man. Against the Suns we need him to stay at home against shooters.

    Grant Hill has been wide open a few times already and I worry the Suns are going to work specifically to get Artest and Kobe to switch so that Kobe is laying off of Richardson so that he can hit threes.

  38. Stat to watch: Rebounds.

    Phoenix with a 6-3 advantage so far.

  39. Kobe’s shot looks off tonight. The good thing is that he seems to see that too and he’s going at the rim to get free throws.

    Really happy to see a motivated and aggressive Lamar Odom out on the court.

  40. Yeah, the Lakers up by 10.

  41. Very solid start. Now the real test: can the second unit keep it solid for the next 5 minutes?

  42. That was a sweet run to close out the 1st quarter.

    Not getting the best looks though. I’d like to see more post ups and dive cuts.

  43. So, technically, the Suns’ defense is bothering us. And the Suns’ offense as well. Hollinger must be right.

  44. farmar on Dragic is scary

  45. Classic from Alvin Gentry: “They are making shots. There’s nothing we can do about that.”

    Uh, I think it’s called defense, coach. But far be it for me to point that out…keep up the good work!

  46. Bench + Bynum and Artest…

    hrm… interesting choice of a lineup there.

  47. I can’t watch Farmer. He just can’t do anything.
    Get Jordan out.

    He is scared to death to play.

  48. this bench kills me…brown and farmar can not guard anyone

  49. we’re limiting frye, or is he limiting himself?

    If that’s an indicator, we should be fine…

    … and our bench managed to play 3 minutes without giving up the lead entirely. good job.

  50. we might need vujacic in this series, farmar and brown cannot defend dragic and barbosa

  51. In Farmar defense, that blow by for the layup by Dragic was at least as much Bynum’s fault. He should have been in position to help, and Farmar was clearly expecting him to be in position to help, but Bynum was covering Amundson way too far away from the hoop.

  52. Cayucos Surfer May 17, 2010 at 6:43 pm

    Farmar really is just a horrible defender. He has made so many bad plays in the few short minutes he has been in. Maybe Phil should try throwing sasha out there, he can’t be as bad as Farmar, and you never know, he could start raining threes.

  53. Farmar and Brown making awful decisions…..Lamar came to play and we can get anything we want against Phoenix barring embarrassing decision making by the two mentioned above….why are they so reticent to throw that lob? the guy coming over to help is NO threat to block the shot.

  54. I hate farmar May 17, 2010 at 6:44 pm

    Anyone else sick of farmar? He is horrible on bothe ends

  55. I am bewildered by various folks saying that Bynum is not providing anything in the playoffs, and should have had (potentially) season-ending surgery instead of playing through it.

    Bynum averaged 12 Points, 9 Rebounds and 2 Blocks vs OKC, and he averaged 8 Points, 9 Rebounds and 2 Blocks vs Utah.

    Add that to his overall defensive presence, and I just don’t get it…

  56. Lamar Odom came to play tonight, this is very good for the Lakers.

  57. Never mind the defense! Lakers must be happy as a lark after having this many points with at least 6 minutes more in the second quarter!

    Suns’ defense is totally a mirage.
    And I believe in Sasha.

  58. I never thought I would cheer so hard for a Sasha sighting.

    LO is a beast right now!!!!!!

    So who was the basketball expert that said their defense is better,

    Better then what the Washington Generals?

  59. Good Odom is a joy to watch.

  60. I’m watching this recorded on DVR (I’ve had things to to tonight) so my1st quarter just ended, but… damn! That Kobe guy is pretty good at basketball, no?

    I like what I’ve seen so far. :)

    I’ll check back in at the half.

  61. Wow, Odom Khandy.

    I hope it’s not Kobe being competitive about his production compared to Odom’s, hard to tell via telecast.

    Anyway, if Odom can keep this up for a full game, or series, this is going to be FUN.

    Are the suns playing defense? they’re not fouling much at all…

  62. Kobe needs to keep his ego in check.

  63. LO and Pau need to get the ball more. Enough Kobe and Artest on the perimeter.

  64. More Pau…the Lakers are the exact opposite of Suns….the longer they have the ball, the better shots they get….only bad things have happened when the Lakers have rushed possessions and indulged in PUJITS.

  65. 56 points on 62% shooting and we’re only up by 7. :)

  66. Hmmm, both starting PG’s are 36 years old.

  67. Huge gamble by Phil to take all Lamar, Pau, and Bynum out for the final 95 seconds……I know Pau was for foul trouble but this is a huge opportunity for Phoenix

  68. Andrew must be a no show if he goes to DJ and Powell.

    what is phil doing taking starters out, What the he—- they have a half to rest. Powell, Brown, Sasha equals very low IQ and stupid fouls. Phil gave them 4 points.

    Why?

  69. Powell saves Kobe! hah.

    Kobe seems to be trying too hard to say that his knee is fine…

    And Sasha with his typical foul?

  70. Kobe went too early. Nice foul by Sasha to top it off.

  71. Sasha! The ankle might be fine, but the head is still full of air and knuckles…

    *shakes head*

  72. Sasha and Brown with an entire half of low IQ basketball keeping Phoenix right in the game despite the Lakers offensive dominance and Phoenix not hitting their threes yet……..Dumb basketball and it is not acceptable.

  73. Of course Sasha gives a 3 shot foul, but we are used to it, so I guess that is just fine, huh?

  74. So it looks like Sasha is still good at 3’s… too bad it’s for the other team

  75. And I’m supposed to buy the fact that the guy lying at Bryant’s feet is supposed to be their defensive wing stopper?

  76. How can Doug Collins say that Kobe is replicating Kevin Durant’s swing through on the defender for a jumper? When Kobe has been in this league using that exact move more than any other player in the league.
    I find that insulting for Mr. Collins to imply that Kobe has borrowed that move from Kevin Durant.

    Silly foul by Sasha, that’s something I’m not looking forward to from him.

  77. Sasha didn’t touch Grant Hill. I replayed it. It wasn’t even close. No ref makes that call against the home team unless they’re purposely trying to keep the road team close.

    Hey wait a minute…how many free throws did Pho shoot in the 2nd quarter?

    How many did the Lakers shoot?

    Hmmmmmmmmmmmmmm

    Lakers are home, right?

  78. I am baff by Phil’s coaching in the last 2 minutes.

    Is he trying to over coach to prove he can?

    Really stupid putting your bonehead players on the court at the end of a half.

    Why not put is Ammo and bring back Romanovic and put them in?

  79. Who’s that Lopez guy? Sounds like a foreigner… they need to check his papers!

  80. I was able to watch most the first quarter, I’m going to miss the rest. But from these comments it’s seem the lakers should be up more. The lakers just can’t afford to give phoenix free points. The lakers as an entire team foul too much, so they are going to have to play defense without fouling so much. 19 freethrows to a 3 point shooting team?

  81. 77: I thought it looked clean, unfortunately I have no replay capacity. Sasha being Sasha though, I wouldn’t have been surprised had he actually fouled him.

    Shannon’s Kobe impersonation not fun either.

  82. The Lakers offensive eff. is 137.8 at the half, the Suns are a 122.2. That’s a bit high for Phoenix but they made a lot of long 2’s (shots I’m happy to give up). If Phoenix goes a bit cold from that range, the Lakers lead will increase. So far, I’m happy with Bynum’s effort, but Gasol needs more touches. And Odom came to play today. This is why he was my x-factor. When he plays this well, the Lakers are really, really tough to beat.

  83. Sasha did not foul Grant Hill. You guys need to take a look at it before screaming on a player who has been injured and is playing his first game on a drag of a minute and 20 seconds.

  84. Its 12 fouls to 10. Not a factor. Lakers 4 of 5 from 3’s Suns 3 for 10. Now thats the difference.

    I am soooo sick of Charles the Sun homer. Wonder how much he bet on this series?

  85. Our collective fan psyche is probably weaker than Cleveland’s, considering it is a game we’re leading by 7 ;)

    I hope Kobe returns to his senses and plays the kinda ball he played during the Utah series.

    I hope Lamar doesn’t return to his senses and keep up his good work.

    I hope… for a miracle and wish that Sasha, Brown and Farmar make solid decisions.

  86. What the ****? We waited for Sasha’s glorious return for this?

  87. Excellent 1st half offensively …. LO doing his thing. They have no one who can match up with him …. Kobe looking a lil’ shaky. Forced it a few times. It’s quite obvious that he hasn’t practiced all week …. Pau needs to get more looks …. We scored 62 pts. & shot 61% in the half, but still only up by 7 …. The free throw line is keeping them in it …. Playing decent defense, but must stop fouling. There’s no way that a perimeter team should have more free throws than us, an interior team …. Robin Lopez looking good

  88. I’ve said it before and I will say it again: Sasha is the biggest space brained airhead in the NBA. How many times does this blog need the proof of it? He fouls ninety feet from the hoop. He fouls a three point shooter within a minute of checking in with less than a second on the clock.

    This man is a moron. Period. I cannot put it any more plainly than this. He has no more than three functioning brain cells.

    I cannot say it any more bluntly than this. He has the basketball IQ of a gerbil.

  89. Lakers foul too much?

    They aren’t fouling any more than the Suns on defense.

    Suns are just getting the calls…you know, because they’re at home.

    Wait…what?

    The Lakers are home?

    Get out of here!

    By the way, I replied the Grant Hill shot three times:

    A) Sasha didn’t touch him. It wasn’t even close.
    B) Grant’s foot was on the line.

    Why do you think TNT didn’t replay it?

    It would make the NBA look bad.

  90. Who thinks that’s a cute McDonald’s commercial when Lebron nor Dwight know who Larry Bird is?

    These two guys concentrate on promoting their brand (their names) and do not know how to win on the basketball court. But, they get an ‘A’ for promotion.

  91. Ditto, Burgundy. Grant’s foot was on the line.

  92. What’s with Lopez scoring at will? Just receiving good assists?

    Didn’t know that we were an 80% 3pt shooting team.

    Nor did I know that we let opposing teams shoot 50% against us;

    We’re NOT giving Nash the Nash treatment… but wow, as a team we’re shooting HOT

  93. @chearn
    That commercial is disgusting. I’ve been an NBA fan for less than 5 years and even I know who Bird is.

    Frankly, I don’t give a rat’s rear end how well they promote their respective brands. Until they start winning rings, they’re foot notes in the league, and the sooner someone rubs that in their face the better.

  94. Kobe is the only player in the league who picks up technicals when all of the calls are going his way.

  95. let’s get it to 10+, darn these suns are hard to shake off.

    Kobe getting to the line. Let’s hope that FTs get him into a good offensive rhythm.

    Kobe rewarding Gasol’s block with an assist.

  96. not a good 6 minutes for drew

  97. Gasol came to play tonight also, with LO I mean.

  98. Tyler,

    It’s because he doesn’t dwell on the past. Every possession is another for him, and if he thinks the call isn’t right, he will go at you.

  99. Bynum playing extremely hard fighting for position in the post….he just doesnt have the explosiveness or quickness to get anything done…He is having a difficult time on defense as well

  100. Andrew has got to sit. Offense zero, defense zero and passing zero.

    With LO playing so good why not let Drew sit and rest?

    Why not?

  101. @93 So true!

    Right now, I see both of them playing for commercialism and $$$$’s! Neither of them seem to be absorbed by winning basketball games nor championships.

    One day when he retires I think we’ll really understand what we have in Kobe Bean Bryant! I as a Laker fan (and a Kobe fan) am not looking forward to that day.

  102. How can Pau not get a foul on that???

  103. PRESSURE! PRESSURE!

    we can put this one away.

  104. @93 I agree.

  105. Kobe is absolutely on fire, he hasn’t been this good all year.

    Pau was put on earth to make me enjoy basketball.

  106. Kobe and Pau make this game look way too easy.

  107. I am having a great time watching this game, this is fun, indeed.

  108. Where is all this “Kobe looks rusty” talk coming from? Have you guys been watching the 3rd quarter?

  109. Boy that Barkley sure know basketball.

    Cleveland over Celts/
    Suns over Lakers/

    KOBE GETTING OLD!!!!!!!!!!!

  110. And the Suns’ defense continues…
    Maybe, just maybe in this series, we would love to watch just PURE OFFENSE. :)

    And totally annihilate the Suns on that end. Show them what it means to play beautiful basketball.

  111. fish goin over screens and pau showing nicely… up 17!

  112. Wow, rough patch here.

    How is it that despite all these years, nobody on our team knows to be patient and methodical when things don’t go our way?

    But we are really doing a good job of limiting their x-factors. none of them are a factor in this game other than lopez

  113. at 91-72 Lakers take three straight jumpers with no post touches……little mental breakdowns and the Suns shaved off 7 points in what felt like 7 seconds or less…..Good quarter overall, I feel like the defense settled down and had a good feel for the Suns….now it’s about playing downhill in the 4th and pounding Phoenix down low.

  114. Didn’t know that Kobe had 21 in the 3rd!

  115. I just got in and just caught the first half highlights on NBA.com. Here are my two observations:

    I hope Grant hill has ankle insurance after Kobe’s crossover…. and

    THIS IS Phoenix’s improved defense? Maybe the taco truck in PHX shows up if they keep a team under 120.

  116. Kobe with the huge 3rd quarter. 21 points. 35 total on 20 shots.

    Odom has been quiet since the 1st half.

  117. Brown with a Kobe impersonation!

  118. had some trouble swinging from strongside to weakside during that rough patch, ending with bad shots. it’d be nice if ron and luke became roommates and talk passing all day.

  119. Can we please stop experimenting with the camera angles…? Please?

  120. Kobe definitely knowing it’s one of his nights… now something that’s far and few between.

    And Odom sharing his FIRE.

    Woo~

    Barring a total meltdown, this game looks like it’s taken care of. All our guys brought it today, though some left their heads at home.

  121. Good hustle by Lamar after two consecutive blocked shots.

  122. Cayucos Surfer May 17, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    I’m starting to think that this series is just what we need to get our offensive fluidity back. Headed into a finals rematch with the Celtics, this could definitely be a good thing, especially considering what a great defensive team we have been this year. I’m looking forward to our continued destruction of the Suns.

  123. Amen, brother! Amen!

  124. I think Gasol just said They can’t guard him :P

  125. shannon should’ve spread his legs open and just went over j-rich

  126. That was naaaaasssssttttyyyyyyy Shannon Brown!! :) Would have made the best dunk of the year easily had it gone in!! Where’s the trampoline?

    Heck, would have been the dunk of the decade.

  127. Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back, Lamar!

    Pau is ridiculously good! Wow, what a steal!

    Holy moly “ShanWow”! Welcome back, welcome back, welcome back!

  128. If Shannon had made that dunk, it would’ve been one for the ages!

  129. So…. is it too early for the Taco chant?

  130. It may not always beautiful, but when it is, boy is it B-E-A-U-T-I-F-U-L.

  131. “Improved Suns defense” FTW

  132. Cayucos Surfer May 17, 2010 at 8:16 pm

    I think this series goes 5, 6 games tops. The Suns will get hot one or 2 games at home, but they really just can’t stop us.

  133. LO with 17 and 18 so far… wow… kinda want him to save some of this aggression for game 2.

  134. 132,

    Joel, so the Suns fans are right, eh? And Hollinger, too.

    The dreaming is over. Reality check!

  135. WE MIGHT SET A ALL TIME PLAYOFF % RECORd!

    If Ron would stop shooting.

  136. bench scoring a +11, 22 pt lead. gonna enjoy the rest of this.

  137. LO is the Labron James of the real playoffs!

    King Odom!!!!!!!!!

  138. Finally a good bit of color from Doug Collins, who predicted the Suns’ use of zone defense next game. He’s been surprisingly off his game tonight.

  139. So if they throw a zone defense at us, what do we do, to have the same game outcome as tonight?

  140. Channing Mbenga. Sweet!

  141. Mfadeaway alert.

  142. Everybody should take a deep breath and calm down.

    This was a great game an things are looking good right now, but this was only 1 game.

  143. Even when we were up by like 30, there still was not an Ammo sighting…. Poor guy.

  144. 140, re: zone d; it’s harder to block out guys on the boards if they go to a zone. so, the lakers may miss more frequently but they’re going to get more offensive rebounds.

  145. Well…Suns in 6 anybody???

  146. Odom was the difference tonight. The next highest rebounder in the game had 6. That’s less than a third of what Odom had.

  147. Total domination…even Vanessa Bryant made a statement to Phoenix (AZ). Did you guys see her T-shirt, “Do I Look Legal?”

  148. What did Kobe say abt cookies? :)))

  149. I didn’t get to see the whole game… was Bynum as bad as his stat line insists? 4 pts against the Suns on 2/4?
    Um, including Utah thats 3 stinkers in a row for Bynum, thats my only concern for this team at this time.
    If we get past the Suns, we are gonna need him against whoever wins that other series…

  150. Cdog,

    True, we already know his impact will be limited this series. From what I saw, it was mostly Odom and Gasol running the show. I saw Bynum miss a chippy or two because he was lacking some explosion (point-blank layup Kwame-style) and couldn’t go up strong.

    But generally, the rule with this team is that as long as two of our three bigs play decently well (i.e. Gasol & Odom tonight), we’re very, very tough to beat. Kobe’s little F-U to Charles et al. and the bench shooting are like icing on the cake.

  151. Cdog,

    I think we would see less Bynum in this series and more of Odom. Probably because of the matchups, and that’s what we’re good at.

    His energy is on-and-off and it’s because of his injury.

    ——-
    Not the defensive blitzkrieg I hoped in the second half, but it was good enough, just flashes of defensive brilliance was good enough to give us a ROMP.

  152. Tyler, with due respect, no. I won’t and can’t calm down. Till Game 2 I’ll be a white light of confidence and joy. If we lose, I’ll be a subdued shadow till Game 3. If we win, white light. Same goes for Game 4, 5, etc., all the way to the Finals, all the way to Kobe lifting the championship trophy over his head like He-Man. That’s basketball

  153. Thats fair I guess. Like I said I didn’t get to see the whole game, so I am just wondering is Bynum is moving poorly (on O and on D) or if he just is not being used all that much on O? Plus, all Chuck and Reggie commented a few time on how limited he was, and how it was a strategy by Alvin Gentry to use Lopez because Bynum was no good. Was that the case? When I got home to watch the 4th Q he didn’t play at all…

  154. A fun game to watch. Real happy to see Kobe turn it on. He was clearly unstoppable and forced the D to send the early “we’re screwed either way” double team.

    The Suns are outmatched but they didn’t come with full intensity on the defensive end. I want to throw up when Amare lets people waltz by him when he gets beat. He can at least pretend to compete. That’s a recipe for blowouts.

    Our D seemed a bit worrisome on paper but in reality that was just Amare Dragic and Richardson hitting long 2’s that they will not continue to hit consistently and the bench going off in garbage time. I don’t think it’s too much to worry about.

  155. Against the zone, the key is to flash high then pass down low. The Suns generally run a 2-3 zone, so the holes are in the pinch post. Either Pau or Odom needs to flash to the pinch post on the strong side, then the other needs to cut to the basket on the weak side. The center for the Suns will either have to come out and cover Pau, thus giving up either a pass to the cutter or a pass to the corner for a three or a cut, or the strong side defender has to slide over, leaving the strong side corner open for both threes and cuts.

  156. Harold,

    “Kobe definitely knowing it’s one of his nights… now something that’s far and few between.”

    Kobe’s scored over 30 points in the past 6-7 games and is shooting over 50%. I’m sorry Kobe’s shot total disappointed you. If Kobe shot less, maybe the team could’ve won by 50 points.

  157. mamba got 40, LO an insane 19 and 19, bench outscoring the suns’ bench 44-35, 8-for-17 from 3 as opposed to their 5-for-22… therefore, blowout. one thing that concerns me is that these numbers are all relative anomalies. having watched this team for the whole season, these aren’t numbers that will consistently repeat themselves over the course of a series (though I’d be thrilled to be proven wrong). 9 down, 7 to go. great win. but the true challenge of the phoenix suns has yet to come. and yeah, I’d like to see us kick the same amount of azz up against some zone.

    http://www.polynorthamerica.com/WINS.jpg

  158. LT Mitchell, sorry, I don’t think of 30+ nights as ‘Kobe Nights.’ One of them in Utah, yes, but the rest were pretty average-Kobe.

    All in all, those are, well, great outings for average stars, and good outings for Kobe, but definitely not a great Kobe night for Kobe.

    At least that’s the standard I have for Kobe.

  159. Zephid, Thanks, I’ll absorb what you just said, about the World Champion Lakers defeating the Sun zone defense in the future.

  160. Dex,
    I wasn’t trying to tell people not to enjoy the win, more like calm down with acting like the series is over.

  161. I believe Kobe has had something like 6 straight 30+ point games now. I wouldn’t say “few and far between” at all. I think we’re seeing the difference between when Kobe’s feeling good and when he isn’t. Clearly his knee is not bothering him like it was at the start of the playoffs.

  162. Now that’s how you begin a series. With A Beatdown.

    So much for their “Improved Defense.”

    So much for their “Superior Bench.”

    Bottom Line: This team just Can Not match-up with us. No answers for Kobe, Pau or LO. If they’re playing @ their best & we’re playing @ our best, we’ll still beat them easily.

    I know it’s only 1 game, but this Phoenix team KNOWS that they can’t beat us in a 7 game series. Listen to their coach, Alvin Gentry, he KNOWS it also. He already sounds defeated.

    Standing Ovations: L.O., Kobe and Pau

    9 Down. 7 To Go. Lets Get It.

    Laker For Life ….. Go Hard Or Go Home

  163. Nice better D Suns!

    We can beat this team without Dru.

    Let him rest for finals as LO is unstopable aganist these guys.

  164. Tyler makes a good point. The Lakers have been known to have a stinker after playing a great game…

    Nonetheless I didn’t see anything from Phoenix to win me over. This was like watching a lakers vs warriors game, once the suns cooled off a little bit it became apparent they were not going to get the defensive stops required to threaten the outcome.

  165. ROMP = Rape of major proportions?

  166. LOL my comment of r-a-p-e triggered moderation.

  167. On Bright Side of the Suns, Suns fans talking about how the refs handed the Lakers the game! No mention about how Amare fared in the rebound totals:

    Rebounds:

    Odom: 19
    Lopez: 6
    Richardson: 6
    Ahmudson: 6
    Kobe: 5
    Artest: 5
    Gasol: 4
    Bynum: 4
    Nash: 4
    Dudley: 4
    Dragic: 3
    AMARE (34.5 minutes: 3)

    Huh. You think this may have mattered more than the refs? As long as Amare gets fewer boards than Nash and Dudley, I’m pretty sure the Lakers are going to win…

  168. Kb is the man!For all ”Laker” Kobe haters.

  169. Definitely agree with Kobe’s postgame comments that the shots the Suns were taking will fall in Game 2. They had a lot of good looks that did not fall. Chalk it up to nerves or the long layoffs. The Suns will definitely come out hard in Game 2. This series is far from over.

    The comments on Bynum not being as much of a factor have as much to do with his knee as well as to do with the overall gameplan for the series. This series belongs to Lamar Odom. Bynum will get his moments, but I expect him to not be as much of a factor until the Lakers get to the Finals. That is when he is needed most.

    Can Pau Gasol get any love? He has arguably been the most consistent player on the Lakers over the past two and half months. 20 pts 12 boards 4 assists 2 blocks with 58% FG and 80%FT. He is an absolute monster. His contributions are phenomenal. There are not enough superlatives in the English language to describe his play. I fully expect to him to continue this dominance against the Suns front line this series.

  170. Amare is all talk.

    Never plays good aganist us.

    just think if we had a health center.

    phil has never lost a playoff series when he wins the first game.

    Expect double on Kobe every time he gets ball like they did with Portland.

    Expect zone.

    Expect the Suns to set in 5 games.

    Expect Charles B to continue to lose all his bets and have to go on a bread and water diet.

  171. I’m glad that I was wrong about tonight’s prediction. I thought that we would win by 5, but Los Suns struggled from the 3s while we shot 3s extremely well.

    I think that a lot of people forget that the Lakers are a VERY GOOD offensive team, unlike the Suns, the Lakers can score in both transition and in half-court sets. Sure, PJ prefers slower paced game, but the Lakers do have athletes to get out on the break, especially when ShanWow and LO are in the game together with Kobe and Pau. In LO and Pau, we have two of the quicker bigs in the league.

    That said, tonight’s game shows that this Laker team is SPECIAL and very difficult to beat because it has so many great 2-way players. In Kobe and Artest, we have first team all defense type of players. LO, Pau, and Bynum are not only big, but they are quick and long enough to play excellent help defense. As Kurt repeated over and over last year, this team will go as far as defense will take them. But that was last year. This year, the Lakers have played good defense very consistently throughout the season, AND more importantly, during the playoffs. I just don’t see how this team would lose to defensively challenged team like Los Suns. Yes, their defense may have improved, but they just aren’t physical or athletic enough to bother this collection of great two-way players. In Kobe, LO, Pau, and Ron-Ron, we have guys who can be very, very good both offensively and defensively. Yes, Ron hasn’t really exploded offensively, but do we need him to? No. We have too many talented offensive players beside him.

    I just think that the only team that can bother us on offense is Boston. Their physicality and defensive smarts will test our team quite severely. I can’t wait. But we still need to dispatch Los Suns first, and I hope the boys in Forum Blue and Gold will keep the same intensity and quickly extinguish what little hope the people in desert have in Los Suns.