Lakers/Suns: Game 4 Preview & Chat

Darius Soriano —  May 25, 2010

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The difference between being up 3-1 and tied 2-2 is monumental in a 7 game series.  For the Lakers, it’s the difference between a sure trip back to Phoenix for game 6 and the prospect of closing out the series on your home court.  It’s the difference between a series becoming a best of 3 where anything can happen and the chance to have three contests to earn a single, elimination inducing, victory.  It’s the difference between being in control and facing a very uncertain path to advancement.  After the Lakers were up 2-0, this series looked well in hand but if the Lakers don’t win tonight they’ll be back to square one and tied up with a team that will have a boatload of confidence for the remainder of this series.  For the Lakers, winning this game is tantamount to winning this series.  Sure, getting that final, closeout win will be difficult, but the Suns’ hopes would be reduced to a sliver if they fall tonight and that should be the only thing that’s on the minds of the Lakers.

And in order to get the win tonight, the Lakers need to get back to playing smart and focused basketball.  We’ve already discussed how settling for the easy play will not work against this Phoenix team, so the Lakers must be willing to outthink and outwork their counterparts to secure the victory.  If they do those things, they’ll be fine.  If they don’t…you get the point.  So, what are the keys to outthinking and outworking the Suns?  I’m glad I asked…

First and foremost, the Lakers need to understand that the Suns approach has changed from the first two games of this series.  In game 3, Phoenix was much more active and decisive in their offensive sets and the Lakers spent nearly the entire game reacting to what the Suns were doing and not nearly enough dictating.  So, the Lakers must get back to setting the terms of how this game is played and that starts on defense. 

Against the Suns’ P&R, the Lakers must make Nash hold the ball for that extra second to allow the help defense behind the primary defenders to get into position on a diving Amar’e (and Lopez).  The Lakers can accomplish this by fighting harder over the top of screens and having more active hands in the passing lanes when Nash attempts to turn the corner.  In the last game, both Fisher and Farmar got caught on the Suns’ screens much more frequently and that gave Nash the “pocket” that he needed to execute the bounce passes that fueled the success of Amar’e and Lopez when they rolled to the hoop.  By fighting harder on screens the Lakers will 1). be forced to switch screens far less often 2). make the screen man hold his position, which ultimately disrupts the timing of the P&R action and 3). make Nash go to his 2nd and 3rd options on this play rather than allow him to make the simple (for him, at least) bounce pass to a player on a direct line to hoop. 

But, it’s not just in the team defensive schemes where the Lakers need to perform better.  Individually, the Lakers must also be less giving in their approach and not allow the easy driving lanes that broke down their interior defense and caused all of the Lakers bigs to get into foul trouble.  Both Amar’e and Lopez drove hard into the paint and took it to the bodies of the Lakers bigs, but they were only able to get that far because their defenders didn’t play defense in a way that showed an understanding of what these players like to do.  I mean, both Amar’e and Lopez are strong hand dominant players off the dribble.  Both almost exclusively to go to their right hand and then make their offensive move based off getting an advantage with that first step.  They must also understand what each player likes to do when he drives – Amar’e likes to stay to his right and then use his elite athleticism to elevate and finish while Lopez is much more comfortable going to a counter move where he ends up with his back to the basket so he can execute a little jump hook over either shoulder.  The Lakers bigs need to understand these tendencies and respond accordingly.  But, they’d be better off if they just denied penetration to these players’ strong hands entirely.  So, Pau/’Drew/Odom all need to force these guys to go to their left hand and then contest without fouling.  In the last game, the Lakers not only let these guys get to their strong hands, they often reached in when they were beat and committed fouls.  More discipline and smarts will be required this evening.

And this concept of playing smarter also applies to the offensive side of the ball.  When the 4th quarter of game three started, the Lakers were only down two points.  And in that final frame, Pau Gasol shot the ball one time while the Lakers wings unsuccessfully bombed away from behind the three point arc to the tune of two makes in ten tries.  And this poor play was only compounded by the Lakers trying to force passes and playing an overall sloppy period where turnovers gave the Suns the extra possessions they would need to create the cushion that could not be overcome.  Tonight, the Lakers need to recognize that settling for the easy play is not the answer and work the ball around the court and into the paint to get the types of shots that will break down the Suns defense.  For examples of how to do this, they need only watch the game film from the 3rd quarter where the Lakers used the high post flash to great success and were able to create easy baskets by hitting baseline cutters or wide open shooters after the defense collapsed. 

The Lakers must also take a page from the Suns game 3 notebook and get aggressive themselves.  Besides always looking to penetrate the zone via the pass, the Lakers must also get into the creases of the Suns’ defense off the dribble.  Much like the Lakers did in the last two games of the OKC series, using the dribble with the purpose of getting into the gaps and forcing help will go a long way in breaking down the Suns defensive sets.  Whether they’re in a man or zone scheme, the Suns can be beaten off the bounce and are susceptible to giving up points in the paint off of dribble penetration just as easily as they are from standard post ups.  And when their big men rotate to help, it will leave the Lakers bigs alleys for offensive rebounds or open up the passing lanes for easy dishes that lead to dunks and lay ups.  And speaking of the Lakers big men, it’d be nice if the ones not named “Pau Gasol” showed up in this game.  Andrew Bynum has already said what he plans to do tonight (hint: it involves attacking), but I’d also like to see Odom come out and be the difference maker he’s capable of being.  No one can argue what his effectiveness meant to games 1 & 2, tonight, that level of play (or close to it) would be a welcomed sight.

In the end, tonight is a game of attacking.  Whichever team can force the action the most will come out on top.  From the Lakers perspective, that means playing with patience and poise, but also with passion and determination.  The first two games of this series were not a fluke, but neither was game three.  If the Lakers don’t play smart and allow the Suns to dictate the tempo on both ends of the court, the Lakers will have a lot to think about on their flight home tonight.  But if they play the way that they showed capable, I think we’ll all be able to live with the results.

Darius Soriano

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258 responses to Lakers/Suns: Game 4 Preview & Chat

  1. For Warren.

    GO LAKERS GO!!!

  2. And for Charlie!

    Apparently Bynum will play.

  3. lakers all the way!!!

  4. great post! I didn’t know #3 was a fan of Sun Yue. You must be confused…he no longer plays for the lakers. Or better yet, why don’t you donate your name to Channing Frye. It’s the only “J” he’ll get in this series.

  5. How about a small dose of Luke against the zone that will turn up at some point? He is a good post passer, actually uses pass fakes to widen seams in the defense and could be hidden defensively on some of the Suns’ role players mot as strong offensively.

    I’m not saying 20 minutes or so, just a short stretch to maybe discourage them from clogging up the paint.

  6. Frye has been pretty abysmal this series. I almost feel sorry for him. The Lakers need to give a consistent effort all night. Last game, they seemed to give up trying to figure out the zone in the fourth and started throwing up the three bombs.

  7. Tivo is OFF. Unplugged that sonofagun to ensure that it wouldn’t even accidentally record the game.

    Plus, the last time I missed most of a Laker playoff game to help host Rum Society at Caña in Downtown, the Lakers blew out the Thunder in game 5.

    Victory, obviously, is assured. ;)

  8. Great post, as always. If we cut down on the turnovers, stop the silly fouls and make a determined effort to work through the post and drive with conviction, we’ll be fine and one win away from the Finals.

    I fully expect to see Drew try to contribute a lot early. I’d love to see him set the defensive tone with a few blocks or alterations. And Lamar will have a great night. Assuming the FT discrepancy trend on the road continues, we need to make ours and hope they struggle some.

    And this just might be the game where the law of averages allows Frye and the rest of the bench to maybe make their mark. I hope not.

    Go Lakers!

  9. Darius – you’re right, aggression is key.

    I actually thought Kobe, Pau, and Fish were excellent in Game 3. The problem was nobody else played smart (notice, I didn’t say “showed up.” Everyone played hard, but not everybody played smart).

    Artest needs to resist the urge to jack up the 3 and attack off the dribble. We made fun of his layup attempts during the regular season, but he’s been really effective during the playoffs.

    When he catches it around the arc, and his man gives him space, instead of shooting it, he needs to attack. When he attacks the paint, it completely compromises the defense – the wings can’t stay with him because he’s too strong, so the bigs have to come over and help, which leads to put back opportunities for Pau, Drew, and Lamar.

    Same goes for Lamar. Lamar should be taking no more than 2 or 3 3pters per game. When he gets it on the wing, there’s a reason he’s being given so much space.

    The fact of the matter is, NONE OF THEIR BIGS CAN STAY IN FRONT OF LAMAR. Lamar should catch it, and attack the paint every time.

    In Game 3, he was attacking in the first half, they were hacking him, and he wasn’t getting any calls, so he stopped attacking (which is understandable). He needs to start attacking again.

  10. It is hard to get into the paint against a zone. You need to be able to make outside shots. The key is attempting to get into the paint against the zone defense and have the zone shrink to protect the basket and then wide open shots from the outside. We need to make those shots to beat the zone.

  11. If you want to influence Lamar just give it up. Only Lamar influences Lamar, and who knows where that comes from.

    What we can do is wish or hope, but to try to influence – n- e- v- e- r!

  12. thanks Mimsy, Charlie was getting a feeding and he missed his chance (or at least his daddy did) to get in the number 2 slot, let’s hope the warrren/charlie combo bring us a big time W tonight!

  13. Warren AND Charlie mojo! The force is strong with this one!

    GO LAKERS! (And go Geek Pride Day!)

    Also, “Mike Brown got screwed.” Thank you Sir Charles!

  14. Aaron – that is true of most zones (especially ones with strong wing defenders and shot blockers protecting the rim).

    The Suns do not employ that type of zone.

    With a little persistence, you can get by one of the Suns sub-par wing defenders, and you’re left with two undisciplined bigs who only want to go for the “big block” (Amare & Lopez), a big who wants no part of defense (Frye), and a way undersized power forward (Dudley).

    I’m not saying it’s “easy,” but you can most certainly drive on the Suns’ zone (Artest did it a couple of times and drew fouls on Lopez – getting Lopez in foul trouble is not a bad thing).

  15. great breakdown Darius.

    I think we need Kobe to come out and get some folks in foul trouble and we can’t go away from Gasol for long stretches.

    On D, we need to limit turnovers and transition points.

  16. Defense, Defense, Defense & more Defense will be the key to victory 2nite. We’ll get our points (as we have in all 3 games thusfar), but our interior defenders will have to do a much better job on Amare & we definitely can’t allow Lopez to get off again. Also, my N.Y.C. connection (LO & Ron Ron) must leave their imprint on 2nite’s affair.

    Game Time Baby. Lets Get It.

  17. This is going to be a shootfest.

  18. So far these refs blow.

    Hope the lakers fight through it better than I am watching it

  19. some suspect no calls / ticky tack calls going on both sides…I wonder what kind of game they are trying to set? Hopefully we use it to fuel the energy to really take it to them tonight

  20. wow, this officiating so far is really suspect. on one of the first plays, richardson totally over-the-backed pau on a rebound, causing him to lose possession. no call.

    that lose-ball foul on pau was a total phantom call, as well as pau’s and-one against stoudamire.

  21. phoenix if a LOT of energy. that sort of play will prepare us for anything. if we keep up with them, their energy will go down. right now, they are getting every looseball and every call, but things will turn soon. gotta keep it up. also, time to put a hard foul on lopez for good measure

  22. And enter Lamar Odom, stage right. Beautiful energy and focus from Lamar so far… hope it lasts!

  23. we are damn good at those toe on the line twos

  24. pheonix is going all out to get some sort of cusion, but our guys dont let them. 2 more minutes to build a small lead and then pray that our bench comes in and holds it. by the way, have i mentioned that its time for a good foul on lopez? he gets away with everything right now, its time to bring him down a little.

  25. I just hate watching these zone teams against us, there are opposing players swarming to the ball all the time. It just seems like the triangle can not deal with it.

  26. enlighten me as I am on gamecast:

    1. Kobe being aggressive but taking what the defense gives him, or being somewhat passive?

    2. What’s with 5 fouls to 1?

    3. Bynum’s stats look good, did he look good?

    Oh, Luke sighting!

  27. wow… farmar is lazy…

  28. farmar not even trying to fight over screens… how sad. everybody is pumped and jordan comes out as if its a clippers game during the regular season… wow. thank god we have fish…

  29. Offensive rebounds

    Lakers 0, Suns 6.

    The lakers just don’t contest shots anymore.

  30. @lesha
    Now, imagine someone saying “thank god we have fish” during the regular season…

  31. farmar… WTF?!?!?

  32. did phil bother giving any lessons on the zone

  33. bynum is having a hard time recovering and helping. Sometimes it looks like he’s having a hard time stopping his own forward momentum

  34. @mimsy: i said that even during the regular season…

    this guy is playing for a contract and he thinks that the couple of shots that he forces in will get him a deal…

    with that sort of defense he will probably be a backup for don nelson next season

  35. Boy…the Lakers STILL having trouble manufacturing offense against the Zone. Way too much swinging the ball around the perimeter.

  36. james,

    im sure he didn’t. he’s not a very good coach.

    —————-

    Settling for long jumpers, but give PHX credit, they are making the Lakers play the way they want them to.

    I’m happy Bynum looks decent. He doesn’t look dominant, but he looks service-able.

  37. @chewy

    its not bynums fault. farmar sometimes goes over the screen but so soft, that the good help by our big guy is worthless. than the next posession he goes under the pick… you never know what he will do…

  38. Defense looks terrible right now, getting outworked and outhustled

  39. This is getting ridiculous.

  40. Shannon Brown should not be playing this much on the road. He isn’t that good on the road.

  41. I mean we had to know the suns bench was going to start hitting their 3s eventually right

  42. @josh: they are wasting like 12 seconds everytime by just swinging it around. lamar is too passive. he is happy with passing it on right now. he should be the one driving to the cup against this kind of defense…

    suns hitting everything right now, but it doesnt help that only kobe, fish and bynum are defending while the rest of the team is watching. its gonna get better as soon as pau and ron come back in

  43. If the Lakers do not improve their transition D it will be a long night

  44. Here’s my prediction for the series:

    If we lose tonight it goes to 7, and no guarantees who wins. If we win tonight, we end it next game.

    GO LAKERS!!!

    KOOOBE!!! I am SO glad he’s on our side!

  45. Kobe Time… Wish we didn’t need it in the 2nd quarter, but I’ll take it.

  46. The Lakers should have figured out this zone by now, one should not be able to play a professional team for 7 quarters in a zone without the Suns paying for staying in a weak 2-3 zone.

    Also, if the Lakers get past the Suns, the Celtics or Orlando will most assuredly play a zone on them!

  47. 28 bench points already from the Suns WOW

    We are just daring them to shoot 3′s and they are knocking every damn shot down

  48. Phil really needs to consider putting Powell in the game. Lamar Odom just doesn’t produce on the road and he’s completely lost defensively. Other than that put back, lamar has been terrible defensively.

  49. WTF is wrong with them…?!?!?

  50. We aren’t going to win a shootout against Phoenix.

  51. This game has absolutely turned into the suns game. But kobe and lamar are killing the lakers defensively.

  52. Dear sweet gods of basketball… if not for Kobe we would be dead.

    Live by the Kobe, die by the Kobe. Right now, we live because of Kobe.

  53. this is one of those games where we would be down by 20 already if not for kobe. thank god we have him, because its games like this one where you can see that there is no better player in the league. he just wont let us lose tonight

  54. Mimsy I was thinking the same thing, without Kobe we would be down 20.

    What happened to the Lakers running the shooters off the 3 point line? Seriously everyone is just standing around watching on defense.

  55. i make that 7 toe on line jumpers!!

  56. It’s Kobe versus the Suns, and we can’t win that way.

    I’m baffled by the Lakers lack of mental toughness in a Game this crucial. Phoenix won’t shrink from the spotlight the way OKC did. The Lakers have given 4 points away by not setting their feet and being behind the line. Also, they are not boxing out at all. Phoenix is overwhelming us on the offensive boards, and that’s another sure fire path to defeat, because a team this offensively lethal does not need second and third shots. Finally, all the hustle plays are going to Phoenix. Artest is not mentally in this game. I think we see a lot of Walton in the second half.

  57. This game is all but over. Gasol won’t attack. Kobe and lamar won’t defend.

  58. That was a fun half.

  59. The Lakers need to get the ball out of the net quickly and move the ball up the court via a pass. Then drive the ball towards the net before the defense sets.

    A zone requires precise positioning on the floor, but if the Lakers push the ball up the court before the defense sets they will force the Suns to come out of the zone.

    Dare I say it; we need to see Sasha and Luke against this zone. And the Lakers need to attack Frye on defense to take him out of his offense.

  60. Honestly that half from the Lakers looked just like when the Suns used to beat up on them a few years ago in the playoffs, that was an awful half yet the team is only down 9.

    Unfortunately if the Lakers dont come out with some focus and play with some fire they risk getting blown out in the second half.

  61. I dont know whether to be upset at how terrible the Lakers played or ecstatic they are only down 9…

  62. Channing Frye is surprisingly eloquent.

  63. frye has his interview, thanking players and coaches as if he just won them the title… this is way too funny. our guys are the defending champs, look for them to settle down and own the 3rd quarter. its going to happen, trust me

  64. The lakers from the regular season have finally returned. Kobe won’t play defense. Lamar has been on the defensive end the entire game. They’ve all resorted to ball watching while losing sight of their man at 3. Gasol can’t defend Amar’e and Gasol will not attack the rim. He’s had about 4 opportunities and either passed the ball or settled for a jumpshot. This game has blow out written all over it.

  65. It was terrible half for the Lakers, without Kobe that would be a +20 deficit.And the transition D is really,really bad.

  66. I can’t believe my eyes. I can’t believe how terrible lamar and kobe were defensively. Lamar was lost on every pick and roll and lost his man ball watching like 4 times which allow Frye to start knocking down shots. The regular season lakers have arrived.

  67. how is it that we’re not guarding the 3 NOR are we showing any resistance to the PG coming around the pick. Where is everyone????

  68. What will the headline be for this game?
    “Scorcher in the Desert”
    “Suns heat up”
    “Suns on fire from 3 in Game 4″

    As others have mentioned (24, 53,54), the Lakers have made too many 3s with a toe on the line. By my count there’s been at least 8-9 times the first half where they make what looks to be a 3 only for it to be counted a 2 because they aren’t just a little bit farther back. (though the shot chart shows differently)

    by players:
    Kobe – 2-3 times I’d say
    Fisher – twice
    Artest – twice
    Shannon Brown – once

    I don’t think other teams do this quite as often as the Lakers seem to.

    Suns bench shot the lights out, Phoenix has gotten the 50-50 balls, lots of offensive boards too… Lakers need to tighten up defensively and force their pace onto Phoenix.

    here’s frye’s blog, ray
    http://www.channingfrye.com/blog/

  69. As long as the Lakers continue to settle for contested outside shots, failing to aggresively attack the zone via the dribble and the interior pass, the Suns will get open looks in transition and win the game.

    Partly it is the Lakers being lazy. Another part is the refs not allowing the Lakers to be physical on the inside as they were in the first two games.

    No matter, the Lakers have to adjust to the refs, make the smart play on offense, which will slow the game down and allow them to recover to proper defensive position and prevent the open 3′s.

    That takes a commitment to doing the hard work. Are the Lakers determined to win this game or content to go home 2-2?

    We’ll find out. I hope it’s the former.

  70. As I stated earlier, Defense, Defense, Defense & more Defense would be the keys to victory 2nite …. Too Bad we’re NOT seeing much of it from our end …. Giving up 41 pts in the 2nd quarter? …. Granted, they’re shooting lights out from the perimeter, but we have to do a better job of not only closing out, but contesting their 3′s …. Still and all, with them shooting 55% in total, 50% from behind the arc and scoring 41 second qtr pts, we’re only down by 9 …. That’s a margin that we can overcome by playing with a since of urgency on the defensive end

  71. the lakers have all but given up defensively. They are letting guys fire away from 3 and not coming close to contesting shots. Everybody is just watching nash and forgetting about their man.

  72. If I saw that correctly, quite a few of those Suns 3s came from the strong side, meaning the side that the Suns went to attack on the screen and roll. The Laker defenders on that side of the court have to stay home on their men (at best do a quick jump in and recover), the help for the pick-and-roll has to come from the weak side.

    So don’t overhelp from the strong side to give up open 3s with no chance of recovering to contest, help from the weak side and at least give yourself a chance to rotate and bother the shooter.

  73. I gotta point out my Laker with the straw brain – Lamar Odom. When he is guarding you, you can either shoot over him (no arms raised), go around him (leaves too much room), or go through him and pass off.

    When he is on the court the Suns make their runs.

  74. Guys, would it hurt to step back a foot? Just a step?

    Our ball reversals, for the most part, haven’t been too good. Inaccurate, sloppy passes that force the receiver to leap or catch the ball out of position. It’s giving Phoenix’s defense time to shift sides easily.

    Sigh. Frustrating game. We’re not marking them at the 3-point line in transition (or much in half-court sets, for that matter) and showing an inability to stop them scoring at the rim. On the other side, our best scores seem to be coming off jumpshots. Not a recipe for a win. Let’s hope we turn it around in the 2nd half.

  75. The way to beat the zone is not passing.

    You beat a zone by either:

    1) Hitting long range shots over the zone. A dicey proposition at best, especially with the Lakers, and certainly because the Suns are very good at turning long misses into fast breaks.

    2) Dribble penetration. Drive into and through the edges of the zone defender’s coverage. Again, with the Lakers overall lack of ball handling, this is a lose more than you win option.

    3) Movement without the ball. Dives and flashes. Screens for cutters. Overloading a zone with motion. Sadly, to this point, the Lakers don’t seem to have the energy, interest and/or discipline to take advantage of this tactic.

    Might be a long second half…

  76. Why cant we put Lamar on Amare? He’s quick enough to guard his drive and strong enough to guard him if he posts up

  77. Kobe’s stats are stud-like, but it would help if we could limit some of the PHX boards here…

    That certainly wasn’t with a toe on the line;

  78. Suns offense clicking on all cylinders tonight, they are just getting absolutely whatever they want. Reminds me of the Lakers offense in games 1 and 2

  79. Phil is getting out coached plain and simple. as #67 why doesn’t lamar guard amar’e. pau is way to slow.

  80. 10 bucks on either Lopez or Stoudemire getting Scola’d this game. Fish is taking a lot of shit on the screens.

  81. These Refs are not watching the game

  82. Mike Penberthy May 25, 2010 at 7:33 pm

    At some point the Lakers team that we saw for most of the regular season (dumb fouls, not running the offense, terrible defensive rotations, lackadaisical, etc.) was gonna show up in the playoffs.
    You have to be a special team, even in today’s watered down NBA, to become a back to back champion. For most of the season the Lakers have been trying to tell us that they’re not that team.
    Suns in 7 seems like the most likely scenario at this point.

  83. Lakers get close… back to back quick whistles against them.

  84. Dang, for a while there Kobe was getting 2 pts per shot attempt…

    FIVE three pointers. FIVE. out of seven, to boot. This is only half competitive thanks to Kobe.

    And could somebody please limit Amare’s Offensive boards? Or is he really lucky today?

    That’s Gasol’s first rebound tonight.

  85. geez – no effort by Bynum on that Lopez putback

  86. Pau’s worst playoff game this year to date. He’s getting pushed around and has lost the touch on the jumper. More horrific rebounding by the Lakers.

  87. Take Bynum out and keep his butt on the bench until he does what we need him to do, rebound and play defense

  88. today one of those nights where pau seems to choke a little bit. his timing is off and the calls are going the suns way also…

    if we win this one, this series will be over. this one will be very, very tough

  89. Gasol online.

    let’s hope he can take some load off of kobe.

  90. I can’t believe how terrible gasol has been on the boards.

  91. Wow, Fisher, you’re at FOUR fouls… we need you this game.

    Kobe on serious fire in this series. Let’s finish them up and have him well rested for the finals.

    As for now, Kobe is WHITE HOT. ;)

  92. Why are the Lakers STILL settling for threes?

  93. i spose the only way we can defend is by fouling

  94. How many bail out shots does Kobe have to make before some people start cutting hard towards the basket or move even for that matter on offense..

  95. If a single flame can ignite a bonfire, Kobe is trying, passionately trying, maniacally trying, to be that flame.

    He is a joy to watch.

  96. God is that Kobe good.

  97. Lost in all the terrible-ness is the fact that we’re seeing an All-World, complete performance from Kobe Bryant. He’s hitting all the key shots, making all the key plays, defending like crazy, helping off his man and coming up with steals and deflections, and just killing himself to win this game. I don’t see anywhere near the urgency from our other guys.

  98. The Lakers are doing everything better this half except controlling the defensive glass. Phoenix has 13 offensive rebounds on 33 missed shots. If the Lakers can limit the Suns to one shot, they’d be able to get some momentum going on both sides of the ball.

  99. our guys are climbing back, can you feel it?
    kobe wont let them lose tonight, unless they all quit on him. if at least gasol or odom plays some offense, i truly believe that kobe will score 50 if thats what they need tonight.

    by the way, this is one of those games where you see that bryants defensive team nomination was NOT based on reputation. he is carrying us on offense AND defense right now. picking up passes, blocking, deflecting, and rebounding. hope he doesnt run out of energy

  100. 80. Bynum is rebounding. It’s gasol that’s not rebounding he’s one that’s getting blown by every single play and letting guys come over the top of him and snatch boards away from him.

  101. Bynum must be hurting. Just watch him. He almost looks hobbling when he’s running.

    Right now, just give Kobe the ball every possession. Let him keep his hot hand going or allow it to create opportunities for others.

    Every Laker not named Kobe is playing subpar, and we can still very well win this game.

  102. Gasol needs to get tougher and play better D. Block out and get some rebounds. Not to jump ahead, but if he can’t handle the suns, forget about the celtics. he needs to bang down low if we are to win this.

  103. Zephid,
    You are right. But Lamar is sawdust tonite – at least on defense. Pau seems frustrated by the contact and pace. I hope Phil plays Bynum in the 4th qtr.

  104. I can kind of feel easy now, and breath, we are now tied.

  105. Kobe… he… just…

    Kobe…

  106. Jordan Farmar why?

  107. Gasol, Artest and Odom all 5/10

    Not bad statistically, but…

    Hey, didn’t realize Gasol had 4 blocks!

    Still, from the looks of this game, we probably need Kobe to score like 50 to win it.

  108. This is the kind of timely display that Kobe puts on from time to time that allows us to say he is the BEST CLUTCH PLAYER IN THE GAME.

    This was the third quarter, but that was ALL CLUTCH.

  109. if anyone else can hit an open 3 we would be killing it. Of course all of those long two’s to start the game hurt as well…

  110. I’m not the coach but I wouldn’t sit Kobe for long, without him in the game this lead could get out of hand

  111. Good 3rdQ by Lakers gives them a chance to win this game. Kobe was simply fantastic.

  112. Zephid hit it on the head, no urgency from anyone other than Kobe.

  113. kinda wish kobe was there to take the last shot instead of shannon… oh well.

  114. SOMEBODY has to show up to help Kobe.

    If the Lakers can put 5 minutes of defense together out of the next 12, which includes securing rebounds, they can win….but others will be forced to make shots. phoenix will start blitzing Kobe and forcing the ball out of his hands…..he made a sweet dish to Lamar the first time they tried, and the Lakers need to keep moving and be ready to knock down open looks.

  115. hard cuts to the basket after the entry post pass and we get layups, what’s wrong with that? come on guys, big 4th qrt. effort!

  116. Watch the Lakers away from the ball, they do not cut through with purpose, they are sauntering through the lane very lackadaisically.

    CUT HARD, CUT HARD!! The Lakers need to win this game they can not be satisfied to go home 2-2 this team is not the Thunders!

  117. 99. You said. It. Their stats are far better then their actual play.

  118. Somebody fill me in:

    how did bynum block dragic’s 3?

  119. Wow, they chant “Louuuuuuuuuuuuuu” when Amundson gets a rebound?

    Jock much, Phoenix?

  120. Had to go plug in the laptop, so I wasn’t able to comment in the 3rd quarter… so I’ll do that now.

    Holy ******* **** Kobe is scary. He’s on my side, and he’s still scary.

    There’s no wonder fans of other teams hate him. Personally, I’m grateful

  121. Gotta get some separation while they’re playing their bench…

  122. Lakers treading water against the Suns’ second unit……this is a huge step towards losing this game.

  123. Farmar was pushed. Told the ref. Ref denied it despite being less than 5 feet away. Unbelievable.

  124. All this time and Brown still can’t figure out to put his hand up when he’s closing out on a 3 pt shooter?

  125. If we could only grab some defensive boards….

  126. dont expect anything from the refs this quarter

  127. Let’s go fellas… just run the offense and crash the boards. can we please secure the rebound, especially the def. rebound!

  128. so now the refs are swallowing their whistles?!? as we see, its not just about driving to the cup, because kobe should´ve had 2 ft´s right there…

    im just praying that we pull this one off, because kobe is probably putting in more effort than the entire suns team. would be a shame to waste such an amazing game

  129. Barbosa with a dive that would make Cristiano Ronaldo proud.

  130. As Doug Collins so eloquently put it, “Who’s going to own the 4th.” Basically, it’s all about who wants it more.

  131. This game is all but lost.

  132. Can anybody say out coached?

  133. What is Phil Jackson doing, there is seven minutes left in the game and he is going with Bynum, Farmar and Brown, why?

  134. honestly, you cant blame bynum here. i know, he looks really slow right now, but he is playing hurt. he is trying as hard as he can, so we cant ask him to do more than that

  135. Game is definitely lost at this point.

  136. Horrible defense again this quarter, wow. If the Lakers lose this game I hope every player not named Kobe Bryant takes a good look in the mirror tonight and realizes they let their leader down tonight because he played brilliantly

  137. Can we trade Farmar for 5 points? I wish he would stop shooting those 3′s.

  138. Bynum cannot play D against their bench lineup, he just can’t move around enough. Phil gets an F for this lineup.

  139. 9-point lead guys. :)
    This is Kobe time, remember?
    Just wait, and he will show you just why.

  140. i may as well give up when farmar and brown are in together

  141. 6+ minutes to go and a 9 point deficit? Seriously you all need to face some adversity in your own lives; you give up pretty easily.

  142. The ups and downs of Laker fans.

  143. That ref with the Riley hair style is the same from the OKC series at their home.That says enough..

  144. The Suns just keep draining threes and twos and everything, nothing is missing…

  145. So, I hear that chasing perimeter players off the 3 pt line is good. Sadly we’re getting the same open looks, but we have Farmar and they have Frye/Dudley/Nash

  146. Not a fan of the lineup used in the 1st half of the 4th. wish PJ just stuck with the starters.

  147. If you leave NBA shooters open, they WILL start hitting. Even from three.

    The possession that started this run for the Suns went:

    1) Farmer rebounds, is pushed out, no call. Phoenix ball.

    2) Tripping foul with 4 seconds on the shot clock. Phoenix inbounds with 14 seconds.

    3) Block foul with 6 seconds on the shot clock. Phoenix inbounds with 14 seconds.

    4) Fry hits a three pointer from the wing with no time on the shot clock. 3 points.

    Bailed out three times by the referees. 1 minute and 2 second of solid defense. 3 points to Phoenix.

    That drives Lakers fans crazy.

    And now we will start to jack up three pointers…

  148. Why the HELL do the Lakers keep jacking up 3s? Pau has not had his head in the game all night

    Derek makes a Jordan Farmar type decision and instead of passing the ball to a wide open Kobe, dribbles himself into the corner and jacks up a terrible shot

  149. We keep giving up good 2s to miss 3s

  150. Zephid…come off it. You have no idea what kind of personal adversity any of us have faced. And it certainly has no bearing on this game. I’m calling it like I see it. I don’t see the comeback happening tonight. The effort isn’t there and the trends are pointing towards a loss.

  151. Lamar, brown and farmar all have extremely Low basketball iq’s and it shows defensively. Lamar has left his man wide open the entire night.

    The lakers transition defense is horrible. They had 3 players run to the paint with Lamar lolly gagging down the court. This team just doesn’t have it

  152. Mike Penberthy May 25, 2010 at 8:11 pm

    Flashbacks of 2006 and 07.

  153. im sorry, but this is just some bullshit officiating. amundson gets away with EVERYTHING and then gets the touch foul… this is sooooo wrong

  154. These guys, other than Kobe, don’t deserve a paycheck for this game.

  155. The entire team failed Kobe tonight seriously

  156. The reffing in this game is suspect and I don’t usually complain about it.

  157. Kobe gets the ball and suddenly creates 4 poitns.

  158. anyone else note the laziness out there? just trotting back after a steal? not running back on D leading to easy transition 3′s..

  159. Anyone else feel like putting their foot thru their TV watching the effort of Lakers not wearing 24?

  160. The worst part of about this game is that Nash and Amare didn’t even play this quarter. The lakers lack mental toughness, especially gasol. He’s had abt 7 rebounds snatched from him. Lamar has been lost every play defensively

  161. just following from my phone. did kobe sit out the first 5-6 minutes of the 4th?! the only player playing worth a damn and he sits that long? what are you saving him for? win this and it goes down in 5 . lose and this goes to 6 or 7.

  162. Last game, I thought the FT disparity was related to the style each team played, the aggressiveness each team showed.

    Tonight, we’re getting absolutely mauled and the refs are letting Phoenix get away with it. Under the hoop, their bigs are being allowed a license of physicality that our bigs are not. I’m not necessarily saying that’s the difference, but the calls in some cases have been absolutely atrocious.

  163. Indeed I do Chewy— it’s why I called this game all but lost @ the 6 minute mark. 3 minutes later…still down 9. Kobe’s giving it his all, but no one else is stepping up.

  164. Mike Penberthy May 25, 2010 at 8:17 pm

    I don’t understand why it’s so surprising that they’re launching so many 3 pointers. Obviously they think this is the only way they can keep up with the suns. They know at this point that they can’t defend them, so they’re trying to outscore them.

  165. it’s like we are stuck in neutral. I just can’t understand it. We need a big push here. Shut it down…

  166. Bynum’s line tonight: 24 minutes. 12 Points on 6-9 FGs. 8 Rebounds (4 Offensive). 1 Assist, 1 Block, 2 Turnovers, 3 Fouls.

    With a torn meniscus.

    Bynum played well. Most big guys look bad recovering off the slipped screen and roll.

    That is why offenses use that play you know…

  167. Lakers outcoached, outhustled, outplayed, outshot, outrebounded, outpassed, outtoughed, and now the Suns’ depth is becoming a major long term factor….two straight 4th quarter fades against the Suns 2ND unit!!!!!! Hard to fathom the Lakers’ offense being shut down by a simple 2-3 zone. Phoenix playing with swagger because they know they have the best of both worlds: they’re the deeper team and they have no pressure on them to win.

    No one said this is going to be easy, but are the Lakers really expecting never to blink at Staples in the playofffs? Remember, no extra rest to bail them out like in the OKC series….

  168. amundson needs a hard foul as badly as lopez. where is artest when you need him

  169. lamar… WTF?!?!?!!?!?

  170. The officiating has been biased to the Suns, sure…but that’s not why the Lakers are losing. Odom’s not being aggressive enough. Gasol’s not being aggressive enough. Both of them have had multiple rebounds just ripped right out of their hands.

  171. get the rebound if stoudamire misses! please!

    if we’re gonna be launching 3′s, can it please be kobe! man is 6-9!

    what a pathetic 4th quarter, 15 points.

  172. why lamar. why a 3?

  173. Mike Penberthy May 25, 2010 at 8:21 pm

    Another meltdown against the Suns after being 2 up. I for one will be rooting for whoever comes out of the east to beat them in the finals.

  174. Happy Lamar, Phil!

  175. odom why?

  176. That was a flop.

  177. anyone thinking about that timmy guy sitting in jail right now? yeah… thought so….

  178. Monster Game by Kobe. With just a little help we might have pulled this one out despite that incredible 2nd Qtr. by the Suns.

    This just shows that nothing is promised. We better figure out how to beat this zone, or hope that we can shot better at home.

  179. Damit. Get the rebound for gawd sakes. it’s over.

    Another great game by Kobe wasted by the team. I want to see Gasol play tougher and harder next game. Lamar focused on rebounding and going to the hole. Bynum and Artest on defense and the bench to step up.

    I don’t think I can take another 2006/2007 let down.

  180. is phil’s timeout now to bitch out the team? There’s PLENTY of time for that on the flight home (and gods, is it deserved :=p )

  181. #164. Then I’m assuming you’re not a Laker fan, correct? This game was the game where the Suns’ bench and three point shooting showed up in spades. Tough to win when the other team gets 54 points from their reserves.

  182. I’m so frustrated. Kobe can’t be the only guy who knows that these games aren’t gimmees!!

  183. The Lakers certainly need to put more effort into rebounding and Pau needs to have a bounce back game on Thursday.

  184. Kobe was incredible today, but the rest of the Lakers 3pt shooting was atrocious, and they’re not getting enough inside. Have to figure out a way to beat the zone. More importantly, have to stop their offense.

    People need to cool it with the negativity around here. This was a pretty entertaining game. Losses hurt, but let’s not forget this is now a best of 3 series with 2 games in LA. I like our chances.

  185. Big bounce back from Pau on Thursday, has to be. Wow, Farmar, Odom should play much better at home. Should…

  186. We can talk all we want about zone d,bench play etch but the bottom line is that the refs have helped them ALOT during these 2 games.The sad thing is going back to LA allthose calls will be in our favor.This is why so many people are upset about NBA refs.

  187. 50-35 rebounding edge to Phoenix. That right there is your ball game. They wanted this game more, there’s no other way to put it. Not blaming it on the refs or their bench’s hot streak. They just wanted it more, and that’s the part that flat out pisses me off.

    Side question though – Why did we go away from Kobe in the 4th though? That couldn’t have been all on Phoenix’s zone scheme.

  188. There was virtually no calls at the start of the game when there was at least 5 different occasions. However, we make our own way.

    Have to step it up.

  189. I saw one good play early in the first quarter against the zone, where Gasol caught the ball in the pinch post, then passed to a cutting Lamar along the baseline. I thought we would see that for most of the game, but the Lakers never went back to it.

  190. anyone not named kobe was 2-18 from the 3 point line.

    we lost this game on the boards and effort (outrebounded by 15 or so) and the 3 point line. if we did either of those a little better, this game could’ve easily been won.

  191. So Fisher,Farmar and Brown are combined 1-10 from 3pt line and Sasha sits on the bench for two games straight.

  192. Mike Penberthy May 25, 2010 at 8:32 pm

    I’m absolutely a lakers fan. Actually if they go on to lose this series i will bitch the least out of everybody, because i didn’t expect them to win a championship this year.
    Like i said you have to be a special team to win 2 titles in a row and this team is not that team.

  193. @ 180, Once later in the game Kobe got the ball in the corner and hit a cutting Lamar for a layup. That was nice too.

  194. Simple, Suns have a bench, the Lakers don’t.

    I said Lakers in five, boy was I wrong. They are now in for the fight of their playoff lives. They must win game 5 now, no more room for error.

    They can’t seem to beat this team in Phoenix.

  195. Looking at the box score it’s pretty fair to say that we got mauled by our bench with and extra hand by the refs.(still not buying that the FT disparity it’s explain plainly by the flow of the game)

    If we face Boston in the Finals, my concern is the way Pau reacts to physicality when the refs allow it. (even more when he gets push around without getting a whistle, while being punished at the defensive end by the refs for doing even less that what he received)

  196. if they are going to stay with zone, we have to get the machine in there for some shooting. of course the machine may be a bit rusty.

  197. Wow Mike, you sound like a truly great fan.

    This way, if the Lakers lose, you can say, “See everybody, I was right.” And if they win, you can say, “Yay. I’m a Lakers fan.”

    I think you’d rather be right than watch the Lakers win, sadly.

  198. The Suns: 22 of 32 Free Throws.
    The Lakers: 7 of 13 Free Throws.

    The Suns: +15 Points off of +19 Free Throws.

    4 of those Points and 6 of those Attempts did come in the last minute as the Lakers intentionally fouled, but even without that burst at the end, the Suns still held advantages of +11 Points on +13 Attempts.

    Again and again and again…

    Amazingly if you are awarded more than DOUBLE the Free Throws Attempts than your opponent, you will win most of the time.

    Ah well. Sadly, I won’t be able to see the next games, all the way to Game 7 (if needed).

  199. FTA Lakers: 13
    FTA Suns: 32

    Not saying that’s why they lost, but it certainly played a role…

  200. This series has gotten ugly fast.

    I expected the Lakers to go back to the movement that cut apart the zone in the 3rd quarter in the last game…instead they look just as clueless against it as they did in the 2nd quarter of Game 3.

    Even Kobe did most of his damage just shooting over the top of it.

  201. Okay, I know, I normally always say that we don’t need the refs to help us win, so it’s not their fault when we loose, but this evening… I have to complain.

    This evening our bigs did attack the paint, and they were hacked, fouled, and they didn’t get any calls going their way… which makes them timid, and before you know, everyone who’s not Kobe is gone.

    GRRRRRR!!!!

    I know I said Lakers in 6, and I know that means we lose two… but I didn’t expect those two to be this ugly.

    I’d say something bannable, but I’m reluctant to use Swedish here.

  202. lets give it up to this pheonix team and their incredible bench: #43 Dan Crawford, #19 James Capers, #41 Ken Mauer.

    also, congrats to their soon to be HOF coach david stern.

    sorry, i absolutely HATE making cheap excuses, but this game was really decided by the suns bench and the refs.

    yes, we shot too many 3pt shots and yes, our defensive rebounding was really, really bad. but i think everyone who plays basketball understands how much energy these bad calls get out of you. the whole team defends perfectly and then they get screwed by a 2 second on the shotclock touch foul. how many times did that happen tonight? also, it was disgusting with how much grabbing the suns came away. its hard to drive to the cup and create with hands grabbing you everywhere and no calls going your way. of course you will start jacking up threes.

    disgusting game, cant belive i watched from 3 to 5:30 in the morning to realize once again, that the nba does everything to avoid sweeps and get the ratings up

  203. We have two stars who do well either at home or on the road (Kobe and Pau). We have two players able to consistently hit clutch shots (Kobe and Fish).

    The rest of our players are role players, able to excel at home, but very suspect on the road.

    If I am going to go down with role players on the road, I want Bynum in there at the end because he disrupts the Suns offense and will put a body between the player and the basket much moreso than will Lamar. However, Phil just keeps going to the same well. At least Gentry stayed with his bench when they were getting it done. Phil is too inflexible.

    Against this team Phil needs to change up because what he likes to do just isn’t working – at least away.

  204. Kobe played outstanding tonight. That’s really the only thing worth commenting on. However, the Lakers, I mean the Suns, did a great job of slowing Kobe down in the 4th.

  205. “we lost this game on the boards and effort”

    How many times do we hear that from fans, writers, announcers, coaches, and even Laker players?

    How many more games are the Lakers going to show up without the effort? Do they think they are going to win a championship with effort only on certain days in certain arenas?

    We said from the beginning that this is playoff time, and it is time to turn on the switch. But, this team thinks it only has to worry about the switch in LA. But, what if the switch doesn’t work in LA, then what? They go back to Phoenix down 2-3 they ain’t comin back.

  206. zone defense shouldn’t even be legal. it was illegal for 54 years! the 90s bulls never dealt with zone!

    they legalized it in 2002 so teams could throw zones at kobe and shaq!

  207. The only silver lining I can find out of this is that maybe being tested by the Suns will be better prep for the Finals than the cakewalk Boston has had vs. the Magic.

    Am I completely crazy for thinking that? Bueller? Bueller? Someone throw me a line here, I’m still tee’d off at this game.

  208. Differnce was the bench play. The Suns bench was great and the Lakers bench was not. The Suns starters all had a minus +/- and the bench all had a postive +/-

    Lets see if the Lakers bench plays better at Staples. I still like the Lakers chances with home court advantage.

  209. I was watching the Lakers’ body language. Aside from Kobe, all I saw were slumped shoulders, heartless shrugs, and dejected facial expressions – even when we were still in the game. That’s not saying much though, because the only reason we were even in the game was because of the one person that showed determination.

    I am very surprised that the Lakers cannot find a way to beat the Suns’ zone. You’d think that’s all the Lakers worked on between Game 3 and Game 4. As many other comments have pointed out, without Kobe, the game would have been over before halftime. It’s a shame that another extraordinary performance by Kobe is wasted.

    I thought Gasol looked intimidated, and he was an absolute non-factor on the glass tonight.

  210. 195, seriously I could not believe through most of the 4th period NONE of the Lakers players were looking for Kobe, which was the ONLY reason the Lakers were even in the game.

  211. What it all comes down to is keep the Suns under 110. If the lakers do that, they win. Hard to simply outscore them on their own floor by an upwards of 120 points.

  212. Hey jaybird- lay off Mike. Just because he thinks this Laker team isn’t going to repeat he’s not a Laker fan? That’s nonsense.

    I think they will repeat– but watching games like this I would respect the opinion of any fan who thought they wouldn’t, because against Boston, this kind of effort would have resulted in Boston blowing us out of the water completely.

    This was the second incredible game in a row from Kobe that was wasted by everyone else. He’s literally doing everything out there…scoring extremely efficiently, making great passes and rebounding far more than he should have to. But Gasol, Odom and Artest just didn’t bring it.

  213. 189. This is unfortunately a trend for the Lakers this postseason. Not only the FT disparity but also the ”random” momentum killing calls on d and the non calls on o. it is easy to say ”don’t concetrate on the calls/non calls made” and play your game but this is a fact that cannot be ignored. This was not the only reason we lost as it never is but it was certainly one of them and a big one on all of our playoff losses.

  214. honestly, even if we are down 3-2 i like our chances. we have the better team and over 7 games it will show. its just sad that we cant rest a little bit until the finals, thats all.

    heads up, please dont panic the next couple of days

  215. FTA Lakers: 13
    FTA Suns: 32

    That is an embarrassment. For any major professional sport to have that great a disparity between the home and road team is outrageous!

    And Stern wonders why the fans still believe the refs are in on the take, even after the jailing of that other ref that got caught for betting on games (I can’t remember his name).

    That stuff has to stop if they want people to believe they run a clean game.

  216. It’d be nice if we had a dude who could hit a three.

    Still, even in a loss, what a performance by Kobe. Fire, will, and consummate skill all on display.

    I thought the Suns’ defense on Gasol was brilliant. They’re the first team in a long time that’s been able to double Pau effectively and not get killed by his passing skills. The way I saw it, they did it with angles and energy. They swarmed Pau on the catch with 2 or 3 guys. Normally, it’s a recipe for Lakers success. But the activity and angles of the guys swarming him really cut off his vision and bothered him in a way I haven’t seen before. Pau would eventually find the open guy, but because of the intensity of the defenders, his crosscourt pass would be slow and off-target enough to give the Suns time to recover. And they really did an excellent job of doubling and then covering the open man. There was a play in the 2nd half (I believe it was the 4th quarter, not sure) where Fish was open in the corner after Pau caught the ball and drew the attention. The pass was slow enough that Nash – who was doubling Pau on the other side of the paint – had plenty of time to run back and close out on Fish. There’s a reason we’re having difficulty against the zone beyond just Lakers ineptitude. We’re not that horrible. Let’s give the Suns some credit. Whether or not you believe it’s a gimmick defense, they’re executing it well, and their activity and movement across the court is incredible.

    That defense really took Pau completely out of his game. When he got semi-open jumpers he normally makes, he missed badly. No rhythm at all, and credit the Suns D for that.

    I know it sounds weird, but if the Lakers continue to struggle against this defense, I want them to push the pace. Fill the lanes, run drag screens, something before the Suns have a chance to set their defense. At home, I expect the whistles to go more favorably for us – which means I expect our frontline to rebound from these performances.

    There are seams in this defense, but who do we have that’s great at penetrating? Really, truly great? That’s no longer the strength of Kobe’s game. Lamar can do it with the right matchup. I actually want to see more of Shannon taking the ball aggressively to the hole. I can remember one play when Shannon took his man easily off the dribble, and found a big under the hoop for an easy layup. We need more of that. Shannon’s probably our most explosive guy off the dribble. He has to harness that, and with proper instruction from the coaching staff, find the seams and create for other players.

  217. 200: I agree. Pau looked like an eight year old whose dog just died and Shannon also looked just hopeless.

    When I look back at the box score I’m amazed we were even in the game until the bottom of the 4th; we got crushed on the glass, their bench annihilated ours, Pau was a non-factor and they got all the calls.

    A lot of it is a subpar performance by Nash, them bricking FTs and Lopez coming back to earth, but a massive game from Kobe was what kept us in it. The other Lakers looked like they were ready to pack it in, but he kept us afloat through the middle of the game until the Suns decided to just swarm him if he came anywhere inside the 3pt line.

  218. 202. I really didnt know what more kobe could do in the 4th. Some really bad calls by refs but he gets doubled, doesn’t force a shot kicks it out to lamar, fisher, artest for WIDE open 3′s which the suns bench were knocking down all night. Sometime he drew as many as 3 players and still the rest could’nt do anything with it. Gasol’s last shot summed up the night for me. Kobe was going till the end unfourtunately cant say the same about the rest

  219. You aren’t going to win many conference final games when you give up 115 points. All the whining about the refs is misplaced. The Laker effort and execution in the last two games was pathetic, and Phoenix, by contrast, took the ball to the rim. That produces fouls.

    If the Lakers don’t step up on the defensive end, they will lose this series. Move your feet, stop reaching and BOX OUT.

  220. the fact that we won’t get any rest for the finals is precisely why this series is bugging me. it wasn’t until today that there was a doubt lingering in my mind as to whether or not we’ll even make it out of the regional finals.

    the lakers are a bit banged up and we need the rest. we do have the better team, but the suns have the better play. game 3, we had an excuse: we had to adjust to the zone. what happened in game 4? we still don’t know how to break that zone… won’t be optimistic until the lakers show me that they know how to penetrate and attack the rim against the suns’ defense.

    lamar and artest are NOT here for 3 point shooting. we brought artest on board for his defense and strong body when he’s attacking. lamar is supposed to be the aggressor off the bench to give our other attackers a breather.

    not rocket science….

  221. 188, Jaybird, this is the mental weakness that Darius and I have been having to wade through this entire season. People that don’t have the courage to support their team, and would rather protect themselves and be assholes than let themselves feel the full sting of a loss. There’s nothing objectively wrong with feeling that way, I guess, but let’s just say that if we ever have a zombie apocalypse, I wouldn’t want one of those people to be one of my co-survivors.

    201, Lakers8884, I saw that too. The Lakers just went away from Kobe in the end, with too much “half-mooning” as the TNT crew put it, passing the ball around the perimeter. I hope this team realizes soon that we don’t need a three when we’re down 9 with 6 minutes to go, we just need a score and some defense.

    I don’t see why the Lakers don’t just give up the contested inside shots over giving up wide-open threes. More than a few times, Lakers were caught cheating into the paint (Lamar), and got burned on the perimeter because of it. Contested two pointers are bad to give up, but threes give the opposing team huge amounts of momentum, and that’s the one thing you don’t want to give a hot shooting team.

    The Lakers played so well in the 3rd quarter. Why? Because they went right at the weak point of the Suns zone: the side defended by Amare Stoudemire. Why did the Lakers go away from that? I will never understand.

  222. The Lakers gotta stop this habit of solid 3rd quarters followed by getting steamrolled in the 4th. Deja vu.

    Kobe – great game, he facilitated, he was on fire, he deserved more support. As Zephid said, the Lakers really went on a run when he was deployed and attacking the wing where Amare was defending.

    Frustrating that the Lakers missed so many threes (Odom, artest, brown, everybody) but they seemed to make every shot they took shots with a toe on the line.

    Regardless of the extra hustle Phoenix may have had, they were rewarded disproportionately by the referees throughout the game. the last two quarters phoenix ended up in the bonus and shot a lot of free throws because the lakers were whistled for incidental/minimal contact away from the hoop while the refs forgot to be consistent for both teams.

    Bummer of a game, but gotta believe the Lakers will come back stronger next time.

  223. Awful effort.

    I haven’t been this mad at this team all season. How do you not come to play 2 games in a row in the WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS? What are they saving themselves for? When are they going to realize that settling for 3′s just makes it easier for the suns to run? When will Phil come up with a way to break a freaking 2-3 zone?

  224. Also, I hope all of those fans chanting “We want Boston” feel real good right now. I remember urging calm after game one and having about 4 people give me angry replies on this site.

  225. I don’t comment a lot on this site, but I’m a huge Laker fan and cannot believe that I just watched this hatchet job from the refs.

    Zone defense, blah, blah, blah. Kobe needs help, blah, blah, blah.

    The Lakers played well enough, and deserved to win. The zone was a challenge, but the Lakers played with sufficient intensity, especially early on — and were clearly mentally superior.

    What I saw was a situation where the refs made calls at CRUCIAL junctures, such as calling fouls on LA with 3, 4, 6 seconds on the shooting clock.

    I know its the B**** thing to do in fandom in sports but guys: our guys came to play and got dejected once the whistles took complete control.

    What Kobe was angry about there towards the end was not only the refs, but his teammates response to the clear bias in officiating: particularly I believe that much of his ire was reserved for Pau.

    The refs won this one, as any professional NBA team can get hot if they get enough shooting opportunities given to them. Our bigs got manhandled, but they will have to rise above even blatantly bad officiating if they are to survive in a place like Boston, so really this will turn out to be good preparation after all.

    Still, the refs absolutely suck! But we have the best player in the NBA, mentally, and physically, KB. Lakers in 6.

  226. few interesting facts for those that were complaining about the refereeing.

    12 fouls on the suns tonight was the 2nd lowest of the entire playoffs. and so far, there have been 71 playoff games. lack of aggression, result of the zone defense. maybe. maybe not.

    and here’s something else. since the inception of the best of 7 first round series in 2003, this year marks the least number of games played in the playoffs coming up to game 4 of the conference finals.

    2010 – 71
    2009 – 76
    2008 – 77
    2007 – 72
    2006 – 79
    2005 – 73
    2004 – 73
    2003 – 80

    the nba ain’t making as much money. of course they want to extend the series! 12 fouls called!

    how was the officiating in the boston orlando game 4?

  227. It is now accepted as fact that the Suns bench is vastly superior to the Lakers bench. With that in mind, what is the explanation for Sasha not getting any minutes? He hustles, he shoots better than Farmar or Brown, and he hasn’t had the chance to suck it up the way the rest of the reserves have. What gives?

  228. Kobe played 45 minutes tonight.

    This will hurt even worse than tonight’s loss.

    Only a win would’ve justified him playing 45 minutes.

  229. it really isn’t about the zone d.we are generating enough points and at a high % even better than them.

    FT through 2 games
    Phoenix 74
    LA 33

    I guess they were very, very aggressive and we were very very passive right?

  230. 212, they couldn’t go after Amare in the 4th because he didn’t play until 2:36 left in the 4th.

    One thing I can guarantee, it won’t be 32-13 Phoenix in free throw attempts in game 5.
    \
    Those hustle plays and getting loose balls really made the difference, it was hard for the Lakers to sustain a run when the Suns kept getting 2nd shots.

  231. Lakers are hungry and Suns are starving, but NBA is feasting on its preys.

    What more could be entertaining than watching the gladiators kill each other for a chance to bite a piece of O’brien meat.

    Who am I? Just another speck from a dust of spectators.

  232. This game is on Phil. Down by 1 at the end of 3. Not until the 6:47 mark of the 4th that Gasol, Artest and Fisher were subbed back in. By then they were down by 9. In the meantime, Kobe goes 0-1 from the field while Brown and Farmar go 1-5. The latter were a combined 2-12, 1-8 from 3, with 0 FT taken. And look at the box score. The Suns starters were all – (Nash leading the way at -9).

    The Suns won this game because Phil had a lineup there for nearly half of the 4th: Kobe, Lamar, Bynum, Brown, Farmer.

    And in the 2nd quarter, from start to 7:36, no Gasol, Artest, and Fisher, so Kobe, Lamar, Bynum, Brown, Farmar. Tied at the end of 1 and Phoenix up by 4 when Fisher returns. Their possession and they score to go up 6.

    Then at 5:59, Gasol and Artest return, with Phoenix up by 10. Lakers then go +1 for the remainder and trail by 9 at the half.

    Gasol and Artest were both +10 on the game. Kobe at -4, Fisher at 0 and Lamar at -12. Brown at -21, Bynum at -16 and Farmar at -9.

    You can’t have Brown, Farmar and Bynum on the court at the same time. You just can’t. The first two will simply jack up shots, witness today again (the 0 FT taken is testimony to how little those two tried to penetrate the zone), and Bynum simply doesn’t have the mobility where he can move around the court to better provide scoring help for Kobe and Lamar. And if Phil thinks that Brown and Farmar can be in together, then Gasol in lieu of Bynum.

    Lastly, re Lamar sucking, he went for 15 and 10. Most games we’d be hailing that as a signal success. Kobe was, again, -4, though he scored 38. Not their fault. And so you all well and truly get the point, the two souls who didn’t play today with Famar and Brown were, again, Gasol and Artest, both +10. I can “forgive” Phil somewhat for the 2nd quarter, but when it didn’t work then, why on earth do you back to it for half of the 4th?

  233. Laker Home Games:

    Suns: 44 Points on 58 Free Throw Attempts.
    Lakers: 43 Points on 56 Free Throw Attempts.

    Suns: +1 Point on +2 Free Throw Attempts at Staples Center.

    Suns Home Games:

    Lakers: 23 Points on 33 Free Throw Attempts.
    Suns: 59 Points on 74 Free Throw Attempts.

    Suns: +36 Points on +41 Free Throw Attempts at US Airways Center.

    Series Overall:

    Lakers: 66 Points on 89 Free Throw Attempts.
    Suns: 103 Points on 132 Free Throw Attempts.

    Suns: +37 Points on +43 Free Throw Attempts. (Averages to +9.25 Points and 10.75 Free Throw Attempts per Game).

    Those are the numbers.

  234. i was disappointed last game, now I’m disgusted.

    As much as I want to point out all their deficiencies on offense. It’s the defensive end that’s killing the lakers. Gasol was once again out muscled by Amar’e. Amar’e just faces up and it’s over, Gasol can’t defend him. This was by far the worse defensive I’ve seen Odom play. He was turned around by the pick and roll on at least 3 occasions. He never closed out the shooters. He never hustled back on the defensive end. Lamar epitomizes what a role player is. He plays well on the home but just disappears on the road. When Phoenix has Frye and Amar’e in, Phil needs to put Odom on Amar’e and put Gasol on Frye.

    Gasol wasn’t aggressive on the offensive end until it was to late and wouldn’t get a body on players defensively and had so many rebounds taken away from. Gasol has to step up, but that’s been the story of Gasol, whenever the tough gets going, he just goes more often then not.

    I just don’t believe the lakers still can’t adjust to the zone. Although they did a somewhat better job it, they still couldn’t establish a rhythm. Some will also look at the Box score and say Odom and Gasol played ok, but that absolutely isn’t the case. Almost all of their buckets were because of Kobe.

    The officials were absolutely terrible as well. Whenever the game got close, all of a sudden the suns got 6,7,8 freethrows in a row. I don’t believe in conspiracies, but officials know they can at least affect the momentum of games with their whistles and purposely do so. This was terrible officiating. There were so many blatant non calls and so ticky tack fouls against the lakers.

    It’s tough to win when the game is so one sided, but the lakers once again didn’t attack the rim. Let’s hope it’ll be a different story on thursday (i said this on sunday to about today)

    Oh let’s not over look bynum. That guy is giving maximum effort, I just wish we could say the same about Odom.

  235. Anonymous, yes, that is exactly right. The Suns were A LOT more aggressive in games 3 and 4. Forty more free throws is about 20 extra foul call over 2 games, or 10 extra fouls per game against LA. If you don’t think that the Suns went to the basket HARD enough to earn a couple of foul calls per quarter, then you are not being objective.

    Kobe shot jumpers. Ron shot jumpers. LO shot jumpers. Pau put up weak layups. Those shots don’t draw fouls, and swinging the ball aimlessly around the perimeter instead of attacking the basket is no way to draw fouls.

    Quit complaining. The Lakers were THOROUGHLY outplayed in games 3 and 4. Turning this around should be easy–stop being so passive. If they play this way in game 5, then game 6 will be a closeout game, for the Suns.

  236. Lebron should take notes from Kobe on how to do a post-game interview

  237. The last 2 games they shot 74 ft to our 33. Zone d will not do that to any team.
    As Phil and Kobe said it’s not about their zone d. it’s about our d and the ft attempts.
    We are scoring enough and at a high % against them , zone or no zone d.

  238. I counted 6 hit 23 footers with a foot on the line that came out to be 2′s instead of 3′s. That’s 6 points, which is pretty much the entire difference in the game (except for intentional fouling). I say we contest a couple extra shots, grab an extra offensive board (or defensive), or hit another open three and its a different ballgame, one 50-50 ball or one questionable foul call. I really don’t see what the Suns can do better, but I see a lot of things we can do better, most of which are within our control. We do a couple of these things and we win.

    Great effort & shooting by the Suns though. As much as it pains me, I’m happy for them that they had their moment.

    It really pisses me off that according to TNT (mostly Barkley) whenever a Lakers opponent wins it’s that they had better execution or better effort, whereas whenever Lakers win it’s that we were “just big.” How many 7 footers can do what Bynum, LO, & Pau do? But nvm, TNT doesn’t like LA, what else is new..

  239. For anyone who insists on blaming referees, go back and listed to Kobe’s postgame press conference. There were no complaints about foul calls, or non-calls. Instead, his answer to virtually every question was that the Lakers need to play defense. They are scoring enough points, but you cannot win a title playing defense the way they have been in games 3 and 4.

    Quit acting like there is some grand conspiracy. This is simple. Tighten up the D and this series will be over in 6. Continue to give up open 3′s, uncontested layups and offensive rebounds, and the Suns have a very good chance of eliminating the Lakers.

  240. #193 Lesha: “disgusting game, cant belive i watched from 3 to 5:30 in the morning to realize once again, that the nba does everything to avoid sweeps and get the ratings up”

    If you really think the games are rigged by Stern and the NBA then what in the world are you doing watching? SERIOUSLY! Watching a sporting event you think to be rigged is about as silly as it gets.

    I’m sorry, but this whole ‘the refs are intentionally helping the Suns win’ is total bul…, well, I stopped believing in that stuff when I got old enough to stop believing in Santa Claus.

    The Lakers lost because they didn’t play as hard, or smart, or efficiently as the Suns. End of story.

  241. This just in: Chris Bosh spotted in the shower talking with Kobe. Artest was told to stay out of the shower.

  242. i definitely think the lakers lost this game on their lack of effort and defensive rebounding and on subpar games by gasol (for his standards) and odom as well as terrible outside shooting by artest, brown, farmar and odom (as usual) but man, i can’t get over the officiating the more i do research.

    laker regular season 21.7 opp FTs a game
    laker playoff season 30.8 opp FTs a game.

    9.1 more FTS allowed.

    among the other playoff teams left, the disparity between regular season and playoffs tops out at 3.0 maximum.

  243. We shot damn near 50% from the field. So it wasn’t necessarily the offense that cost us this game (Even though, in my eyes, we still look shaky against their zone).

    Bottom Line: Their Bench shot lights out 2night (20-32). It was bound to happen. They were definitely due. But with that being said, Our Defense has been Awful over these last 2 games. As Kobe said, “We’ve lost our sense of Urgency Defensively …. Offense doesn’t Win ‘Chips. Defense does.” On that note, what more needs to be said.

    We were out-rebounded 51-36. Gave up damn near 20 offensive boards. There were a few instances when they just snatched the ball right of our hands in order to secure a rebound. They were Tougher & wanted it more. As I continue to preach, “Effort is something that can’t be taught. It has to be in You.”

    My prediction of Lakers in 5 was shot to death (Literally) 2nite. So now it comes down to the best 2 out of 3. To Hell with Adjustments. These teams have faced each other 8x’s already this season. There is nothing that they can do as of now that we shouldn’t/couldn’t expect; and vice versa. It’s all about Will & Determination now. Who wants it more. Starting Thursday night, We’ll find out.

    Respect Given: The Entire Phoenix Bench

    Standing Ovations: Kobe (Tremendous Game. Too Bad It Was Wasted) & ‘Big Drew (Hell Of An Effort On 1 Leg)

    BTW: What Doesn’t Kill You, Only Makes You Stronger

    Laker 4 Life ….. Go Hard Or Go Home

  244. Is the zone the kryptonite for the triangle? Also to make matters worse we have players because of their decision making handle the zone very poorly (Shannon, Farmar, Odom, and Artest). In both games 3 & 4 the Lakers they had a decent first quarter and a strong third but a poor second and fourth quarter because the bench does not handle the zone well (particularly Farmar and Shannon) and because of bad offense created by the zone Phoenix is able to score easily.

    Also I am wondering since Kobe has played great for the last 10 games (this is the best I remember Kobe playing in the playoffs in his career over a 10 game span) will he be due for a poor shooting game.

    I predict we will win game 5.

  245. 230)-While some may be getting a little over-zealous with the conspiracies, the facts are there. Unless the Lakers are a bunch of mindless brutes it boggles the mind see such a free-throw discrepancy. If I am wrong I am sure someone will correct me, but I have yet to see the Lakers a get nearly 20+ free throw advantage at home (or on the road) during these playoffs. But we have seen it twice with the Suns and at least once with OKC. In fact, when the Lakers are at home the Suns STILL shoot more free throws. It is what it is. But don’t insult our intelligence and act like it’s not a major factor.

    Still the Lakers have to adjust. Gasol will have to play better, in particular. The Lakers have to accept that for whatever reason this kind of thing comes with the territory and just go with it.

  246. This is really good refs:)work harder for the boys and STERN us.

  247. Win 6 games in a row, fans feel that the Lakers are storming to the Championship.

    Lose 2 games on the road, now the Mike Penberthy’s of the fandom claim that they knew the Lakers don’t have what it takes to win.

    I don’t understand how “fans” of a team can prepare themselves to lose (unless you’re a Clipper fan). I mean, why follow the team unless you want them to succeed? Every year, I’ve always had hope for the Lakers to play well and that includes the Sedale Threatt years (which were the most fun in my opinion, cuz every win was awesome). But man, get spoiled with a championship, and all of a sudden, we can’t win another one.

    We lost two games in a row. Away. Lakers are undefeated at home so far and are 3-4 on the road. The same naysayers are back from being 2-2 against OKC.

    I agree with Zephid and Darius on the people who just say, oh, i knew the lakers weren’t going to win this year. Then why are you following them? They are in the Western Conference Finals for crying out loud. 2-2. And that’s enough for my rant.

    I mean, I usually laugh when ken makes a comment on how bad individuals are playing, but at least he wants to see the Lakers win.
    ————————

    It’s been a fact for the NBA for a while now. Home team gets the benefit of the calls. It’s happened. Lakers have gotten benefits from that as well (2002 WCF – the Donaghy game). So we’ll see how successful the Lakers are when they get back home. I don’t think it’s rigged, but just emotion of the referee being egged on by 15k people cheering. It happens.

    That being said, the defensive side of the ball is where the Lakers need to improve. How do the Lakers get outrebounded? Going against a zone defense, should open up avenues for offensive rebounding, yet in the first half , it was PHX getting the offensive rebounds. One play, Kobe was waiting for the ball while his man just ran past him (Richardson) got the rebound and put it back in. (I point out Kobe because if he is getting beat, then the whole team is.)

    The entire game plan by the Suns was illustrated in a Mic’d up segment with Gentry. Telling his players to keep the ball out of the free throw line area. That is where the zone can be defeated. But what I saw is a lack of confidence making that entry pass. There was one sequence where Kobe went from one side of the free throw line with no one around him, yet no one passed him the ball. Then the ball swung around, kobe went to the other side with some space. And again artest couldn’t make the entry pass. That needs to be done consistently. It is ok to make those 18 -20 footers. WE have plenty of guys who can hit that shot consistently, and we should keep going back to it.

    Like most people keep saying here, HCA is important right? So lets go get it on Thursday.

  248. Now boys in media will sugarcoat it,that is the fun part..

  249. RT

    the zone was created to take apart a zone defense actually.

  250. I agree with Joel @224. Bynum showed real heart out there and played much better than I bet a lot of us thought that he would.

    Everyone will need to pick their game up on Thursday. Let’s go!

  251. in addition, this laker team averaged

    30.8 opponent FTS – 2010
    28.3 opponent FTs – 2009
    27.3 opponent FTs – 2008

    as far as FT Attempts go

    29.1 – 2008
    27.5 – 2009
    25.6 – 2010

    from going to a + 1.8 to a – 5.2….

    ————–

  252. Couple of coaching question?

    Anyone who can read knew Suns were going to zone in game 3 and 4. Except the Lakers. 31 3′s game 3 and 28 game 4 for the 18th worst 3 point team in the NBA.

    In the 2nd quarter when the Suns were scoring 41 and bombing 3′s, our 2 worst defender were on the court-Brown and Farmer and our best was on the bench for 8 minutes Artest.

    Finally with one minute left PHil calls a time out and apparently tells Ron to foul STEVE NASH 2 TIMES in 12 seconds. You know the 91% freethrower.

    Boy did Phil coach a couple of good games. What’s a Zone? What’s a open 3 pointer? What’s a 91% freethrower.

    Yes Ray as I now read your post I fully expect the Lakers to win in 7. Suns are probably the 3 rd best team in the NBA and did have one of the top records. They have great shooters and the zone confused us.

  253. I was at game one and was grinning ear to ear when I heard the chant below as well as the sweep talk. Way to fuel the fire and give the Suns even more reason to beat you again. I hope those fans learned their lesson. There are a lot of smart fans that know what they’re talking about on this forum and a lot of the polar opposite. All this talk of referee conspiracy is laughable.
    Pressure is on now. Visions of 2006 and 2007??? We will see.

    quote from above”Also, I hope all of those fans chanting “We want Boston” feel real good right now. I remember urging calm after game one and having about 4 people give me angry replies on this site.”

  254. If one just watches the first 5 mins of a Lakers game, one knows what kind of game it will be. There’s a liveliness in their legs and fire in their belly, when they are taking care of business.

    But, when they look disinterested or uncaring there’s no bounce in their step and they appear to be unfamiliar with each other as team mates, especially on the defensive end.

    I feel for Kobe because in these four games he has been unbelievable! Yet, when he is interviewed he gets none of the accolades that would have been poured on king James (little k’ on purpose). For no other reason than this, I want Kobe to win another championship and be crowned finals MVP!

    Lamar and Artest scare me more than Brown and Farmar in their recent play, because of their reputation for partying.

  255. By the way, players and coaches should never complain about the referees.

    It only hurts your cause by annoying the referees, and leading to even fewer 50-50 calls going your way.

    And, of course, Stern and Co fine the utter crap out of you for doing so.

    What I have wished for now for a long time from this Lakers team is to emulate Boston in this one way: Foul hard when things are going against you.

  256. Haha, DY, nice one