Box Score: Lakers 111, Suns 99
Offensive Efficiency: Lakers 106.7, Suns 95.2
True Shooting %: Lakers 62.9%, Suns 53.3%
It is always fun to watch Steve Nash play. Too bad, the Suns haven’t been as talented as in years past. But, of course, that’s also good news for Laker fans for that it’s an “easier” game for L.A.
Kobe Bean Bryant. 36 points (18 in the 3rd!), 9 rebounds, 6 assists, 4 steals. 14/25 shooting. Efficient!
Kobe took what the Suns defense gave him and capitalized. The Suns couldn’t stop him. Grant Hill? Jared Dudley? Shannon Brown? No problem. Kobe brought it all out. Left-handed hook shots. Midrange jumpers. Three-pointer on the break. Reverse lay-ups. And the great thing about this? It was all within the flow of the offense.
The ball movement was crisp (26 assists) in today’s game (yes, I get that Phoenix is not a defensive juggernaut), even if it got a little sloppy at times. But, at least, the idea was there to keep the ball moving (I saw cutting! Amazing!). The Lakers were decidedly more patient today and got away with good shots more often than not. As a result of all of this, the Lakers finished with 111 points in tonight’s game, a season high. It is their fourth time hitting 100 (in 30 games) but we hope to see more of this kind of offense from the Lakers. Like I said, it may have been against the Suns… but practice makes perfect and, hopefully, they can do this against tougher defensive squads.
Yes, the big guys (Bynum with 17 and 14) got theirs but it was SO nice to see the Laker bench do something good for a change. Matt Barnes scored a season-high 17 points and snatched 7 caroms. The Laker bench scored 34 points overall and they looked very confident in the second quarter when they sparked an 11-0 run.
The Lakers easily killed the Suns on the boards, 52-36. And the Lakers were better in their shot selection. They only put up 11 three-pointers but they made 5 of them.
This is easily the best I’ve seen the Lakers offense this season (even if they did have a bit of a lull in the fourth quarter). Every player on the court usually touched the basketball in possessions. They attacked the inside with much gusto tonight (whether it’s the bigs bullying or Kobe making his way through… season-high 54 points in the paint!).
The Suns had a hard time scoring in the 3rd, even though they scored 25 points. They missed eight straight shots (mostly jumpshots) as the Lakers packed it in the paint in a key 14-0 3rd quarter run (Suns didn’t score for nearly five minutes). Good to see them give Phoenix a hard time on the defensive end (they also subdued Steve Nash’s scoring: 11 points… even though he did get 17 assists). Most importantly, fans in Staples Center got tacos and Internet L.A. got virtual tacos!
Pau Gasol looked like a sad panda out there. Gasol couldn’t get anything going in the offense and was even missing bunnies out there. He still got his eighth consecutive double double but he got his last few points (he finished with 10 points and 13 boards) when the game was pretty much decided. Gasol looked weary for the most part and I wonder if the trade rumors are starting to take a toll on him.
I would definitely like to see better pick-and-roll play. Our fearless leader, Darius, brought up the fact that the guards are giving up their dribble too early on the pick-and-roll. It pretty much stops the offense and it gives the defense a chance to swarm on the guards.
We saw some of that in the fourth quarter and the Lakers, notorious for blowing leads, gave up a 20-point lead that they built in the 3rd quarter. The Suns managed to cut it down to 5 (with a spectacular Shannon Brown putback slam… hey, remember him?!) before the starters came back to put away the mess. As much as the bench played well, they can’t give up big leads like this. They looked more hesitant in the fourth quarter, quite the opposite from what we saw in the second quarter. Put it away next time, bench, since the starters need as much as rest as they can in this compressed season.
Before the Suns hit that wall in the 3rd quarter, the Lakers couldn’t stop Marcin Gortat. Gortat eventually ended up with 21 points and 16 rebounds but he was less effective in the second half (he had 14 by halftime).
Also, Shannon Brown exploded for 15 points in limited time. I’m sure the Lakers miss his production. Even if he took questionable shots. Right? No? Let’s move on.
Lakers had 19 turnovers (Suns had 17). Most of this sloppiness occurred in the first half. Steve Blake threw some careless passes. Andrew Bynum still doesn’t seem to know what to do when he draws a two-team. At least, it was against the Suns… and a helter-skelter Suns team at that. Can’t do that against a disciplined team like the Spurs or the Bulls.
Also, I happen to like Metta World Peace personally but that fastbreak where he missed two lay-ups (including a… no-look shot)? Yeah. Ugly. But it made me laugh. Never change, World Peace.
THE PLAY OF THE GAME
It was very early in the first quarter where everybody (well, at least, four players) touched the ball that ended with an Andrew Bynum alley-oop lay-up from a nice pass by Pau Gasol. That was such beautiful basketball that I KNOW we’re capable of seeing from the Lakers. Ball movement is good! Keep it up!
The Lakers and Suns have a rematch on Sunday but this time around, they’ll be in enemy territory. The Lakers have now won three straight and I’m a little bit encouraged, guys! Hopefully, they can keep it rolling as they have a pretty tough schedule before All-Star Weekend.
Why can’t the Lakers play Phoenix every game for the rest of the season? Or ’til the world ends (I ALMOST inserted Britney Spears lyrics here; good thing that I didn’t)?