MAY 19| WEDNESDAY |ROUND 3, GAME 2| (3) Suns vs. (1) Lakers : LAL lead 1-0
The Lakers imposed their will on the hot Suns in a 128-107 rout. But the real test will come in taking care of Game 2 as L.A. looks to stop the Suns again tonight.
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The Suns, just like the Lakers, swept their semi-finals opponents and were off to a hot start coming in to the Western Conference Finals. In fact, they actually got to a pretty good start with 7 unanswered points.
But the Lakers stuck with their gameplan and weathered the storm. Behind Lamar Odom’s 19 points (15 in the first half) and 19 rebounds (a performance that a certain Suns forward refers to as “lucky”) Los Angeles’ offense began to flourish against the much smaller Phoenix Suns.
Kobe Bryant showed that the Mamba’s strike is still the deadliest in the game with 40 points, 21 of them in the third quarter, on 13-23 shooting and 35 minutes.
Pau Gasol also played well, as the Suns simply can’t guard him in the post. he finished with 21 points on 10-13 shooting.
This is at a very little surprise that the Lakers were able to take care of business in Game 1.
But more emphasis will be on Game 2.
The Phoenix Suns will obvious come back to play a much better game. The Lakers must be prepared for them to try to kick up the tempo at all cost. The only problem is, if Lamar’s playing as aggressive as he’s been since Game 5 of the first round of the playoffs, then its not much the Suns can do against the defending champs. Even doubling Bryant may be a bad idea. Especially since Kobe and Phil are anticipating defensive adjustments against him.
The Suns haven’t lost back-to-back games this postseason, so L.A.’s antennas will need to be up to defeat this Phoenix team.
Game 2 will not be a blowout, but it will be another Lakers victory.
Here are the keys for the game:
KEYS FOR THE GAME:
Keep it Slow, Lake Show
The Suns want to go their only strength against the Lakers, which is running up and down the floor at a high pace. L.A. is capable of playing their style and winning, as seen in Game 1. But it would be unnecessary to do so since we can destroy them on a half-court set.
The Suns biggest player(Robin Lopez) is as tall as the Lakers’ Power Forward. Therefore Los Angeles will have yet another size advantage and it will be a factor in this series as well.
Making Stoudemire Jump-shot Happy
Although Amar’e Stoudemire is capable of knocking down the 15-18 foot jumper, its not where he wants to be. The Lakers did a great job of forcing him out of the paint and left him to only take jump-shots. They should keep this up to take away the impact of the Nash/Stoudemire pick & roll game.
Lamar Odom & Co.
An aggressive Odom is an explosive Odom. He may be in his best series so far as the Suns will have a difficult time guarding without leaving Pau Gasol or Andrew Bynum open in the paint. And the Suns upbeat offense can play right into Lamar’s hands with his versatile ability on the floor.
Defending the 3 ball
The Suns are the best 3-point shooting team in the league, and the Lakers are the best at defending the arc. They did a great job by holding Phoenix to 5-22 from the arc at 22.7 percent. You can’t expect them to be as bad the next game. But its important that L.A. continues to stay home at the perimeter and not give easy looks.
Stopping the Pick and Roll
Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire are the best pick & roll tandem in the NBA. They will have their moments, but the Lakers must rotate and force Nash and Amar’e from the driving lanes in order to take care of this team with much more ease. this was also done in Game 1. Expect it to be a point of emphasis again.
Bryant and Bynum’s health were the topic of discussion coming into this series. Bryant showed that he is still Kobe Bryant, while Bynum didn’t score much and played limited minutes. But Andrew’s presence alone can be a factor in controlling the paint.
(C) A. Bynum
(PF) P. Gasol
(SF) R. Artest
(SG) K. Bryant
(PG) D. Fisher
X-Factor: Lamar Odom and bench play. Front-court and three-point defense.
(C) R. Lopez
(PF) A. Stoudemire
(SF) G. Hill
(SG) J. Richardson
(PG) S. Nash
X-Factor: Three-point shooting.