After their first stinging loss of the regular season, the Los Angeles Lakers look to pick up their game back at home against division rival the Phoenix Suns. Let’s take a look at the projected starting line-up for tonight.
Lakers – Suns
PG Derek Fisher – Steve Nash
SG Kobe Bryant – Jason Richardson
SF Ron Artest – Grant Hill
PF Lamar Odom – Hedo Turkoglu
C Pau Gasol – Robin Lopez
The Suns lost to the Lakers earlier in the season which helped spark the Lakers hot 8-0 start. The Suns have started this season with a .500 record (4-4).
Steve Nash has scored more than in the past, but other than points, Nash hasn’t been playing like himself lately. He is averaging a few career lows, including FT% and assists. Nash is typically a 90%+ shooter at the charity strike, but has slipped down to 83%. His turnovers have gone up too.
Phoenix’s front-court has had trouble matching up with the Lakers’ Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom. Robin Lopez recently stated he hasn’t played the same after having a bulging disc in his back last season. Forwards Hedo Turkoglu and Hakim Warrick have played inconsistently. The Suns really needs players like Josh Childress and Jared Dudley to step up, especially playing against playoff contending teams. At the moment, the Suns look like they might have trouble contending for a playoff spot.
The Lakers struggled against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Tuesday but still managed to get the win. Phil Jackson was worried his team’s horrible play would then bleed through to Thursday against the Denver Nuggets, and he was right. The Lakers chucked up 29 three pointers in Denver and hit only 9 of them. They also didn’t seem to share the ball well late in the game, and it seemed as if the team put the weight on Kobe’s shoulders.
For the Lakers to stop the Suns tonight, they must dominate the paint at both ends of the floor. L.A should also limit Phoenix’s shots beyond the arc since they shoot as much as the Lakers do. Defense is key for the Lakers tonight, and if goes well for them, their offense will flow easily. Look for the Lakers to share the ball more against Phoenix tonight.
Kobe Bryant reached the the 26,000 point plateau and is the youngest to reach that mark at 32 years old and 80 days.
Injury report: Theo Ratliff is out with knee tendinitis.
Suns @ Lakers
Staples Center, Los Angeles California
TV: Fox Sports West
Radio: 710/1330 AM ESPN