Pre-Game Reports: Lakers Host Steve Nash and the Suns

Phoenix Suns (4-4) at Los Angeles Lakers (6-4)
7:30 PM PST, January 10, 2012
Staples Center, Los Angeles, CA
TV: Fox Sports West, NBA TV
Radio: 710 ESPN

Suns Projected Starting Line-up

PG: Steve Nash
SG: Jared Dudley
SF: Grant Hill
PF: Channing Frye
C: Marcin Gortat

Key Reserves: PF Markieff Morris, PF Hakim Warrick, SG Shannon Brown

The Lakers face a familiar division rival on Tuesday night. In the past half decade the Phoenix Suns have challenged the Lakers for division supremacy. Lately, the Suns have dropped off and their roster has been dramatically transformed from the D’Antoni years. Former MVP Steve Nash remains, and he will lead the charge against a streaking Lakers team.

Frontcourt: The frontcourt is a glaring weakness for the Suns. Trailing only the Wizards and Bucks in rebounding deficiency, the Suns give up the third most rebounds to opponents. Gortat is the lone true big man on the roster. Starting power forward Frye often plays outside the paint – half of his attempted shots come from beyond the arc. Backups Morris and Warrick are athletic high leapers who play more minutes than Frye. Of the two, Morris is one to watch who has a knack for rebounding and also shoots a high percentage from three.

Backcourt: At the ripe age of 37, Nash is still one of the league’s best passers. He totaled 17 assists in the Suns win against the Milwaukee Bucks on Sunday. Dudley is a sharpshooting guard who hasn’t lived up to expectations. His 27 percent average from behind the arc is far cry from his 41 percent shooting last season. At the three, Grant Hill is in his 18th season and has been a virtual non-factor. First off the bench is former Laker Shannon Brown, who returns to L.A. to face off against his former team for the first time.

Keys to Lakers’ Victory:

Pound the Inside – The Lakers should look to get Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol touches often and take advantage of the Suns weak frontcourt. Gortat won’t be able to guard both of the Laker’s twin towers. Kobe Bryant should also look to be aggressive early and take the ball to the hoop often. Notable stat: the Lakers are shooting a dismal 24 percent from three. They should avoid this weakness and play to their advantages in the paint.

Take Good Shots – What the Suns lack in offense, they make up for with hard-nosed defense. The Suns are stingy and have only yielded 91.5 points per game to opponents this season. They’ve also limited foes to 42.4 percent shooting. The Lakers will need to be patient on offense and avoid taking ill-advised shots. This might be an ugly, low scoring game, but the Lakers should prevail and secure their seventh straight home victory.

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