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Courtside Blog: Lakers Beat Short-handed Suns

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#1 LALakersFan4Life


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Posted December 11, 2008 - 02:01 AM

Post-Game: Lakers 115 - Suns 110

- Both teams continue with the same starters - Vladimir Radmanovic has taken Walton's spot in the rotation - meaning so far he's DNP - CD (unless there's some unannounced injury factor).

- After extending the lead back to double-digits, the Lakers stumble and the Suns climb to within four after a Derek Fisher technical. A Barnes three-pointer makes it 69-68. The Lakers respond with a dunk Walton off of a Bynum assist.

- Kobe needs to start guarding Barnes with more seriousness - Matt is the Suns leading scorer with 18 points on 7-12 shooting. Bryant's +/- is now -7 with the rest of the starters at -1 (and Bynum at 0).

- Shouldn't this be a game the Lakers would win handily? Steve Nash just hit a three to put the Suns up by a point.

- Gasol put some good minutes in to make sure the Suns didn't run away - Pau is up to 23 points. Barnes has 22 on 9-14 shooting.

- After three, Lakers 82 - Suns 81.

- Trevor Ariza has been in a nasty shooting slump - but he finally breaks out for a moment with a badly needed three (although he misses his next attempt).

- Lamar Odom finally gets on the board with 9:11 left in the game with an emphatic dunk - although he can't hit the ensuing free throw. LA is up by three . . .

- Moments later Odom gets another dunk. LA has clearly picked up their defensive intensity but then they're briefly playing against reserves. Coach Porter brings his main guns back into the game and Jackson counters with Bryant.

- The Lakers are starting to roll, getting the lead up to six - still the Suns are hanging around.

- Ariza is still having trouble finishing - leaving the ball right at the rim. His confidence looks shaken.

- The STAPLES crowd is at its loudest tonight after a monstrous Bynum alley-oop on a Bryant pass to put LA up by eight.

- Bynum is replaced for the final stretch by Gasol - Ariza by Vujacic.

- The Suns look with LA going up by nine before Barnes cans a three with two minutes left. It takes three stops for the Lakers to gain possession. Los Angeles gets a couple of chances and Vujacic, perhaps having his best game of the season, hits a jumper to put them up 107-99 with 39.9 left.

- It's a win the Lakers were expected to get - yet it hasn't felt like the kind of win they want against a short-handed Suns team. Obviously they'll take 61 more just like it - but the Lakers do not look as strong as they had earlier in the season.

- The final moments crawl by at the free throw line but thankfully the game comes to a close. No one will win any style points tonight - although there were some bright spots (Matt Barnes, Grant Hill, Pau Gasol, Sasha Vujacic, etc).

- Laker 115 - Suns 110.

- The Lakers improve to 18-3. The Suns fall to 13-10. LA has now beaten Phoenix twice this season, ensuring them at least a tie for the season series.

- More from the locker rooms . . .

Post-Game: Final Thoughts

- I'm trying to get a feel for what is wrong with the Lakers - which is funny since they're 18-3. Earlier in the season it felt like nitpicking - they'd win games imperfectly - but those didn't bother me. They way they've been going lately - even excluding the Sacramento loss - LA just doesn't seem like it's operating at full efficiency.

- I'm thinking about taking most of the material and putting it into an article - but basically Phil Jackson asked Kobe Bryant if he was healthy - Kobe said yes. I asked Kobe if he was healthy - he said 100%.

- Andrew Bynum talked about his teammates (and himself) thinking about individual stats more than team play. He said they've been lazy, blasting himself for getting beaten down court by Sacramento's Brad Miller.

- Phil said the game tonight was OK - they executed well when they needed to. The Suns, short-handed, shot 50.6% from the field. Matt Barnes led the way with 25 points. He also had 10 boards and five assists. Steve Nash had a poor shooting night (2-12) but dished nine assists. Amar'e Stoudemire had 21 points and 11 boards. Grant Hill had 23 on 9-11 shooting. Finally Leandro Barbosa had 18 points. Obviously if the top six guys are going to play the bulk of the minutes - they're going to get their numbers. Other than Nash - Phoenix just got them a little too easily.

- The Lakers got a very efficient 28 points from Pau Gasol who is a very capable zone-buster. He hit 11 of 14 shots. Bynum had 17 points, 11 boards and two blocks. Bryant seemed out of sorts with 18 points on 6-16 shooting - and a +/- of -7. Derek Fisher had 13 and Sasha Vujacic had 15 on 4-5 shooting.

- On the lineup change, Phil said that Vladimir Radmanovic didn't do anything wrong - he's not in the proverbial doghouse. Rather, Jackson wanted a player in the starting lineup that was going to move the ball - in an attempt to keep everyone happy. The Lakers haven't been sharing the wealth offensively as much as he'd like - and while Radmanovic did a "fine job," Jackson wanted to try something different. He wouldn't commit to the change for next game. Walton responded with six assists - high for the starters. Lamar Odom had seven off the bench (to go with nine boards).

- Vlad's DNP wasn't a punishment (although he may feel differently). Jackson said it's very difficult to play three players at small forward. He likened it to the limited opportunity Chris Mihm gets playing behind Bynum and Gasol.

- Vujacic got extended minutes, including the closing moments with Bryant at the three and Fisher at the point - which Jackson said had to do with his ability to keep up with the speedy Barbosa (especially behind the arc). Leandro had the 18 points on 7-16 shooting - but he hit just 2-8 from three.

- Finally Bryant did admit the team was edgy - and would remain edgy until they got another crack on the big stage against the Boston Celtics - with a different result.

- The Lakers host the Sacramento Kings on Friday night (their third meeting) - the Suns get the Orlando Magic in Phoenix on Friday. There's no telling if Jason Richardson and Jared Dudley will be available - they have to pass their physicals first (as do Raja Bell, Boris Diaw and Sean Singletary).


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