Lakers in Phoenix for Round Two with the Suns

Photo by Christian Petersen | Getty Images

It’s February 19, 2012 and the (18-12) Lakers have traveled to the valley of the sun to play the (12-19) Phoenix Suns. Two days after defeating the Suns at the Staples Center round two will take place at the US Airways Arena.

Despite Friday’s much needed Laker win there was a good dose of the good, the bad and the ugly. The good, L.A. had four players score in double-digits including double-doubles by both Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol, 54 points in the paint, 52 rebounds, a triple double by the reserves (34-points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists).

The bad, L.A. had nine offensive rebounds, shot 75% from the free throw line and Kobe Bryant logging 35 minutes. The ugly, L.A. was careless with the basketball leading to 19 turnovers, allowing the Suns bench to score 46 points.

Nothing has really changed in 48 hours, the Lakers are the better team, the only question is can the Lakers prove it on the road? The Lakers lead their season series with the Suns (2-0), after winning last season’s series for the fourth consecutive year. The Lakers have gone 6-4 in their last 10 regular season games, 6-2 in the last eight trips to Phoenix.

The Lakers can come away with a win by communicating on defense, playing solid against the pick-and-roll play, stopping the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, defend, get back in transition, control the boards and quickly rotate out to open shooters and extend their defense out to the three point line.

The Lakers are doing a better job of moving the basketball and moving bodies to find high percentage shots, however the Lakers need to work the ball inside more. The Lakers are still settling for too many jump shots as oppose to attacking the basket. The Lakers need to start fast, play with good energy and with a sense of urgency.

It would behoove the purple and gold to take better control of the basketball and make precise passes to eliminate their turnovers. The Lakers have to play better defensively, challenge every shot and limit the Suns to one shot per possession. Steve Blake has solidified the bench and the second unit has been more productive. The task of increasing said production is necessary, but remains a work in progress.

Starters
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, M. Peace, P.Gasol, A. Bynum
Suns:
S. Nash, J. Dudley, G. Hill, C. Frye, M. Gortat

Tip-off: 5:00 PM PST

Television -

  • Los Angeles: KCAL 9 (Bill Macdonald & Stu Lantz)
  • Phoenix: FS AZ (Gary Bender & Eddie Johnson)

Radio -

  • Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (John Ireland & Mychal Thompson)
  • Phoenix: KTAR 620 AM (Al McCoy & Tim Kempton)

Injuries -

Lakers:

  • Steve Blake (Costochaondral fracture) Probable

Suns:

None