Lakers in Phoenix for Second Night of Back-to-Back

Photo by Getty Images

It’s April 7, 2012 and the (35-21) Los Angeles Lakers are in the desert, dealing with 90-degree weather, looking to bounce back for last night’s loss against the (28-27) Phoenix Suns. The Lakers had their four-game winning streak snapped in the 112-107 loss to the Rockets.

Although the loss was disappointing, the way the Lakers have performed defensively as of late, the outcome should not be a total shock. The Lakers showed early in the season that they can be a solid defensive team.

It is imperative that Kobe Bryant, the leader of the team, pulls Andrew Bynum aside and informs him that he is an integral part of this team, that he will receive his touches and that the Lakers are at their best with him on the floor.

Regarding Bynum, and his transgressions, the consensus has been that he is immature or that he needs to find a balance. There is some truth in those statements, but the fact of the matter is that Bynum is a seven-year veteran that is being defiant. There is no need to treat a 25-year old like a teenager.

Bynum has developed into a dominant force; anchor of the defense, the number two scoring option on the team capable of carrying the team although now is not the time to draw a line in the sand and prove that point. As talented, as Bynum is it is better for the team if he ‘stays in his lane’ as opposed to demanding to be the main cannon.

The Lakers pattern of starting fast, establishing a lead with solid ball movement, excellent player movement then letting the lead and game get away from them has to stop.

The Lakers currently lead the season series with the Suns 2-1 the home team has won all three games. L.A. also won last season’s series with Phoenix 3-1 for the fourth consecutive season.

The Lakers are 6-4 in their last 10 games at US Airways Center. In three games this season, Kobe Bryant is averaging 38.7 points against the Suns that includes a 48-point outburst on 1/10/12. Bryant’s 48-point game was his highest scoring output without the benefit of a three-point shot.

The game plan for tonight’s game should be to establish Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol in the post. In light of the Lakers injuries tonight is the night to provide Bynum with 18-20 shots. The Lakers should provide Gasol with 15+ touches. The Lakers have to communicate of defense, do a solid job of defending the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, control the tempo, get back in transition, defend, control the boards and quickly rotate out to open shooters.

Starters
Lakers: R. Sessions, K. Bryant, M. Peace, P.Gasol, A. Bynum
Suns:
S. Nash, S. Brown, J. Dudley, C. Frye, M. Gortat

Tip-off: 7:00 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:

  • Kobe Bryant (Left Shin Contusion) Probable
  • Andrew Bynum (Sprained Left Ankle) Probable
  • Jordan Hill (Sprained MCL, Right Knee) Questionable
  • Ramon Sessions (Sprained Left Shoulder, AC Joint) Probable

Suns:

  • Grant Hill (Torn Medial Meniscus, Right Knee) Out

 

Jeff Little is the pre-game writer for LakerNation.com. Follow him on Twitter.