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It’s February 17, 2012 and the (17-12) Los Angeles Lakers host the (12-18) Phoenix Suns at the Staples Center. The Lakers easily dispatched the Hawks on Valentine’s Day it is doubtful that the purple and gold will show the Suns any love.

Kobe Bryant has a strong aversion for the professional basketball team from Phoenix. Could it be the Kobe Bryant feeling slighted by Steve Nash winning two consecutive league MVP award’s knowing that at least one of those should have his name on it?

Could it be the Suns come from behind 4-3 series win in the 2005-2006 playoffs?

Kobe’s distaste for the Suns is so strong, at times, that it appears that the Suns are the one team in the league that Kobe wants to beat the most. This probably is not the news that the Suns wanted to hear knowing that tonight is the first of back-to-back games against ‘the black mamba’.

There are occasions where the real thing is just as impressive as the legend. The black mamba’s venom gets into its victim quickly and disperses quickly causing harm and death quicker than any other snake.

In the last meeting, the Lakers beat the Suns 99-83 led by Kobe Bryant’s NBA season-high 48 points, his highest scoring outburst in any game in which he did not knock down a three-point shot. In 54 career games against the Suns including 47 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 26.4 points. Kobe is averaging a league-best 28.7 points per game. Kobe Bryant is four rebounds shy of becoming the ninth guard in NBA history to record 6,000 rebounds.

The Lakers currently lead their season series 1-0, after winning last season’s series with the Suns 3- 1 for the fourth consecutive season. An interesting fact is that Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Derek Fisher were all first-round picks in the 1996 NBA Draft, and three of six players from that draft still playing. Lakers’ assistant coach Darvin Ham was an undrafted player from the same draft class.

The Laker nation will have another opportunity to watch former Laker Shannon Brown return to the Staples Center. The Lakers still have to deal with the issue of a lack of speed and athleticism defensively on the perimeter, which has led to huge numbers for several point guards this season. Steve Nash might be 38 years of age, but he is still an excellent point guard highly effective at being a floor general, getting his teammates involved and scoring when necessary.

The Suns have dropped five of their last 10 games and are currently on a three-game losing streak allowing an average of 104 points. The Lakers are 18-7 all-time against the Suns at the Staples Center during the regular season. The purple and gold are 7-3 in their last 10 regular season games against Phoenix.

The way for the Lakers to continue their dominance over the Suns is to communicate on defense and play better against the pick-and-roll play, stop the dribble penetration of the guards, get back in transition, control the tempo, control the glass and quickly rotate out to open shooters.

The Lakers need to start their offense on the inside and establish Andrew Bynum & Pau Gasol in the painted area and allow them to go to work. The inside game could set the table for the rest of the team. The return of Steve Blake has solidified the bench, but the team is still in need of a bigger contribution from their reserves. The Lakers defense has been adequate and has kept them in several games this season, but there is room for improvement. The Lakers need to start fast, play with a sense of urgency establish a lead on the Suns and not be satisfied with said lead and continuously attempt to increase it.

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: 7:30 PM PST

Television

  • Los Angeles: FS West (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