The (50-20) Los Angeles Lakers are back to work at Staples Center to face their Pacific Division rival the (35-33) Phoenix Suns and while celebrating Noche Latina. A good analogy for tonight’s match up would be to say that this evening’s opponents are like two ships passing at sea heading in two different directions.
The Lakers, winners of the Pacific Division for the fourth straight time are in playoff mode. The Suns appear to be in a futile attempt at inclusion into the post season. The Lakers leads the season series winning two of three.
There are 12 games remaining in the regular season and the Purple and Gold are fine-tuning their game for the postseason and not looking past anyone. They improved to 12-1 after the All-Star break in the process of the come from behind win over the Blazers. In the first of two games without Andrew Bynum, the lack of a dominant inside presence was felt by them being outrebounded (45-35) by the Blazers.
Despite the described deficiency and lack of calls from the officials. They used their experience and execution down the stretch to grind out a win. Kobe Bryant is nowhere near 100 percent, but as always, leading by example playing through the pain. Lamar Odom continues to make an impact wherever needed and continuously contributing to winning basketball.
The Suns possess a lot of talent. The Lakers have to stop the dribble penetration of Steve Nash. Nash is one of those players that force you to pick your poison; it would be wise to turn him into a scorer to limit his impact as a facilitator. They have to communicate on defense and do a good job defending the screen and roll plays.
The Suns are a good three-point shooting team. It’s imperative that the Lakers quickly rotate out to open shooters and extend their defense behind the arc. They have to control the tempo of the game and play at their pace. They have to dominate the glass and the painted area rebound and limit them to one shot per possession.
The Lakers need to continue to play with defensive focus and offensive discipline. They have to come out aggressive on both ends of the court and put doubt in the minds of the Suns.
They needs to rely on excellent ball movement and excellent man movement to find high percentage shots close to the basket. They need to establish Pau Gasol in the post early and run their offense through him. Gasol has to be aggressive, attack the basket and take shots going to the basket.
This is the attack the rim time of the year. The bench is making an impact and that trend needs to continue.
Lakers: D. Fisher, K. Bryant, R. Artest, L. Odom, P. Gasol
Suns: S. Nash, V.Carter, G. Hill, C. Frye, R. Lopez
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: FS West, TNT (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Phoenix: FS AZ, TNT (Gary Bender & Eddie Johnson)
- Los Angeles: 710 & 1330 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Phoenix: KTAR 620 AM (Al McCoy & Tim Kempton)
- Kobe Bryant (Sprained Left Ankle) Questionable
- Devin Ebanks (Stress Fracture, Left Tibia) Out
- Andrew Bynum (League Suspension) Out
- Theo Ratliff (Sore Left Knee) Out
- Gani Lawal (Torn ACL, partially torn MCL, Right Knee) Out