The Lakers return to the court after winning five games in seven days. They’re in for an interesting test by closing the week with back-to-back games against the (7-1) red hot Phoenix Suns & the second best team in the Western Conference last year the (5-2) Denver Nuggets.
Kobe Bryant is on fire and doing damage in the post with great efficiency and I don’t see an end in sight. Jason Richardson will have problems an could be in foul trouble early.
The Lakers will continue to play without their All-Star forward, Pau Gasol, whose rehab has recently been speculated to last until Christmas. The rehab has been frustrating for Gasol and the Lakers but there’s no need to rush him back at this time of the year. He needs to come back when the injury heals and he is healthy to ensure that there will be no relapse or any re-injury later.
The Lakers have suffered on the defensive boards as well as playing without a force in the middle that provides a nightly double-double and is a match up nightmare for several opponents. The Lakers will have Andrew Bynum back, who will hold down the fort with D.J. Mbenga until Gasol returns. The extended minutes will be a huge benefit to the team in the long run.
The Suns are back in their element so to speak, relying on their speed, playing the way they played four or five years ago. The return of the fast pace style has brought back some early success. Their success has come with a healthy Steve Nash, Grant Hill, wing players that can rebound and sharp shooting big men.
The hot start by the Suns has been surprising but even more eye opening is the fact that Channing Frye listed as a Center has extended his shot to three point range. Frye has always been a reliable shooter solid from 20 feet out. He has already topped his career high in 3-pointers. His career total was 20 made coming into the season, including last night’s game he now has 25 and is shooting 44–percent from behind the arc.
Amare Stoudemire averaging 19 points per game is playing more of the Center for Phoenix. This game might cause the Lakers to use some cross matching with Andrew Bynum defending Stoudemire in the post and Ron Artest defending him away from the basket.
Look for Lamar Odom to match up with Channing Frye and contest his shot and force him to attempt to beat him off the dribble. Despite Gasol’s absence the versatility, size and experience of the Lakers roster will still cause Phoenix match up problems.
The trio of Derek Fisher, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown will have to slow down Steve Nash, stay in front of him to stop the dribble penetration and be prepared for a lot of screen roll plays and must get back in transition.
The Lakers need to run their offense feed both Kobe Bryant & Andrew Bynum in the post. Like several teams the Suns have no answer to either in the post.
Tip-off: 7:30 PM PST
- Los Angeles: FSN West & TNT (Joel Myers & Stu Lantz)
- Phoenix: FSN AZ & TNT (Gary Bender & Eddie Johnson)
- Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Phoenix: KTAR 620 AM (Al McCoy & Tim Kempton)
- Pau Gasol (Hamstring)
- Leandro Barbosa (Wrist)