The Los Angeles Lakers are back at the Staples Center tonight after an unsuccessful road trip. The Phoenix Suns come into tonight’s game with some momentum, although that will change by the end of the night.
The Lakers lost the two previous games by allowing the Suns to control the tempo and by not playing defense. The zone defense that the Suns have been and will continue to employ has been effective as well as the topic of conversation in this series for far too long. That has been the case due to the Lakers not attacking the rim properly and settling for way too many jump shots. The last thing the Lakers need to do is get into a three point shooting contest. It’s not a good look at all.
Thanks to the Lakers, the zone defense has given the Suns confidence. It has caused me to ask the question, where is Kobe’s help? The zone has enticed the Lakers into accepting the fools gold of open jump shots and hurried three point shots. It has caused the team to not be patient within their offense and getting the ball inside to the post area. It has limited the number of touches for Pau Gasol, Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom. The zone has slowed the Lakers down, but the team is still shooting 50% from the field.
It was a known fact that the Suns have had a very explosive bench. The Lakers bench had been outplaying them. It appeared that both benches realized who they were and played accordingly. The Lakers held the Suns’ bench in check until the 54 point explosion in game four.
Despite actions to the contrary, the Lakers are aware that they have some unfinished business to attend to. It’s a best of three series now with two of those games in Los Angeles. They must approach this game without an ounce of trepidation. Tonight’s game is all about focusing on playing championship level defense and attacking the zone on offense.
The Lakers will attack the zone with dribble penetration from Kobe Bryant, Derek Fisher and Jordan Farmar. When the Lakers use excellent ball movement and excellent player movement it will move the zone from side to side and allow the Laker bigs to fill the void and attack the rim. They have to control the ball and eliminate the turnovers. It is time for them to box out and dominate this team on the boards.
They will also use Gasol and Odom to start the offense in the high post area. They have to remain patient and move the basketball. Their front line has to be aggressive getting into position to receive the ball as well as when making moves to the basket. This alone will ensure that they get to the free throw line.
The Lakers have to control the dribble penetration of both Steve Nash and Goran Dragic. The guards will have to shut down the screen and roll game of both players. It is imperative that the Lake Show get back in transition to eliminate easy baskets. They have to extend their defense out to the three point line and make it a point to challenge every shot. They have been in this position before. The Lakers bench; led by Lamar Odom needs to play a huge role tonight. The reserves need to limit the impact of the Suns reserves.
The Lakers will play with a sense of urgency on both sides of the court. Their defense and rebounding will be the difference tonight. Kobe Bryant will set the tone and lead the Lakers to a win to cut the magic number to five.
Tip-off: 6:00 PM PST
- Los Angeles: TNT
- Phoenix: TNT
- Los Angeles: AM570 KLAC (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
- Phoenix: KTAR 620 AM (Al McCoy & Tim Kempton)
- Ron Artest (Left Heel Bruise/Sprained Left Thumb)
- Shannon Brown (Sprained Right Thumb)
- Kobe Bryant (Avulsion Fracture, Right Index Finger)
- Andrew Bynum (Small Tear in the Meniscus of his Right Knee)
- Sasha Vujacic (Severely Sprained Left Ankle) Doubtful
- Luke Walton (Pinched Nerve, Back) Probable
- D.J. Mbenga ( Retinal Surgery, Left Eye) Probable
- Robin Lopez (Back)