Lakers 95, Suns 89 (Game 3)
- Suns came out smoking in the 1st, looking like this would be a repeat performance of Game 2. But the Lakers' defense did a near 180 to start the 2nd quarter--they were a completely different defensive team, like the they were secretly replaced by the Spurs after the 1st quarter. This game was almost 2 games in one--the 1st quarter as one & the next 3 as another.
-If you look at the Suns' 48% shooting for the game you would think the Lakers maybe were not that special on defense. But those numbers are skewed by the 1st quarter. The Suns put up 31 pts on 12/17 (4/5 from 3pt) in the 1st, while the the next 3 quarters they only put up 58 pts on 24/58 (41.3%) & 5/17 (29.4%) from 3pt.
- Lakers' defense was hedging hard on the high pick/rolls, pushing the dribbler up toward the timeline. They were switching, doubling, & changing shots in the interior--never quite seen this type of effort from the Lakers all year. I felt Odom did a tremendous all-around job guarding the pick/rolls, helping in the paint & scrambling every place.
- See the things that happen when you go thru the post & painted area vs. the Suns. Big part of Kobe's 45 was swirling drives thru the paint & he got 13 FTAs for his aggressiveness. How bout Kwame. We were thoroughly unimpressed with his Game 1 play, and called for Phil to play Bynum more. But Kwame put a terrific effort on both ends. On offense, he resembled his highly efficient self of last year's playoffs, where he looked like an all-star. His size helped him to 19 on 8/14 & his defensive effort was admirable--he helped Odom protect the lane & his attention on the pick/rolls was much improved.
- Suns got absolutely mauled on the boards--outrebounded by 9, gave up 19 off. rebs (Suns had a 60% def. reb. pct, which is terrible). We've mentioned the Suns' rebound woes plenty of times, and how this could be a fatal flaw along with their interior defense which prevents getting out of the West.
- Thought the Lakers could have went to Odom a little bit more on the block. Hopefully this series will put to end the ridiculous campaign for Marion as Def. Player of the Year. Again he is solid overall, but he ain't exactly putting the clamps on Odom. Marion's on-the-ball defense in the post is nothing special, not just because what Odom can do vs. him, this happens a lot when Marion has to guard true 4s. So if you're a Marion-for-DPOY, you can officially put that misguided campaign to bed now.
- Amare's jumper was not missing much. Amare's & Barbosa's outside shooting was the only thing that was keeping the Suns' offense alive after the 1st quarter. The Lakers contained Barbosa somewhat--he still hit jumpers (5/11 from 3pt), but he was not a single-man fast break like Game 2. The Lakers cut down on fast break pts as a whole, which is obviously huge vs. Suns. Nash did have 13 assists, but he seemed as disoriented as I've ever seen him (besides the recent Spurs game) trying to attack a defense. Maybe a reason for his 5 TOs.
- Lakers probably could have won this game by 15 but they got undisciplined in the last 7 minutes of the 4th. Kobe started to get too cutesy getting dribble happy and they failed to go thru the post for about 4-5 minutes & that just happened to coincide with a dry spell. They finally broke out with about 3 mins left by Kobe attacking the paint, and the one time they went down low, guess what, Odom gets a easy bucket with 1:45 left.
- For Game 4, Same thing as always for the Lakers--milk the post-ups, and mix in Kobe for variety. Attack the painted area all day. And hope the defense can have a repeat performance, which is questionable. Suns have to shore up their interior defense & board work. Yeah, not easy for them to do.