Sunday, April 29, 2007

Suns 113, Lakers 100 (Game 4)

- Nash was scary good today, 23 assists. He came out of the gate very determined, flying thru the Lakers defense, shredding it apart. James Jones gave a nice little spark with 11 pts (3/4 on 3pts). Marion was another Sun who was extremely active on both ends of the floor. Key to the Suns' good offensive rebounding day with 5 (11 total) and was a great utility man on defense guarding Kobe & Odom. Amare's sort of good--27 & 21. Hit his jumpers again & finished with his usual ferocity.

- If the Lakers were going to have any chance at a comeback, it was wiped away with a horseshit charge call on Kwame. Lakers were making a little push, and that high school-level call blew it. A self-inflicted rally killer happened in the 3rd: Smush Parker made a Smush Parker-type of decision and threw up a 3pt shot early in the shot clock while Odom had a hot hand & Lakers could have possibly cut the game to 6 pts.

- Where were the post-ups, especially for Odom. I understand the Lakers post-up threats aren't 100%, but as long as they're able to be on the floor, why wouldn't you run a ton of stuff down there? The Lakers went to Odom at the start of the 3rd, and he scored nicely. But his low post touches came few & far between. And it's not just the scoring ability of the Lakers bigs, it's ability to pass out of the post that Odom, Walton, & Bynum have. Never thought the Lakers offense got into a consistent groove. Kobe gonna do Kobe stuff, but he forced some stuff, and the Suns were sending multiple guys at him, so you have to mix in a fair amount of post-ups, especially with the Suns' shaky interior defense.

- Lakers switching of the pick/rolls did not work quite as well as did in Game 3. Also could not find a way to close up lanes for Nash to operate. LA had some over-doubling/over-helping issues, something that plagued LA last year. The Lakers can't afford to let the Suns win the battles in areas they are not good at: the Suns were +5 on the boards, went to the FT line 14 more times, & were -7 on TOs. Luke Walton made a bunch of uncharacteristic bad plays today--Luke had 7 TOs, while Kobe had 6.

- Suns did some things in this game that they are not known for. They won the rebound battle by 5, and they hit off. glass relatively well (11). Another unlikely area where the Suns prospered---getting to the free throw line 31 times. Though the one area where the Suns continue to struggle (at least for them) in this series is at the 3pt. line--they were only 7/23 today & 35% for the series, which ain't bad but well below the 40% season average.

- Lakers can't go long stretches where they avoid going thru the post. I think this really cost them from getting a good offensive flow in the 2nd & 3rd quarters. As good as Kobe can get, the Suns load up their perimeter defense waiting for him to go one-on-one, and as many tough shots as he can make, he also will force a bunch.

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