Lakers Gameday | 05/19/10 | Suns

GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Phoenix Suns 24 32 34 22 112
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 36 29 25 34 124


Lakers-Suns Highlights


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Lakers hold off Suns, take 2-game West finals lead


LOS ANGELES(AP) Pau Gasol scored 14 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter, Kobe Bryant had 21 points and 13 assists, and the Los Angeles Lakers roared away in the final minutes for a 124-112 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday night to claim a 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Ron Artest scored 18 points for the Lakers, who won their eighth straight playoff game and moved halfway to a tantalizing NBA finals showdown with the Boston Celtics, who lead Orlando 2-0 in the East.

The Lakers remained unbeaten at home in the postseason despite a much-improved effort from the Suns, who lost the opener by 21 points.

Phoenix tied it heading to the final period of Game 2, but Gasol and Bryant flawlessly led the Lakers to another high-scoring victory.

Game 3 is Sunday night in Phoenix.

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0 Home losses for the Lakers in the playoffs. During their 2009 NBA Title run, the Lakers dropped one of the team’s first two home games to both Houston and Denver, but are 7-0 in 2010.

6 Fourth quarter turnovers for the Suns, which played a part in L.A.’s 34-22 edge in the deciding period since the teams entered the quarter tied at 90.

13 Assists for Kobe Bryant, a playoff career high, the most by a Laker since Magic Johnson tossed 13 against Houston in the 1996 Playoffs.

29 Points for Pau Gasol on 11-of-18 shooting, which actually brings his terrific field goal percentage in the playoffs down a tenth of a percentage point to 58.1 percent. The Spaniard scored 14 points in the fourth quarter and added nine rebounds, five assists and two blocks. He’s good.

36 Points for L.A.’s bench, thanks to Lamar Odom’s 17 (plus 11 boards, four assists and three steals), Jordan Farmar’s 11 (thanks to 3-of-3 shooting from three in only 14 minutes) and Shannon Brown (eight points, two assists). Though Phoenix got five threes from Jared Dudley, the bench was outscored for the second straight game, 36-26.

Mike Trudell,

Lakers-Suns Quotes

Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson

That was a good way to finish a ball game for us. We had a tough quarter, and the second and third quarters they got their offensive machine rolling out there. And we had to find a way to kind of buckle down and get our game going for us in the fourth quarter.

Coach, can you talk about the small lineup that the Suns seemed to have a lot of success with in that third quarter, fourth quarter, early fourth quarter?

And some of that was facilitated by Andrew having his, getting into foul trouble. Would that be normally a counter to that?
You know, I think it was a sign of what they want to do to spread our defense out. You know, activate their 3‑point shooters, make us have to cover screen roll offense, which they ran consecutive at times.
And then find the open man outside of that sequence of action, which happened to be Grant Hill most of the time in that third quarter.

I was wondering, when you go to Phoenix, are you going to be at all concerned about trying to control the pace there or just let the game flow and see how it goes?
We've been able to play both styles of basketball as a team for the last two or three years. We like the pace. We like to control the pace. But we feel comfortable, if it's an accelerated pace.

This team, the Suns, have a real good feel for that pace that they play inside of the first 10 seconds of the 24‑second clock. That's where we have to kind of figure out how often we want to run. I thought the second quarter we started running too quickly and got them playing their pace and a little bit accelerated for ours.

Pau said that down the stretch he thought that the Suns defense looked frustrated and confused, didn't know what they were doing. Was there something you were doing different to get the ball inside to him so easily?
We kind of lost our way in this third quarter. We ran a sequence of screen rolls and really didn't get the ball inside, post the ball well. They found the post. Did a good job the first half of denying the entry passes.

We were successful, we got the ball in, but we made a concerted effort in the fourth quarter to get that ball back inside, and work our offense inside out instead of from the outside.

Did you hold up Bynum because he got the fourth foul or because you wanted to conserve his knee injury, so to speak?
I thought he played a game for us tonight that we liked. I mean, he did some things that were really good for us offense, we got rebounds. When they went to their screen roll offense, that's when we had to accelerate the pace a little bit and use more mobile players on the outside. I think that's a little tough for Drew to cover right now.

Kobe, you sat Kobe in the fourth a few minutes in, Dudley hit another 3. And the team seemed a little ragged and taking Kobe out it seemed to settle things down, when he came back the run continued. What was the thinking there with Kobe?
I felt like he might have been tired. We had been pressed hard a little bit right at the time. And it was time to give him just a rest to clear himself, get himself a second wind and come back and finish the game off. It worked out well for us.

You said yesterday that it's going to be a game‑by‑game basis assessing Ron's shooting. He had another pretty good night?
Yes, he did.

Have you seen that in practice? Like I asked yesterday, has he turned a corner there?
Well, we really haven't had an opportunity to practice, obviously, with just a day off in between games. But he's been working on it. You know, he's taking the shots that are there. He's bailed us out on a number of shots tonight I thought he played a great first half for us.

Is there any concerted effort at all to try to isolate or punish Stoudemire defensively, found a lot of ways to attack him tonight?
He did get in foul trouble. He's the initiator of that screen roll offense because of what he can do with his offense roll activity, when Nash brings the ball off him. So there's obviously ‑‑ we'd like to see him sit more minutes in the game than he is, playing a 40‑minute game.

So, yes, we took the ball down low post at the end of the game because he had five fouls on him, and we knew it would be tough for him to play defense at that time.

You guys are in these two games so far. You're averaging 126 points and I think you're shooting something like 56 percent. What do you attribute that to?
Well, I think we found a number of ways to score. Obviously this team, the Suns have played really good defense in the two series before ours, we anticipated, we thought about moving the ball about finding the open man in situations. Kobe's played well. Tonight he didn't shoot the ball as well as he has. But other guys stepped up and shot the ball really well.

And I thought we had some second‑chance opportunities that helped us out. We had some runs that helped us out. Our bench has played well coming off the bench and giving us a bump off the bench.

Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant

Lakers have scored quite a bit of points the last two games. What do you anticipate coming up in Phoenix? Is it going to be 50, 60 percent shooting, 124 points a game? Or is it going to be very different?
I hope not. I hope not. They run much, much better at Phoenix. So we've got to do a better job holding them down, pacing the game. It's different game you play on the road. We can't play with this kind of tempo in Phoenix. It's different. Got to take better shots, not as many transition 3s. We've got to be more patient.

I wanted to ask you, what do you think is going to be the No. 1 adjustment that the Suns make on the road? Because they've been playing pretty well offensively. What do you think is going to be the greatest adjustment they make for you and the team?
I think they'll get out in transition a lot more. Push the ball a lot more. Defensively, they'll mix it up quite a bit. I look for them to play a lot of junk defense and zones and switches and try to bait us into taking early shots, which leads to easy points for them.

You said after last game you'd be more than happy to just distribute the ball if they wanted to put more focus on you. We saw that happened. How much did it help to have Pau inside to have that same understanding what you wanted to do on offense?
It's great. It makes the game a lot easier, obviously, to have a big that can catch, complete, make plays. And all of our bigs can do that.
But we're extremely well versed in playing against teams that double and zone and things like that. So we've seen it before.

Can you talk about Ron's progression during the playoffs? Started with locking down Kevin Durant and finding a place on this team?
I think for him it was just getting his rhythm and settling in. I think once the playoffs came around, probably put a little too much pressure on himself to produce and to perform. I think just had to settle in and just play like, just play like he's used to playing.

The team is like bamboo, you bend, you do not break. You're tied at 90 going into the fourth quarter. What turned it around in the fourth quarter for you guys?
Jordan Farmar. You know, he came in and made a big 3 for us and got a big deflection and a steal for us. That changed the momentum of the game. Up until that point they had all the momentum. And he single handedly was responsible for changing that at the start of the fourth.

Talk about points in the paint every series. It was pretty much tied, and then the fourth quarter you took over. Pau had 14. How did you guys do that in the fourth, and can you carry it over into Phoenix with the same intensity?
We're good at that. We're good at that. We have size. We know how to use it. We have shooters. We know how to use them.

And it's all about executing and being patient.

Talk about your team's adaptability. You've dealt with ‑‑ you've had to have transition defense against the Thunder, and the Jazz are going to execute, you have to be patient. Now you're able to play at the Suns' tempo. Talk about the way the team's been able to adapt in the playoffs?
We're extremely versatile. We can play pretty much every style. It doesn't mean we're better than the team we're playing against. But, you know, it holds us in stretches.

We know what our strength is, and we know how to play to that. It's getting the ball in the paint.

You talked about having size and knowing how to use it. Can you talk a little bit about how that evolved over the course of the season? Because obviously just having that many talented big guys you still have to figure out how you want to use them?
No, it's pretty simple. We've been playing that way for a couple of years now. And Pau's been doing a great job. I think this year he's getting a lot more attention in the post from defenses than he has in years past.

And he's just making all the right reads and all the right plays, and he's really figured it out at the right time.

But it wasn't difficult. We've have a lot of bigs, but Pau eats first when it comes to that. No question about it. So it makes it really easy for everybody else to fall in line.

The team was ragged at the beginning of the fourth, some back and forth there. Dudley kept getting free for maybe an open shot, was bearing everything. And then Phil sat you down for a minute. Then you came back a little bit later and the momentum had shifted at that point. Could you talk about were you tired at that point or does it take a minute ‑‑ does it help you to take a minute to sit for a second, get your legs back and see what's going on and change it up?
I'm old, what do you expect?

Game 1, single coverage, we know what happened. Tonight gave you a dose of double. 13 assists. So you showed, as you said, the night before, when you see it, you'll pass it out. What do you expect defensively at home? They'll play faster, shoot it quicker, probably make more shots. Defensively what do you expect?
I think they'll mix it up. I think they'll mix it up and try to keep us off balance. Do a myriad of coverages so we don't get in rhythm.

And then it's ‑‑ we're going to have the ball, kind of quarterback the situation and make the reads according to the situation. And Pau as well. And we'll be ready to do that.

The defense tonight, where do you see the complexion constantly change, constantly having to make adjustments because of you or the inside game or the outside shots going in?
It's just our responsibility. It's my responsibility and Pau's responsibility to make the defense have to do something.

If they play straight‑up single coverage, then we've got to go to work. That's our responsibility to do that. And then once the defense adjusts, it's our responsibility to make the right play.

With Robin back in the lineup for Phoenix, does it change at all anything the way you attack the basket knowing the seven‑footer is there?

How about Lucky Lamar? Not too bad, huh? Back‑to‑back double‑doubles.
Very fortunate to have him.

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on how confident he is about his health to finish off the season:

“Confident. I’m going to do it, no matter what.”

On how the Lakers front-court matches up against the smaller Suns front-court:
“That’s what they’re trying to do... We have mobile bigs in LO and Pau. They’re both on the court together, passing the ball back and forth. Pau is unbelievable. He really took advantage of his shot and we attack the rim out there.”

Nash just talked about your versatility on offense. Are you going to take what the defense gives you when you get the ball inside if they're going to come at you passing, if not try to go get your own thing?

Yeah, you have to read what they do to you and just make the right play. They try to front most of the game. They allowed entry pass a couple times. And then you read if the double team comes. If it doesn't, then you attack. That's pretty much what we tried to do tonight. Obviously we did a better job, very good job in the fourth quarter of it.

Pau, was there a concerted effort to get it to you in the fourth quarter there?
Once I was being effective and just finishing plays, obviously we just continue to go to it, because it was working pretty well for us.

The Suns, their bread and butter is the pick‑and‑roll, what they get off of it. Seems the Lakers had some success to guard it enough to win these games. Can you talk about how the Lakers approach it and what you guys are doing that some other teams weren't able to do?
Well, obviously they run it a lot. So it's a big challenge to play right and play it pretty much every single play down the court. A lot of drags and a lot of screens and different angles and positions. Steve is so good at picking the right paths and just handling the ball.

So we just try to be aggressive on the ball, just making sure we're up on the screens, we're not playing it soft. And then we jam the lane to not allow Amar'e to have wide‑open looks or wide‑open dunks, just force the ball to move and make sure we're on it. So the passes are not right on the money.

In these two games you're averaging 126 points and 58 percent shooting. What do you attribute that to?
The pace of the game is a little higher, a little faster. Then we're also being very effective, shooting the ball very well. Moving the ball I think really, really well. Our bench is playing really, I think at a high level. And I think we're all stepping up.

So with all that together, we're putting some pretty good offensive efforts.

Putting aside all the commentary between Amar’e and Lamar, is there from a basketball standpoint a concerted effort to put pressure on him defensively, whether in space or in the post, just attack him in that way?
Well, he's a very good player. And offensively he can really hurt you. So you've got to be on him as much as possible and try to challenge him as much as possible. Contesting shots. Just make sure he doesn't get wide‑open looks, down the lane or facing up on the mid‑range. So, yeah, you've got to be aggressive with the kind of players that ‑‑

On defense, making him work defensively?
Yes, obviously. And obviously you have to make sure you're aggressive and make him work on that end of the floor, too, whether it's Lamar or myself or whoever he's guarding, pretty much.

So many weapons in the Laker arsenal. Is it frustrating the Suns scoring so many points but stopping you from scoring? Has to be frustrating for the Suns.
I imagine it's got to be frustrating to give up 120‑some points in the last two games and I think they played and shot the ball pretty well, and they played pretty well offensively, but still hasn't been enough.
So I imagine it must be frustrating so far. But we've got to continue to play better and stronger, and we understand it's going to be harder in Phoenix. So it's going to take a much bigger mindset or focus to go there and be successful and put the type of games and wins that we put in here.

With the team making shots from the outside, can you kind of explain just how the defensive dynamic from Phoenix then changes things with that, just knowing that you guys are both effective from the inside and out?
Right. Well, if our shooters make shots like they have been, they force their defenders to be aware of them and not be able to be in the lane so much. So it opens ‑‑ it opens things up. It opens the floor. So it creates more space for us to penetrate and to go to the post and be a little more effective there. So guys are shooting the ball really well.

And that's always a plus, because then they don't really know what to do, whether allow the outside shots, which are 3‑pointers and hurt or just make sure they play one‑on‑one on the post or on penetrations and they stay with the shooters, which we have been successful also.

So let's see what goes on Game 3. So far we've been successful. And we want to continue to be that way.

Lakers’ Lamar Odom on Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol’s impact on the game tonight:
“Playing with these guys, Kobe and Pau, they really got it going. They opened things up for us, cutting to the hole and getting easy looks.”

On his performance tonight in response to Stoudemire’s comments:
“It’s not really about me versus Amar’e [Stoudemire]. I’m saying this is about the Lakers versus the Suns. That’s how I look at it.”

On how the Lakers have been able to shoot 57% and average 126 points in the first two games of the series:
“We’re taking good shots, doing a good job of getting the ball inside and playing off our post players. Moving the ball, sharing the ball, making it easy.”

On how the Lakers were able to pull away in the fourth quarter:
“We got the ball inside and did all the little things that we needed to do. Played good defense, took them out of their pick and roll.”

Lakers’ Ron Artest on the Lakers’ mindset late in the game:
“They just kept making runs and we were like, ‘OK we don’t know what’s going to happen but we need to just play hard and try to win it.’”

On Kobe Bryant’s performance tonight:
“They wanted to double [Bryant]… but it wasn’t strong doubles so he was able to actually make shots and he was able to slice through some defenders and he was able to pass and find open guys. So he did a great job.”

On how hard it is to beat the Lakers when they pass as well as they did tonight:
“It’s pretty hard because we have dead-eye shooters and dead-eye finishers and unselfish players… I don’t know how many assists we had tonight but I’m sure it was pretty good for us.”

Lakers’ Jordan Farmar on what the Lakers can attribute their offensive performance to:
“Getting the ball inside, playing inside out, getting stops defensively. They go on runs. They went on a run, I think, 30 point quarters in the second and third. We can’t let that happen but we’re doing a pretty good job. We’re just sharing the ball and really just playing good basketball.

On the difference in offensive execution in tonight’s game compared to Game 1:
“We’re just trying to take what the defense gives us. They got to give up something. We have so much depth and so much talent. And they had to give something up and we’re just making them pay.”

On playing in Phoenix:
“It’s going to be tough. They’re in the Western Conference Finals for a reason. They’ll come to play, speed the game up a little more. They shoot better on their home floor. We’ll have our work cut out for us.”

Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry
Well, what can you say? We are just having a hard time ‑‑ we can't slow them down. I thought we played well offensively, but every time we tried to make an adjustment to slow them down, they go somewhere else.

And, you know, you do a great job on Kobe, and, you know, I thought we did. Then they go to Pau and we double team Pau and there's Lamar, and we get it out of Lamar's hand and Jordan Farmar makes shots. And they're the reason they're the world champs. There's a good reason they're the world champs.

But we'll keep plugging away. We'll keep trying. We're not going to give up, and we'll see what happens.

Coach, you guys fought back, got it all, tied it up at 90 at the end of the third quarter. Talk about what happened between the third and fourth quarter and how the Lakers ‑‑
We started off turning the ball over. Turned the ball over three straight times. And they went down and got baskets. And we never really got any control after that. We made a couple of baskets here and there. But we just ‑‑ we can't afford to turn it over, especially on three straight possessions. So that hurt us.

Coach, after Game 1 you said that the key will be to stop guys like Lamar like running a test from the offensive side and what they can ‑‑ in offense. Both had great offensive games today. Was it something that's kind of adjusted during the game, those guys?
What happens if you try to start to double team Kobe and try to get the ball out of his hands, you know, he's a very unselfish guy. I mean he really trusts his teammates now. And when you do that he finds open guys. And he gets you in rotation. When you get in rotation, they've got players that are very capable of making shots.

So it's pick your poison with these guys. I mean, you look at the stat sheet there's like 27, 21, 28, you know, I mean, it's just ‑‑ I mean it gets to be real difficult. But we have to continue to try to find an answer. That's why we're here.

You know, no one just let us get to the Western Conference Finals. We earned the right to be here. And we'll continue to try to plug away, and we'll continue to try to find answers on how to get them stopped enough that we can win a game. Our goal right now is to win Game 3, that's the only thing on our mind.

Coach, you had some success with the speed lineup with Jared at the 4. Can you talk about that? And also at least a smaller lineup, but maybe it wasn't the 4, you tell me.
It was.

You seemed perplexed.

Is that a lineup that ‑‑ talk about the success with that, and also was that a lineup that you could try against a bigger lineup if they had Bynum in there?
What we did is that we were good offensively, but it makes us a very small team. And with Lamar in the game as a 4, we either have to have Jared or Grant Hill guarding him, and obviously that's a big advantage for them.

You know, he's so used to, with his wing span and the way he rebounds, playing great, I thought that lineup was good for us offensively, and that's the lineup that got us back in the game.
But we have to be able to have our guys step up. Channing is going to have to step up for us, that's the bottom line. We need him on the floor. He's a good post defender for us, but he's got to be able to make some shots.

Fourth quarter they started going inside/out again. Where was the breakdown defensively for you guys?
It wasn't really a breakdown. They just do such a good job. They throw the ball in. They force you to double. You don't double, then you've got Pau in there whose footwork is probably second only to Tim Duncan's as far as a post player. So we had to try to play them straight up. Played them straight up. Pau had some success.

The one time we went to double him. He turned it over. Next time we went to double him finds an open guy that makes a 3. You have to pick your poison. As I said, we just have to take a look at the tape tonight and maybe we'll decide that we'll let Kobe get 80 and try to guard the other guys.
So we'll keep ‑‑ we're not about to give up. And, you know, when everybody sits up here, you know when we won our two home games against San Antonio, everybody just said, well, the only thing they've done is what they're supposed to do. So the only thing they've done is what they're supposed to do. We'll go with that.

It seemed like at least you tried a couple different ways to throw in an extra body here or there at Kobe couple different times. First of all, how do you think that worked and do you also think you need to maybe get Robin more minutes in one way or another?
You know, Robin did a good job for us. And that's something that we'll take a look at. But, you know, you look at Kobe's line. He's 8 for 18. Has 21 points. But then when you do that, he has 13 assists. Guys, there's a reason he's the best basketball player in the world.

He's not going to force things. He doesn't do that anymore. And so if you ask me if we did a good job on him we took him from 40 to 21. So that's a good job. But when you add in the 13 assists, that's 26 more points.

So you're looking at 47 is the way we look at it. So as I said, there's a lot of things that we've got to take a look at. A lot of things we've got to make decisions on. But for us, you know, they won their two home games, now we get to go home and try to find a way to win the third game. That's where our emphasis is on winning the third game.

You had talked or not talked but you successfully did some post fronting in the third quarter as well with that smaller lineup. That kind of fell apart a little bit as the game moved on. Is that something you can return to if you get the rotations behind it or do you need to throw different looks at them?
We've got to throw different looks, because we did front the posts and then they went to what they call solo, which is posting up Pau, and there's a lot of action on the weak side. And they were able to throw over. We got a smaller guy trying to rotate in. So they had some success with that. We've just got to keep changing up and hopefully they won't shoot as well in our building as they shoot here.
But we want to make it a long series. So the way we've got to do that is we've got to win Game 3. That's the only thing we're worried about right now, what do we have to do, what kind of adjustments we can make to win Game 3.

Grant Hill, comments?
Well, he played great. You know, he worked his butt off on Kobe and does the best job that he possibly can. He was good offensively when we played him as a 4‑man and he spread the floor and thought he did a great job offensively. And you know, I just know that every night you get the maximum effort from him.

I never have a complaint. Even when he doesn't play well, you never have a complaint because you know he's giving you everything that he has.

Phoenix Suns Guard Steve Nash

Can you talk about the defense? It seemed like the Lakers gave a little bit of trouble to the pick‑and‑roll, caused some turnovers, and how difficult it was?
Well, I think they were loading up on the pick‑and‑roll and putting a third defender in there. So we tried to make them pay on the weak side. Grant got a lot of open looks tonight because of that. It may not come out of the pick‑and‑roll, but other guys may benefit from it. So we still scored enough points tonight. I thought our offense was pretty decent.
But when they score 120‑something, it is asking the offense to score way too much.

Steve, just talk about offensively for you the first two games, sure you got the assists, but I would assume offensively you probably need more points right now?
Not necessarily. We're still scoring 107 ‑‑

Like I said, we're still scoring 107, 100 points. We're getting enough points. Like I said, they're loading up on the pick‑and‑roll so other guys are surviving off of it. We've got to find a way to slow them down. We're scoring enough points. I think we're pretty efficient on the pick‑and‑rolls, whether it's myself or the roller or the guys coming in on the weak side who are left open.

So I'm not really concerned about the scoring because we're getting lots of points. But like I said, at this time of year it's asking a little bit too much of the offense. If we're going to give up 120‑something every game, then, yeah, I probably do have to score more points.

But I think we've gotten still a lot of love out of our pick‑and‑rolls. We've just got to defend better.

oach said the Lakers did what they had to do by winning the games at home. What do you guys have to do and what is the chemistry like going back home and what do you anticipate headed back home?
Well, we've got to win. Obviously. We can't keep losing. So we're going to try to win Game 3 and try to win Game 4. So they did hold home court. We've got to now hold home court and we've also got to win on the road.

So we've definitely got our work cut out for us. But we've got a great group of guys who really stick together and hopefully we'll get some home cooking at home.

Steve, you guys had some success against their sequence of screen rolls in the third quarter and then all hell broke loose when they started going inside/out. How do you fix that?
It's a tough one. They're bigger. And at times we tried to front the post. At other times we tried to double. And it seemed like other than that run where I thought we just played with a lot of energy, they were able to counter us. So we're going to have to just trying to mix it up and just having to try to play extremely hard and maybe we have to take some chances.

Thus far they've been making us pay. And the other guys have been making shots. So they've made us pay for doubling or paying too much attention to Kobe's screen and roll or Pau's post up.
Have to give them credit. They've made a lot of shots and they've made it difficult for us no matter what scheme we've thrown at them defensively.

What does having a healthy Robin Lopez do for your team?
It certainly helps. It would be an even taller task obviously if we didn't have him. They're already a lot bigger than us. To have some size it really helps us for stretches. So he's really important. And I think he's doing a fantastic job, considering how difficult it is to come back from a bulging disk this quickly.

What effect do you think Farmar had on the first few minutes of the fourth quarter?
I can't really remember, to be honest. But they're all doing a great job. They've all played really well for two nights.

You know about Pau's versatility on offense particularly. What's most difficult in handling what he can do?
He's extremely long. He's able to go both ways in the post. He's a good shooter and passer for a big guy he can look over the defense. He can look over double teams. So he's extremely versatile. He can put the ball on the floor. He can make plays at the same time he can score going both ways in the post. So he's a terrific player.

Steve, Jason Richardson goes for 27, you guys usually win the game. You're like 29‑4 when the J‑Rich gets off. Why tonight? He scores 27 and you still lose by 12.
We gave them 120‑something points. So we haven't found a way to slow them down yet. And I think if we're going to beat them, we've got to find a way to slow them down, not let them shoot in the 50s every game, and not give up 120‑something points every night.

Suns’ Forward Amar’e Stoudemire on the Lakers:

“They’re doing a great job offensively. With the triangle offense, they’re moving the ball. Artest shot the ball extremely well tonight. That’s something that we didn’t expect.”

On guarding Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol:
“Well they play well. We’ve got to watch for them again and try to do a better job on those guys in Game 3.”

On the Lakers’ 2-0 lead in this series:
“They played good basketball on both ends. They deserved to win both games. We’ve got to do a better job out there on both ends.”

Suns’ Guard Jason Richardson on his performance tonight:

“It doesn’t matter how many points I put up. We still lost that game. We kind of let up a little bit. I think we did great in the third quarter. In the fourth quarter, we kind of just let off the gas a little bit.”

On the Lakers’ lead in tonight’s game:
“We can’t do that. We can’t come off the first two quarters and give them 30 points and then have them come in at halftime with 65 points or whatever it was. We have to find a way to stop them.”

On how critical the turnovers in the 4th quarter were in tonight’s game:
“Yea, definitely. That’s uncharacteristic of us. We did a great job in the season taking care of the ball. We know what we’re doing. But we’re going home. We still have Game 3 and Game 4. It’s home court for us so we’re gonna try and win those games.”

Suns’ Grant Hill on the Suns’ defense:

“We have to figure it out. We’ve given up 120-plus these past two games. We’ve scored enough points but defensively, they’re scoring at will. We fought there in the third quarter, competed, but when you give up 60-plus points in the first half, you’re digging yourself a hole. We’ve just got to figure it out.

On where to go from here:
“I don’t really know what the answer is. They had a lot of points in the paint. Our rotations aren’t great and we’ve just got to play better.”

Suns’ Robin Lopez on whether he feels like he is able to go at full strength despite his injury:

“I think out there I’m doing a good job finding a middle ground. Trying not to change too much out there.”

On what the Suns need to focus on for game three:
“Obviously, we have got to play defense. The first game, we didn’t play defense. We didn’t shoot the ball really well. Shot the ball okay today, but we didn’t do anything defensively really.”

Suns’ Jared Dudley on the offense of the Lakers:

“It shows you how good the Lakers are offensively. We are a good team defensively. It shows you that Kobe can go from one night scoring 40 and then another night play making or Lamar playing that good.”

On Lamar Odom:
“You guys in the media know, they’re almost impossible to beat when Lamar is that effective.”

Lakers-Suns Preview

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Channing Frye is just grateful an NBA playoff series doesn’t follow the Tour de France’s rules.

After enduring their largest blowout loss in four months in the Western Conference finals opener, the Phoenix Suns don’t have to begin Game 2 way behind the guys in the yellow jerseys.

“They’re not going to start out with a 30-point lead,” said Frye, forgetting the Suns lost to the Lakers by a mere 21 points Monday night. “It’s over, and we’re going to be even again, so hopefully we’ll do a better job.”

The Suns seemed cautiously upbeat Tuesday at their Staples Center workout following Los Angeles’ 128-107 victory in the opener. Coach Alvin Gentry held court with team personnel at the scorers’ table, while Steve Nash calmly sipped a cup of tea across the way.

And Amare Stoudemire was still talking tough before Game 2 on Wednesday night.

The Suns forward, who promised physical play against the Lakers’ bulky frontcourt before the series, was unimpressed by Lamar Odom, who had 19 points and 19 rebounds off the Lakers’ bench in the opener.

“He had a lucky game in Game 1,” said Stoudemire, who seems particularly fiery in what might be his last few games with Phoenix if he declines a contract option and becomes a free agent this summer.

“We’ve just got to make sure we box him out,” said Stoudemire, who managed just three rebounds while Odom set a career playoff high on the boards. “I think I focused so much on (Pau) Gasol and (Andrew) Bynum to where he sneaked in there and got 19 boards.”

Odom and his teammates could only chuckle at Stoudemire’s bravado after another workout at their El Segundo training complex. Odom’s versatile, aggressive effort helped Los Angeles hold off the Suns in the first half until Kobe Bryant scorched them for 21 points in the third quarter.

“It was good. We can do better,” Odom said. “Hopefully I can have another lucky game.”

“You have to earn luck,” Gasol chimed in.

With a little luck, the Lakers could be on a roll to their third straight NBA finals after a commanding performance in their seventh straight playoff win.

Stoudemire’s teammates aren’t counting on good fortune to help them recover from their one-sided loss. They remain confident their pick-and-roll offense will create easier baskets later in the series, and they also hope to stop the Lakers from hitting 58 percent of their shots, as Bryant and Co. did in their highest-scoring playoff game in more than two years.

“Some of the things we game-planned for, we actually did well,” said Nash, who had 13 points and 13 assists. “We just didn’t hit shots. We want to cut down on their transitions and create some easier stuff for ourselves, but some of the things they did, you’ve just got to tip your hat to.”

The Suns hadn’t lost since April 24, but their playoff streak skidded to a halt in their most one-sided loss since Jan. 16, featuring the most points they’ve allowed since March 26. Phoenix hasn’t lost back-to-back games since Jan. 25-26, when the Suns began their 28-7 finish to the regular season, pushing them into third place in the conference standings.

Bryant, who had the first 40-point game against the Suns all season, didn’t speak to reporters after taking it easy in another practice session. Yet for all the talk about Bryant’s accumulated injuries, the Suns realize he shows no signs of slowing down after five straight 30-point playoff games capped by his first 40-point postseason performance since last year’s NBA finals.

“The shots he made, we could run anybody at him—we could run Schwarzkopf at him,” Gentry said, referring to former Gulf War Gen. Norman Schwarzkopf. “It doesn’t matter. He’s going to make them. The shot he made at the end of the first quarter, that’s what I’m talking about. That’s why they pay him $30 million a year. I think he’s the best finisher that ever played.”

The defending NBA champions mostly seemed unimpressed by their opening victory, which kept them unbeaten in six home playoff games.

Coach Phil Jackson felt numerous flaws in Los Angeles’ defensive performance were covered up by the Suns’ poor shooting, while Derek Fisher worried about going through a seven-game series at Phoenix’s preferred pace.

“Sometimes we played a little bit too fast,” Fisher said. “Something we want to come back to in Game 2 is making sure Pau and Drew and Ron (Artest) and Kobe get their opportunities inside to test their D. That’s where we’re difficult for teams to guard.”

Jackson dismissed the notion of any distraction for his team in the small protest outside Game 1 over his unclear stance on Arizona’s new immigration law. The coach said he saw about 30 protesters outside Staples Center after the game, and they had a few choice words for him as he drove away.

“Luck is part of the game,” said Jackson, whose teams in Chicago and Los Angeles are 46-0 after winning the first game of a playoff series. “You make your own luck, that’s what sports people like to say.”

Copyright 2010 by STATS LLC and Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and Associated Press is strictly prohibited


Lakers-Suns Scouting Report

One of the tough parts about having a week to prepare for the series is that it is impossible to completely simulate the speed and quickness of the Phoenix Suns’ attack. Even though we had shown the team video edits and written scouting reports, as well as having walked through and run through at full speed, seeing it first hand is different. We knew that they like to run quick and quick step-up as part of their offensive scheme. However the speed and timing of this attack caught us off-guard a few times. It did not end up costing us the game but we must improve our defense in these cases if we want to continue to advance. In the first example of “Quick” our big men need to offer the proper help and still be able to recover to their own men. We didn’t have our bodies in the correct, active position in order to give the necessary help. In the Quick Step-up we get a little out of whack which opens up offensive rebound opportunities for the Suns.

Regster to Lakers Courtside Connection to read more.

Lakers-Suns Injury Report

Ron Artest (sprained left thumb) will play.
Shannon Brown (sprained right thumb) will play.
Kobe Bryant (arthritis, right index finger) will play.
Andrew Bynum (left Achilles strain / slight tear, lateral meniscus, right knee) is probable.
DJ Mbenga (retinal surgery, left eye) is probable.
Sasha Vujacic (severe sprain, left ankle) is probable.
Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is probable.

Robin Lopez (back) will play.

Lakers-Suns Game Notes

The Lakers won their season series with Phoenix 3-1 this year, marking the third consecutive season the Lakers have taken a season series from the Suns by a 3-1 margin. The Lakers series victory in 2007-08 that started this current run snapped a run of three consecutive losing seasons to the Suns from 2004-07. This will be the 214th meeting between the two teams with the Lakers leading the all-time series 125-88. The Lakers are 16-6 against the Suns all-time at STAPLES Center during the regular season and 7-3 in their last 10 regular season home games against Phoenix. On the road, the Lakers have gone 4-6 in their last 10 regular season visits to Phoenix but are 4-2 in their last six regular season games at US Airways Center. Under head coach Phil Jackson, the Lakers are 26-14 against the Suns during the regular season. In 49 career games against the Suns including 42 starts, Kobe Bryant is averaging 25.8 points. Last season, Bryant shared MVP honors with Shaquille O’Neal, then with the Suns, at the 2009 NBA All-Star Game in Phoenix. Additionally, last season, the Lakers defeated the Suns by 26 points 2/26/09 at STAPLES Center. The 26-point margin of victory was the Lakers largest over the Suns since January 4, 2002 when Los Angeles defeated Phoenix 118-86 at STAPLES Center. Suns forward Jared Dudley was a teammate in Charlotte with both Shannon Brown and Adam Morrison while Lakers forward Luke Walton and Suns center Channing Frye were teammates at Arizona for two seasons (2001-02, 2002-03). Also, Suns assistant coach Bill Cartwright won three championships as a center for Phil Jackson’s Bulls from 1990-92 and served as an assistant coach under Jackson from 1996-98 when the Bulls won their final two championships of the 90’s.

With their Game 4 victory over the Jazz on May 10th, the Lakers advanced to their 40th Western Conference/Division Finals series in franchise history (30 Los Angeles, 10 Minneapolis). Currently in their 62nd NBA season, the Lakers have participated in 65 percent of the NBA’s Western Conference/Division Finals since the 1948-49 season and have advanced to the NBA Finals on 30 occasions. Since moving to Los Angeles, the Lakers have gone 24-5 in Western Conference/Divison Finals while going 6-4 in Division Finals during their time in Minneapolis. The Lakers have won six consecutive Conference Finals series, with their last loss in the Conference Finals coming to Utah in 1998 (0-4). Lakers head coach Phil Jackson is 12-1 all-time in Conference Finals series (6-0 Los Angeles, 6-1 Chicago).

The Lakers and Suns have met in the postseason 11 times (1970, 1980, 1982, 1984, 1985, 1989, 1990, 1993, 2000, 2006 and 2007) with the Lakers advancing on 7-of-11 occasions. The Lakers four playoff series losses to Phoenix came in the 1990 Western Conference Semifinals (1-4), 1993 Western Conference First Round (2-3), 2006 Western Conference First Round (3-4) and 2007 Western Conference First Round (1-4). The Lakers have met Phoenix once in the Western Division Semifinals (1970), four times in the Western Conference First Round (1985, 1993, 2006, 2007), four times in the Western Conference Semifinals (1980, 1982, 1990 and 2000) and twice in the Western Conference Finals (1984, 1989). In their 11 series meetings, the Lakers have been the higher seed eight times, advancing on all but one occasion (1990 Western Conference Semifinals). After winning their first six postseason series meetings with the Suns, the Lakers have lost four of their last five to Phoenix. When the Lakers have held the #1 seed, however, they are 6-1 against the Suns in the postseason (1990 Western Conference Semifinals). The Lakers and Suns have met once before when holding the #1 and #3 seeds respectively, with the Los Angeles defeating Phoenix in the 1989 Western Conference Finals. The Lakers total of 57 postseason games against Phoenix is the second highest against a single team in the playoffs for the Lakers in the Los Angeles era, trailing only their total meetings with the Boston Celtics (63). Overall, the Lakers are 35-22 against the Suns in postseason games, going 22-8 at home and 13-14 in Phoenix.

- The Lakers are 70-29 in best-of-seven series (any round) all-time. (64-28 Los Angeles, 6-1 Minneapolis)

- The Lakers are now 66-34 in Game 1 of best-of-seven series (any round) all-time. (62-31 Los Angeles, 4-3 Minneapolis)

- When winning Game 1 of a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are 58-7. (54-7 Los Angeles, 4-0 Minneapolis)

- The Lakers are 58-41 in Game 2 of best-of-seven series (any round) all-time. (55-37 Los Angles, 3-4 Minneapolis)

- When winning both Games 1 and 2 of a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are 41-1 all-time. (40-1 Los Angeles, 1-0 Minneapolis)

- When splitting Games 1 and 2 of a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are 27-12 all-time. (22-12 Los Angeles, 5-0 Minneapolis)

With 40 points 5/17 vs. Phoenix, Kobe Bryant posted his 6th straight game with 30 points or more. The streak, the longest of Bryant’s postseason career, is the longest such streak in the NBA since Shaquille O’Neal recorded seven straight 30+ point games from games played 5/31/02 - 4/20/03. Should Bryant’s streak reach seven, it would be the 12th such streak in NBA Playoff history.

With 40 points on 13-of-23 shooting (11-12 FT) in Game 1 of the 2010 Western Conference Finals on May 17th, Kobe Bryant posted his first 40+ point game of the 2010 Playoffs. This is the 5th consecutive postseason (2006-10) in which Bryant has had at least one game with 40+ points. Only one other player in NBA history has had 40+ point games in each of five straight playoff years; Michael Jordan’s eight-year streak from 1985-1992. The 40 points 5/17 vs. Phoenix marked the 11th time in his career that Bryant has scored 40+ points in a playoff game, with the Lakers going 10-1 in those contests. Bryant’s 11 40+ point playoff games rank 2nd among active players (Shaquille O’Neal, 12) and are now tied for 3rd in team history along with Shaquille O’Neal (11) behind Jerry West (20) and Elgin Baylor (14).

Bryant’s 40+ point playoff games in chronological order are as follows: 48 points 5/13/01 @ SAC (W), 45 points 5/19/01 @ SA (W), 42 points 5/11/04 vs. SA (W), 50 points 5/4/06 vs. PHO (L), 45 points 4/26/07 vs. PHO (W), 49 points 4/23/08 vs. DEN (W), 40 points 5/6/09 vs. HOU (W), 40 points 5/19/09 vs. DEN (W), 41 points 5/23/09 @ DEN (W), 40 points 6/4/09 vs. ORL (W) and 40 points 5/17/10 vs. PHX (W).

During the regular season, Bryant has scored 40+ points 104 times in his career. In the history of the NBA, only two players have more career regular season 40-point games: Wilt Chamberlain (271) and Michael Jordan (173). The Lakers are 72-32 in games that Bryant has scored 40+ points during the regular season. This season, the Lakers were 7-1 when Bryant scored 40-plus.