Lakers Gameday | 05/23/10 | Suns

ROUND 3 GAME 3 | MAY 23 | SUN | 5:30 PM | US AIRWAYS CENTER
118
109
GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 32 15 37 25 109
Play by Play Phoenix Suns 29 25 32 32 118



  • GAME HIGHLIGHTS
  • GAME RECAP
  • QUOTES
  • COACH PREVIEW
  • GAME PREVIEW
  • SCOUTING REPORT
  • INJURY REPORT
  • GAME NOTES

Lakers-Suns Highlights










GAME PHOTOS


View Game 3 Photos

Suns display depth in Game 3 win

By BOB BAUM

PHOENIX(AP) Amare Stoudemire answered his critics with an exclamation point, and there will be no sweep in the Western Conference finals.

Stoudemire matched his career playoff high with 42 points, 29 in the second half, and grabbed 11 rebounds to power the Phoenix Suns to a 118-109 victory Sunday night that cut the Los Angeles Lakers' lead in the series to 2-1.

The Suns can pull even with a victory at home in Game 4 on Tuesday night.

Phoenix, dominated inside in the first two games, won with its big men, and a big advantage at the free throw line.

Robin Lopez, whose 7-foot presence gave the Suns some much-needed toughness inside, scored 20 on 8-of-10 shooting in 31 minutes, by far his most playing time since returning from a back injury at the start of the series. Phoenix made 37-of-42 free throws, 14 of 18 by Stoudemire. The Lakers were 16 of 20 at the line.

Kobe Bryant had 36 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds. Pau Gasol scored 23 points, but the Lakers didn't get as much help from their supporting cast as they did in the first two games.


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NUMBERS
1 More rebound needed for Kobe Bryant to reach his first career playoff triple-double, as he finished with 36 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds.

10 Turnover discrepancy, helping keep Phoenix ahead throughout most of the game, as L.A. committed 17 giveaways to just 10 from the Suns. Phoenix also shot 22 more free throws in the contest, making 37-of-42 (88.1%) to L.A.’s 16-of-20 (80%).

29 Days since L.A.’s last loss, which came on April 24 in Oklahoma City.

30.4 Combined shooting percentage of Ron Artest, Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown, who came into the game shooting 56.8% from the field including 11-of-19 (57.9%) from three-point range. They were a collective 4-of-13 (28.6%) from distance.

69.6 Pau Gasol’s shooting percentage in the series after another stellar shooting game, in which he made 11-of-14 shots (78.6%). Gasol, however, took just one fourth quarter shot a game after he scored 14 points in the final period.

Mike Trudell, Lakers.com


Lakers-Suns Quotes


Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson

Well, they attacked the hoop today. And, you know, earned 42 foul shots. And that's really the game plan. We seemed to be staying home on the three‑point shooters, and Stoudemire and Lopez had the night for them.

Was there anything different in their zone tonight that you saw from Games 1 and 2?
It was a better zone than they played the other night. I think we figured it out in the third quarter. But we didn't figure out defensively what we had to do.

You seemed to have a pretty good handle on their pick‑and‑roll the first two games. And this one obviously Amar'e was loose all night. Did they do anything different? Or did you not ‑‑
Started slipping the picks early in the game. We decided rotation man wasn't there. Andrew was there, but he got fouls almost immediately.
Got them going. And then we got a little bit nervous about going because he was slipping. And then Nash started having some success getting in the lane. So we have to go back and work with that.

Have you thought about holding Andrew out for a game at this point? Is that something that enters your mind, the way he's going?
Yes.

What are the chances that happens the next game?
I don't know. I'll talk to him see what his suggestion is about it and how he feels about it. I think he was ineffective, I thought, out there. There were some things that got by him. He had one nice move in the post. Defensively I thought he was a little bit late, some of those things.

Talk about the havoc Amar'e caused on his drives, his game tonight and how it affected the bigs on your side.
Start that again.

Talk about the havoc Amar'e caused on the basket, not only his drives but getting you guys in foul trouble?
Yeah, he did.

What did you think about the game he played?
I said it at the start. He got 42 points. Got a lot of baskets at the hoop.

(Question about technical foul)?
I thought it was a three‑point play Pau had under the basket. They didn't give him the three‑point play. I didn't like that non‑call on that thing.

After that point they'd shot 20 fouls in that half, and we hadn't had a foul shot go in. So we just wanted to get in the game.

I think that's the first tech of the year for me, by the way.

Did you swear?
No, I did not swear.

Is that the same word you used in post‑game interviews?
I don't know that word anymore. I forgot it.

(Question about lack of execution)?
I thought they were unforced. I thought a lot of those turnovers were unforced. You can't take away some of the tipped balls when they try to pass interiorly to the zone.
You have to give them credit for those. But I think there's a lot of unforced.

What was happening with Lamar tonight?
I don't know. He had really a game he doesn't want to remember about. He wants to go home and forget about this one.

People talk about you running your test before you go on to play. Did you have your test now?
We certainly didn't come out and play the way I wanted to start a game, and we didn't finish it the way I wanted to finish the game.

I thought we made a good run at the end of the first quarter, poor second quarter. Really a poor second quarter. And got on track back in the third quarter and got the lead back. And just didn't finish the game the right way.

(Question off microphone)?
Yes, we expected a zone.

(Question off microphone)?
Did not shoot the ball well. 32 three‑point shots. That's not really what we want to do as a basketball team. All right. Thank you.









Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant

Kobe, first quarter looked the same as Games 1 and 2, 32 points, 58 percent shooting. They went to the zone a little bit in the second and then carried down through the second half. Could you talk about the zone and the difference tonight between Games 1 and 2?
It was an adjustment for us in terms of how to attack it consistently. I don't think our ball movement was particularly good in terms of how to attack. It was just staying on the perimeter. But they did a good job at that.

Talk about Amar'e's overall game and in specific his aggressiveness from the start?
What did you think was going to happen? He's a great player. He's had a couple of tough games.

I mean, he wasn't going to come out here and roll over. I saw this coming. Still, in all we could have done a much better job keeping them off the free throw line. Shot 18 free throws. They made 37. That's way too many.

So even though Amar'e had an explosive game, we feel like we gave them way too many easy points at the free‑throw line.

Offensively, you came out on fire that first quarter to hit your first six shots or eight of your first ten. Then you tried to get the other guys involved. Was that more on purpose, just to try to get the other guys involved in the second quarter or take what they gave you?
If they let me I would have went for 60. Because I'm taking what they give me.
If they're playing me straight up, I got shots, I'm going to take them. If I have lanes, I'm going to take them. If they close it down, I'm going to make the right pass.

You know, we did okay. Offensively we did a good job. Like I said, defensively we let them attack us. Let them get to the free‑throw line.

And we gotta do a much better job next game.

(Question off microphone)?
No, not at all.

(Question off microphone)?
It happens. You win some, you loose some.

Phil said a lot of them were unforced on the road. Is that a recipe for disaster?
Yeah, some of them were bobbled balls and dribbling with your toe on the line. Silly stuff. And other ones came from their defense in the zone, and not reading lanes correctly. Them getting hands on balls.

Were you surprised they stayed in, played the zone as much as they did? Seemed like about 80 percent of the second half?
Not at all.

Is your team normally stronger at adjusting in games? They had a lot of one‑looks in this game.
We adjusted okay. Offensively we adjusted okay. Defense we couldn't get the stops when we needed to. They stepped up. Made big plays. Lopez made big, big plays. So you have to tip your hats to them for that.

Amar'e had that explosive game but you're pretty much there in that fourth quarter. Do you feel the Suns have to get that type of game out of somebody to beat you guys in this series?
I mean, they can get it in different forms. There's no accident that they're here. Amar'e can have a big game. Steve can have a big scoring game as well. Their bench can step up and play extremely well. They did play well tonight, but you expect them to have a breakout game at some point in the series. So they can get a lot of contributions from different players.

Your guys' three‑point defense has been about the best in the league and their three‑point shooting has been about the best in the league. Are you surprised that maybe they're not taking as many shots, or you're not giving it to them like you said on the other end, you're Yeah, I mean, we're doing a good job staying on the shooters, and contesting shots. And I think tonight their adjustment was to attack us. And that's what they did. They attacked us. They got to the basket. Got to the free‑throw line and hurt us.

It was really clear that the Suns were more aggressive tonight. Foul trouble, what are you going to do to avoid foul trouble?
Stop hacking. Simple as that. Play fundamentally sound, make them take tough shots.

Phil mentioned Andrew, he's not sure if he's going to play in Game 4. If he doesn't, do you have to make a more cognizant effort to get the ball down low and keep your focus on playing your game, or do you adjust more?
We adjust. We've been adjusting more. If that happens we have to adjust to it.

Talk about Andrew and just his fight to play through this injury and struggles at the same time?
Yeah, I mean, this series is probably showing a little bit more than the previous series, because of how much they get up and down and how much they run. Andrew will be fine.

This is a tough series for him to play in because of how much they run. He's capable of running and keeping up with these guys when he's healthy.

Right now it's a little tough for him, but he'll be fine.








Lakers Forward Pau Gasol


What was the difference tonight in Amar'e defensively was it just aggressiveness going to the hole, what did you think?
It had something to do with it. He was more aggressive and he made more shots.

Did you expect that? Did you expect them to go to the basket?
We expected that. It was very much expected. But I think we could have done better defensively. I understand what he does.
But hopefully we'll be a little more ready for Game 4. Just gotta be more aware of what's going on out there. And the strength of your opponent.

How much is Bynum's injury do you think hurting him and you guys? You're out there playing next to him. He says he's fine. He doesn't look fine to us. He looks like he's really hurting. How much does that hurt you and your effort?
Obviously he's been a key player all year. He can bring a lot to the table. Defensively and offensively. He's a big presence for us and he's been playing really well. Obviously we don't know how much that knee is a factor. Of course I would like him to play more and produce more and help us.

What kind of challenge is it trying to guard Amar'e off the drive?
Challenging.

Did you almost have to lay back because of the foul situation as well?
Early on a little. I didn't try to lay back too much. He was hitting those jumpers and so rather force him into the drive and then expect some kind of help there. So he got his way tonight and we'll try to get our way the next one.

Why do you think your offense struggled against the zone in the second quarter?
Took us a long time to figure it out. And then they stayed with it pretty much for I don't know how long. Over 30 minutes. It felt like it. It was just ‑‑ we made bad passes. We weren't sharp with our execution against the zone.

And we didn't make the ball work. We really never got it to get inside out. That's how you hurt the zone really well, make the zone collapse and then kick it out and get a better shot.

We will probably work on that tomorrow. Understand that it probably worked tonight. I think we finished the second quarter 4 out of 19 possessions, and we did better in the second half. But not a whole lot better. Because obviously they stay with it. They didn't ever really gotten away from it.
So we have to be ready for Game 4 and understand that's something that we're going to face.

Could you talk about the impact of Robin Lopez tonight on the game?
He was a big factor, obviously. He's a player that usually averages less than what he averaged tonight, what he put up tonight. And it really hurts you. So he's a long player, playing really well for them right now, and we've got to make sure we contain him and make him take tougher shots and not get looks.

The difference in the second and third quarter with their zone, was it just understanding it and attacking it better in the third quarter?
We obviously did a lot better in the third, attacking, penetrating. You have to penetrate the zone. You just can't expect things to work out and get good looks if you're not aggressive, just passing the ball around from the outside. You gotta make sure you get penetration so the defense turns their heads and then all of a sudden you get wide‑open looks.

So we're not accustomed to playing against zone. And obviously it was noticeable tonight for the most part.









Lakers’ Forward Lamar Odom

(On Tonight’s Game)

“They adjusted to what we do and what we’ve done in the past and how we’ve hurt them. That’s what the playoffs are about; making adjustments. Any time you turn the ball over it’s a lack of execution. We have to be mindful of that and you have to take care of the ball. Possessions are the most important thing. And sometimes a bad shot is better than a turnover.”

(On Stoudemire)
“He got it going and we let him go one on one a little too much. He’s a great one on one player but we wanted to dig that ball out and make him give it up and have to shoot an outside shot. We played a little too much one on one tonight and he won that battle.”









Lakers’ Forward Ron Artest

(On Tonight’s Game)

“I don’t know the details yet other than Stoudemire played great. We’ll be okay. We’ll come back and play hard and put it together and come back and get it. Nash was throwing passes right on the money tonight. We watched the tape and we saw some things we wish we had back and we’ll improve on next game. Some days it just doesn’t go your way and then you come back and it goes your way next time.”











Lakers’ Guard Derek Fisher

(On Tonight’s Game)

“I wouldn’t necessarily say he was passive the first couple of games. I think the early fouls on our front court guys really impacted the game. That allowed them to get to the free throw line, really on a consistent basis and with a team that is that good offensively. We held them to a low shooting percentage most of the game but the free throws were just killing us. We didn’t do a good job of closing off the penetration lanes and really making them work to get points. They got way too many points in an easy fashion tonight.

I think it was more us then them. I don’t think it’s as easy as saying that because they came home and all of a sudden they played harder and were more aggressive, they came to L.A. with the same game plan. I think they really stuck to their game plan but they definitely made an effort to work the ball to Amar’e. And I think the zone defense caused us some problems because we weren’t able to get the ball into Pau on a consistent basis. That’s when we’re at our best.”










Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry

Can you talk about the effectiveness of the zone tonight, the difference in how it worked tonight versus Games 1 and 2?
It's the difference in them shooting 58 percent as opposed to 48 percent. And the shots with Kobe we couldn't do anything about. The ones early in the game where he's jumping up and just shooting over the top of you, all you can do is put a hand in his face and hope they miss.

And he shot it well. The only good thing about it was that as the game was going on, most of them were jump shots. They weren't scoring in the paint. We did have some lapses there against the zone where Pau got inside, but for the most part I thought most of the shots were coming from the outside.
We did a really good job in the rotations in the zone and they still have some shots that didn't go in that's been going in the last couple of nights and that's what you have to try to make them do, still have to try to have them beat you over the top and not have what they did the last two games.

(Question off microphone)?
That's in Canada. We can play a zone. I told you we'd play some zone. I didn't think we'd play like 80 percent zone.

Favorite question, why not more zone? Why haven't we seen it earlier in the series?
We've tried it a few times, and, to be honest, in the practice the other day it's the worse it's ever been. It really was. I got really upset because I didn't think it was very good at all. And so when they started the game making a ton of shots, we said, well, we've got to give it a try.
Then we gave it a try and came up with some stops. And the first half I think they were 4 for 21 against it. So we just said we'd play it the whole second half. It's easier than trying to guard those guys on the inside and it's also easier than trying to guard Kobe.
So tonight it worked. And we stuck with it.

Amar'e's aggressiveness?
He started the game with a lot of energy. We always say in this offense, that the ball will find energy. And I thought he just did a good job of being aggressive and taking the ball to the basket and getting to the foul line. That's keeping them from getting to the foul line.
And just really I thought he was aggressive the entire game. So because of that we shot a lot of foul shots.

Would you say he seemed to pick his game through that adversity, and yesterday there was a lot of free agency talk, picked it up. What is it about him that seems like when there's some other issues he deals with he seems ‑‑
I don't know, but I would like you to ask him 10 questions about free agency tonight. I have no idea.
But I knew that Amar'e would respond. He's a competitor. He knows that he didn't play well in LA. And as we said, when we got back here, the only thing that we were looking at ‑‑ we have to win one game. We had to win one game. And you know we did a good job tonight of doing that. Now we have to put all of our focus on Tuesday to try to win another game.

Robin Lopez came up huge tonight?
He was playing really well before he got hurt. He was doing a really good job for us before he got hurt. As I said right from the start, offensively he's been a huge surprise. We didn't think that he would be that advanced offensively for us.

But he's done a good job. He's been great at the screening rolls and being able to catch and finish. He's also been really good really at catching and making the little 15‑foot shot, which really has been a surprise.

I thought he played great. I thought it was a total team effort. We played hard. We were very competitive. And then, once again, I thought J‑Rich made a couple of really big baskets for us.

When there's a guy like Bynum who is obviously struggling physically, are you able to take advantage of that in any way? Are you coaching your guys to do anything different when he's hurting than when he's healthy?
No, not really. I mean, he's long and he's huge. We try to make him play out on the floor. That's the only thing we try to make him do.
We try to get him involved in screening rolls. But we would do that anyway. It wouldn't matter if he was healthy or not healthy. That's what we do.
So we don't try to do ‑‑ we didn't try to do anything special against him. We just kind of did ‑‑ took what the defense gave us, really.

What do you need to do differently with the bench to get them going? Especially Channing, struggling with the shot?
He's just not making shots. And there's nothing anyone can do except he just has to step up and make shots. We don't talk about it. And we'll still stick him in the game. If he's open we told him he has to shoot the shot, because in the offense, if you don't shoot the shot, it hurts as much as it does shooting a bad shot.

He has just got to continue to step in and think they're going in, and somewhere along the line you can't be as good a shooter as he is and not make shots.

So he has to keep playing. And as far as the bench, you know, Goran and those guys played well. They're not playing the same amount of minutes they have been the regular season. Obviously that plays into it somewhat. We still have to have those guys, we'll still need them, and we'll continue to play them.

How much does Amar'e driving from the wing not only neutralize Pau's size but like get a lot of free throws, is that something you saw on film the last couple of days?
Yeah, we just tried to put him in a position where he couldn't go quickly, where they couldn't set the half‑court defense. When they set the half‑court defense, they do a really good job. They did a really good job the two games out there of really cutting off all the avenues and lanes and drive to the basket.

We thought we have to go a little bit quicker to try to get there. We shot free throws tonight because we were aggressive, I thought.

Was that a major game plan? Because everybody went to the basket. It was like the whole team.
We knew we had to try to get the ball to the basket. And we still didn't shoot it well. For some reason, they do a great job of running us off 3s, and we can't seem to make them.
J‑Rich made a couple of big ones for us, but for the most part we went 5 for 20 tonight. We're just a much better shooting team than that. But these guys are very aggressive and run you off.









Phoenix Suns Guard Steve Nash


Steve, you guys started the way you did at Games 1 and 2, giving up 30 points, 58 percent shooting. What was the difference in that second quarter? Was it just the zone or just executing better or a combination?
Maybe we executed a little better. We were a little more aggressive. Got out and ran. But actually I think the offensive numbers were pretty similar to the first game in the first half. In the second game we shot ‑‑ we scored low 50s and shot 50 percent. Tonight I think we scored low 50s and shot even less than that.
So offensively we were probably the same or worse even than the first couple of games. Obviously the zone was big for us.

Did you break your nose?
I don't think I broke it. I think I rearranged it. Obviously there's a dent and it's bent. I think I whacked the cartilage out of place but I tried to push it back into place so it's not as bent now but it's still nicely curved.

(Question off microphone)?
No, I think I bumped ‑‑ Shannon Brown's head bumped into my nose.

Are you guys still waiting? Do you feel like you have that big shooting night in you that we've seen before?
We haven't shot the ball great yet, have we? I think we've shot 50 percent, thereabouts. In the first two games we shot 50 percent, but nothing scintillating.

Tonight obviously we scored 118 and shot 46 percent. But again 5 of 20 from three. So we know they're a good three‑point team defensively. But we're still capable of knocking some down. We missed some open ones.

So, you know, I don't know if it will come. If it does, it's nice, but if it doesn't we've got to find ways to match them. And tonight the zone helped, but I think our tenacity was important as well.

Steve, the zone was effective. But talk about that tenacity. How much of tonight was just the way you guys competed, showing heart, being aggressive from the beginning?
To me, that's gotta be our calling card in this series. We can't make excuses about how big they are and the matchup problems and all that stuff. Those are just excuses. If they beat us, they beat us.
But we've got to fight tooth and nail for every inch and match them, find a way to match them. Tonight the zone helped. It gave us an opportunity to find some separation there for stretches. But it's gotta be toughness, because if we play the game like a normal game or play it on paper, you know, they'll probably beat us most nights.

Is this the kind of game do you feel you basically turned that corner and you now compete this way?
Well, I never like to say that. I think each game is a new game. And we have to come out as though we have another huge challenge ahead of us. We have to come out as the underdog. We have to come out with a chip on our shoulder and play Game 4 like we did obviously in Game 3.

Were there times out there tonight where you thought Amar'e just couldn't be stopped?
Well, had a pretty sensational performance. I'm just proud of him. He made some incredible plays. But he was just aggressive. And I think once he got a few free throws early and a few buckets, I think he really felt like, hey, I can keep attacking and all the frustration from the first two games where it was crowded in there a lot I think subsided.
So I'm just proud of him for playing so well. And he got to the line a lot. And he was obviously a force.

Could you talk a little bit about the boost Robin gave you tonight?
Yeah, I mean, like I said to Al McCoy after the game, I believe that was Robin's second playoff game. So to be seven weeks off of a bulging disc and to score 20 points, I think, and play the way he did was phenomenal for us. They're a bigger team than we are. So it's really important that he plays to give us some size.
And obviously he gives us a lot of quality, too.

You look like you're more comfortable this series passing the ball than shooting. I think you shot nine times the first half or whatever. And just only a few the second. Is it just taking what they give you?
Yeah, I mean, you know, sure I'd love to get 15, 20 shots up. But my job in this offense is to read the defense. That's really our offense is the pick‑and‑roll and I read the defense and try and make the defense pay for how they decide to play it.

So in this series they've done a good job of trying to limit my opportunities to shoot. But it's opened up things for my teammates. So different times in the series a lot of other people have benefited I think from them overplaying the pick‑and‑rolls. Sometimes with a third defender as well.
So I have a lot of faith in my teammates. And that's the way we play. So it's ‑‑ we don't really play a game where we can say, you know, Steve's not getting enough shots, let's go to offense B. That's just not the way we play.

So ‑‑ although I'll look and try to find more opportunities at the same time. If they're not there, there's a reason that I think I can still put pressure on the defense and create opportunities for other people on the team.

Do you think when Robin and Fisher had that little incident maybe had ‑‑ something with Kobe out there? Were you glad there was a little more chippiness to this game that you guys had a little more of that ‑‑
I wouldn't say I was glad there was more chippiness. But I'm glad there's a lot of spirit in our team, a lot of fight.
Like I said earlier, I think that's all we have against these guys. I mean, that's gotta be there start to finish.

Are you going to try to help Robin out at practice, sort of guide so he can avoid obstacles running down the court?
You know what? We leave Robin alone. We leave him alone.







Suns’ Forward Amar’e Stoudemire


Can you talk about the difference in the aggressiveness and the way you came out tonight, the focus and energy you showed?
Yeah, we came out with great intentions. We definitely wanted to start off strong, big game for us, very important game for us. So we knew that coming into the game, Game 3, and we had to get this one. So we played well.

Talk about just doing that individually. You seemed from the beginning that you were the guy that was the aggressive one, setting the tone, a lot of drives to the basket.
Coach Alvin told me before the game he was going to come to me. Come to me a lot. And I was ready.

I was totally ready. Being aggressive. I wanted to pretty much attack the bigs a little bit and we got them in a little bit of foul trouble, which helped us. Got to the free‑throw line. We were the aggressor right there and it showed.

Amar'e, did the local criticism sting you over the last few days? Were you aware of it?
Say it again.

Did the local criticism of you personally sting you over the past few days? Were you aware of it?
No, not at all. Just the fact that I wanted to win, how important this game was. That's what motivated myself and also my teammates. So with that being said, we couldn't afford to go down 3‑0. We couldn't afford that. So we came out with a chip on our shoulder we played well.

Did you agree with the local criticism?
Did I agree with them? Everybody's going to have their opinions. Everybody has the right to have their opinions. So I can't really comment on their opinions.

But from my standpoint, you can never question my determination, my focus, my dedication. Again, that's one of the reasons why I persevered through injuries and continue to try to improve every single summer. My dedication to the game is at an all‑time high.

And tonight from a game standpoint we came out and played great on both ends and now we've got to win one more game.

This has been a roller coaster season for you and the past week has been a microcosm of that. Does anything really surprise you anymore?
Hasn't been a roller coaster season for me, to be honest with you. Coming back from the eye injury this past summer, it's just been an uphill climb pretty much and just trying to get back in shape and get back into a rhythm.

And with that being said, we got off to a phenomenal start in the second half of the year. Then carried it over so far in the playoffs. So it's been tough this series, particularly playing the defending champs.
But I think tonight we showed great focus and confidence is high and we have a chance to win another game.

(Question about stitches)?
No, no stitches. But I did get cut by my goggles, got hit across the forehead, got a nice slice there on the forehead.

(Question off microphone)?
A I think we did a great job in our zone defense. It's never easy playing zone against that triangle offense. It's always tough. It's very hard. You have to have great activity. You have to understand where the shooters are.
And tonight we had great activity from our starters and also the second unit. Did a great job on the board to find the guys and try to box them out again, putting those guys in foul trouble definitely helped us.

As you get deeper into the playoffs, do you learn the importance of mental toughness? Is that something that you're learning as you go through this process?
Mental toughness is always a key. You gotta stay focused. You gotta be strong mentally, every game is a different story. So you gotta approach it as such. Some games you're going to have a great shooting night. Some games you're not. Some games you'll have a great defensive night. Some games you're not. You have to stay tough mentally.

Seems outside of this city most people believe it was always talk about your mentality going to this game. You were talking yesterday you're still very confident that you guys could switch this around?
We can never lose our confidence. We can never not think we can't win. We played so great this season. We've done a phenomenal job this year so far so we know how good we can be. It's just a matter of us bringing that focus and playing great on both ends.

When Alvin was in here he said Amar'e knew he didn't play well those two games in LA. Is that the way you felt personally?
I didn't. I felt that I played not bad. I could have did a little bit better job out there.
But that being said, we had a different game plan defensively and it was tough out there. Start off the series, it's always a different story.

So the first game Lamar Odom had a phenomenal rebounding night. The second game Gasol had a great offensive game. So every game is different.

Could you talk about some of your moves to the hoop. Some of them are almost like Connie Hawkins‑esque, reverse layups, swoops in? How did you feel about some of those moves? Did you surprise yourself with any of those?
No, I practice it all the time, to be honest with you. A lot of practice. But I think just trying to keep those guys off guard, just really trying to bring out a lot of different moves, because they scout you so well and they know what you do best. So if you can count on your go‑to moves, then it's hard for them to guard you.

So tonight I wanted to be very, very versatile and try to catch them off guard with a few moves.










Suns’ Guard Jason Richardson
(On the game)

“We came out aggressive from the beginning. It was an important game for us, we definitely didn’t want to go down 3-0, guys really wanted this game so we went out there and played really well.”

(On the team’s aggressiveness)
“Robin and Amar’e did a great job with going to the basket and got those guys in foul trouble, we got in the bonus early in the first quarter and I think that fueled us for the rest of the game.”

(On the team’s defense)
“We really focused in on it. We really helped each other out, we hustled, boxed out and got the rebounds. We just did whatever it took to win the game tonight.”

(On Amar’e’s performance)
“We needed that from Amar’e tonight. The way he was aggressive on the offensive end, attacking them and not settling for jumpers, he wanted to get the big guys in trouble and that opened the game up for everybody.”












Suns’ Center Robin Lopez

(On his performance)

“Just in general, I just needed to make sure I kept people off the boards, stepped up on defense when there is penetration, and offensively when I had an opportunity I needed to take it whether it was get the ball to somebody else or attack the rim.”

(On the team’s defense)
“We really focused on trying to build our defense from the inside out. We tried to make them score from the outside.”

(On the difference in the team’s play)
“We came back to Phoenix and we decided we needed to be defensive and on the same page. We figured out what we were doing wrong and we made sure we talked it out before.”

(On his impact)
“Anybody on this team, we have a very deep team so anyone can step up at any moment.”

(On Amar’e’s performance)
“That’s exactly what we wanted to do, try and get people in foul trouble. He grabbed some boards and stepped it up defensively, that’s what we all wanted to do.”










Lakers-Suns Preview

By BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer

PHOENIX (AP)—Amare Stoudemire is taking a lot of heat for his defense, or lack of it, thus far in the Western Conference finals. Then again, nobody ever confused him with Kevin Garnett as an NBA stopper—and he is playing against the Los Angeles Lakers.

The teams returned to practice on Friday after a day off, with the Lakers up 2-0 as the series shifts to Phoenix for Game 3 on Sunday night.

Stoudemire indicated defensive strategy, not his individual failings, were to blame for Phoenix’s interior defensive woes.

“I’m doing everything the coaching staff is asking me to do, every single thing,” he said after the Suns’ workout, “from fronting the post, to doubling Kobe, to helping out. Those guys are big down there.”

Phoenix is trying to become the first team in 47 tries to come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a seven-game series against a Phil Jackson-coached team. Those teams, of course, have been laden with talent, and these Lakers are no exceptions.

Steve Nash said the only way for Phoenix to beat the defending NBA champions is with the effort and chemistry that made the Suns such a surprising success this season.

“They’re a more talented team than we are,” Nash said. “They’re a more balanced team. It’s probably not a stretch in most people’s minds just to say they’re a better team than we are. So how do we overcome that? That’s just all spirit, fight and belief. We’ve got to rely heavily on those characteristics with this group.”

Stoudemire might be playing his final games for Phoenix. He can opt out of the final year of his contract with the Suns after this season and would like a maximum deal. He was one of the most dominant players in the NBA since the All-Star break, but two games against the Lakers have rekindled debate as to whether he is worth that much money.

“I understand. That’s fine, that’s fine,” Stoudemire said. “Last year, this same team with Shaq, we didn’t make the playoffs. You get rid of Shaq and add me and we’re in the Western Conference finals. That alone should tell you what I bring to the team.”

Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said critics should lay off his All-Star forward.

“I think you guys are making way, way too much of that,” Gentry said. “We had a lot of guys out of position on certain plays. If you’re telling me because of the statement he made everybody is looking at him more closely then OK, fine. But to say that he’s the guy that’s out of position is not an accurate statement. That’s not true at all.”

Gentry was referring to Stoudemire’s statement that Lamar Odom had “a lucky game” with 19 points and 19 rebounds in the series opener.

Odom, who had 17 points and 11 boards in Game 2, has caused matchup problems for the Suns, but Pau Gasol has been even more of a nightmare. The Spanish 7-footer is averaging 25 points in the series, shooting 66 percent (21 of 32).

“He’s one of the best players in the league,” Kobe Bryant said. “He’s still underrated. His work around the paint, his work in the mid-range, turnaround (shots), passing abilities, defensive ability. Those are things we’re all fully aware he’s capable of doing.”

Stoudemire said Gasol is helped by the company he keeps.

“He’s very, very crafty,” Stoudemire said. “He’s great using his left and right hand. He’s a phenomenal player. But he has help. He has a lot of help with (Andrew) Bynum, Odom, (Ron) Artest. The lineup they have on the court, you’ve got to guard all those guys, not just Gasol.”

Stoudemire didn’t even mention Bryant, who followed his 40-point performance in Game 1 with 21 points and a career playoff high 13 assists in Game 2.

On offense, Stoudemire could use some help, especially from Channing Frye. Frye led the Suns with 172 3-pointers in the regular season. The 6-foot-11 player can bring out big defenders, opening space for Stoudemire, when he’s sinking shots from the top of the key. But he’s 1 of 13 in the series.

“It’s happened before,” Frye said of his cold spell. “I was just a little off-rhythm and they did a good job of taking advantage of that. … For me it’s just going out there and relaxing and just playing.”

Gasol said it’s important for the Lakers not to relax as the series moves into hostile ground.

“You stretch the series, put yourself in the position where you can lose the series and get knocked out,” he said, “so we really don’t want to do that at all. So we understand where we’re at, what we’re playing for and the importance of every game. We’re a veteran team, it’s not our first rodeo here.”

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

MORE FROM BASKETBLOG


Lakers-Suns Scouting Report

Our defense against the “Quick” playset recalls visions of the movie “Groundhog Day”. In that movie the character played by Bill Murray keeps reliving the same day until he gets it right. We seem to be seeing the same play over and over and we must get our defense right before we end up in trouble in the games in Phoenix.

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.
Sasha Vujacic (severe sprain, left ankle) is probable.
Luke Walton (pinched nerve, back) is probable.

Robin Lopez (back) will play.
Leandro Barbosa (head) will play.

Lakers-Suns Game Notes

SEASON & SERIES NOTES; CONNECTIONS
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.

JACKSON-LED TEAMS A TOUGH OUT WHEN PLAYING FROM AHEAD
When Phil Jackson wins Game 1 of any playoff series, best-of-five or best-of-seven, his teams are 46-0, having gone 24-0 with Chicago and 22-0 with the Lakers. When Jackson-led teams open a series with a 2-0 lead, he is 35-0 all-time. And when holding a series lead of any kind, Jackson’s teams are 53-1 all-time.

BRYANT’S RECORDS MOST ASSISTS IN A LAKERS PLAYOFF GAME SINCE EARVIN ‘MAGIC’ JOHNSON
With 21 points, a playoff career-high 13 assists and five rebounds in the Lakers May 19th 124-112 victory vs. Phoenix, Kobe Bryant handed out the most assists in a Lakers postseason game since Earvin ‘Magic’ Johnson posted 13 assists 4/30/96 at Houston in Round 1 of the 1996 NBA Playoffs. Bryant, who has had a 12 or more assists in 18 regular season games and whose previous postseason-high in assists was 11 (5/27/01 vs. SA), has now posted seven double-figure assists games in his playoff career. With Bryant coming up five rebounds shy of a triple-double, the last Laker to post one in the playoffs is still Johnson: 6/2/91 at Chicago - 19 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists.

LAKERS EXTEND PLAYOFF WIN STREAK TO EIGHT
A 124-112 victory over Phoenix in Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals on May 19th gave the Lakers their 8th consecutive victory of the 2010 postseason. With eight straight wins, the Lakers are in the midst of the fourth longest single-postseason streak in franchise playoff history behind only the 2001 Lakers (11), 1989 Lakers (11) and 1982 Lakers (9). Of those teams, all three made the NBA Finals, with only the 1989 team failing to win the NBA Championship.

ODOM TOPS AMONG ACTIVE NBA PLAYERS IN PLAYOFF DOUBLE-DOUBLES AS A RESERVE
In Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Lamar Odom recorded 19 points and 19 rebounds, becoming just the second player in the last 20 years to post at least 19 points and 19 rebounds in a playoff game off the bench. Paul Millsap totaled 22 points and 19 rebounds as a reserve in the Jazz’s first round series with Denver this postseason. Prior to Millsap, the last player to do so was the Maverick’s Roy Tarpley, who posted 21 points and 20 rebounds during the 1988 playoffs. In Game 2, Odom totaled 17 points and 11 rebounds in 33 minutes off the bench in the Lakers May 19th victory over Phoenix. In doing so, Odom posted his 7th playoff double-double coming off the bench (30th career playoff double-double), giving him the most among all active players ahead of Millsap (5) and Marcus Camby (5).

STRONG FINISH
Tied at 90-90 with the Suns through three quarters, the Lakers led by as many as 16 points in the fourth and defeated Phoenix 124-112. The Lakers 12-point margin of victory is tied for the team’s second largest ever in a playoff game in which they did not have the lead going into the final quarter. The Lakers other such wins came against the Atlanta Hawks in 1970 (19-point victory) and against the Rochester Royals in 1949 (12-point victory).

LAKERS IN THE CONFERENCE FINALS
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).

LAKERS IN BEST-OF-SEVEN SERIES (Includes NBA Finals series)

- 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 now 59-41 in Game 2 of best-of-seven series (any round) all-time. (56-37 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)

- The Lakers are 59-40 in Game 3 of a best-of-seven series (any round) all-time. (54-38 Los Angeles, 5-2 Minneapolis)

- When winning Game 4 of a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are 40-4 all-time.

- When leading 3-1 in a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are 33-1. (30-1 Los Angeles, 3-0 Minneapolis)

A WINNING COMBINATION
With the Lakers victory vs. Phoenix on May 19th, Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant combined for their 108th playoff victory as a player/coach duo. In the history of the NBA, only Jackson and Scottie Pippen (110) have won more postseason games together. Rounding out the list, Michael Jordan and Jackson teamed up for 105 playoff victories with the Bulls while Tim Duncan and Greg Popovich have also won 105 playoff games together with the Spurs. Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Pat Riley teamed up for 102 postseason victories as did Michael Cooper and Riley with the Lakers. Derek Fisher and Jackson are moving up the list, having been together for 102 playoff victories.

BRYANT 50 POINTS AWAY FROM KARL MALONE FOR 4th ON NBA’S ALL-TIME PLAYOFF SCORING LIST With a fade away jumper at the 8:58 mark of the third quarter April 22 at Oklahoma City, Kobe Bryant moved past Jerry West (4,457) for 1st on the Lakers all-time playoff scoring list and 5th on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list. Last postseason, with 32 points 5/21 vs. Denver, Bryant (4,711) moved past Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (4,070) for 2nd on the Lakers all-time playoff scoring list. Overall, in the 2009 Playoffs, Bryant moved past Larry Bird (3,897) for 6th, past John Havlicek (3,776) for 7th, past Hakeem Olajuwon (3,755) for 8th and past Earvin “Magic” Johnson (3,701) for 9th the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list and 3rd on the Lakers franchise playoff scoring list. Next up on the all-time NBA list are Karl Malone (4th/4,761) and Shaquille O’Neal (3rd/5,248). Among all players with 2,500+ postseason points, only Michael Jordan (33.4), Jerry West (29.1), Elgin Baylor (27.0), Hakeem Olajuwon (25.9) and Dirk Nowitzki (25.6) have a higher postseason scoring average than Bryant (25.2).

BRYANT POSTS SIX STRAIGHT 30+ POINT GAMES
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, was 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. Bryant’s streak of six straight 30+ point games fell just shy of becoming the 12th seven game streak in postseason history.

BRYANT JOINS JORDAN AS ONLY PLAYER IN NBA HISTORY TO RECORD A 40-POINT GAME IN 5 CONSECUTIVE POSTSEASONS
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.