Lakers Gameday | 05/17/10 | Suns

GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Phoenix Suns 26 29 24 28 107
Play by Play Los Angeles Lakers 35 27 31 35 128


Lakers-Suns Highlights



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Kobe gets 40, Lakers rout Suns in opener


LOS ANGELES(AP) Kobe Bryant scored 40 points, Lamar Odom added 19 points and 19 rebounds, and the Los Angeles Lakers opened the Western Conference finals with ruthless offensive efficiency in a 128-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.

Pau Gasol had 21 points for the top-seeded Lakers, who won their seventh straight playoff game and snapped the Suns' six-game streak with a phenomenal second half highlighted by Bryant's 21-point third quarter.

The defending NBA champions beat the Suns at their own uptempo game when necessary, fluidly running the court to set up baskets for Bryant in his sixth straight 30-point game. Bryant then rested his sore knee for most of the fourth quarter in the 11th 40-point game of his playoff career.

Game 2 is Wednesday night.

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4 Fast break points for the Suns, to L.A.’s nine. Phoenix head coach Alvin Gentry pointed out that the Suns aren’t so much a running team, yet the stat showed how well the Lakers got back into their half court defensive set.

11 Times Kobe Bryant has scored at least 40 points in a playoff game, spurred this time by 21 third quarter points before he sat out the game’s final 8:53 with his team up 19. He has now scored at least 30 points in six straight playoff games.

19 Rebounds for Lamar Odom, a playoff career-high, including seven on the offensive glass. Odom added 19 points and three assists in a terrific all-around game.

46 Wins without a single loss for Phil Jackson teams after winning Game 1 in a playoff series.

62.7 Combined shooting percentage for Bryant (13-of-23), Pau Gasol (10-of-13) and Odom (9-of-15), which helped the team to a 58 percent mark in L.A.’s offensive showcase.

Mike Trudell,

Lakers-Suns Quotes

Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson

Well, you know, this is a surprise for us. We thought this was going to be a close game, and we were able to jump away from them a little bit in the third quarter. Kobe had an outstanding night. There were some guys that played great tonight. Pau played a fine game and so did Lamar. We got some help off the bench.

Kobe looked really aggressive. Was that part of the plan, or was that Grant Hill bumping him or was Kobe just ready for this?
Well, we talked about being aggressive obviously and coming out and trying to carry it and they beat us to the punch right off the bat, got a little seven‑point lead there in the first quarter. Lamar came in and kind of gave us an added boost. Kobe carried a lot of the offense tonight. There's no doubt.

Does Kobe look like he's kind of taking this personally?
Yeah, I don't know about that, but I would say that he was going to shoulder the game on his ‑‑ he was going to take it on.

Is this how you envisioned your game playing on the inside, and if this is what you can do without a big contribution from Andrew, what are the possibilities if you guys are at full strength inside?
Well, we need him defensively. I think that's a big part of it is rebounding, defensive, offensive rebounds. You know, guys that makes their defense have to hover, so they have to control that paint. After the game he said he didn't feel quite up to his normal, and that's obvious for us. But we were able to survive it actually without him having a big contribution tonight.

Kobe sat out the whole week. You would think that having a week off, things would seem to get better, but it seemed to get worse. What exactly was this past week like for him, and was there a major concern? He had the knee sleeve on going into the game.
No. He's been very optimistic through the whole week. He felt like he got exactly what he had to have, the amount of rest and the amount of shooting that he had to have. He did eliminate practices, but he took some shooting practice out there and stayed on top of what we were trying to get done in practice. He was attentive to it and I thought involved.
Yeah, we were concerned that maybe his shooting wouldn't be as keen or everything wouldn't be ‑‑ his reactive time was going to be a little bit off, but it wasn't.

Can you talk a little bit about what it means to the team when Lamar had that big a game that early on, sort of setting a tone that quickly?
Well, it jump started us, no doubt about it. It got us started that first quarter and really got us into the ballgame quick. His rebounding the second half was very instrumental.

What impressed you the most in this big victory over Phoenix?
Well, I would say that the amount of points we scored, obviously. We're not that high powered an offensive team. We're in the lowly 100s as an average team, not in the 110s like the Phoenix Suns, but the pace, we got involved in the pace and kept playing and got some easy baskets toward the end of the game.

One of Phoenix's strengths was their bench. It seemed like Lamar was able to carry that whole second unit, and you guys were able to turn it into a strength tonight. Can you talk about that.
Yeah, they got some open looks, some of their guys, Frye, Dudley, they're three‑point shooters. That was one of the things that we were able to hold them down a little bit in that area even though defensively I wasn't totally pleased with the game.

The consensus was the team would struggle in Utah or struggle this first game after the long break. The way they're playing right now, is this surprising to you?
Yes, I would say it's pleasing, no doubt about it. Maybe ‑‑ I think their attentiveness has been great. I think their focus has been very good. They're trying to do things that we're trying to get operated out there on the floor, so those things are good. I think we're taking good quality shots a lot of the times, so that helps.

It's kind of unusual for you to leave Kobe in with the lead at the start of the fourth quarter at home. What went into that decision?
Well, they left Richardson out there and put him at the three spot, and I know that's a high‑powered unit. Barbosa, Dragic and Richardson can really score points. And with Frye out there as an added three‑point shooter, we knew that lead was not that safe, and so we wanted to carry some of that momentum into the fourth.

We know that Phoenix shot the three ball the best in the regular season, tonight not so much. Was it more what you had to do or did they just miss shots?
I think mostly they missed shots. They had a good look. They were a couple times we kept them off balance some of their three‑point shooters, but for the most part I think they'll be back on beam come Wednesday night.

What adjustments are you anticipating by the Suns for Game 2?
Well, I watched their Portland series. I saw them double‑team Brandon Roy almost immediately when he caught the ball a lot of times. I wouldn't be surprised if they tried to do that with Kobe and get him out of the ball. He was extremely aggressive tonight and made some things happen for us.

Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant

Big third quarter, seven for ten, six for six from the free‑throw line, 21 points. Were you sending a message, because if you were it was a dominant one, or what were you seeing that enabled you to take control of that quarter?
Just being aggressive, being aggressive, just playing my game, got shots, took them, got lanes to the basket, took them.

Just talk about this past week, took the week off, came to the game today with the yellow sleeve on. It seemed like there was something going on. What was the real deal, if any, with your knee, and how did it feel tonight?
It felt fine. I've been wearing the sleeve the entire playoffs. Now people are so observant, they pick up on it tonight. I've got ones that are purple and yellow. The knee felt fine. It felt fine.

To steal a line from one of your buddies, practice, do you really need practice after this week? It was unbelievable. How do you score 40 points after not practicing for a week?
Well, I practice so much during the season, and in the off‑season I work a lot. So to take a week off, I'm not going to lose all the work that I put in prior to that.

It looked like Grant Hill was trying to be very physical with you, and you also looked very, very aggressive. Was that making it more emotional for you? Was that spurring the challenge?
No. It was enjoyable.

Looking at the big picture in these playoffs, you guys probably didn't finish the regular season as well as you would have liked. It's 2‑2 against Oklahoma City, they blew it out in Game 4. Since then you've won seven in a row. Was that game a wake‑up call or what's changed with this Laker outfit since then?
I think we've just gotten better. We've just improved as a team. That's what the playoffs is about. You try to get better from game to game or from round to round if you're lucky. That's what we've been doing a good job of so far, and we've got to keep it going.

It seemed like you guys did a good job especially in the first half of keeping Phoenix out of the lane, making their shots a little tougher. What were you doing defensively that worked for you?
To be honest, they missed a lot of shots that they've been making this entire postseason. I mean, that's really ‑‑ we did a good job defensively. We rotated pretty well, but also they missed a lot of threes that they've been making. We've got to do a much better job in Game 2 and the rest of the series.

Watching you and Grant go at it for a while, I couldn't help but wonder, sometimes does it help to make it personal?
It's never personal with me (smiling).

Having a teammate as talented as Lamar that can basically show up with a 20‑20 game out of nowhere ‑‑
He's capable of doing that as a starter. You've all seen the numbers that he puts up when he starts for us. But it sends a great message to the rest of our team that he's accepted the role of coming off the bench. He's had games where people have criticized him, but it's really just the amount of time that he's on the floor, and for him to accept that role makes us that much of a better team because he can have moments like this and have games like this.

Was this one of the most efficient games of your playoff career, 40 points, 35 minutes on just 23 shots?
Probably. Probably. It was one of them, for sure.

How did having your knee drained, how has that sort of made it feel and impacted your performance?
Just lost weight. (Laughter).

Is there any discomfort?
I feel a couple pounds lighter.

The past week of rest that you've had, what part of your game tonight do you think benefitted the most from that rest?
Well, I think my legs benefitted a lot. I was just able to take some time off and just get stronger, get my legs stronger, get my upper body stronger. It's just kind of like a training camp all over again where I didn't do much on the court, but I was in the weight room doing what I needed to do.

Can you talk about the ‑‑ we've discussed in every series points in the paint being huge, and you outscored them by 20 in this one. Do you feel like if you just keep doing that, you're going to be tough to beat?
Yeah, because it gives you easy opportunities. You try to live in the paint as much as you possibly can, and Phoenix is a very deceptive team because you automatically look at the amount of threes that they take and they make. But once they get you looking there, then they start killing you in the paint with lay‑ups and things of that nature, so you've really got to be careful.

How important was it for you to come out aggressive and lead your team to this Game 1 victory?
When you have these days off, you can kind of sit back and ‑‑ I didn't want to not do ‑‑ come out too passive to start this game because of the time that we had off. I wanted to make sure we got off to a good start in that first quarter.

With this being a lopsided win, what do you think the focus should be going into Game 2 not to give them any momentum?
Just look at the things that we did poorly, the rotations that we missed and the open shots that they had and try to cut those down because they'll make those shots in Game 2.

Can you give me an assessment on the way the bench played tonight?
They played extremely well. I think defensively they did a good job. It was tough to gauge because of the amount of points that we won by, but I felt like they did a good job in that stretch of holding the lead. Obviously Lamar carried the bulk of the scoring for that group, but I felt defensively they did a good job.

Playing a team that was coming in here on a roll, scoring a lot of points, playing real free, did you ‑‑ what part of your mindset was to hit them right out of the gate here and kind of knock them out of their comfort zone, let them know what they were in for if they want to win in this building?
Well, yeah. Part of it was to show them that we're a different team than the one that they faced. We have different match‑ups, and it was important Game 1 to show them that this was going to be a fight.

You've exposed some mismatches, again, you've beat them four out of five times this year. Do you feel if you just play that way that you guys will be in good shape, especially down low?
Oh, yeah. We've got to play our style. It's easier said than done. They make adjustments and force us to do other things, and we just have to continue to adjust to those adjustments. That's when kind of the chess match comes into play.

Can you talk about just the rhythm you've been in over the past five games and what's been the key to keep scoring such a high volume?
Old age. (Laughter).
No. Just being in good rhythm. I've done a lot of work during the season. You've seen me before games working on my shooting all the time with Chuck and just working on different things. Now I feel like I have two legs to play with. I have a better balance on my shot, so my shots aren't going short anymore. They're going in. I think it's a combination of those two things.

So, Kobe, in the second half when the Lakers went up big on the Suns, the fans started chanting "We want Boston." Did you hear that, and what's your reaction to that?
I have zero reaction to that.

You obviously want seven more wins in this postseason, but at this point do you feel like the team is playing as best as they can right now?
We're playing as best as we've played all year right now, but we still have a lot, a lot of work to do.

Phoenix led the NBA in three‑point shooting during the regular season. Tonight you look ‑‑ you guys shot 47 percent. I know they missed a lot of shots that they're going to probably make. What did you guys do that contributed to shooting the three ball so well?
Well, I mean, it's ‑‑ we just shot the ball well tonight. We normally shoot nowhere near as good as Phoenix does. I think the lead that we had makes it a little easier to take those shots, too. So it's a little misleading, but that's not something that we count on or rely on.

After the game Phil said that the Suns had gone after Brandon Roy by double‑teaming him just to get the ball out of his hands and that might be something that you could be looking toward especially if you're scoring at this level. Is that something that the team is prepared for? Is that something that is easy to transition to from the way you've been playing?
Yeah, absolutely. I mean, we just move the ball to an open guy. They send two guys at me, I've done my job. I've made them make adjustments and get easy opportunities for my teammates. Yeah, we'll be ready if that happens.

Lakers’ Andrew Bynum on the reason for Lakers dominant performance:
“We’re having great practices. We had practice Friday, Saturday and Sunday. We were rested but at the same time didn’t get rusty.”

On his health:
“I’m alright. It’s more mental, I think. Just trusting myself and trying to dunk the ball instead of trying to lay stuff up.”

Lakers’ Pau Gasol on the Lakers dominance tonight:
“We just played a very good game on both ends of the floor. We were really active defensively. We made plays, gave ourselves a chance. We shot the ball really well. We ran the ball down the court well. We finished well. We shot the ball at a very high percentage. So far the series is going the way we want to. We only want one game. We got to get ready for Game 2, get better for it and adjust.”

On the adjustments the Phoenix Suns will make before Game 2:
“Obviously we anticipate that they’re going to come out firing, with a sense of urgency and try to win the Game 2. We got to come out aggressive in the game and make sure we continue to improve, continue doing what we’re doing, continue to get better and continue to get wins.”

On the Lakers coming out with a sense of urgency in Game 2 despite their dominant performance tonight:
“That’s the reality of it. You got to keep that in mind and I’m just saying how important is Game 2 and going with that advantage to Phoenix instead of tied series.”

Lakers Forward Lamar Odom

Lamar, with Drew obviously not quite himself tonight and for the last few games, do you feel that much more of an onus on you to get out there and get the team going as a sixth man?
I had a pretty rough first two series offensively, and I just spent some time in the gym. I knew my opportunity would come, especially with them always sagging on Drew, always sagging on Pau and Kobe, as well. So I just tried to be more efficient, you know, where I shoot the ball from and how I get my shot and rebound the ball as much as possible.

The Suns play sort of an open style. That seems to suit your game. Before Pau got here when you went up against the Suns back to back years, you were a pretty big part of that team. Is this just the right series for you right now, the right team, the way they play?
Match‑ups on Pau are important. I feel like because of my ability I can match up basically with anybody. But, you know, the game is up and down. Of course, sometimes you're going to get your numbers when a game is like that.

You called out the bench in the Utah series. You needed to maintain leads. Before this series we were all talking about Phoenix's bench and how productive they are. Was that a point leading into this game last week?
Take it as a challenge to perform at a high level and to help the team out. We're aware of that. We're aware that next game they're going to shoot the ball a lot better, and we're going to have to continue to make plays, especially on the defensive end.

You came out quicker tonight, I think. There were times when you were aggressive, but tonight you were aggressive maybe a little faster than you sometimes are. What was going on?
I didn't really want to wait. I said to myself, if I'm going to have a bad game, I'm going to have a bad game going out swinging. I'm not going to wait for the game to come to me tonight. I'm going to try to attack, and if a jump shot is there, I'm going to take it.

The talk this week with the layoff, they were talking about Phoenix's speed and how you guys were going to have a problem with Phoenix's speed. What did you do to help neutralize Nash and the other components?
We're a pretty quick team, even when we go big. I think we have the personnel that we can match up with basically any team in the league. After we come out of pick‑and‑roll, we just try to get back to the basket, try to contest the three‑point shooters, and if you offensive rebound, you can slow them down just a little bit, and I think we did that tonight.

Was there any concern after Kobe had sat out a week of practice what he could do tonight ‑‑
No. He got 40 after sitting out. You understand that he can go on those spurts. He's the best scorer in the league. You've got guys ‑‑ fadeaways and of course gets out on the break and plays with his back to the basket, inside, outside, shoots the ball with his left hand when his right hand is broke. Time off was exactly what he needed.

Playoff career high, 19 boards, career high on the offensive boards. How did you redevelop that hunger so quickly after the layoff to rediscover the way so quickly?
It was always there. You know, we're playing to get back to the championship for the third time. We have a lot of pride in that, and we're a pretty focused group. The layoff was exactly what we needed. We've got some guys that are beat up, as well as myself, so it's exactly what we needed.

So follow up on that a little bit, we talked a lot about Bynum and Bryant's needs this past week. You were pretty beat up going into the regular season the first two rounds. Did this do something for you physically, having these six days?
It was perfect. I got a lot of treatment, got to work on my shot and my individual game, and it was exactly what I needed.

Is the knot from the play with Dragic ‑‑
No. He caught me in the eye. It was towards the end of the game. Amundson caught me a little bit and gave me a nice little goodbye knot. But I'll be all right with a little ice.

Can you talk about the way the bench played tonight?
Focused I think was the most important. I think defensively we had to play well tonight, and we did that. We took them out of their offense, and we have to expect for them to come out really firing, really on. They missed a lot of shots that they normally make, and I'm pretty sure the next game they'll make them, and we have to be prepared to take their best punch, and we will be.

Lakers’ Ron Artest on the ease of tonight’s win:
“It wasn’t easy. It’s never easy. If it was easy, you lose. We played hard, put it together, executed. It’s only one game. Win or lose – win by one, win by 30 – it’s just a win.”

On what to take from this game:
“I thought we could have did some things better. As a team we played pretty good. We just try to do better.”

Lakers’ Shannon Brown on the play of the Lakers’ bench tonight:
“We always get criticized about our bench not taking care of business, but tonight we came out and we did that. Granted, we still got three more games to win. It’s only game one. We’ve got to prepare now for game two.”

On what worked for the Lakers tonight:
“We just tried to rebound the ball, tried to get back in transition. We were together on defense, talking, not letting them get too many open looks. We was getting hands in passing lanes.”

Lakers’ Jordan Farmar on:
“We controlled the tempo of the game and got on some runs to give us a little cushion. It’s going to be a lot tougher the second game.”


You've got to give them credit. They played great I thought, I thought one of the best games I've seen them play in the playoffs this season, really. They shot the ball well. Kobe kind of controlled the whole game.

I thought that we could have withstood the game that he had because the shots that he was making, you can't do anything about. It doesn't matter. The only other option you have is to go double‑team him right away before he gets over half court. But when he's making his jumper like that, there's not a whole lot you can do about it.

We've just got to do a better job, I think, on the points in the paint. We can't give up 56 points in the paint, and then we've got to go a better job on Gasol, and then I thought Lamar Odom was really kind of the difference in the game. He came in, and we had a nice little start, but I thought Lamar came in and really kind of changed the whole game. He finished with 19 points, 19 rebounds. He dominated the boards, and I just thought he gave them that extra burst of energy to kind of get them over the hump.

Is there anything you can do to address that points in the paint problem, or is it just their size and it is what it is?
No, but to be honest with you guys, it wasn't exactly the post‑up plays and the big guys. It was the middle drives and the perimeter players driving in the paint more so than it was ‑‑ Gasol had a great game and had some good post‑up moves, but for the most part it was them breaking down our perimeter defense and driving in the paint and creating situations that way. So that's an area that I think we can get a little bit better.

And from the standpoint of just throwing over the top and scoring, they didn't really do that a whole lot against us. Lamar came up with offensive rebound after offensive rebound. But I think as you watch the tape, and we'll look at that tonight, I thought the middle drives by Kobe and by Fish and by Shannon Brown and even Farmar, I thought they got into the teeth of our defense much, much too often and too easy and that created situations where now we're kind of in rotation and that's where a lot of the points in the paint came.

I'm just wondering what adjustments will you make on Kobe? He went for 40 tonight, had a big night. Anything that stands out to you this early after the game?
I still think we can withstand the 40 that Kobe got. The way he got those points, when he's in that zone like he is tonight, there's really not a whole lot you can do about it. So we have to do a better job on the other guys. We've played them before, Kobe has had 40 before against us, and we won the game. When he's in the zone like he is tonight, there's not a whole lot you can do about it other than just completely running off a guy and trying to get the ball out of his hands, then you totally break down everything.

We've just got to do a better job on our perimeter defense, I think. We didn't do a very good job guarding the perimeter, and we got broken down way too often on the perimeter, which in turn them breaks down the interior of your whole defense.

You guys were 5 for 22, 23 percent from the three‑point line. Was that more just missing shots, or was it Lakers contesting ‑‑
No. It was a combination of both. They do a good job. They do a really good job of running you off three‑point shots. We have struggled some against them from the three‑point line. Some of it we didn't make the shots. We had a lot of shots available to us that we didn't make. Obviously they do a good job of closing out. They're No. 1 in three‑point percentage defense in the league, so they do a good job of closing out on that.

What did you take away from Robin's contributions?
Well, I mean, I thought he played well for us. I thought he did a good job. First game back in six weeks, you know, he still doesn't have his legs under him. He's a much better athlete than he showed out there tonight. But I thought he was real solid and played well, and hopefully he'll continue to get better in the series.

Kobe looked really emotional out there, waving his arms a lot, and he was talking to Grant and got a technical. Did you get the impression that he was super aggressive or taking it personally?
No, I think every time he plays somebody, he takes it personal. I mean, that's his motivation, so I didn't see anything wrong with it. I don't think he was trash talking or anything like that. He just ‑‑ he understands how important this first game is, and I just thought he played at a real, real high level.

He's one of those guys when he's playing and he's in the zone like he is tonight, you can't do a whole lot about it. I'm just disappointed in other phases of our game that we have to get better, and obviously the rebounding part and the middle drives, the perimeter defense has to get a little bit better.

They had guys that stepped up. I thought Farmar played solid for them. Artest did a good job for them. We can withstand Kobe and Pau having the games that they had, but when other guys step up, especially Lamar with 19 and 19, then that gets to be really tough, and if you add one more guy to the mix, then they're almost impossible to beat when they add that fourth guy in that plays well. We'll just have to do a better job. I can stand up here and say that the layoff helped them and hurt us, but we'll see what happens on Wednesday. We'll come back and ‑‑
One thing about our guys, they're a pretty resilient bunch, and when we go through a situation like this, we usually find a way to regroup and come back and play well. Hopefully that will happen on Wednesday.

You guys got to the line, I think, 19 times in the first half. Overall do you feel like you generated enough easy points, obviously not much on the break, but even in the half court?
Yeah, but we're not a real fastbreak team, and I think that's kind of a misnomer about our team. We've never been in the top ten in fastbreak points in the league. We play with a rhythm, and we didn't really get into that rhythm tonight. You have to give them some credit. They did a good job defensively in some areas right there. But there's also some areas where I think we'll be better on Wednesday than we were tonight.

It's just ‑‑ I don't want to take anything away from them because they played great. It's as well as I think I've seen them play in the playoffs this year, and when they're making shots and then moving the basketball like they did, it gets to be a little ‑‑ it gets to be real difficult.

Kobe took the week off of practice, came out in a sleeve, didn't hit a field goal until late in the first. Did you think much maybe at the beginning, maybe there was something there the way he started with everything about him being out and talk of his knee injury?
I have never, since he walked into the league, I don't think I've ever underestimated him. You knew at some stage he would try to take the game over. That's what he does. He's a great player. I mean, he has the focus on one area, and that's to try to win a championship, and we have to try to do a better job of trying to take one of those guys out of the game.

We've got to do something ‑‑ like I said, two of them, Pau and Kobe, are pretty consistent. We've got to take that third guy out. You know, 19 points, 19 rebounds by Lamar, those are the kind of games that really kind of get them over the hump.

I thought we were within striking distance there, and we had a couple of bad possessions. We had a chance to go into the fourth quarter where it could have been a single‑digit lead, and we stepped out of bounds on the play. We've just got to do a lot better job of executing, and then we've got to do a much better job defensively of trying to slow them down. 128 points we can't defend.

Was this a failure defensively of execution or attitude?
I think our attitude was fine. We ran into a guy that is a great player. I'm pretty sure we're not the first team that he scored 40 against. I'll go back and look, but I'm pretty sure that ‑‑ not even in the playoffs do I think we're the only team that he scored 40 against.
So they had a great night. You've got to give them credit. The way we look at it, it's one game down and they've got to beat us three more times and we think we'll play better. That's the attitude that we have to have.

Steve, can you comment on how you physically feel? I see your eye is still healing. Did that hinder you in any way tonight?
No, I felt fine. That was the least of my concerns tonight.

Talk about just Kobe's night. Was there anything really you guys could do to defend him? Was it just one of those nights with him?
Yeah, he had it going. He hit a bunch of shots. He hit a bunch of long‑range shots. If he's going to score on you, if he's going to get shots up, you want him to take long‑range shots. I haven't seen the box score, but I didn't feel like we put him in the line a ton. I didn't feel like we let him get inside a ton, but he made a ton of shots. You've got to tip your hat to the kind of performance he put on out there tonight.

What was the most of your concerns tonight?
You know, I think our room for error is small. They're a lot bigger than we are. They had a lot of points in the paint. They're probably going to continue to be taller than us as the series goes on (laughter), so we've got to try to cut down on some of those transition buckets, offensive rebounds, you know, defensive lapses, whatever it is.

We've got to play really, really solid defensively, try to make everything as tough as possible, try to limit the paint touches and catches and offensive rebounds. I thought tonight we gave a few too many of those obviously but also a few too many breakdowns. We played hard. We didn't make enough shots, and we had a few too many breakdowns to counteract their size.

They've been tough for you guys over the last three seasons. Playing them now, getting hammered in the first game, does that present a problem beyond one game?
Well, we'll see. It's not like we're going to hang our heads and not try to win Game 2. You know, we've just got to play better. If we play better, opportunities with our movement is obviously going to be pivotal.

You tried to run a pick‑and‑roll a couple of times, and basically that was one of the problems Lakers had throughout the season to defend pick‑and‑rolls. Do you think you'll try to do that more in Game 2?
Well, yes and no. We had some success on pick‑and‑rolls tonight, but they also do a good job at times defending it because they can clog up the paint and use their length. It's our bread and butter. That's how we create movement, and we create opportunities for ourselves, so we're definitely going to keep going to it. But we have to have other dimensions to our game, as well, to keep them off balance. If we give them a steady diet, that's when they really zone up and use their size and make it hard.

We've got to be efficient in a few different areas so that we don't just rely on one thing and they can get kind of hip to that game.

A lot of your success has been this season I felt the bench contributed. You guys have done your job. They've done their job. Tonight any comments on the contribution from your bench?
I thought the bench did a really good job in spurts and then in other stretches maybe struggled. I think you could say the same about the first unit. I don't think that we can really pin this loss on the first unit or the second unit. I thought we both needed to play better. We both had success in stretches, but we couldn't sustain it. We'll look to have a better effort for the entirety of Game 2.

Your bench has been outstanding all season. Were you surprised at the production from the Laker bench tonight?
Is that a New York accent?

A little bit.
It's just disappointing you've got a Lakers top on. That's all I'm going to say.

You're in our town, my brother.
New Yorker, this is our town? Okay, what was that again?

Your bench, outstanding all season?
Our bench wasn't great tonight. Our starters weren't great tonight. We've got to all play better. I think there's just no way around it. We didn't earn it tonight. We didn't deserve it. They played better than us, and we've got to come out and play a lot better in Game 2. I know that's probably not the most exciting answer you guys want to hear, but that's the gist of it.

Suns’ Forward Amar’e Stoudemire on the Suns’ defense tonight:
“Yea we didn’t play well. We gave up too many drives and couldn’t quite close out well on the shooters. Ron Artest and Lamar Odom had a couple of unexpected threes out there so we’ve got a better job defending.”

On Lamar Odom’s performance tonight:
“He did a great job in the first half. I think in the second half, we did a pretty good job on him offensively. We just had to get some boards. He comes in and he’s long. If you reach over the top, you’ll get a few boards. We just have to do a better job of keeping these guys off the boards on Wednesday.”

On containing Kobe Bryant:
“Well Kobe’s gonna get his numbers. He’s gonna do that. We just have to try to eliminate the other guys. Lamar [Odom] had a great game. We have to do a better job on Ron Artest. Pau Gasol had a solid game. So we just have to contain those guys. Kobe is gonna get his numbers, we know that. But we have to contain the rest of the guys.”

Suns’ Guard Jason Richardson on the Lakers performance tonight:
“It is just one of those games. We didn’t really do everything we were supposed to do but I can’t take a win away from them [Lakers]. They came in a played a great game. Lamar came in off the bench and scored 19, which is huge for him. Pau Gasol had a good night and you know that Kobe had 40-points so they did everything they were supposed to do to win a game.”

On playing against Kobe Bryant:
“I think we all played pretty good defense on Kobe but he is just the best player in the league right now. He went out there and willed himself for his team, had some big shots for them and he had a big night. We just have to do a better job making it tough for him.”

Suns’ Grant Hill on tonight’s game:
“There were some tough shots there in the first quarter. There were a couple of fouls there. It is what it is. It’s just one game.”

On the Lakers:
“[Kobe] is the best player in the game and he’s gonna get points. I don’t know exactly what we did wrong or right tonight. We just have to look at the tape tomorrow and talk about making some adjustments. I give credit to them. They made their shots and made plays. Everybody from them played well. [Ron] Artest made some shots. Lamar Odom came in and was great. They beat us.”

Suns’ Robin Lopez on their performance tonight:
“We didn’t play well offensively. We didn’t play well defensively, you know. They got too many offensive rebounds. We left them wide open.”

On whether this loss will damage their performance in the upcoming games of this series:
“I think we’re gonna watch some film, come back more focused, and give a better effort. In the first series Portland got the win [in Game 1]. In the first series, we lost Game 1 but came back and won the series. We are gonna put in some work, come back focused and see what happens.”

Suns’ Forward Jared Dudley on tonight’s game:
“They came in and did what they were supposed to do. They took their home court advantage. Our goal is to try and come back and steal it.”

On playing the Lakers:
“We played a great team and we have to respect what they can do. Now we have to go back to the drawing board. Come back with a lot of energy on Wednesday. Our backs are against the wall a little bit, be we are down only one game so we have to come back and steal the next one

Lakers-Suns Preview

By GREG BEACHAM, AP Sports Writer

LOS ANGELES (AP)—Kobe Bryant has barely touched a basketball in a week, giving his gimpy ankle and arthritic finger time to heal. That purplish, jagged gouge over Steve Nash’s right eye also should be one week less ghastly by tipoff time in the Western Conference finals.

Although both stars play a beautiful game, Bryant and Nash realize postseason basketball is rarely pretty, and they wouldn’t expect to escape the postseason without a few ugly souvenirs of the playoff grind.

After both teams got a week off to rest and recalibrate, the top-seeded Los Angeles Lakers will attempt to reach their third straight NBA finals when they take on the Phoenix Suns, starting in Game 1 on Monday night.

“It’s all part of the game, every part of it,” Bryant said. “I love a long layoff. Everybody on our team is pretty much banged up, so it’s good to get rest and get ready for what’s in front of you.”

Bryant has been cagey about his interest in revenge on the Suns for ending the Lakers’ season in the 2006 and 2007 playoffs, alternately embracing and downplaying it. Three years can be an eternity in the here-today, gone-later-today world of pro sports, but Bryant, Lamar Odom and a few other Lakers from those teams have mentioned a passing interest in payback.

“I don’t forget much,” Odom said.

There’s no doubt about Phoenix’s motivation: Late in what’s starting to resemble a charmed season, Nash is hoping the Suns will get him to the NBA finals for the first time. His 112 career postseason games are the most in NBA history without the chance to play for a title.

The 36-year-old Canadian’s eye injury makes him look more like a hockey goon than a point guard, yet Phoenix finally has the talent and opportunity to reach the finals—if the Suns can just find a way past Bryant,Pau Gasol and the favored, playoff-tested Lakers.

“I’ve tried to enjoy it,” Nash said before boarding a bus Sunday for the Suns’ trip to Los Angeles. “Now that it’s here, I’m trying to enjoy every moment that’s in the playoffs.”

Bryant and Nash have more in common than trophy cases full of MVP awards and All-Star honors. They share a creative approach to basketball influenced by the geometry of soccer and European hoops, constantly lending moments of beauty to the brutal course of an 82-game NBA season and a two-month playoff campaign— and leading to a mostly unspoken kinship.

“He’s a great passer, a great penetrator, great shooter,” Bryant said. “They surrounded him with guys that complement him and feed off him, and they’re a great offensive team.”

Yet as the stars’ battered bodies attest, sometimes playoff success is due simply to outworking, outmuscling and outlasting opponents. Los Angeles has held teams to 41 percent shooting in the postseason, while smallish Phoenix has outrebounded its playoff foes while outscoring them by nearly 10 points per game.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson already teased Nash for carrying the ball, but carrying momentum is much tougher following a full week off. Although the Lakers and Phoenix both swept their second-round opponents and won six straight playoff games overall, neither expects to ride last week’s wave into Staples Center.

“With this break, we’re back to Square One now,” Lakers point guardDerek Fisher said. “To empty that jar out and then fill it back up is not easy, but we have to be prepared to do that.”

Phoenix forward Amare Stoudemire realizes Los Angeles is favored because of length and strength: the superior size of the Lakers’ frontcourt with 7-footers Gasol and Andrew Bynum, along with Bryant’s ferocious competitive edge. Yet the Suns routed San Antonio in four straight second-round games, negating Tim Duncan’s size advantage and suggesting they’re a title contender after missing the playoffs last spring.

“That’s fine,” Stoudemire said of the Lakers’ favored status. “It’s been like that all season. We’ve been able to accomplish things that were unreachable, for the most part.”

Jackson has expressed admiration for the way Nash and his teammates have maximized coach Alvin Gentry’s offense, which modifies the Suns’ former run-and-gun formula into something more versatile.

“We have to be who we are,” Gentry said. “We’re not going to play any differently than we’ve played all season. We have to be able to create lanes and avenues for Steve to drive. We’ve got to be able to penetrate and pitch when they help with their bigs. We’ve got to be able to run screen-and-roll as we always do, pick and pop. When we do that, we have success.”

Yet when the Lakers are healthy and focused, no West teams have been able to knock them off their game for three years—and the Suns lost three of four to Los Angeles in the regular season.

“I’m not at all amazed or astounded at what they’ve done,” Jackson said of the Suns. “We knew from the very first time we played them that they were going to be a team … to deal with at some point in the playoffs. They made some growth during the year, and they’re playing some better basketball, which is what you expect.”

Bryant and Bynum didn’t speak to reporters Sunday after skipping most of the Lakers’ final practice, but both will play. Although Bynum said Saturday his injured right knee gradually is getting worse, Jackson thinks Bynum likely could play 30 minutes or more if his time is split into manageable segments.

Suns big man Robin Lopez is expected to make his playoff debut in his first game since late March after sitting out the first two playoff rounds with a bulging disc. Lopez should give Phoenix better inside defense, yet the Suns still realize they’ll be undermanned underneath the hoop.

“We certainly don’t want to play into their hands and for it to be a slow methodical game where their size can be a factor,” Nash said. “We want to be able to push the ball down the court and create openings and opportunities with our quickness and ball movement.”

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

It seems like forever since we last played an actual game. While the rest is nice it is time to get it on. Much has been written about how this series comes down to a battle of different styles. The Suns want to run the ball and set a plethora of screen and rolls for Nash and Dragic. They do a great job of spacing the floor and have been playing an unselfish game in these playoffs. It will be our job to minimize the open shots that get created from their offensive attack and on our end it is imperative that we operate from and inside-out approach.

There are some specific ways that the Suns will format their attack in order to get the spacing they want. One of the regular early offensive/flow actions is simply called “QUICK”. This features a basic wide screen down for one of their shooters, usually Richardson. If he comes off and has a shot or can attack fine, if not he moves the ball to the open man. After running this action a few times they will start running the next in the sequence which is “QUICK STEP-UP”. This starts as the same action (and if the defense falls asleep they will still go to the man coming off the screen) but then after setting the down screen the big man will step up to set a screen and roll for Nash. They usually have shooters slotting in behind the action and with the cleared side it becomes a difficult action to provide help.

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 doubtful.
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 56 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 34-22 against the Suns in postseason games, going 21-8 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 65-34 in Game 1 of best-of-seven series (any round) all-time. (61-31 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)

- When losing Game 1 of a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are 12-22 all-time. (10-21 Los Angeles, 2-1 Minneapolis)

- The Lakers are now 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)

- When losing Games 1 and 2 of a best-of-seven series (any round), the Lakers are 2-16 all-time. (2-15 Los Angeles, 0-1 Minneapolis)

With the Lakers victory at Utah on May 10, Phil Jackson and Kobe Bryant combined for their 106th 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 could surpass that total, having been together for 100 playoff victories.

With 32 points in Game 4 of the Western Conference Semifinals 5/10 at Utah, Kobe Bryant recorded 30 or more points for the seventh consecutive time in a road game in which the Lakers have had the opportunity to close a series out. His string of seven straight such games is an NBA record, with Elgin Baylor (6), Michael Jordan (5) and Oscar Robertson (4) rounding out the list. Bryant’s streak began with 31 points (12-24 FG) 4/28/08 @ DEN and continued with 34 points (9-19 FG) 5/16/08 @ UTAH, 32 points (11-27 FG) 5/14/09 @ HOU, 35 points (12-20 FG) 5/29/09 @ DEN, 30 points (10-23 FG) 6/14/09 @ ORL and 32 points (12-25 FG) 4/30/10 @ OKC.*

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. Also, when holding a series lead of any kind, Phil Jackson, currently in his 19th postseason as a head coach, is 53-1 all-time.

Since moving to STAPLES Center prior to the 1999-2000 season, the Lakers have won 84% of their postseason home games (68-13). The Lakers have topped the century mark in over half of their postseason home games at STAPLES Center (47-of-81) while the opposition has been held under 100 points in all but 22 of those games. In their last 44 home playoff games, the Lakers are 38-6 and have won 8 straight dating back to the 2009 Western Conference Finals.

With the Lakers defeating the Jazz in the 2010 Western Conference Semifinals, Derek Fisher and Kobe Bryant added another series victory to their playoff resume. Among all active players, only Shaquille O’Neal (32) has won more postseason series than Fisher (31) and Bryant (29).*

With 32 points in the Lakers 111-96 series clinching victory at Utah on May 10, Kobe Bryant concluded the Western Conference Semifinals with a 32.0 ppg scoring average. In doing so, Bryant recorded his 26th consecutive playoff series averaging 20+ points per game, the longest such streak in Lakers history. Bryant last failed to average 20 points in a playoff series in the 200 Finals vs. Indiana (15.6 ppg).*

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 (4,650) 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 is Karl Malone (4th/4,761). 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 (25.1).

With the Lakers victory over Utah in Game 1 of the Western Conference Semifinals on May 2, Phil Jackson won for the 103rd time with the Lakers in the postseason, passing Pat Riley (102) for most playoff victories in Lakers franchise history. Overall, Jackson owns a 217-93 postseason record, with his 217 victories being the most of any NBA coach in playoff history. Additionally, Jackson’s 310 career playoff games are also the most of any coach in playoff history, while his .700 postseason win percentage is tops among all coaches as well. With the Lakers 2009 NBA Championship, Jackson (10 as head coach, 2 as player) surpassed legendary Celtics coach Red Auerbach for most championships won by a head coach while also passing fellow Hall-of-Famer Bill Russell (11) for most championships won by a player/coach. Should the Lakers reach the NBA Finals this season, it will be the 13th time he has taken a team to the final round, tying him with NHL coaching legend Scotty Bowman for most trips to the finals in a major pro sport played in the U.S.


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