Lakers Gameday | 05/25/10 | Suns

GAMEDAY LINKS: Team Q1 Q2 Q3 Q4 Final
Box Score Los Angeles Lakers 23 32 29 22 106
Play by Play Phoenix Suns 23 41 21 30 115


Lakers-Suns Highlights


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Reserves dominate Lakers, Suns win 115-106


PHOENIX (AP)—The Los Angeles Lakers were outnumbered and outplayed in the desert.

The Phoenix Suns got a decisive performance from their hustling bench to overcome Kobe Bryant’s 38-point, 10-assist performance and beat the Lakers 115-106 in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday night.

A series that looked like a Lakers’ breeze a week ago is all even at two apiece heading to Game 5 on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

The Suns reserves, considered an advantage entering the series but largely ineffective through three games, outscored their Lakers counterparts 54-20.

Channing Frye broke out of a horrendous shooting slump to make four 3-pointers and score 14 points. Leandro Barbosa also had 14 on 6-of-8 shooting and Jared Dudley added 11 points. Goran Dragic ran the show at point and had eight points and eight assists in 18 minutes.

“The bench played fantastic,” the Suns’ Steve Nash said. “They were by far easily the difference tonight.”

Amare Stoudemire led Phoenix with 21 points. Nash, playing with a broken nose, made just 3-of-11 shots but had 15 points and eight assists.

But it was the backups who stole the show, making 20-of-32 shots, including 9-of-20 3s.

“They have a great bench,” Bryant said.

Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry kept all five reserves in the game for almost the first nine minutes of the final quarter, and they produced an 18-3 run, and the Lakers never recovered. When Nash re-entered with 3:05 to play, those subs— usually playing against the Los Angeles starters—had turned an 87-85 deficit into a 103-94 lead.

“We believe in those guys and they really believe in themselves,” Gentry said. “I thought they were much better defensively than they were offensively, and they were great offensively.”

Frye had made 1-of-21 shots in the series and missed 18 in a row when his second shot of the night, a 3-pointer, finally fell to the roar of the home crowd.

“I just set my feet and let it ride,” he said.

Pau Gasol managed just 15 points after getting 29 and 23 in the previous two contests. Lamar Odom also scored 15.

Jordan Farmar opened the fourth quarter with a 3-pointer, his only basket in five shots all night, to give the Lakers an 87-85 lead. Barbosa responded with a 22-footer to tie it, then Lou Amundson scored inside on a pass from Dudley before Frye sank a 3-pointer for a 92-87 advantage.

That was the first of three consecutive 3s for Phoenix, the second by Barbosa and third by Dudley to make it 98-89. The biggest lead was 103-90 on Dragic’s driving layup with 4:02 to play.

“We thought we could come in here and get a game, and unfortunately you know we weren’t up to the task,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “But we outscored them from the field I think both games, shot better than they did, did a lot of things very good and it still wasn’t enough to win the game. They beat us at the foul line both nights, and that’s the difference in the margin of the game.”

The Lakers had more field goals the Phoenix (45-41), but the Suns dominated at the foul line for the second game in a row, sinking 22 of 32 to Los Angeles’ Lakers’ 7 of 13.

Los Angeles was better against Phoenix’s zone defense, if not great.

“Our attention needs to be on the defensive end—period,” Bryant said. “That’s second-chance opportunities. Their bench came in and gave them a big boost in getting balls back and getting them extra possessions. We’ve got to cut that stuff out.”

After slugging out a 23-23 first quarter, the Suns erupted for a series-high 41-point second quarter, shooting 74 percent (17 for 23), 7 of 10 on 3-pointers to go up 64-55 at the half—and the backups led the way.

The reserves outscored the Lakers starters 21-11 to start the second period.

One of Bryant’s trademark scoring tears kept the Lakers in the game. After not taking a shot until the 2:09 mark of the first quarter, Bryant scored 15 in the second, making seven of his last nine shots, all outside jumpers. He was just getting started.

Bryant had 16 more in the third quarter, his 3-pointer with 2:20 to play finally catching the Suns at 81-all with 2:20 left. Pau Gasol made one of two free throws to put the Lakers ahead for the first time since the opening period, but Dragic made two free throws with 31 seconds left to put Phoenix ahead 85-84 entering the fourth.

NOTES: Jackson is 46-0 when his team takes a 2-0 lead in a best-of-seven series. … Phoenix has led or been tied after three quarters in three of the four games. … The Suns are 6-1 at home in the playoffs, the Lakers 7-0. … Derek Fisher got Nash squarely in his broken nose in the third quarter, sending the Suns playmaker to the court in pain. Nash recovered to make two free throws. … The two teams combined for eight consecutive 3-pointers in a second-quarter stretch.

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6 Three-pointers made by Kobe Bryant, tying his career playoff high that was previously set on June 2, 2000, in Portland. Bryant had yet another terrific all-around game, scoring 38 points on 15-of-22 field goals along with 10 assists and seven rebounds.

7 Turnovers for the Lakers … but the Suns had just eight in a mostly well-played game.

18 Offensive rebounds for Phoenix, which hurt L.A. throughout the evening.

41 Second quarter points for the Suns on 17-of-23 shooting, including 7-of-10 three-pointers.

54 Bench points for Phoenix, which shouldn’t be compared with L.A.’s 18 points off the pine sine the Suns’ subs combined to play so many more minutes. No Suns’ starter, as it were, played more than 31:19, while Kobe Bryant played 44:42 for L.A.

Mike Trudell,

Lakers-Suns Quotes

Lakers Head Coach Phil Jackson

Q. Can you talk about their bench and the difference it made especially in the second quarter tonight?
COACH JACKSON: Yeah, they came out and hit a number of 3s, and that second quarter got real excited inside, the fans. We knew we'd have to weather some storm in this sequence of games at some level.
We were hoping it was just going to be in the second quarter. But they came back and hit three in the fourth and you open that game back open again when we took the lead. That was the problem. The second quarter was the second quarter. We understand that they're going to have a hot spell. A lot of those guys haven't had any success out there. So it's exciting for them to get it.
But we didn't shut them down in the fourth, and that's the time we have to do it.

Q. Are you worried? Surprised? Disappointed?
COACH JACKSON: You know, obviously disappointed. We thought we could come here and get a game. And unfortunately you know we weren't up to the task. But we outscored them from the field I think both games. Shot better than they did. Did a lot of things very good and still wasn't enough to win the game. They beat us at the foul line both nights, and that's the difference in the margin of the game. And we have to do a better job on that activity.

Q. Is that to the hoop or is that the officiating?

Q. Kobe, 38 points. Nobody else more than 15. Kobe, ten assists, nobody else more than three. Obviously Kobe's playing great. But you need others to step up?
COACH JACKSON: Didn't we have five guys in double figures. We had a lot of guys in double figures. There's a lot of guys that contributed. Pau didn't have a 25‑point game but we had a lot of guys contribute tonight.
I have no problem with our offense at all. I think our offense is fine. We gave up a 40‑point quarter in that second quarter and we gave up a 30‑point quarter in the fourth. But that's going to happen when you give up 14 free throws, and some of them were intentional fouls at the end.

Q. Are you concerned that your bench got smoked?
COACH JACKSON: Well, it wasn't a Cohiba, I'll tell you that. But I just thought that they got confused out there at one point. The biggest disappointment to me was the fact that we took five 3s in that sequence of action where they made up the ground, when we took the lead in the fourth quarter.

Q. Did I miss your answer on the officiating or aggressiveness to the hoop?
COACH JACKSON: No, you did not.

Q. Did you answer it?

Q. What did you say?

Q. What is the explanation?
COACH JACKSON: I don't know. I mean, it seemed like every time we went near them they fell down at some level in that game and they went to the line. Nash went down a couple times at the end, looked like Richardson went down on a sequence where we were putting some pressure on the ball. So we just have to be more resilient out there defensively.

Q. Why do you think you guys, over the last couple of nights, have struggled against the zone?
COACH JACKSON: I don't know. We shot 49 percent, didn't we? That's pretty good. Nothing wrong with that. I wouldn't say we're struggling against the zone. I think we're struggling at the defensive end. That's where I see it.

Q. Is the difference the home court, the atmosphere and all that?
COACH JACKSON: Seems to me like they shot the ball pretty well here, didn't they? Their 3‑point shooting was really great tonight. But that will happen. They came through in a game that was a critical game, No. 3, and they loosened up tonight and had a lead to play with a little bit.
And I thought it gave them some confidence.

Q. You mentioned some defensive lapses. You seemed upset with Bynum a couple of occasions. What's happening with him on defense?
COACH JACKSON: We just ‑‑ I thought we were standing around watching. That's what I said to them. We're not actively defending sequences that we know we have to defend. And, you know, some of it is our anticipation. Some of it is not being ready.

Q. (Indiscernible) this series has been very up and down.
COACH JACKSON: I thought he played pretty well tonight. I was heartened by his play tonight. I think he's going to play better as we go along.

Q. Speaking of the interior play, Pau said the other day that he was more concerned not about the Suns hitting 3s, but basically what you were just talking about, getting points in the paint. What can you do? Is it the perimeter defense that's allowing him to get to the paint or is it limitations?
COACH JACKSON: I don't think that bothered us tonight. I think it bothered us last night. If I saw it right ‑‑ I don't think it was that big a differential tonight. Yeah, we had 42 points in the paint. They had 42. So the difference was the 3‑point shooting and the free throws is what it was.

Q. Do you see any similarities and does it help from a month ago when you were 2‑2 with Oklahoma City you guys considered kind of a must‑win Game 5 and everyone rallied around?
COACH JACKSON: Critical game. We all say they're critical. But this is what playoffs are about. If you can support yourself on the home court you have a chance of going back and pulling an upset or winning the game, No. 5, and creating the momentum change. So we'll see what comes out on Thursday. Should be interesting.

Q. Do you think toughness is an issue defensively at least?
COACH JACKSON: Well, I thought they knocked about four balls loose in the offensive boards. Pau had the ball. Lamar had the ball. Lost the ball. They were a little more aggressive on the boards. And I think that created an atmosphere that I didn't like in the ball game. Ended up there's quite a differential on the offensive boards. And that was a problem for us tonight. I thought they were the aggressor in that part.

Lakers Guard Kobe Bryant

Q. Kobe, two things. Phil said that you guys did okay offensively attacking the zone and playing against the zone and defense was the concern tonight. Could you just talk about two things, the defensive effort on your end, and, two, their bench, especially the second quarter when they built that lead.
KOBE BRYANT: Our defense could have been much better, I think. You know coming up here, we lost a sense of urgency defensively. I think our concentration was focused on how to attack the zone.
And I think it kind of flipped our attention to detail defensively. Our focus was on the other side of the floor, which doesn't win championships. So we need to get back to ground zero when it comes to that.

Q. In the fourth you had four shots. Was that something where your team just wasn't getting you the ball or was it defensively?
KOBE BRYANT: We didn't lose the game because of that. We lost the game because our defense sucked.

Q. Can you talk about the bench and were you surprised they were able to play that well in the fourth quarter?
KOBE BRYANT: No. I mean, they have a great bench. They performed well. They've been performing well in the second half of the season for them. Channing Frye was bound to get some shots. He's a great shooter.
Like I said, we've got to do a much better job defensively. Paying attention to those guys, all of them, and staying in front of your man and things like that.

Q. You speak of sense of urgency. Lost it here in Arizona. Isn't that the ritual of the home court advantage, to recapture that hunger on your home court?
KOBE BRYANT: Yeah, we've gotta go back and play. We've gotta ‑‑ it's going to be a tough game. Looking forward to the challenge. I know my guys are. To get back to the basics of playing defense the right way.

Q. You also had ‑‑ not to speak of just the defensive focus, there was also severe rebounding disadvantage. Were those one in the same or, again, just concentrating more on breaking the zone down?
KOBE BRYANT: Our attention needs to be on the defensive end, period. That's second‑chance opportunities. Their bench came in and gave them a big boost in getting balls back and getting them extra possessions. We've got to cut that stuff out.

Q. Kobe, for you offensively, you were on the attack from the beginning and some of the people were wondering, was that by design or was that just what was made available to you out there?
KOBE BRYANT: No, you know, I was more aggressive in the second quarter. Felt the game slipping away. Got going, made some shots. Kept it going.
But that has nothing to do with us getting to the next round. We can't ‑‑ offensively, we scored enough points. We've got to do a better job defensively, period.

Q. What's your emotions, your feelings? Could you share any thoughts right now? Anger? Where are you with where you guys are at?

Q. What?

Q. How concerned are you, and are you reassured that you guys the last two years have always stepped up in these key Game 5s at home?
KOBE BRYANT: Can't rely on that. This is not last year. Just can't rely on that. We have to play with a sense of urgency and understand this team can beat us. And we've got to be ready to play.

Q. Do you maybe need any more help out there? Nobody had more than 15 points. You had 38. Nobody had more than three assists. You had 10.
KOBE BRYANT: That's not what wins championships. Everybody wants to talk about the offensive side of the ball. It has nothing to do with it. Gotta defend.

Q. You talk about the difference between your offense and defense and focusing on defense. Is there something to be said for the transition that comes from a missed shot on offensive possession going into defense, or do you just have to snap back into the two different sides of the ball?
KOBE BRYANT: It has something to do with it. But when the shot goes up and it's missed, be it a good shot or a bad shot, you gotta get your ass back.

Lakers Forward Pau Gasol

Q. Tougher game for you offensively tonight. Did those two early fouls just take you out of your rhythm a little bit?
PAU GASOL: No, not really. Not really. That happened in the first quarter. So then I was pretty safe the rest of the way. So that never got me off rhythm.

Q. Were you surprised that they zoned again so much and what was different about the way you guys attacked it tonight?
PAU GASOL: No, I wasn't surprised. I expected it tonight, as I said after Game 3.
And I think we moved the ball better. Tonight we got better looks. And for the most part, I mean, we gave ourselves a chance in the ball game. They just made huge runs at key points during the game. And then that last run it was hard and it was impossible for us to get back. But we recovered twice. The third time it was just too difficult.

Q. What was the mood like in the locker room? Phil seemed pretty emotional and animated during the game.
PAU GASOL: Yeah, I mean, we obviously ‑‑ it was an important game for us that we wanted to win. And obviously when you lose it and you don't reach your goal, obviously it's frustrating.
So obviously we're not happy about the way the game turned out tonight. But things happen like that. And now we've got to be ready for Game 5. And make sure we come out extremely, extremely hard and take the lead again in the series.

Q. As much as we're talking about the zone from the last two games, how much was the defense, really the lapse on defense, the cause for the losses?
PAU GASOL: I mean, basically defensively is what makes a big difference, I think. The zone has had an impact, you could say. But defensively you have to be really on top of your game plan and be aggressive.
But they shot the ball really well, I think, tonight for the most part. And I think one of the key points is definitely the rebounding difference.
18 offensive boards. Way too many. And 15 rebounds differential. I think that's probably one of the biggest keys of the game.

Q. Why do you think their second team was so effective in that fourth quarter?
PAU GASOL: They play well together. They play well together, obviously. And they're accustomed to play that way. And they're very effective. They give a good spark to the game when they come in. So you've got to be aggressive. You've got to make sure you take away the strengths of their players.
Dragic playing a pick‑and‑roll really hurt, couldn't stop it from getting into the lane and then started driving and kicking, and they made big shots on the kick outs.
So it's something that we have to figure out. I understand we've got to get the ball off the paint and we've got to be aggressive, and at times tonight it just didn't happen. We were again a little late on screen and rolls.

Q. Two‑part question. Do you see a similarity to the Oklahoma City series when you guys came home and had a must‑win kind of Game 5? And the second part, are you guys getting into yourself the last two years into this situation maybe too much? Houston, Denver last year, Oklahoma City, these, quote, must‑win Game 5s kind of?
PAU GASOL: Obviously every series is different. But the result at this point of the series is the same. And now we've got to go back home and make sure we have a really good intense game, where we set the tone from the first second, and we play as hard as possible for 48 minutes.
So we've got to understand they're a team that they're dangerous, as they proved. I think people were overlooking them after the first two games. And just thinking ahead already. And so obviously that's a big mistake.
But they played really well these two games. Give them credit. Now we've got to go home and make sure we play as well as possible.

Q. Pau, obviously both teams hold court. But the 15 rebounding differential was a big difference. How do you recapture that hunger back in Los Angeles under glass?
PAU GASOL: You've got to make sure you're physical. There's going to be a lot of contact allowed and a lot of grabbing, holding. And that's just the way it's going to be. So you have to make sure you're the one who is more aggressive on the boards and pursue them and just continue to box out and continue to be aggressive on the opposite glass.
Just want it more than they do.

Q. Was it part of the game plan to rely on Kobe for so much scoring early in the game, or did you think you guys relied too much on him, especially in the beginning?
PAU GASOL: No, it wasn't really the game plan. I think he's just that aggressive tonight. And obviously he had a pretty ‑‑ very good shooting night. Very good shooting night as I'm seeing now, six out of nine 3s, shooting at a high percentage from the field, too.
He was aggressive. He was carrying us offensively. And then the second half they started sending two guys on him even when they were in the zone.
So he made good plays passing the ball out. No, it wasn't really the game plan but he adjusted and he was aggressive.

Lakers’ Forward Lamar Odom

(On Phoenix Bench)
“Their bench beat us tonight, I think. We were able to cut their lead and they just kept making plays. It looks like they shot over 50% as a team. They beat us with their all around play.”
(On Tonight’s Game)
“They slowed us down with the zone again. We couldn’t get the ball inside. Kobe had a big game. Too bad we couldn’t come along with him. When you got 5 guys, then 11 guys including the bench, offensively into the game, it makes it tough. We aware of their capability; we’re definitely aware of it now.

Lakers’ Forward Ron Artest

(On Tonight’s Game)
“We tried you know, but we’ll come back and do it better next game. We’re just going to play hard and make sure we come out with a victory.”

Lakers’ Center Andrew Bynum

(On Tonight’s game)
“It’s the zone. We’re settling for outside jump shots. They were out there moving that ball, they were confident playing at home and they really just shot the ball well. They had everybody spaced out so everybody’s running around. It’s not just the way you do it, it’s not just getting the ball inside because there’s still going to be 4 people around you. You’ve got to move it around, get it in certain spots, try to slow it down to make them stop moving so we can see where to pick them apart at and throwing the ball from side to side to side. Slow it down, let the zone set so you can see where to attack it from.”

Suns Head Coach Alvin Gentry

Q. Can you talk about ‑‑ was that about as consistent a performance of the bench as you can get?
COACH GENTRY: Yeah, but I'll tell you guys, they've been good for us. They really have. That's why I said that you know we believe in our bench. And although they weren't scoring, I thought they played well.
You know, the thing that kind of hurt the most is that they've been coming into the games where we're down nine, down 11, and they play pretty good. But it was an uphill battle for them. So tonight when they came in, you know, tie score. I thought they played about as well as they could play.
I thought they were much better defensively than they were offensively, and I thought they were great offensively. We just did a good job. I think the thing about us is that we're a good team.
And on nights where they take things away from us, we're unselfish enough that we'll try to take what the defense gives us. And, you know, Amar'e didn't get a whole lot of touches. When he got touches, they were in. And he was willing to sacrifice his game to get guys open shots.

Q. It's like a two‑point game the beginning of the fourth quarter, and you've got your bench in. They've got their bench plus Kobe. How long were you going with your bench?
COACH GENTRY: Well, you know, we've done it before. And you know, we're going to go as long as we possibly can go. We like to try to get to the seven‑minute mark, then we put Steve and those guys back in. To tell you the truth, they were going so well ‑‑ we've done it before where we hadn't put the starters back in.
And really I think Steve went back in with a little over three minutes to go, and, you know, J‑Rich went in with about two and a half or something or three minutes to go. But we believe in those guys.
And they really believe in themselves, and they're a really cohesive unit. And they just do a good job of playing well together.

Q. What were you guys doing to keep Kobe from getting a lot of shots in the fourth quarter?
COACH GENTRY: Thirty-eight? Fourth quarter? The only thing we said to our guys was he was in such a rhythm, even in our zone, we said you'll have to get right up into him, make him a driver. Then if he drives, then we've got to make sure we don't foul him on jump shots. And we thought that if we give up two to really have an opportunity to maybe get three or get another easy basket, that's what we'd try to do.
I mean, the guy made some phenomenal shots. Lou guarded him three straight times where he was right in his face. He rose over him and made jumpers. There's nothing you can do about that.

Q. Eleven threes for you guys tonight, Channing with four. How happy were you to see that first one go through? Looked at one point you were going to sell him out, but then Robin didn't get in in time and he hit a couple and you sat Robin back down.
COACH GENTRY: We've done that before, too, and Robin turned and said, I should come back, because he made a couple of shots. And that's the other thing about this team. I'll tell you guys, they're so unselfish. They're so unselfish in what we do.
And if a guy is going well ‑‑ it's like J‑Rich. J‑Rich sat over there, L.B. made a couple of plays and I started to put him in. He said, he's going great, let's leave him in.
I think that's another reason why we've been successful as a team. It's really different than most NBA teams. We're really more like a college team, to be honest with you, the way guys are. But like I said, I think we got great chemistry and that really helps.

Q. You just talked about the zone tonight and how you used it and the effectiveness of it after they've seen it once.
COACH GENTRY: The only thing that we tried to do is that we tried to look at the tape, and we tried to look at it as if we were the Lakers. And we said, okay, where would you attack us? And we saw some areas where we thought we were real vulnerable in those areas.
And so we talked to our guys about being well aware of that. One of them was the high screen and roll with Kobe. We thought we would have to get up and at least make him a driver, not have him come off and just rise up and shoot the ball.
We also thought that they would try to pound the ball inside a lot more. So we were going to have to be inside and then close out the shooters. And I thought we did a good job with that.

Q. You seemed to have it work, even though it's a zone you seem to be matching up well with the big guys?
COACH GENTRY: I think that's the whole key right there. Although it's a zone, we really try to match up. Initially everyone has to have a man. And then from there, you know, we tried to pass guys off and we tried to stay in our zone.
I thought our guys did a good job tonight of communicating. And then a couple of times we let guys get behind us. But for the most part, you know, early on, once again, guys, they were making jump shots. And I think we have to live with the jump shots.
At the end of the night, they still had 42 points in the paint. But a lot of those came ‑‑ you know, near the end of the game where they drove and we decided to stay with the three‑point shooters and give up a basket in the lane rather than a 3‑point shot.

Q. Bynum played much better this game and gave you guys a lot of problems. Inside, do you ‑‑ in terms of your planning for the next go‑around, how do you assess what he did to you and what ‑‑
COACH GENTRY: He played great. The guy's an unbelievably long guy. They missed shots and we tried to box him out. And he would reach over the top of us and just make baskets. There's not a whole lot we can do about that. We understand that. We've got to try to get a body on him and box him out. But for the most part when he's out there we try to take advantage in situations put him in screen and rolls.

Phoenix Suns Guard Steve Nash

Q. Steve, obviously the bench was huge tonight in the second quarter. Mainly. But also in the fourth quarter, gave you and Amar'e a chance to be on the bench and get some rest?
STEVE NASH: The bench was fantastic. You know, they made a lot of plays offensively, but defensively they were great in the zone. They scrambled. They were intelligent. They made good decisions. And, you know, they were by far easily the difference tonight. And, you know, we're just real proud and excited for them.

Q. Steve, Amar'e came off a 42‑point game and really subjugated himself to the second unit and let them do their thing. Can you talk about what that means to have a star like that take a back seat and yourself as well?
STEVE NASH: Well, I mean, I think that's what being a team is about. And, you know, we're not the most talented team, but we've got depth and we've got to make that a staple of our success. We need those guys to come and do a great job.
The first unit was okay tonight. We fought. We hustled, did what we could. And the second unit was really efficient.
There's going to be nights like that where we need to have them like that especially in a series like this. And it was fantastic to watch. And we all had a blast over there cheering them on. And win four games in the series, we're going to need them.

Q. Steve, your squad's resiliency parallels your resiliency coming back from the broken nose. Unbelievable run. Will there be some partying at the Barrio Cafe to celebrate the victory?
STEVE NASH: I don't really party too much anymore. But, you know, it was fun in the locker room. Everyone enjoyed the game tonight. And we have a special group of guys who play well together. Really are supporting each other. Rooting for each other. Happy for each other. And that's why I think we've had as much success as we've had.

Q. I know seven seconds or less is a long time ago, but did you have any flashbacks when it started raining 3s again?
STEVE NASH: Everyone's been saying after Game 3 and down 2‑0 you haven't shot the ball well yet. So it was nice to feel it kind of open up and the 3s start going in. Particularly for Channing.
But the second unit went on a nice run there and made a bunch of 3s that was about as exciting a stretch as I've seen sitting on the side line in my team here.
So it was fun to see the shots go. But we gotta continue to do the little things to win in LA especially we've got to prove it either in game 5 or 7 that we can win in LA.
So all we've done is earned ourselves a great opportunity to go and try to win in LA.

Q. I was going to ask you about that. You're going back to LA. 2 out of 3 now. Talk about the poor starts and fighting digging yourself out of the hole in shooting percentages. How do you get yourself out of that trap?
STEVE NASH: In Game 1 we started out pretty well. In Game 2, maybe not. But both games by the end of the first quarter they had given themselves a 10‑point lead. I think, important for us is not the offense as much. Our offense was pretty good in LA. Not as good as maybe tonight. Or even Game 3. But not bad. 109 points, 50 percent both games. But we've got to slow them down.
And that's more than anything what we've done at home is slowed them down. Obviously the zone is a big part of that. But we expect more from them. We expect them to play better. And we've got to match it.

Q. Steve, talking about the zone defense, obviously the Lakers, unleash in Game 3. They said they were going to make adjustments. But they admitted they're still having problems with that zone. So do you feel like you've found an Achilles heel against them?
STEVE NASH: We've got to play some zone against them for sure, you know? We've got to continue to adjust and be intelligent in the zone. Make good decisions. And at the same time we've got to sprinkle in other looks. We've got to be able to play man for stretches like we did tonight in the first half.
And, you know, we've got to fight. They're bigger than us. Most people can make an argument that they're better than us. But we've got to have a lot of heart and a lot of determination and find ways to win the little battles.

Q. Kobe had 15 in the second and 16 in the third but only seven in the fourth. Could you talk about your defensive approach against him in the fourth quarter?
STEVE NASH: To be honest, he made a lot of tough shots. He made a lot of 3s, long 2s. So maybe he didn't quite make as many in the fourth. But he still had a phenomenal game.
And seven points isn't bad for a quarter. So he had a phenomenal game. He was aggressive from the perimeter, he made a lot of shots. And we gotta obviously keep an eye on him.

Suns’ Forward Amar’e Stoudemire

Q. They sort of took your game away a little bit. But you were able to find the rest of the team and get everybody involved. Just talk about that taking you out of the aggressiveness of your game, but the bench play tonight and the other things you guys did as a team?
AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE: Did a great job on the screen and rolls and taking the roll guy away. Was able to find open shooters in the perimeter. Did a great job knocking down shots. So it's going to be nice like that where they try to take me out of the game and that's when the second unit did a great job of carrying us there for a while.
And they did a great job of knocking down open shots when they were open.

Q. You did have the big third quarter. How important was it for you to respond in that situation, because Kobe was starting to catch fire about that time. Seemed like he responded every day he hit a shot you came back with something?
AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE: Was playing chess. Had to match Kobe every time he make a move, I had to make one, because going into the third quarter, you know he's going to try to carry his team and start a run.
So I wanted to make sure that we counter his run. And we did a great job of scoring, also trying to get stops, but Kobe had some tough shots out there, I'll tell you. But definitely wanted to try to match his intensity in the third quarter.

Q. All you guys did is hold home court. You obviously got the two wins but you've got to go over there and get one win. Talk about Game 5 and how you go out with the aggressiveness and try to take what you did tonight and carry that over?
AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE: It's going to be tough going to LA and trying to get Game 5, is a very, very important game. We both know it. Both teams knows how important this game is. We have to make sure we bring the intensity from the start and do what we did here at home if not better. And try to get a win.

Q. Game 3 you were the man with the points. Game 4 you subjugated yourself in front of the team. What can you take from each experience into Game 5?
AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE: Every game is a different game. Different game plan for the Lakers every night. The game plan tonight was to take me out, contain the roll guy. I was able to get a few ISOs and throw some fouls, got to the free‑throw line.
But Game 5 is not sure what they're going to do. At this point we pretty much saw everything and they saw everything that we have. So it's a matter of will now going into Game 5 and the rest of the way. So just gotta make sure we have determination and focus and see if we can get one.

Q. Could you just talk about the bench play tonight, what the reserves did, the second wave, if you will?
AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE: They did a phenomenal job for us. The second unit has been great for us all year. For those guys to come out and play as well as they did, crash the boards, they got stops. They shot the ball well. Energy was high. When Shannon hit his first 3, the crowd went out of control.
And that just carried the momentum over. And the second unit did a great job of living off our fans. The fans was great tonight. So great effort from their part.

Q. A lot of people wrote you off, this team off after the two losses in LA. How good does it feel to get back in the series and defend the home court with momentum going into Game 5?
AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE: Feels great. Confidence is high. Feel we have a chance of winning the series. It's never an easy win in LA.
We have to make sure we bring our determination. The will factor comes into play now. We have to make sure we're ready to go.

Q. Could you talk a little bit about the rebounding edge, too? Seems like you guys are really aggressive and you took the team on the boards.
AMAR'E STOUDEMIRE: We're doing great. All five rebounding now. We're all trying to get a shot and rebound. Knowing these guys, their length is always a factor and good on offensive boards.
With that being said, all five of us are going in there trying to board, and we're boxing out, and we know if we get stops we have a better chance of running and getting out on fast breaks.
So that's the mentality is go get the boards, get some stops and off to the offense.

Lakers-Suns Preview

By BOB BAUM, AP Sports Writer

PHOENIX (AP)—Losing one game in Phoenix was tolerable for the Los Angeles Lakers. Two losses and things start to get uncomfortable for the reigning NBA champions.

It’s safe to say that coach Phil Jackson was giving his team a refresher course on how to beat a zone defense when the Lakers worked out at US Airways Center on Monday after Phoenix employed the strategy to great success in its 118-109 victory on Sunday night. The Suns can square the series at 2-2 with another home win in Game 4 on Tuesday night.

Jackson said he had never seen a team use the zone so much in a playoff game since the NBA legalized the defense in the 2001-02 season, not that Kobe Bryant seemed all that concerned.

When asked if a day of practice would be enough to work out how to attack the zone, he answered sarcastically.

“Nah,” he said. “We’re doomed.”

The Suns used the zone much of the second quarter and the entire second half. Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry said that was more than he anticipated but he stuck with it because it worked when nothing else had against the Lakers, who averaged 126 points and shot 58 percent in the series’ first two games.

There were inferences on Monday that the zone is somehow an “unmanly” defense, that real teams play man-to-man.

“We have to try every way we can to find a situation where we can win,” Gentry said. “Whatever that takes, that’s what it is. If we have to play our ‘girlie zone’ as somebody said, we’ll play our ‘girlie zone.”’

Steve Nash’s nose and Andrew Bynum’s knee were main subjects of discussion on Monday.

Nash has a small nasal fracture from a fourth-quarter collision with Derek Fisher but said he’s had “a handful” of broken noses and expected to be fine for Game 4. After all, he played the fourth quarter of Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinals with his right eye swollen shut after taking an elbow from Tim Duncan .

“To me I think he’s as tough as they come,” Gentry said. “You saw what happened in the game last night, he tried to rearrange his own nose. My wife was in a car accident and broke her nose. It almost made her physically sick to see him grab his nose and just try to rearrange it himself.”

Bynum got in early foul trouble and had just two points and two rebounds in 7 1/2 minutes on Sunday night. After the game, Jackson talked about perhaps having the big center, who has a small meniscus tear in his right knee, sit out the next game. But Jackson said on Monday that Bynum would play.

“I talked to him this morning. He feels like he’s OK,” the Lakers coach said. “I was worried that he was impinging on his ability to play by concern about his health and status, and he says he’s OK.”

Jackson isn’t about to rest Bynum just to get him more ready for a finals matchup against Boston.

“The only thing there is is the Phoenix series,” Jackson said. “If we don’t just stay focused on that, there’s nothing else. You have to play immediately for this series and forget about whatever else is down the road.”

The taller Lakers dominated the inside game in the first two contests, but Phoenix’s front line duo of Amare Stoudemire and Robin Lopez outscored the Lakers’ trio of Pau Gasol , Bynum and Lamar Odom 62-35 in Game 3. Gasol scored 23 on 11 of 14 shooting, but Odom made just 4 of 14 shots for 10 points.

Criticized widely for his play in the first two games of the series, Stoudemire attacked the rim from the start. In addition to making 14 of 22 field goals, he was 14 of 18 at the foul line. He had 11 rebounds, two more than in the first two games combined.

Lopez scored 20 on 8 of 10 shooting and his 7-foot presence anchored the Suns’ zone. He played 29 1/2 minutes in just his third game back after being sidelined with a bulging disk in late March.

In all, the Suns made 37 of 42 free throws to 16 of 20 for the Lakers.

That, Bryant said, was the difference.

Stoudemire knows he will be Los Angeles’ No. 1 target in Game 4.

“I’m not sure what they’re going to do,” he said, “but I guarantee you Phil is going to come up with something slick.”

Bryant nearly had a triple double with 36 points, 11 assists and nine rebounds but was just 2 of 8 on 3s. He said the Lakers were lured into taking a franchise playoff record 32 3-point shots, making nine of them.

“We’re not a great 3-point shooting team consistently anyway,” he said. “We did have good looks and sometimes get baited into taking those, some of them with the shot clock being low, granted. But we can do a much better job the first 17 seconds of the clock.”

He said the team also needs to clean up some “silly” turnovers. The Lakers had 17, five by Bryant, to the Suns’ seven.

Jason Richardson made 4 of 7 3-pointers on Sunday night. The rest of the Suns were 1 of 13. Channing Frye’s woes worsened. He went 0 of 7, 0 of 5 on 3s, and is 1 of 20 for the series. He has missed 17 in a row.

Frye was the last player off the practice court, shooting jumper after jumper. He was miffed about having to answer questions about “something little” like his shooting problems after such a big win.

“Sometimes the ball doesn’t go in, man. It’s just one of those things. It’s just not going in,” he said. “It’s going to go in tomorrow, though, I’m going to tell you that. They’re going to go in tomorrow.”

Bryant said, not surprisingly, that no one on his team was panicking. And just when was the last time Bryant panicked on the basketball court? In high school, maybe?

“When my shorts fell down,” he said. “They were too big.”

AP Sports Writer Matt Paulson contributed to this report.

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

Obviously the big story coming out of Game 3 was the zone defense that Phoenix played that was surprisingly effective. We simply did not do the right things in order to slice up the zone and make them go back to playing their man defense. If (when) we see this zone again we need to make sure that we do not simply settle for the first open perimeter jumper that we see. We need to get the ball from side to side in order to make the zone shift then we can attack the seams. It is imperative that we get penetration against their zone. Once we get penetration – through the use of pass fakes and aggressive reads – then we open up possibilities for offensive rebounds. In a zone there are no specific block out responsibilities for the defenders and many times this will lead to offensive rebounds.

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.


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 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 (4,747) 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 (25.3).

In their 118-109 loss at Phoenix May 23, the Lakers attempted a playoff franchise-high 32 three-point field goals (9-32, .281). The previous franchise playoff-high of 31 three-point attempts has happened three times, most recently in their 96-101 loss at Oklahoma City April 22, 2010 (10-31, .323). The Lakers shot 9-of-31 (.290) on three- pointers 5/25/09 in a 101-120 loss at Denver in Game 4 of the 2009 Conference Finals. Los Angeles also attempted 31 three-point field goals (10-31, .323) 5/24/02 in a 90- 103 loss to the Sacramento Kings in Game 3 of the 2002 Conference Finals. The Lakers are now 0-4 all-time in the playoffs when attempting 31 or more three-point shots.

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.

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 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 eight double-figure assists games in his playoff career. With Bryant coming up one rebound shy of a triple-double with 36 points, 11 assists and 9 rebounds 5/23 at Phoenix, the last Laker to post one in the playoffs is still Johnson: 6/2/91 at Chicago - 19 points, 10 rebounds, 11 assists.

With a 118-109 loss at Phoenix in Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals, the Lakers saw their 8-game win streak come to an end. The streak marked their fourth longest single-postseason win 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.

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).

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).

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).

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.


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