#3 PHOENIX SUNS 107 @ #1 LOS ANGELES LAKERS 128
(Lakers lead series, 1-0)
I thought it was huge that Robin Lopez returned to the line-up. The Lakers' Andrew Bynum proclaimed that his knee felt worse. I thought that maybe the Lakers, while still taller and lengthier, would have a bit of a harder time going inside with Lopez back. And there was a little episode about Kobe Bryant getting his knee drained recently.
The Suns started out hot enough. They got out to a 20-15 start and the Lakers were falling into that skittish pace of Phoenix.
And then they settled down. Kobe and Lamar Odom helped the Lakers blast the Suns with a 20-6 run. The Suns, specifically Channing Frye, were not connecting on their three-point shooting even though they were getting some good looks.
Odom was a huge diffference in the first half. He outscored the entire Suns bench, who've been lauded all season, in the first 24 minutes, 15-13. The Suns adjusted and started to go inside a bit more with midrange jumpers and dunks. The Suns shot well (50 percent) but the Lakers kept up their incredible shooting (61 percent). I figured that the Suns would wake up from behind the arc (3-10 in the first half) and I also figured that there was no way that the Lakers could shoot 61 percent the entire game. L.A. led, 62-55, at halftime.
But they still did. The Lakers broke it open in the 3rd quarter, especially Kobe. Kobe scored a Goran Dragic-like (ha ha) 21 points in the 3rd and was an immense help on pushing the Laker lead to 17. When the Laker bigs like Pau Gasol (21 points) and Lamar Odom (19 and 19!) are having their way AND Kobe is shooting like that, it's hard for any team to beat L.A. Then the Lakers went on another run in the fourth (Lakers led as much as 26), which basically put away the game. Suns ended up shooting 49 percent but the Lakers, of course, kept their pace and shot 58 percent.
Kobe ended up dropping a 40 on the Suns. Amar'e Stoudemire had a quiet 23 points.
The Thunder gave the Lakers trouble with their run-and-gun offense. The Suns are the masters of that but their transition game was held in check for pretty much all 48 minutes. Despite the huge margin, it's STILL only one game. Expect the Suns to force that chaotic pace on the Lakers in the next game.
As far as the Lakers go? You can't ask for a better start from them. Except for the fact that the fans at Staples didn't get tacos and that every other Laker fan not at the arena didn't get virtual tacos.
Let's see the next episode on Wednesday.
PHOTO CREDIT: Jae Hong/AP.We're always up late. How about buying us a coffee? Or an energy drink!?