Inactive for today’s game:
Lakers: Kwame Brown, Luke Walton
Suns: DJ Strawberry
11:02 – Much is said in the first 2 baskets by each team. For the Suns, Amare makes a quick move and leaves Bynum standing still. On the Lakers end, Bynum receives the entry pass and Amare gambles on the steal and misses it and Bynum converts easily. It would appear that Amare is focused on using his quickness at both ends to negate Bynum’s strength.
7:14 – It won’t appear anywhere else, but Kobe more or less jumped over Nash in pursuit of a loose ball. The energy is pretty high from the beginning and #24 is clearly focused and ready.
5:20 – It’s 20-14 to the Suns and it’s pretty easy to see that the Lakers defense is not up to snuff tonight. Lamar has been guilty of letting his man get by too easily, at first it was Marion, but Diaw just took a sweet feed from Nash and rolled right by. Also, Grant Hill is getting to his mid-range spots without much difficulty. The Lakers should back off when he is at the 3 point line, but his mid-range game is his preferred weapon and Ariza hasn’t been able to stop him. Both teams have started going to the bench, Diaw and Barbosa for the Suns, Radmanovic for the Lakers.
3:38 – The foul must have been on the body, because it looked real clean up top. Nonetheless, Diaw is at the line and Lamar is literally hopping mad at the foul call.
2:47 – The Matrix takes it strong to the hoop, but Vlad will have none of it. Not too often that the Marion/Radmanovic duel in the air goes to Vladi, but he fuels the break and finds Lamar in the lane who dishes to Bynum for a foul.
End of the 1st Quarter – Phoenix takes a narrow 26-25 lead into the 2nd quarter. After trailing for most of the quarter, the Lakers have closed the gap. The Suns are still getting too many good looks. The defense has scrambled better to cover, but the plan for really stopping the Suns isn’t there yet.
9:51 Grant Hill has been in the league for a long time and I don’t think he’s ever got splashed on as bad as he just did. Trevor Ariza shows no respect for his elders as he straight took Hill with a knee to the sternum for the and-one dunk. The Laker bench can barely control itself. Javaris had to hold Kobe back. STAPLES is going nuts.
9:04 A classic Vujacic drive results in a Bynum and-one dunk that pushes the Lakers lead to six at 36-30. D’Antoni and the Suns need a timeout to stop the bleeding. The TV broadcast continues to show replays of the Ariza dunk.
4:39 The alley-oop to Bynum goes right over Amare’s head and results in Stoudemire getting put on a poster. Bynum is 7/7 today and is going to the line for more. Derek Fisher has also made his last two shots after starting just 1 of 5.
2:45 Headed into the TV timeout the Lakers lead 51-50. Amare just lost Odom on the way down and threw it down with ease. Fisher has stayed hot knocking down another long two. Thus far the Suns only have two turnovers to the Lakers six.
1:37 The Suns had been 2/10 from behind the arc before making their last two from deep. Fish won’t quit, he’s got the Lakers last 7 points and 15 total. Lakers up two.
The Suns fail to capitalize on the final possession of the half and the teams head into the locker room deadlocked at 62 a piece. For the Lakers the hero of the first half has been Derek Fisher, who’s late second quarter surge has paced the Lakers. Andrew Bynum has also asserted himself inside not only on offense (where he has 16 points on 7 of 9 shooting), but also on defense where he has consistently bothered the Suns interior game.
The Suns three-point shooting was off early, but made a late comeback finishing the half 5/13. The surprising stat of the half is that the Lakers have more assists than the Suns (17 to 16). Not surprisingly they’re also winning the rebound battle 25-21.
10:12 No one else in the league can hit the spinning 20-foot fadeaway as #24 can. It’s a gift.
8:34 Ariza with another alley-oop, Brian Cook doesn’t make that play.
5:51 All the Lakers starters are in double figures and Amare Stoudemire just picked up his 4th personal foul on a Lakers breakaway. 78-76 Lakers after the blocking foul. The Bench mob only has four points so far today.
Turiaf enters for the Lakers along with the starters. Both teams are going extremely small.
2:50 Phoenix takes it’s first lead of the 3rd quarter on a Steve Nash trey. That’s answered by an Ariza bucket, then re-answered by a sloppy bank shot by Raja Bell. 85-83 Suns. Phoenix has made 8 of it’s last 10 three-point attempts.
1:42 It was mentioned in last Sunday’s telecast, but Sasha goes to the line for three shots at a pretty high frequency. That’s a stat that needs to be looked up. Vujacic makes two of three to tie the game up.
End of 3rd
OH MY GOD… I’m not saying anything else about the end of that quarter.
10:49 – Bynum harasses back to back Suns shots in the lane and converts on the other end as well. In the larger picture, you saw Andrew add to his offensive game last year, but his improvement this year has been significant at both ends. He is becoming that last line of defense the team has sorely lacked.
8:22 – Neither team can get an significant advantage. It seems set to go down to the wire. That leaves the in-arena mood as decidedly pensive. Certainly Bynum has had his effect on the game. Stoudemire is on the floor with Skinner whereas Skinner is usually only on the floor to give Amare a rest. But Amare can’t guard Andrew without fouling, so D’Antoni has to go with the odd pairing. Thus far, each quarter has had a hero, the first belonged to Bynum, the second to Fisher and the third to Kobe (14 points). We’ll see how the hero of the fourth quarter will be. It doesn’t seem like it will come from the bench, as they only have 8 points tonight.
5:15 – Lakers hold the 106-99 lead. Bynum has imposed himself on the Suns again. He has 26 points, his career high and seems on his way to more. Kobe has been dominating the ball on most of the possessions, but Andrew seems to be finishing them. Defensively, the Lakers have been rotating well, giving up contested shots instead of wide open 3′s. Nash has continued to hurt the Lakers with assists and scoring. It should be noted the game that Ariza has put together. His athleticism is in full effect, including an excellent block on a Barbosa lay-up. He also has 12 points on 6-10 shooting. More than respectable.
3:10 – Kobe shimmies and misses a 3, he is clearly ready to carry the team for the rest of the game. Then he gets called on a foul on Bell beyond the 3 point line. The replay suggests that Kobe’s ire was justified.
2:23 – Ariza has brought the crowd to its feet time after time. A feed from Fisher leads to another dunk and the crowd responds and the Suns take a time-out.
1:13 – Ariza draws a charge after Kobe feeds Bynum for another dunk. You can tell the crowd decided to be here, they chose above everything else to come see their Lakers and it shows. Every play draws a roar and people are leaving far slower than normal.
:24.9 – Kareem smiled.
End of game – Lakers 122, Phoenix 115