Lakers vs. Suns In-Game

Inactives for Tonight’s Game
Suns: Alando Tucker
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Chris Mihm

1st Quarter
There’s a beginning you don’t see every game. Luke sails a pass out of bounds as he and Lamar saw different things, then Nash passes to Diaw who doesn’t even see the ball go by as he is distracted by who knows what.

8:59 – The team is following Phil’s directive to get Kwame opportunities to go at Stoudemire, but thus far it hasn’t yielded positive results. You just worry about Kwame losing confidence, but it’s worth it to continue attacking the middle. The Suns have opened an 8-2 lead, though their offense hasn’t been especially fluid.

5:18 – The rumbles of discontent are palpable throughout the arena. The fans have seen their team not get a series of calls that certainly the players thought were coming their way. Of greater concern is that Kwame has gotten several opportunities and hasn’t converted, including missing a lay-up that would have been a Bynum dunk. It’s hard to fault Kwame too much, he lacks any lift with his ankle, but you would like to see more ferocity. The refs are allowing contact, up to that offensive foul on Kwame. That’s 2 on Kwame and now the Lakers go smaller with Ronny.

2:46 – The score has yo-yo’ed from 11 to 5 and stands at a 9 point Suns lead. The Lakers have been taking the ball to the hole, but either they’re getting less contact than they think or the refs aren’t helping them out. Defensively, the effort hasn’t been bad, but the Suns are already at 23 points, so they have been getting the job done, if with less flair than we normally see.

1:38 – Courtside gets a wake-up call with an errant Suns pass. Kobe takes a drive to the basket and gets what should be enough contact for a foul. He gets no love and voices his displeasure. It will be interesting to see if he can resist dominating the ball. Once his juices get flowing, he has the will to dominate and certainly the contact without the calls has his juices flowing.

End of 1st Quarter Lakers 24, Suns 27
What a strange flurry to end the 1st. The game has gotten real chippy on the Lakers side. Ronny picked up a “count the basket” offensive foul. At the end Jordan hits a big 3 with the clock dwindling and Raja Bell gets a technical foul for responding to Ronny’s amped up play. That cuts a big Suns lead to 3. Certainly the Lakers need to take their irritation and focus it on useful physicality, especially since the refs will be alert to any more behind the play shenanigans.

2nd Quarter
8:55 – The Lakers are standing around a bit too much. That’s the vacuum that Kobe will always fill, the other players must assert themselves. On the last play Jordan was being defended by Marion after the rebound. That’s a match-up he can use, but no one cleared out and Jordan was forced to pass the ball. Out of the time-out Kobe gets his first break, we’ll see how Javaris does.

7:58 – Ronny has channeled his ire into a strong drive to the hoop. He just backs Skinner down, physically moving him out of the way.

6:04 – Javaris just defined a rookie. Jordan gets him the ball at the 3 point line with time to shoot. He has the option to shoot, take 2 dribbles past his man and take the jumper. He goes for option 3, take it into traffic and dump it off, which gets a 3 second call. It’s not a terrible play, but it’s that lack of understanding of the situation, in this case what his teammates were anticipating, that shows his first year status. Overall he’s played with energy and he’s shown more of that promise. If you’re keeping track when Kobe left, the team was down 8 and now it’s 14.

4:14 – Amid the struggle, Kobe and D’Antoni get in a quick chat while there are some free throws. Kobe then dives into the scorer’s table to get a loose ball. He’s just always dialed in.

2:59 – Besides the whole 13 point deficit thing, another concern is that Derek Fisher has 0 points. Sam Cassell was able to have his way with Nash in the Clippers victory and I’m sure Derek and Jordan (4 points) both knew that they would have a similar opportunity. It’s not that Nash has lit it up, though he does have the 9 assists that are a point guard’s job well done, but for some reason it just hasn’t happened tonight for the Lakers point guards. That has resulted in uneven scoring with Lamar and Kobe and not many others.

End of the 1st Half Lakers 43, Suns 56
There have been few bright spots for the Lakers in the 1st half. There were a few glimmers at the end, Derek finally got on the board, Kwame got a dunk down low, but on the whole, the Lakers need to do much better in the 2nd half. It starts with defense, where the Suns are shooting 61%59.5% to the Lakers 31.9%, 57.4% from the 3 point line and have 21 assists to the Lakers 5. The team seems distracting by non-calls and then aren’t bothering to re-focus to their defensive tasks. The Suns also have 8 blocks to 0 by the Lakers. That’s a team not getting help defense. We’ll see if Phil can get the team to apply the plan before the game in the second half because this certainly isn’t what he drew up.

3rd Quarter
9:38 Kwame is getting booed mercilessly after missing a wide open dunk after a nice pass from Lamar. This one is inexcusable. The crowd isn’t letting him forget it as they boo as soon as he touches the ball on the Lakers next offensive possession. A turnover on that possession isn’t helping his cause. Kobe, Derek, & Luke come over to console the big man. It’s not helping, he just turned it over for the third consecutive time. It’s just brutal (Kwame’s play and the reaction to it).

7:52 In the mixed bag that has been Kwame’s career this might be the worst 90 seconds of it. A missed layup and another turnover mark five straight trips that he’s given the ball up to the Suns. Boos are still raining down as he picks up his fourth foul.

7:17 Phil calls a timeout as the Suns 13-point halftime lead has swelled to 19. I’ve always been more apt to light a candle when it comes to Kwame than curse his darkness, but right now I can’t be his friend. The “he’s still not 100% back from his injury” excuse isn’t doing it for me right now. Suns 65, Lakers 46.

3:50 Kwame picks up his 5th foul to a thunderous STAPLES Center applause. Now I’m back to being his friend, no one deserves that type of response on the home floor. Still I don’t mind seeing Ronny coming back in. Suns lead by 18 and if the Lakers don’t finish this quarter off with a run it won’t even be worth playing the 4th. Turiaf cans a jumper on his first trip down the floor.

1:11 The amount of fouls being called and not being called is catching up to the Lakers bench in the frustration department. Getting blown out is also adding to that frustration. Responding to it in the fourth could tell us a lot about what we’re going to see out of this team for the next 7 weeks and 3 days.

0:00 The Lakers only got outscored by 5 this quarter, but they got out demoralized by a much larger number than that. (Did that make sense, does anything make sense as far as the Lakers go right now?) 79-61 Suns. I hope the guy makes the half court shot for $125K so I can say I saw something worthwhile tonight. UPDATE: He came up WELL short…

4th Quarter

10:49 – Sitting behind by this much the Lakers have had their “only if” moments where only if this shot went down then the deficit would be less and then . . . They’re in one of those moments, cutting the Suns lead to 10 with some energized D and two Sasha 3′s. The Machine is back with a vengeance. We’ll see if the Lakers can make a game of it.

8:42 – Jordan leaves Diaw to go back to his man and Nash obliges by hitting him for the easy jumper. Phil is literally covering his eyes after that defensive effort.

6:01 – Lakers 78, Suns 89 – The Lakers have flirted with taking it into single digits, but their clutch offensive possessions and tough defense aren’t coming after each other, so the Suns are able to keep scoring. Again, each time they get that chance to really get it close, something goes awry. This run has happened without Kobe and while he wasn’t the problem, it’s good to see these players putting forth the effort. It may not be enough, but it’s an improvement over the first 3 quarters.

3:57 – Lakers 83, Suns 96 – the suns have withstood the charge, we’ll see if the Lakers can gun there way back, but they don’t seem to have the stops in them tonight. On Bell’s 3 Kobe got in a sly little smack on his way by. It’s the kind of thing that the shooter remembers next time, but it’s subtle enough to not draw the foul. Of course, next time came and Kobe actually fouled Bell obviously, but it’s a clever veteran move nonetheless.

:46.5 Lakers 96, Suns 102 – They have kept gunning, but the Suns have been hitting their 3′s too.

End of Game Lakers 98 , Suns 106