I was all set to talk about Vladimir Radmanovic’s 5-for-5 from three evening, Pau Gasol’s nine assists or L.A.’s 43 bench points … Until I saw the most telling stat of the evening: The Lakers turned the ball over just seven times.
In fact, after Kobe Bryant (who scored 24 points) turned the ball over twice in the first few minutes of the game, the Lakers gave the Suns the rock just five more times in 46 minutes. Couple that with 46.7 percent shooting and consistently solid low-post defense, and you have yourself an easy win, even in a hostile environment that got decreasingly loud as the Lakers increasingly stepped up their lead to as many as 18 points.
Facing a tough four-five combination of Shaq and Amare Stoudemire, Andrew Bynum, Gasol and Lamar Odom held up extremely well, ceding just 36 combined points on 33 shots from the Suns low-post combination. For two guys that shoot very high percentages, the 36-33 stat is terrific, and some additional credit needs to go Odom’s way for taking the battle with much bigger dudes.
OK, Let’s go back to Vladi’s threes … What a boost from a guy who’d been shooting terribly in L.A.’s 8-1 start. Phil Jackson and Trevor Ariza were particularly impressed with Radmonovic’s rainbows. On second thought, even someone who doesn’t know basketball was impressed with Vlad’s shooting (isn’t it pretty watching the ball go up and down like that? That kind of stuff should go in baby cribs, on repeat). When Vladi’s stroking like that, opponents literally have no way to defend the purple and gold.
To sum things up, here’s some audio from Trevor Ariza, who finished with 10 points, three boards, three assists and a block in 22 minutes:
The Lakers are back in action in just a few hours, Friday night at STAPLES Center against the Denver Nuggets. See you there.