As always, feel free to refresh your browser for live updates throughout the game … On second thought, I guess they wouldn’t technically be “live” updates since you have to press refresh. But whatever.
Lakers: Andrew Bynum, Sun Yue
Suns: Amare Stoudemire
Some pretty big names there on the inactive list, huh? One stat: Phoenix is 6-16 since 2004 without Nash.
Lakers Fisher, Bryant, Walton, Odom and Gasol
Suns Leandro Barbosa, Alando Tucker, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill and Shaquille O’Neal
Perhaps more important than the starting lineups is my new favorite song, the lyrics of which I’ve incorporated successfully into three answers to normal questions (mostly asking how I’m doing) today, much to Ty Nowell’s displeasure:
“Oh, I’ve been travelin on this road too long … Just tryin’ to find my way back home. The old me’s dead and gone, dead and gone.”
“Dead and Gone,” T.I. featuring Justin Timberlake.
As such, T.I. (who hasn’t disappointed in a while) replaced “Human” by The Killers, 50 Cent’s “Get Up” and some Coldplay remix featuring Jay-Z as my go-to song. I’ll clear these with Josh Powell in Phoenix this weekend.
12:48 Pregame After running out first from the tunnel per usual, Sasha Vujacic sprinted to halfcourt, said something to Grant Hill, then turned and swished a halfcourt shot near the sideline. It looked like he was trying to make a bet with Hill on a second shot, which looked good until it hit Sun Yue’s jumper right before it went in. Sasha was not happy, but that was fun. So were his post-shootaround ramblings.
12:00 It’s the first regular season Lakers game this season for Mr. “With No Regard for Human Life!!!!” Kevin Harlan called Timberwolves games with Kevin McHale and Trent Tucker (at different times) as I grew up … I feel the same way about Harlan as I do about Mountain Dew, Champions League soccer and T.I.
10:45 A few interesting matchups tonight: Pau’s trying to check Shaq, Kobe’s being guarded by Tucker (meaning you’ll see Kobe get down on the block) and Fisher’s on the ultra-quick Barbosa. Sure enough, L.A.’s first two possessions saw Bryant catch the ball just off the left block, where he turned around (swish) then up-faked Tucker to get to the line. He then scored in transition, and the Lakers were up 5-0.
9:21 After two Shaq dunks (Gasol not surprisingly wasn’t able to keep him out of the paint) Pau took advantage of Shaq’s not wanting to pop out by hitting a jumper.
7:27 Though the Lakers opened the game making their first six shots, Phoenix went 6-of-10 including two threes to take a 14-13 lead on Barbosa’s triple. The defense really hasn’t been good on either end, with the Lakers not even committing a foul as Phoenix went through layup and dunk drills.
3:52 As L.A. picked up its defensive effort, Phoenix started taking contested jumpers, which L.A. cleared and turned into points. Gasol was everywhere during the 9-0 run, not only scoring over a super small Suns lineup with Shaq on the bench, but grabbing two rebounds and tossing two dimes to put L.A. up 26-20 before he attempted two free throws.
2:58 TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager used some weird globe to explain Stoudemire’s eye injury, while I was temporarily blinded by the yellow on Jordan Farmar’s shoes. Joining Farmar was fellow UCLA alum Trevor Ariza, who watched Gasol hit both free throws to get to nine points.
1:25 Figuring that his 6-of-6 shooting for 13 points was too easy, Bryant threw a difficult but pretty alley-oop pass over three defenders to a cutting Farmar, who stuck it in off glass as L.A. claimed a 34-22 lead on the strength of a 17-2 run. Yikes.
0:01.9 Backup point guard Goran Dragic managed a pull-up jumper to close a quarter that L.A. completely took over at the 6:00 mark – when Phoenix led 20-17 – by scoring 22 points to just six from the Suns.
The Lakers shot a Leo’s-girlfriend-hot 69.6 percent from the floor (16-of-23) while Phoenix managed to hit just 11-of-26 shots (42.3 percent).
Shaq’s on the floor with the following dudes: Dragic, Matt Barnes, Jared Dudley (from Charlotte) and Tucker. That’s a bit different from Amare, Nash, Hill and Richardson.
10:29 You know you’re in trouble when D.J. Mbenga’s nailing 17-foot jumpers on you. Ariza (a triple) and Vujacic (two free throws) were at it too as L.A. took a 46-29 lead, but those two points were Mbenga’s first of the season (to be fair, he’d played only seven minutes or so).
9:57 Mbenga on fire on both ends. Not only did he make his second-straight field goal, he then swatted first Shaq and then Barnes on a fastbreak that looked like a layup. Harlan’s voice reached a new inflection on the Barnes swat, which was almost as fun as Shannon Brown’s last week.
6:19 Vujacic doesn’t usually dunk in transition, opting to lay it up, but he just threw one down after picking Tucker’s pocket. That’s six points for Sasha with two dimes as L.A. held onto a 54-39 lead.
4:33 The bench did well to maintain the lead attained by the starters, though Jackson put Fish, Kobe and Odom back in with Powell and Adam Morrison. Odom promptly scored consecutive buckets to put L.A. up 62-45 on Bryant’s fifth assist.
P.S. a good stat from TNT: Bryant, Odom and Gasol are averaging a collective 17 more points without Andrew Bynum.
2:15 Bryant had to force up a tough fadeaway as the shotclock expired, but Morrison was there for the offensive rebound and put-back jam, his first field goal for the Lakers. In related news, Ty saw someone with a custom-made Morrison No. 6 jersey before the game. Even better was a pretty assist a minute later to a cutting Odom for a jam.
0:00 The half closed on a strange note, when Powell went for an offensive rebound following Fisher’s last-second miss, only to get called for a push that put Hill on the line with two bonus free throws. He missed one, however, and the Lakers took a 70-55 lead into the half.
8:29 A quick Phoenix spurt had cut L.A.’s lead to 11 before the Lakers went on a two-minute terror, scoring nine straight points that included two Odom layups and a Fisher three, making the score 83-63. Odom got to a team-high 14 points on 7-of-8 shooting to complement a pretty line including eight boards, four assists and three blocks.
6:56 Yes. There’s your first “Up high and down hard!” from Kevin Harlan, courtesy of a Bryant oop from Pau’s alley.
4:54 That might be the last we’ll see of Shaq, who left in favor of rookie Robin Lopez with his team down by 23. He had 12 points and seven boards in 20 minutes of burn. Jackson stuck to his regular rotation save for Fisher, who sat while Farmar checked in (the rest of the starters should leave after about two minutes).
1:59 Odom and Bryant simply aren’t missing anything tonight. Bryant hit his first triple to get to 22 points on 10-of-13 shooting, before Odom notched an and-1 to reach 21 points on 10-of-11 shooting. The two also combined for 11 assists and 13 rebounds as L.A. claimed a 100-77 lead.
1:13 Speaking of Odom and Bryant … They just hooked up again for a Lamar layup before Bryant checked out, probably for the game.
Phoenix scored the final four points of the quarter, but still trailed 102-81 heading into the fourth.
9:10 Handling the scoring load to start the quarter was Ariza, who hit a three and a floater despite getting hacked to put L.A. up 111-84.
6:53 After Farmar and Powell spent a good 10 seconds trying to dig the ball off the floor in Phoenix’s lane, Mbenga simply picked it up and thunder-slammed it home to put L.A. up 113-88. That’s six for the Congo/Belgium product.
4:20 Vujacic hit a contested three to join Ariza in double figures off the bench, then made up for an open miss by hitting again moments later to get to 14 points on 5-of-14 shooting. We’re slightly concerned about the attempts Sasha needed, since he had always shot well after being interviewed after shootaround like this morning, but the points are good, plus three boards and two dimes.
1:32 There’s Morrison’s first three-pointer as a Laker, resulting in L.A.’s 127-100 lead.
Your final: Lakers 132, Suns 106.