Lakers 128, Suns 107: Game 1 Running Diary

60479928Lakers – Suns Gameday Page
For the 41st time in franchise history, the Lakers were in the Western Conference Finals, looking for a 1-0 lead against the Phoenix Suns. We were there to make sure you didn’t miss a thing:

Inactives
Lakers: Adam Morrison
Suns: Taylor Griffin

Starters
Lakers: Fisher, Bryant, Artest, Gasol and Bynum
Suns: Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill, Amare Stoudemire, Robin Lopez

Series Preview
We had a little bit of everything for you in our Lakers – Suns WCF Preview, including a video (with highlights) with assistant coach Brian Shaw, a podcast with Scout/Director of Video Services and a complete position-by-position breakdown that you can check out by CLICKING HERE.

60479921First Quarter
5:31 The Suns showcased why they were the league’s best shooting team from the field and three-point range by opening 8-of-11, including 2-of-3 from long distance (both makes from Jason Richardson), but managed just a 20-17 lead as the Lakers made 6-of-11 shots themselves, led by a triple and lefty layup from Ron Artest, who was using his superior size to get open looks from Richardson.

2:52 We knew that Lamar Odom would play a crucial role for L.A. in this series, particularly with Andrew Bynum less than 100 percent (right knee), but we weren’t expecting seven straight points on 3-of-4 shooting (including a three) that gave the Lakers their first lead. Moments later, Bryant drew Suns sub Jared Dudley’s second foul in 12 seconds to put L.A. up 26-23 with two freebies.

0.01 Things started to tilt L.A.’s way as active defense helped force six straight Suns misses from the field amidst a 16-1 Lakers run. In the Purple and Gold push, Bryant stumbled after blowing by Dudley on the perimeter and took a Richardson knee to the head while falling. This, of course, spurred Kobe on to score seven point in the final minute of the quarter (he likes getting hit), including a pull-up three-pointer and baseline fadeaway that put the Lakers up 35-26 after one.

60480136Second Quarter
5:32 Lost amidst all the injury talk about Kobe and Bynum was that Lamar Odom was pretty beat up as well. Judging from his 7-of-9 shooting for 15 points, capped by yet another driving layup, the six days off did L.O. some good too.

3:50 Nash finally got a pick-and-roll to result in a Suns’ dunk, this from Robin Lopez, who had made 4-of-5 shots all near the rim for eight points, piggy-backing Stoudemire’s baseline dunk to bring Phoenix within five points. At the other end, L.A. was very efficient on offense, making 23-of-37 shots (62.2 percent), with the lone black mark being that Pau Gasol had taken only four shots, making three. No big man in the NBA came into the Conference Finals as hot as the Spaniard, who averaged 20+ points, 13+ boards, 3+ assists and nearly 2 blocks in his first eight playoff games.

0:00.6 A fierce two-handed put-back slam of Kobe’s miss from Josh Powell, just in the game to ensure that Odom didn’t pick up his third personal foul, was negated as Sasha Vujacic was whistled for a foul as Grant Hill attempted a three in the final second. Hill made 2-of-3 to bring Phoenix within seven (62-55) in a half the Lakers controlled after trailing by as many as seven early in the first.

60480164Third Quarter
9:37 More Spaniard was expected in the second half, and L.A. went to him early for a spin move around Lopez leading to a lefty finish. But it was to be Bryant going into take-over mode, and No. 24 started the quarter 3-of-3 including a triple that put L.A. up 71-59.

6:45 Bryant continued to draw heaps of fouls on the Suns, as Hill was called for his third of the quarter (fourth total) off the ball while attempting to keep the ball away from Kobe. The result was two free throws (L.A. in bonus way early), plus a technical Hill got by arguing as Kobe went up to 26 points while putting his team up 10.

0:03.6 OK, another (well-earned) Kobe entry. The snarl started to come out in a big way as Bryant steadily dissected Phoenix’s defense in the third, exploding for 21 points (35 total) on 7-of-10 shooting, plus six free throws, to push L.A. up by 14 (93-79) heading into the fourth quarter. Gasol added eight points in the period, and Odom grabbed four of his game-high 12 rebounds as the Lakers held firm control of the contest.

60480309Fourth Quarter
7:58 Bryant continued his offensive assault (sensing a pattern yet) with a pull-up jumper to reach 40 points for the 11th time in his playoff career, thanks to 13-of-23 FG’s and 11-of-12 FT’s, while putting L.A. up 18 points. Moments later, Brown and Farmar would bury a three-pointer each to put the game well out of reach.

3:00 Odom capped off a fantastic all-around game by grabbing his playoff-career-high 19th rebound (seven offensive) after scoring his 19th point in 30 minutes. He made 9-of-15 FG’s, added three assists and a steal, and was effective on defense to boot. His final field goal came courtesy of Gasol, who tossed his fifth assist of the second half with the Suns’ defense collapsing around him. When Bryant, Gasol and Odom combine to shoot 32-of-51 from the field (62.7 percent), the Lakers aren’t going to lose too often.

1:28 Brown capped off an impressive team offensive performance with a baseline dunk in transition, which wasn’t nearly as fun to watch as his completely ridiculous near miss over Jason Richardson early in the quarter. Brown had taken off from just in front of the free throw line, vaulting over J-Rich, but came up just short as he drew contact (and a foul) from the Suns guard. We almost had a Vince Carter – Frederic Weis remix, but L.A. would have to settle for a 128-107 victory.

Stay tuned for the postgame wrap and videos on Lakers.com.