Lakers 109, Suns 118: Game 3 Running Diary

60544698Lakers – Suns Gameday Page
L.A. looked to follow up two impressive home victories in Game 3′s Sunday evening contest in Phoenix. We were there to make sure you didn’t miss a thing:

Lakers: Adam Morrison
Suns: Taylor Griffin

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

Pregame Video: Brian Shaw
Assistant coach Brian Shaw joined us on Lakers TV to discuss L.A.’s pick-and-roll defense, Pau Gasol’s basketball IQ, why Lamar Odom is so crucial to the team’s success, what to expect from the Suns’ reserves in particular playing on their home floor and more. CLICK HERE to watch.

60544723First Quarter
7:37 After an all-offense opening, in which both teams scored 15 points in five minutes, Fisher (decided not to use first names anymore in diaries … you know the Lakers if you’re reading this) nailed his second straight open perimeter jumper, thanks to Gasol’s pretty pass out of a double-team. Moments earlier, Odom – in early with Bynum picking up two personal fouls on Stoudemire – banked home an alley-oop inbounds pass out of a time out. How many times has that play worked?

3:11 OK … speaking of “all offense.” It was almost ridiculous, the teams trading buckets as in a layup line from all over the court. Bryant led the way for L.A., making his first four shots, including a three-pointer, while Jason Richardson nailed two three-pointers to help Phoenix to a 27-22 lead before Fisher and Bryant hit again to cut the lead to one. Bryant finally missed, though with his left hand, after 5-for-5 with his right.

25.9 Despite a huge advantage at the foul line (11 attempts to L.A.’s 0), the Suns trailed 32-29 as L.A. again shot 58 percent (literally the team’s percentage in Games 1 & 2) behind Bryant’s 7-of-9, plus Gasol’s 4-of-6 (including the quarter’s final hoop, an emphatic one-handed jam). The Suns shot just 39.1 percent, but used the foul line to hang around. Nice atmosphere in Phoenix for Game 3, unless you’re allergic to oranges…

60544682Second Quarter
11:04 After closing the first on a 10-2 run, the Lakers quickly scored the first four points of the second when Bynum converted in the lane plus the foul, and Brown hopped on his broom to fly in and slam home the missed free throw, opening a 36-29 lead for L.A. In related news, Brown’s a completely absurd athlete, helping to obscure his other three field goal misses.

6:41 The Suns did respond with a 6-0 run, but back came the Lakers with a Gasol basket near the hoop and Farmar’s first triple of the night after he nailed 5-of-6 in Games 1 and 2 to put L.A. up 41-35 and cause a Suns’ time out.

0:54.8 It certainly wasn’t a good final few minutes for the Lakers, who conceded an 8-0 run to close the half, including four more Suns freebies that pushed the home team’s edge to 20-3 in free throw attempts. The Suns capitalized by making 18, while L.A. missed all three, in a 54-47 halftime margin. The Lakers had led by as many as seven early in the quarter, also known as a 14-point turnaround. The Lakers also had some trouble with the 2-3 zone defense Phoenix used for part of the second, scoring just 15 points after a 32-point first quarter.

60544693Third Quarter
9:58 Lots of action in the first two minutes of the third, as Bynum picked up foul No. 4, Artest hit his first three, Fisher drew a foul while attempting a three (making all) and Jason Richardson joined Stoudemire, Robin Lopez and Steve Nash in double figures with an and-1 layup to put the Suns up 64-57. My fingers are tired from that.

5:20 After hitting his second three-pointer, Fisher took exception to something Lopez said, or the contact he made, while running past Fisher, which ultimately resulted in matching technical fouls (no free throws). As things began to heat up, Artest then drew a foul on Lopez, and made both to cut the Suns’ lead to three at 73-70. While Lopez managed yet another field goal, his improbable seventh in eight attempts, Fisher answered with still another three.

0:01.0 A solid quarter from the visitors was shown on the scoreboard, L.A. tying things up at 84 with three seconds left when Bryant hit two free throws, but Brown was whistled for a foul after making light contact with Leandro Barbosa at midcourt, allowing the Brazilian two free throws that put Phoenix up 86-84 after three. In Game 3 in Utah, L.A. had turned a 4-point deficit at halftime into a 2-point lead after three, and in this Game 3 were sparked by Fisher and Artest, who scored 20-of-28 points to get things going, before Bryant added seven in a 37-point offensive performance.

60544793Fourth Quarter
8:47 Despite being down 10 in the turnover battle (14-4), and 19 points from the foul line, the Lakers took a 1-point lead when Odom hit 2-of-2 free throws, making it 90-89 for the Purple and Gold.

4:08 Two Bryant free throws broke a three-plus minute scoreless streak for L.A., who then got another stop on D and two more Kobe FT’s to make it a 4-point game at 100-96. Phoenix had begun to take control before the mini run from No. 24, who reached 32 points with his 10 assists and eight boards, in search of his first career playoff triple-double.

2:42 Back-to-back possessions epitomized a rough game for Odom, who first missed a wide-open corner three (4-of-14 shooting on the night), then grabbed Lopez, which was his sixth foul. The two Lopez free throws and a Nash corner jumper after Artest’s missed three pushed the Phoenix lead to 10, its biggest of the night. Though L.A. would get as close as six once again on a corner three from Ron Ron, the Suns would eventually win by nine at 118-109 to ensure at least a Game 5 in Los Angeles.

Clearly, the Lakers took too many three-pointers for Phil Jackson’s liking, taking 32 while making nine, scoring only 44 points in the paint despite 11-of-14 shooting from Pau Gasol.

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