Lakers 106, Suns 115: Game 4 Running Diary

60562509Lakers – Suns Gameday Page
L.A. looked to bounce back from its Game 2 loss in Phoenix, which snapped an 8-game playoff winning streak, on Tuesday night in the Valley of the Sun. 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

Pregame Video: Brian Shaw
Assistant coach Brian Shaw joined us once again on Lakers TV to talk about the adjustments L.A. needed to make from Game 3, including better ball movement against the expected (at times) zone defense from Phoenix, and an emphasis on more interior shots. CLICK HERE to watch.

60562491First Quarter
9:50 Both teams came out on fire in Game 1 on offense, and nothing changed early on as L.A. and Phoenix combined to go 6-for-6. Bynum’s activity level was high, as he notched a bucket, an assist and two boards, after a tough Game 1 in which he played only seven minutes. The building was slightly less orange than in Game 1 (t-shirt give-away), but still looked like Holland despite a sprinkling of purple and gold jerseys.

4:54 Gasol was at heart of L.A.’s 9-0 run that opened a 17-12 lead, beginning with an and-1 layup and ending with a pretty layup off Bryant’s lead pass. The Suns, meanwhile, had managed to hit only three of 18 shots after the 3-for-3 start. In unrelated news, “The Bachelorette” started on Monday night, leading me to wonder who’d be the most entertaining Laker to see on the show. Few bachelors remain on the squad, but I wouldn’t mind watching Congo Cash (TV time outs are long, OK).

0:45.0 Luke Walton checked into the action to give Bryant a breather, and showed his worth with a beautiful trailing pass to Bynum – back into the game after Gasol picked up foul No. 2 – for a thunderous two-handed dunk that shook the basket. Jason Richardson, however, quickly countered with a pull-up three-pointer to tie the score at 23 heading into the second quarter.

Second Quarter
8:51 L.A. missed all but two of seven shots in the three second quarter minutes, though Bynum’s put-back of his own miss got him to six points with five boards. Phoenix, meanwhile, got a Jared Dudley three, Lou Amundson layup and Leandro Barbosa driving finish to put the home team up five.

5:59 Phoenix continued its push from the bench and lights-out shooting, getting three-pointers from Channing Frye and another from Dudley to take a 10-point lead. Stepping into what had quickly become a feverish crowd was Bryant, who hit back-to-back threes from the right wing (starting to roll after failing to score on only one first quarter attempt). Barbosa countered the first before being called for a charge (Fisher drawing it) with the Suns’ leading 47-40.

2:04 The three-point shot making grew to an absurd level in the second, as the Suns hit 7-of-9, including three from the previously-terrible Frye, but Bryant countered with 3-of-4 himself as L.A. stayed in the game, down 60-53 after Gasol hit 1-of-2 free throws. The lead settled at nine as the half ended after an incredible 17-for-23 shooting performance in the period for Phoenix,

60562497Third Quarter
8:46 Remember that massive Phoenix offensive output in the second quarter? Kobe seemed determined to erase its impact almost entirely, nailing back-to-back three-pointers from the wing, his fourth and fifth of the evening, to cut the Suns’ lead down to just two at 70-68. In related news, Bryant is ridiculous at basketball.

5:06 Gasol, somehow, grabbed just his first rebound on Stoudemire’s second missed free throw, strange considered he averaged about 13 heading into the game (though Phoenix not missing in the second played a role). Two minutes later, Bryant hit another jumper, that time a pull-up in the lane to make it a one-point game, vaulting himself to 28 points with six assists and six boards.

2:20 Anybody mention the Black Mamba yet? Bryant nailed still another three-pointer to tie the game, his sixth (a career playoff high), to reach 31 points. Then he found a cutting Odom for a wide-open layup when Phoenix overplayed him, and Gasol hit 1-of-2 freebies to give the Lakers their first lead in a while at 84-83. The Suns did get two points back when Farmar fouled Goran Dragic trying to grab a jump ball to take an 85-84 lead into the fourth, but L.A. – thanks to Bryant and some solid defnse – had trimmed the 9-point halftime lead to just one.

Fourth Quarter
6:47 That was fast … after a quiet third from the Suns, the bench unit picked up where it left off in the second as Frye, Barbosa and Dudley hit back-to-back-to-back threes, all nearly from the same spot in the corner opposite L.A.’s bench. That turned an 87-all tie into a 98-89 Suns lead, the visitors in a bit of trouble.

2:24 The Lakers, looking for a final push, cut the lead to six when Kobe hit a defensive three-seconds technical and Gasol slammed home Artest’s miss, but the Suns made five straight free throws (as first Gasol, then Bryant looked incredulous at respective calls) to put the game on ice. Phoenix ended up shooting 19 more free throws after taking 22 more in Game 3.

0:35.4 Odom’s three-pointer was L.A.’s ninth, but it took 28 attempts to get there, and fell into the too-little, too-late category. Bryant finished with 36 points, 10 assists and seven boards a night after going for 36, 11 and nine in the series tying loss.

Stay tuned for more on Lakers.com.