Lakers 103, Suns 101: Game 5 Running Diary

60582073Lakers – Suns Gameday Page
L.A. looked to get back on the winning track after dropping Games 3 and 4 in Phoenix, pushing for an 11th straight victory at STAPLES Center in the playoffs. 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

Game 5 Video Preview
Assistant coach Brian Shaw joined us to explain that the Lakers need to shore up the backboards, come out with the defensive intensity that has helped the team win all eight of its game fives in the Kobe Bryant/Pau Gasol era (2008-2010 playoffs) and detail what kind of adjustments the Lakers can make offensively. CLICK HERE to watch.

60581955First Quarter
9:14 A poor start for the Lakers became much worse when Kobe picked up his second foul in the first three minutes, reaching in on Lopez after he felt he was fouled on a drive through the paint. Bryant’s exit to the bench hurt the Lakers on D immediately when Jason Richardson posted up newly-entered Shannon Brown for an easy bucket. This impactful since J-Rich hadn’t even tried to post up the bigger Bryant or Artest in the first four games.

3:10 Having fallen behind by as many as seven with Bryant on the bench, a solid defensive possession in which Fisher forced Nash into a desperation 32-foot three-pointer that barely caught rim preceded Fisher’s pull-up jumper from the top of the key which made it a 17-13 contest. Bryant checked back into the game, and got through some nervous moments in the crowd by first blocking Stoudemire and then avoiding a whistle on a Nash flop/stumble.

0:02.2 L.A. couldn’t have asked for a better answer to a super slow start, finishing the first on a 17-6 run to turn a 15-7 deficit into a 24-21 lead. Fisher was the key man for L.A., scoring nine straight points himself while tracking Nash aptly on defense. Despite 36 percent shooting and Bryant’s two early fouls, the Lakers led.

60581918Second Quarter
8:55 Quick, which Lakers’ sub would you select to come in and offer an immediate boost at both ends? Odom? Farmar? Brown? Walton? Nope, Sasha Vujacic, who intently tracked countryman Goran Dragic around on defense, forcing two turnovers in the first three minutes, then hit a pull-up jumper to make it 30-25 for his team. Vujacic did miss an open corner three that would have made it an 8-point game, but Odom hit two free throws after Bryant’s offensive board to make it a seven-point lead.

6:19 The Black Mamba came out early in this one, Bryant rising to drain three consecutive three-pointers to suddenly push L.A.’s lead to 16 at 41-25, scoring just one fewer point himself in a one-minute span than Phoenix had scored in 11 minutes. Needless to say, unconscious personal runs like that can take quite a bit of confidence out of an opponent, but the Suns’ had been quite resilient against Kobe barrages throughout the series, even surviving near triple-doubles in both Games 3 and 4.

00.7 Unfortunately for the Lakers, they ended the half how they started it, squandering a 12-point lead by giving Nash a jumper, then watching Brown throw up an air ball with two seconds left. But instead of taking that 10-point margin into the break, Artest was whistled for fouling Hill, giving the Suns two free throws with 0.7 seconds remaining to cut the lead to eight at 53-45.

60582104Third Quarter
7:55 It wasn’t a great start to the period for L.A., but they managed to add two points to their lead (61-51) when Gasol dunked off the baseline on a feed from Odom. Bynum, however, had picked up two fouls on the same possession, four total, the reason Odom was already back in.

3:44 Things continued to look decidedly Purple and Gold as the third quarter rolled on … the Lakers posted a 5-0 run after an earlier 6-0 stretch to take their biggest lead at 74-56, Odom connecting on 1-of-2 free throws to reach 13 points with eight boards and three dimes. Bryant, meanwhile, was on triple-double watch with 21 points, seven boards and six dimes.

0:19.4 L.A. closed the third as poorly as it closed the second, allowing 11 points in the final two minutes and change, the Suns cutting the lead to just six after L.A. had been up 18 on that Odom free throw. While the Lakers were dominating the glass (38-26), Phoenix had been to the line the same number of times and been called for three fewer fouls.

60582076Fourth Quarter
11:10 Bryant continued to shoot the ball like Suns GM Steve Kerr from three-point range, nailing his fourth of the game and 10th in the last two in putting L.A. up 11, capping a quick 5-0 run to start the period.

5:50 The Suns refused to quit, using back-to-back threes from Dragic (his first bucket after an 0-for-4 start with Vujacic all over him) and Frye to cut L.A.’s lead to just five before Bryant’s football pass to a breaking-away Gasol resulted in a left-handed layup. The Lakers had generally controlled the tempo of the game since halfway through the first quarter, but were growing increasingly frustrated with calls at both ends (including Bryant getting a technical), to their detriment.

2:28 Things started to get on the “very” side of interesting as Phoenix cut the lead to just one when Nash pitched a tent in the paint before eventually dishing off to Stoudemire for a baseline layup with one second left on the shot clock, following his own and-1 layup on the previous possession. Bryant was furious, once again, for not getting a call while going up for a jumper, but Fisher managed to put the Lakers back up by three with a baseline jumper, reaching a season-high 22 points in the process. Then came a missed three from Frye, and 2-of-2 free throws from Gasol to make it 99-94 L.A.

0:51.5 The lead was three once again after Nash’s second straight jumper (29 points on 20 shots) countered Odom’s baseline layup. At the other end, Artest missed a wing jumper, then an ill-advised three-pointer of an offensive rebound early in the shot clock. Artest was hoping for redemption after the first miss, but it was certainly not the shot L.A. was looking for, as Phil Jackson and many teammates let him know shortly thereafter. Nonetheless, Frye missed a three at the other end with Gasol clearing the board.

0:03.5 Ready for the most ridiculous three-and-a-half seconds since Fisher’s Game 4 three-pointer over Jameer Nelson? OK…
1) Gasol got a pretty pass from a heavily-guarded Kobe while streaking down the lane, but clanked a hammer dunk off the back rim in a play that would have put L.A. up five;
2) Richardson grabbed the board, and fed Nash for a game-tying attempt from three that he missed; 3) Nash grabbed his own miss, and fed Richardson for another three, which missed so long that it came back into his own hands;
4) Richardson rose, with 3.5 seconds left on the clock, and banked in a game-tying three-pointer. (pausing for breath).

60582422Ready? OK.

5) Kobe caught the ball of an inbounds pass and whirled for a game-winning three-point attempt through a double-team, and was well short. And finally, your buzzer-beater:

6) Ron Artest flew in out of nowhere, grabbed Kobe’s miss, and stuck it back in off glass. Ensue complete bedlam at STAPLES Center as Artest’s teammates absolutely mobbed him, Kobe first to the scene embracing Artest for a long time.

What a redemptive moment for a guy that was just chastised deeply after the ill-advised three-pointer. And what a game.

Stay tuned for a complete break down on