The Lakers did EVERYTHING they wanted to do. Kobe Bryant scored 39 points. The Suns shot under 43 percent from the field. They shot 26.1% from the three point line. They kept the Suns under 100 points.
And despite all of that, they weren't good enough to beat the Phoenix Suns. That's got to hurt. It's REALLY got to hurt. What else can they do to stop the Suns? What happens when the Suns' shot is on in the next game and they shoot over 47% from the field and 40% from the three-point line? What happens when Raja Bell actually starts shooting well?
Leandro Barbosa showed why he is the top candidate for the 6th man of the year award today. He scored 26 points on 10-22 shooting. He made 4-7 free throws. He had 5 rebounds. But more than any of that, he brought the energy that the Suns needed. When it seemed like the team and the crowd were starting to doubt themselves, the Brazilian Blur turned on the speed and brought back the swagger. The play of the game - in my mind - was when LB got the ball at about half court, saw three Lakers defending the basket and still turned on the speed to run past Smush Parker. Parker did the only thing he could do by grabbing Barbosa's arm but LB made the shot and got the free throw. At that point, there was no looking back.
Amare Stoudemire had an awesome game as well. He scored 23 points and had 12 rebounds. He brought some good defense stops when he needed to. It's quite a difference seeing STAT guarding Kwame Brown this year than watching Diaw guard Brown last year. Brown looked a little out of sorts and Amare did a good job of keeping Brown off of his game.
Shawn Marion had an amazing game on the rebounding end. He had 16 rebounds, shot 6-13 from the field and had 16 points. For those people who say that Shawn doesn't show up for the playoffs, they won't be able to say anything after this game. All that being said, if I were the Lakers I would try to exploit the Odom/Marion matchup. Marion does as good a job as anyone on the Suns can do on Odom but Shawn is 3 inches shorter than Odom is and although their bios say they weight the same, Odom looks a lot bigger. Obviously, Kobe scoring all the points doesn't work (he scored nearly half of the entire team's points) so if I were the coach and wanted to try something different, that's what I would try. I don't think it will work but I don't know that anything will work really.
Like I said at the beginning, it seemed like the Lakers played exactly the game they wanted to play and they still couldn't pull of the game. If I were a Lakers fan, I would be a bit worried.
What are your thoughts on the game? What could the Suns have done better? Could the Lakers have played any better than they did? Do the Suns need to be worried at all?
The next game is Tuesday at 10:30 EST/7:30 PST.