Preview: Suns vs Lakers

The dreaded Lakers are coming to town and even without Ron Artest (head issues) and a banged up Kobe it is sad to say that the Suns really don't have any expectations of winning this game.

"Obviously for us, it's an unbelievable challenge. It gives us an opportunity to judge our team against the best," said Coach Gentry.

"More than anything, they're a terrific team so whether you play them on a back-to-back or not they pose a lot of problems for everybody. We've just got to try and get back to playing better and have a good performance and feel good about ourselves. We can take the results as long as we improve our performances," said Nash.

That doesn't exactly sound like a team brimming with confidence to me. It sounds like a team looking for the dreaded moral victory.

But don't fear, Suns fans. When you need a little less reality and a little more bravado you can always count on Amare, "I think for the most part we're prepared for them. We had a good shoot-around this morning and should be ready to go tonight."

Ooops. Wrong quote. Try this one from Amare, "Both teams are battling for respect in the league and it's going to be a battle of division champs."

Hear that. A Battle of Division Champs!

And of course if you really need a dose of confidence I give you Kobe Bean Bryant answering a question from Paul Coro about Jason Richardson's defense against him, "He's a strong kid, has a low center of gravity so he tries to get me off my spots."

Coro followed up asking if Kobe's improved low post game has helped against stronger players like Jason to which Kobe said, "I didn't say he was stronger. I said he was strong."

Just in case there was any confusion about Kobe possibly saying Jason was stronger than him. There was no confusion since Paul's question was pretty clear. But just in case Kobe is here to remind you that he didn't say Jason is stronger then him (Kobe).

Got it? Kobe is stronger than Jason according to Kobe. Ok.

Game plans:

For the Suns it's pretty simple. Run and space the floor.

They know (and are probably thinking too much about it) that the Lakers are long inside and have the best player in the game - according to Gentry with no disrespect intended to LeBron. To try and negate that and the Lakers switching and matchup zone defense Phoenix will try and get stops and push the ball in transition. Try.

If this gets into a half court game and the Suns are not getting and making quick and easy looks and/or if the Suns turn the ball over too much than this will be another blow out. Oh, and with the Suns already lacking confidence they are going to need a great start as well.

Without Artest the Lakers will be forced to go to their bench. They also played a back-to-back over the weekend and play again tomorrow night against the Warriors so according to Kobe they are going to need their bench more in this game. And if the Lakers' have a weakness this season it's their bench.

So, if the Suns are going to win this game it's going to take a big game from LB and Dudley along with Goran and Lou. The Suns bench will need to be something like a +10 with the starters keeping it close.

Possible? Sure. Likely. Not so much.

Nash's All Star Video Campaign Update:

I asked Steve if with his new video campaign if he had any expectations to pass Kobe in the voting, "Well, I mean being awesome anything is possible."

Kobe added this about his competition, "He's back to playing the way he's always played."

That was generous of Kobe to say that.

Asked about Nash being in a similar situation as Kobe was a few years ago going from a contender to a non-contending team he said, "It's tough. Glad as shit it ain't me. It's tough. We went though it and used to come up here and get our butts kicked in the playoffs, man it was brutal. It was brutal."

We all miss those days, Kobe but at least we have the memories.

Shoot-around audio:

And be sure to check out Silver Screen and Roll to read more about how awesome Kobe is and Forum Blue and Gold to see how awesome they are.

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