Different night, slightly different occurrences, similar results.
The Suns got off to a good start in the paint, with Amare and Robin Lopez getting off early in the 1st. The Suns were poised and aggressive, going on an early 7-0 run to take 13-11 lead. The Suns moved the game at their tempo, made some buckets, but still managed to give up plenty of offensive rebounds.
The Lakers responded with n 10-0 run, taking over the paint, making it look easy on bucks such as:
- Gasol over Frye
- Artest over JRich
- Gasol over Frye
- Gasol easy fast break dunk
The final part of the equation occurred as the Suns began to lose their poise. Phoenix gave the ball away 6 times in nearly 9 minutes of play in the first.
Alvin Gentry went small, matching Jared Dudley with Lamar Odom while bringing Roblo back in the game to replace the LOST Channing Frye. Later the Suns went to the zone and promptly gave up a Kobe 3 and a Gasol midrange. Artest closed the quarter with a 3 -- Lakers 36, Suns 24. The Suns gave up 18 points in the paint.
In the second, the bench did their job, upping the tempo and hitting for an 11-0 run, keyed by the usual suspects -- Lou, LB, and Dudz, (but not Frye) -- closing the lead to 41-38. The Lakers responded with their own run, ending the half with a 65-56 lead. Ron Artest, he of the random fall down the stairs for no good reason, led all scorers with 15 at the break.
In the 3rd, Jason Richardson scored 7 quick points, and the Laker lead was cut to 69-63. The teams went back and forth and the Suns hung within 8, despite some NON-MAX Stoudemire play, including a missed dunk, two missed free throws and a handful of late rotations on Pau.
Yet a Dudley steal led to a JRich dunk and the Suns found themselves down only 4, 84-80. Grant Hill also made an appearance, scoring 14 in the quarter. After a JRich gritty, junkyard dog-like-dive-to-the-floor-steal, Grant Hill hit two free throws to tie the score at 86. The 3rd ended with the score tied at 90.
Did you feel the momentum swing?
It was quick-clear in one moment and gone in the next. LB was bludgeoned by Lamar Odom and went to the locker room. Um, no flagrant? Not even a foul called? He got clocked in the head and dropped to the floor, later smacking his head (was it on the photographer or the court?)
The Lakes tore off to a 18-7 start in the 4th as Farmar and Pau and Kobe and Odom and Brown all scored while the Suns committed 5 turnovers and went cold from the field. It was about that time that Mr. Ric Bucher tweeted:
"The Lakers aren't beating the Suns, the Suns are beating the Suns."
It was true in a way and incorrect in another. The Suns had minimal success in the paint. They were getting minimal stops. But the Lakers were owning it on both ends of the court. They played great defense and took the Suns completely out of their game. Amare looked either confused or disinterested. Depended on the play.
The Lakers followed with a 9-0 run. The Suns were finished. Let us hope that our boys in Orange find it on that short flight back from LA or this is going to be a very quick series.
- Jared Dudley tied a career high for 3s with 5 and was all junkyard all game
- Grant Hill was huge in the third, finishing with 23 on 10-16 shooting
- JRich had some solid moments, going for 23
- Steve Nash dished 15 assists
THINGS TO BITCH ABOUT:
- Frye: 0-5. 4 personals. (1-13 in the series). He's talked himself out of hitting a shot. He's thinking way too much. He's being manhandled by the Laker bigs. You sure you want to opt out, Channing? Frye shoots 49% at home 26% on the road in the playoffs. You gotta find it, Channing.
- Amare Stoudemire: 5 TOs, 5 PFs, only out-rebounded Steve Nash 6-3. Bully Ball? MAX? Huh? Amare, I asked you to man up. You didn't. No MAX for you.
- Goran, Leandro, and Frye were a combined 2-15. The Lakers bench outscored the Suns bench 36-26.
- Tom Cruise. Because I'm pissy and sleep deprived I want to take a moment to tell you how angry it makes me to look at his ferret face. Can't he just go away somewhere and never appear again?