The Suns had the game right where they wanted it. It was 31-17 at the end of the first quarter and you could tell the Lakers were on their heels. But then everything just kind of fell apart. Amare had two early fouls. So did Raja Bell. Then the Lakers started getting a little bit of swagger back and the Suns just couldn't hold on.
They didn't shoot poorly. They made over 40% of their three point shots and about 48% overall. And the Suns had several chances at the end of the game to take the lead and put the Lakers back where they wanted them. But poorly timed turnovers (is there ever a well-timed turnover?) really hurt the Suns in the last 6 minutes of the game.
But what I think really hurt the Suns the most was the Lakers threatening to put Leandro Barbosa on his butt when he drove to the basket. He only took 4 shots in the paint all night - 1 in the first quarter and three in the 4th quarter. All of his other shots were jumpers. Without LB going to the basket, the defenders were able to stick to the perimeter and help clog everything up.
Give it to the Lakers. They were playing with fire last night. They knew they had to win that game if they wanted to have a chance at the series. Kobe Bryant scored 45 points on only 26 shots. He got to the free throw line 13 times. And Kwame Brown and Lamar Odom also had great games.
We were all hoping for a sweep but I think we all somehow knew the Lakers weren't going to lose 4 in a row to the Suns. The important thing for the Suns to do now is to figure out what went wrong last night (LB not getting to the basket, double- and triple-teams on Steve Nash but still not having anyone wide open for him to pass to, 19 offensive rebounds by the Lakers, etc) and then fix it. The Lakers only shot 42% from the field last night. The Suns were only down 2 with about 2 minutes left in the game and could have easily pulled it out. But the Lakers wanted the game more than the Suns did. It's going to get interesting on Sunday. Losing 1 game on your opponent's home court isn't terrible. But if the Suns lose on Sunday, that will give them the swagger they need and the series would definitely be up for grabs again.
What are your thoughts on the game?