Lakers Take Game 2, Up 2-0 In The Series

Steve O Speak

The Lakers ran away with last night’s game in the 4th quarter to beat the Suns 124-112, a game which was tied going into the fourth frame. Originally it looked as though the Suns could even the series as they played pretty solid basketball for 3 quarters. But Pau Gasol and the Lakers dominated their 4th quarter and took a crucial 2-0 series lead.

I really thought the Suns would make this a competitive series after the way they dispatched both the Mavericks and Spurs in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Unfortunately, they don’t have an answer for the Lakers star players, like they did for their previous opponents. In Game 1 they couldn’t contain Kobe Bryant who torched them for 40 points, in Game 2 Pau Gasol took advantage of more open looks and led the Lakers with 29.

The Suns strategy to slow down Kobe by double teaming him left the paint wide open for Gasol and company. The Suns were at enough of a size disadvantage in the middle, allowing more space was a death blow to them. The Lakers three big men, Gasol, Andrew Bynum, and Lamar Odom, combined for 59 points most of which came from inside the paint. As a team, the Lakers had 52 points in the paint (not to mention all the fouls that came from in the paint as well), which was one of the biggest keys to this game.

The Suns are getting solid offensive production out of their star players, but have not been able to find a way to slow down or stop the Lakers. Without some major defensive strategy change this series will be over for Phoenix before they know it. First they will have to abandon the double teaming Kobe plan, because that obviously didn’t work. Next they are going to have to find a way to challenge more shots. The Lakers shot 57.7% from the field yesterday, and 56.3% from behind the arc. I guess in one sense the Kobe strategy worked since he shot just 44.4% and 33.3% from 3-point land. Unfortunately outside of Derek Fisher (speaking of which why is he shooting 8 times), no other Lakers player shot under 50% in last night’s game. The Suns can’t let the L.A.’s talented front court beat them like they did. In fact Phoenix should try to double team Gasol and company more on the interior and try to win back the battle for the paint. I think they can sacrifice guarding Fisher, since the Suns best defensive strategy last night was letting him shoot. Honestly though it is probably too little, too late to change the outcome of this series.

Los Angeles smells blood in the water and they are not going to let up. They are excellent in riding the momentum wave and closing out series when they have the chance. The Lakers now look to runaway with this series, and it wouldn’t be shocking if they end the Western Conference Finals in Phoenix. Even if the Suns can win one game I don’t see this series going past 5 games. The Lakers experience and talented starting 5* (I’m including Odom for Fisher even though he doesn’t start) are too much for the Suns to handle. Phoenix has had a great and improbable run in these playoffs, but it looks like it is quickly coming to an end.

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