Feb. 26, 2009
Over these past five games, the Suns have scored over 100 points per game and in three of these they scored over 140 points. This makes their average over the five game span 128.4 points per game and almost 57 percent shooting percentage.
Alvin Gentry has been with Phoenix as an Assistant Coach for four-and-a-half seasons. Since being appointed Head Coach he has made the statement that he agrees that his team needs to work their defense, but the run-and-gun Suns need to make a comeback. He has focused on conditioning his players in a primary move to switch back to the fast paced game the Suns are used to. Since Gentry has been in place, Phoenix has finally proved that they are better than the sub .500 teams this season.
In both the Suns and the Lakers previous game there has been three star players injured. All three players, Steve Nash, Jason Richardson, and Kobe Bryant injured an ankle against their last opponents. This is not to mention that Amar'e Stoudemire is still on the injured list from his eye surgery. Andrew Bynum for the Lakers is also out of the game. Nash sat this game out, but Richardson and Bryant both started for their teams.
1st Qtr: The quarter started off a little rocky for the Suns with Leandro Barbosa missing the first two shots of the game, but after a small lead was acquired by LA, two steals by Barbosa and Grant Hill put them right back into the game.
With six minutes left in the quarter, the Lakers picked up their defense and went on an 8-0 run. From this point on the Lakers took over due to a few bad passes, and several hasty shots on Phoenix's part. The Lakers went up 39-26 by the end, with Bryant's points making up the difference.
2nd Qtr: The Lakers climbed away from the Suns getting as far from them as 18 points in the second quarter. The Suns had as hard of a time in the paint as out of the paint. The Lakers defense was just too strong for any of Suns down in the post including Richardson, Matt Barnes, and Shaquille O'Neal. D.J. Mbenga had a monster of a block that seemed to start the massive defensive lock down.
The Lakers' bench has also made quite a large contribution to this quarter. Almost every player on the team had at least as many points as Robin Lopez (leading bench scorer for Suns so far tonight). By the end of the second quarter the Lakers bench had 30 points.
This quarter was all about the Lakers passing the ball around and making sure everyone scores. Bryant did not score any points this quarter, but everything he threw at the net was put in by either Lamar Odom or Pau Gasol (whether on purpose or by accident).
The second quarter ended with Lakers ahead by 15 points, 70-55 and not one player for the Suns with a positive +/-. The Lakers were shooting a full 20 percent higher than the Suns at the half.
3rd Qtr: Right off the bat (or fingers) Los Angeles intimidated the Suns by Luke Walton throwing a lob at the net for Gasol to slam down. Two plays later Lakers started a 9-0 run before Gentry called a TO for the Suns.
The third quarter was mostly back and forth scoring between the teams for the next 30 points with the Lakers slowly increasing their lead by one point every few plays. The Lakers continued their dominance with several strong plays including a power dunk by Odom from a pass by Gasol. Overall, the Lakers had 54 points in the paint by the end of the third quarter. They led by as many as 25 points and ended the quarter up 102-81.
4th Qtr: The Lakers immediately brought their lead to a new high starting the fourth quarter (27 points). Gentry decided not to play the rest of his veterans for the fourth quarter, assumingly to prevent any unnecessary injuries. So, needless to say, Alando Tucker (up from the D-League), Jared Dudley, Louis Amundson, Goran Dragic, and Robin Lopez gained some valuable experience against Lakers' second string.
It seemed as though the teams were just running through the motions in the final quarter. It was over for the Suns long before this quarter started. The final score was 132-106 in the Lakers' favor.
This kind of performance is expected from the Suns tonight. The Suns have been 2-3 this season when Nash is out of the game. With Nash and Stoudemire out of the game and the team with a depth problem, the outcome of this game was inevitable.
The Phoenix defense did not cut it tonight and that did not have anything to do with the absence of two of their top players. The Suns let their opponent drive too many times to the rim. The offense was not any better. With two starters missing from the game, the running game was extremely inefficient against the leading team in the NBA.
Good game tonight for Leandro Barbosa (7 Ast., 6 Reb., 18 Pts.), and Alando Tucker (18 Pts.). Strong effort by Louis Amundson (1 Stl., 2 Reb.) and Robin Lopez (4 Reb., 6 Pts.).
The Suns will play the Toronto Raptors tomorrow night at home. Currently Toronto is 14th in the Eastern Conference with a 23-36 record. After this matchup, the Suns play another game against the Lakers, this time at home in the US Airways Arena on March 1. With any luck for the Suns, Steve Nash will be healthy enough to play in both of these games.
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