Kobe Bryant earned a personal playoff high of 13 assists to go with 21 points on 8 of 18 shooting to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 2-0 Playoff Series lead. The Phoenix Suns tried once again to out-score the Lakers, and play little defense. It didn’t work.
1st Quarter Recap
6:17 Lamar Odom entered the game for Andrew Bynum and would dominate throughout the venture, earning 17 points on 70% shooting, 11 rebounds, 4 assists, and 1 block. Suns have no answer for him.
Lakers captain Derek Fisher struggled for the second game in a row scoring the basketball, missing two free-throws in the first minute of action, and shooting just 2 for 8 from the field for only 7 points. Despite the offensive struggles, Fish always finds a way to impact the game. In addition to two steals he garnished two offensive foul calls on Amar’e Stoudemire, the first coming at 5:26 mark.
Andrew Bynum’s 6 points, Kobe Bryant’s 9 points, and Ron Artest’s 10 points including a 3-pointer at the buzzer helped the Lakers to a first quarter 36-24 lead.
2nd Quarter Recap
The Phoenix Suns bench out-played the Los Angeles Lakers bench in the first half 41-38 including an 11-0 run to start the 2nd Quarter. With the Laker lead all but vanished Phil Jackson reinserted Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Lamar Odom. With 5:30 to play in the quarter, the Suns full court press produced two Lakers turnovers. 4:53 Lakers regained the lead 52-42. In the first half Andrew Bynum amassed 11 points and 6 Rebounds, matched by Amar’e Stoudemire’s 11 points. Ron Artest led all scoreres with 15 for the Lakers. 65-56 at the break.
3rd Quarter Recap
Jason Richardson scored the first 7 points of the second half for Phoenix. Momentum started to build for the Suns until 5:36 when Kobe Bryant blocked Amar’e Stoudemire’s shot at the rim for a crowd pleaser. Grant Hill torched the Lakers, making 6 baskets in a row. After trailing by as many as 14 points in the quarter, Phoenix tied the game 86-86 at 1:30 point. The score remained tie after the third session expired, 90-90.
4th Quarter Recap
Kobe Bryant started the third quarter with 3 assists before heading to the bench for a rest.
At the 8:00 minute mark LA was up by just four points. They then went on a 9-0 run and never looked back winning the quarter 34-22. Final Score 124-112
Game 3 Prediction
Jason Richardson and Grant Hill combined for an impressive 50 points, each shooting 10 for 17 FG. Amar’e Stoudemire shot 50% for 18 points. As a team, the Suns shot near 50% FG, and an improved 42% from 3-point range. They missed just 6 FT total. For the Phoenix Suns to beat the Lakers Stoudemire must have 25+ points and 12+ rebounds. Steve Nash must have a 25+ point, 12+ assists game. In the first two games Nash is averaging 12 points for 24 total. Lakers outscored the Suns 70-48 in 1st and 4th quarters. They lack a defensive commitment that they claim to have.
Lakers play their best when they are challenged. That didn’t happen until the fourth quarter of game 2. Game 2 prediction was for LA to win by 7, they won by 12. The Western Conference showdown switches to Phoenix for the next 2 games which will provide a home court advantage for the Suns. With this being a must win game for the Suns, expect an intense battle. The Lakers will be rested coming into Game 3. They realize winning Game 3 will all but stamp them into the NBA Finals. Champions will seek to seize control of the series Sunday night.
Prediction: Lakers will win Game 3 in overtime by 2 points.