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NBA Playoffs, Lakers Suns Game 2: Dazed and confused Suns try to figure out what's next

May 20, 2010, 1:30 AM EDT

Richardson_loss.jpgThe Suns played straight up man-to-man. They mixed in some zone. They tried to front Pau Gasol in the post. They played behind him. They tried to double team Kobe, both aggressively and once he picked up his dribble.

They tried every defensive gimmick in the book — and the Lakers scored 124 points on 57.7 percent shooting. From three they shot 56 percent. You win doing that. Game 2 was pretty much a repeat of Game 1 despite the Suns adjustments.

So what now?

“I really don’t know what the answer is,” Grant Hill said. “They had a lot of points in the paint (52). Our rotations aren’t great and we’ve just got to play better.”

The Suns seemed stunned and a little confused. They said the right things — to a man kept noting that all the Laker have done is exactly what they were supposed to in winning their two games at home. If the Suns can do the same, this series comes back to Los Angeles next Thursday tied up.

But that totally ignores how those two games looked. The Lakers were able to do what they wanted when they wanted on offense. And they wanted to go inside where the Suns are not as long. When pressed for things the Suns could do to slow the Lakers offense, the answers were execution and variety. And say a few prayers.

“We’ve got to be earlier, we’ve got to be earlier on our help rotations…” said Amare Stoudemire, a guy who looked particularly in a fog defensively at points. “That was the game plan, to stay in front of Gasol and have them throw it over the top and our help was going to be there and kind of trap him. But he threw it over the top and the help was a little late and he just finished. It was a little frustrating at points.”

The Suns had a period of success in this game — they tied the game in the third quarter, going with a small-ball lineup that had Jared Dudley at the power forward spot. It worked beautifully on the offensive end, stretching out the Lakers defense and getting Dudley and Hill open looks that they knocked down. But it didn’t solve the core problem of slowing the Lakers offense.

“It makes us very small defensively,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said of the small lineup, but adding he might go back to it. “And with Lamar (Odom) in the game at the four, we either have to have Jared or Grant Hill guarding him and, obviously, that is a big advantage for them.”

Dudley picked a lot of fouls in that stretch, and ended up fouling out in the fourth quarter.

Back at home, the Suns tend to play faster, something the Lakers got sucked into for a part of the second quarter and may well again. But defensively, Gentry emphasized just continually giving the Lakers different looks as the only real option.

“We’ve got to throw different looks, because we did front he post and then they went to what they call solo, which is posting up Pau, and there’s a lot of action on the weakside,” Gentry said. “And they were able to throw it over. We got a smaller guy trying to rotate in. So they had some success with that.

“We’ve just got to keep changing it up and hopefully they won’t shoot as well in our building as they do here.”

Gentry did have one new wrinkle to throw out.

“We just have to take a look at the tape tonight and maybe we’ll decide that we let Kobe get 80 and try to guard the other guys,” Gentry joked.

Well, we assume he was joking. On second thought, might as well do that. Not like anything else has been working.

  1. mick the ripper - May 20, 2010 at 1:02 PM

    Steve, how are Ron Artest and Farmar not mediocre shooters? That’s who I was referring to and how will having Lopez on the court not help the Suns defensive presence in the paint and on the boards? I’m not saying coach defense I’m saying change defensive assignments, if you knew anything about basketball you’d know its about matchups. You are so whipped on the Lakers you fail to see that there are other talented players/teams in the NBA. A true sports fan will give credit where it’s deserved.

  2. Joe - May 20, 2010 at 1:07 PM

    You know things are desperate for PHX fans when they resort to complaining about the reffing that would hypothetically happen if the Suns were to challenge the Lakers in this series. I suppose that’s why your defensive rotations are so bad – the poor guys are just demoralized because even if they were to beat the Lakers the refs would kill them in the end. Right… yeah, I’m sure that’s what’s going through Amar’e’s head when he jogs back to Gasol after a p&r, or puts a weak front on him, or loses him entirely and lets him slip the screen. Your key scorer is a defensive liability whether it’s Gasol in isolation or in the pick-and-roll, but I guess that’s less relevant than conspiracy theories about what might happen with the officiating if we were to get a game 7.

  3. chartiec - May 20, 2010 at 1:13 PM

    the Lakers are deep and very good at every position… helps to have a lot of money to spend… but the Suns do seem dazed and confused. Amar’e matador defense (since his mom was sentenced to jail for three years) and Frye’s totally useless deer-in-the-headlights play. The experience of the Lakers is also showing.

  4. NickLA - May 20, 2010 at 1:14 PM

    To anonymous, i think you’re jealous at both the lakers and the colorado accuser. The lakers are happy putting championship banners, and the girl got lucky hitting the jackpot. all she had to do was see kobe as her gateway to retirement, spread it, scream rape and cha-ching cha-ching. that’s what u do when you are loose and want easy money instead of busting your tail working 8 hours a day. Anyone can scream “rape”. anyone can scream “racism”. those things sell, especially when they are completely false. now sit back and watch how the lakers win championships, something your filthy birds in denver don’t have the balls to do.

  5. steve - May 20, 2010 at 1:22 PM

    lopez has been in both games. he is just not that good. amare is the one player that should be doing more, but he looks lost and his head is just not there.i do know a lot about basketball. you have to want to play defense to be good and than you can be coached. the suns are not defensive minded players.what do you not understand about this. they traded away there best defensive players the last 2 years.i am not saying the suns are not talented or there is not alot of talent in nba. i am just saying the lakers are much better coached and more talented. i dont care who you are rooting for, this is fact and the way it is.there is areason the lakers will be in finals 7 out of last 10 years. just like rebounding it really is not luck!!

  6. mick the ripper - May 20, 2010 at 1:42 PM

    Lopez hasnt played in almost 2 months and prior to that when he was starting he was playing fantastic basketball. He is not quite in the shape he should be to be performing at this level. He was the reason the Suns had the best record post all star break. No crap the Lakers are better coached hence my comment about the coaching adjustments the Suns need to make. Phil Jackson is the best coach in the NBA right now, everyone knows that. Suns in my eyes are the deeper team, they have a fantastic bench. Suns have just been getting punished on our defensive assignments and rotation.

  7. BostonManggggggg - May 20, 2010 at 2:14 PM

    Celtics Lakers Final would be righteous.
    Kobe is playing very well…at this point Id say they’d put Rondo on him before Allen or Pierce.
    Allen and Pierce could both easily cover Fisher as they are all old geezers. I think this will lead to Kobe needing his shooting game to be top notch. Dont expect any easy inside points against the Celtics for Kobe esp with KG, Perk, and Rasheed down low.
    KG and Perk will both man handle Gasol.
    I think there are alot of advantages and disadvantages for both teams.
    KG will be the factor in this series. If he can shut down Pau on D (which is very likely) and run a muck on offense and get alot of inside points…I expect the Celtics to take it in 6.
    Kobe really needs to come to play to handle the Celtics D. Its by far the best in the league right now.

  8. bostonmanggggggggg - May 20, 2010 at 2:25 PM

    same raw deal the magic are getting???? Did you see game 2???? Perk fouled out with 8 minutes left in the 4th and Pierce fouled out with 4 minutes left!!
    The calls in general are horrible…but the thing is they are going both ways. When does Pierce EVER foul out of a game? Its like womans water polo..the littlest bump or hand check are getting calls. its ridiculous.
    Fact is…magic arent talented enough to ebat the celtics D. They ARE GETTING SHUT DOWN!!! Nelson is a hack, Howards offesive skills are comparable to Shaq no range outside of 8 feet, Lewis is playing like he’s never seen a basketball before…Carter is well, doing what he always does…failing.
    Celtics are far superior to the Magic and to make excuses about the refs is honky tonk. Celtics are getting the same BS calls against them as well

  9. Anonymous - May 20, 2010 at 11:23 PM

    You hate haters… thus you hate yourself.

  10. Viz - May 21, 2010 at 9:23 PM

    A dream come true ,Labron and Dirk , would’nt that give the Lakers and Celtics some competition?

  11. ocgunslinger - May 21, 2010 at 9:54 PM

    The only way Phoenix will score 130-140 points against the Lakers is if the Laker Plane crashes and they have to suit up some of the ILLEGAL immigrants in the area.
    Anonymous……you have ZERO value to add to this site. You must be a racist.

  12. Foul Dwimmerlaik - May 21, 2010 at 10:20 PM

    @”Lobo es muy loco”: How convenient of you to forget that the Lakers lost to the Suns after taking a 3-1 lead during the first round series in 2007. If Stern and the NBA would rig games as what you claim, then the Lakers should have won that series and move on to face the LA Clippers in the WC semi-finals (which by the way, means more media mileage and $$$ at that). Doofuses like you should shut up if that’s all you can say to justify the Lakers’ ability to win games and series. Idiot.

  13. liamthedream - May 22, 2010 at 7:48 PM

    Would someone pray tell me how “Illegal Immigrants’ are able to afford the price of Tickets to the Lakers-Suns game? Just asking…..

  14. liamthedream - May 22, 2010 at 7:49 PM

    Would someone pray tell me how “Illegal Immigrants’ are able to afford the price of Tickets to the Lakers-Suns game? Just asking…..

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