LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 19: Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts to a play against the Phoenix Suns in the fourth quarter of Game Two of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 19, 2010 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement. (Photo by Harry How/Getty Images)
After his official media interview session on the dais in the press room, Suns Coach Alvin Gentry walked down the hall and had another smaller, impromptu interview session with several reporters. When it was over, he had a question for the media members:
“Do you have any idea how to slow the Lakers?”
The Suns don’t. The Suns played straight up man-to-man, they in some zone, they tried to front Pau Gasol in the post, they tried to double team Kobe, they tried just about every defensive gimmick in the book Wednesday night — and the Lakers scored 124 points on 57.7 percent shooting.
The Lakers offense carried them to a 124-112 victory that has them up a commanding 2-0 heading back to Phoenix for Game 3 Sunday.
The Lakers were patient and making the right decision on offense in a way they have not done consistently all season.
Kobe Bryant dropped 40 on the Suns in Game 1 so the Suns made it a point not to let him beat them by himself. So Kobe passed — he finished with a career playoff high 13 assists.
That was evident in the first half as the Lakers scored 65 points, in part because they were 7 of 11 from three-point range. For the game the Lakers shot a blistering 57.7 percent.
Part of that was that the Suns defense has been atrocious. Amare Stoudemire is an offensive force, but he was in a fog trying to cover Pau Gasol, letting him slip by for easy layups. The Suns defensive rotations all night were slow. When they happened at all.
But the Suns had a run in them — fueled by their offense. In the third quarter the Suns went to a small lineup that stretched out the Lakers defense, and the Suns started drilling their shots. They had 34 points in the third quarter, all the momentum and the game was tied 90-90 with just 12 minutes left.
What turned it around?
“Jordan Farmar,” was Kobe Bryant’s answer. “You know, he came in and made a big three for us and got a big deflection and a steal for us. That changed the momentum of the game.”
The Lakers started out the quarter hitting 6 of 9 shots, while the Suns hit just 1 of 6 with a few turnovers. Pau Gasol had something to do with it too — he had 14 of his 29 points in the quarter. Stoudemire kept losing him and Gasol kept finishing at the rim. Smart decisions and crisp passes gave the Lakers easy baskets. That is too much for the Suns to overcome.
Two games in, the Lakers offense is clicking as well it has since the NBA Finals last year. Which they won, as you may recall. These Lakers look like those Lakers again.
And the Suns don’t have any answers for how to stop them.