Lakers vs. Suns
A few years ago the match up between the Los Angeles Lakers and the
Phoenix Suns was a must see game with a playoff atmosphere. The
atmosphere is still somewhat the same as both teams still love to
compete against one another, but the Lakers have finally gotten the
best of the Suns.
The Suns core may still be intact with Steve Nash running the point,
Amare Stoudemire in the paint and Leandro Barbosa off the bench, but
the team around them is completely different.
Ever since the Suns parted ways with coach Mike DíAntoni Phoenixís
high powered run and gun offense has never been the same. The goal
back then was to score in only seven seconds of the shot clock and
basically exhaust the other team. Not a bad strategy, but teams like
the San Antonio Spurs always seemed to get the best of them by
slowing down the pace and forcing the Suns to play defense which
they were incapable of doing.
Although the Suns could never get past the Spurs in the playoffs
they were always able get knock out Kobe Bryant and the Lakers. It
wasnít that the Lakers werenít a good team, they were just young,
inexperienced and besides Kobe they were just a bunch of role
Now, times have changed. As the Suns just kept getting older, the
Lakers really started to come on strong as Kobe became a solid MVP
caliber leader and the players around him did nothing, but improve
game after game.
Last season the Lakers decided to get one more piece to the puzzle
by adding Pau Gasol and the Suns countered by getting Shaq. Gasol
turned out to be one of the best trades in franchise history for the
Lakers and Shaq just couldnít keep up with the seven second offense.
This season was a little different though as Shaq has been somewhat
rejuvenated, but the Lakers just got even better with the addition
of a healthy Andrew Bynum. Now the Lakers have a comfortable eight
game lead in the Western conference as the Suns struggle to stay in
the playoff hunt.
Shaq and Kobe may have been co-MVPs in the All Star game in Phoenix,
but their teams are going in completely different directions.
As of right now the Suns are a mess. Steve Nash is injured with a
bad ankle, Stoudemire might be out for the season after surgery and
they still canít play defense worth a lick. The offense may have
gotten back to the run and gun style, but the defensive problem
still remains the same.
The Lakers on the other hand are playing like they are the defending
champs as they look close to being virtually unbeatable even without
Andrew Bynum. Kobe canít be stopped, the have the best bench in the
league and Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom have really stepped up their
game in Bynumís absence.
If the Lakers keep playing this way I donít see anyone in the East
or West that can stop them. The Suns were embarrassed when they
played them earlier in the week and it might just get worse the
second time around. The only way the Suns can pull off the upset is
if Kobe, Pau and Odom arenít on the floor.
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