After Kobe Bryant scored 40 points in Game 1, the Suns made the adjustment and double-teamed him in Game 2. They held Bryant to 20 points but he still burned them with a playoff career-high 13 assists. The Suns offense looked better but the Lakers have too many weapons that are firing right now. Lakers pulled away in the fourth quarter to beat the Suns 124-112.
First let's look at how the Suns improved from Game 1.
1. Jason Richardson took charge. It's not that Richardson had a bad Game 1 but the Suns needed more from him and he delivered last night. Richardson poured in a team-high 27 points while hitting 10 of 17 from the field. The Suns moved the ball better and took advantage of Bryant roaming off of his man to free up open shots.
2. They pushed the pace. They were able to run on the Lakers and converted 14 turnovers into 23 points - many of those in transition. The Suns are at their best when they're getting easy buckets, especially right now when the Lakers are stepping it up defensively.
3. While overall the bench played poorly, Jared Dudley had a great game. He killed the Lakers during the regular season and was a main reason the Suns kept this one close for so long. He hit all five of his three-point attempts accounting for his 15 points. The rest of the bench went 3 for 17 for 11 points. Channing Frye continues to struggle on the road. He's shooting below 30% on the road as opposed to 50% at home. So expect more out of him in the next two games.
But right now the Lakers are just overwhelming the Suns. The Suns shot just under 50% and shot 42% from three-point range. But it really doesn't matter since they're allowing the Lakers to shoot 57% and over 50% from three-point range.
It's plain and simple why the Lakers won - they have too many weapons. Of course there's Kobe who became the distributor last night and racked up 13 assists.
Then there's Pau Gasol who the Suns have absolutely no answer for. Gasol hit 11 of 19 shots for 29 points and scored 14 of those in the deciding fourth quarter.
Throw in Lamar Odom who had another 'lucky' game with 17 points and 11 rebounds. He has really helped solidify that second unit - although Jackson seems to be working his starters in more with the bench in this series.
Andrew Bynum hadn't done much of anything in the past four games but hit all five of his shots last night while scoring 13 points. Bynum won't be playing much this series though since Odom makes the Lakers much tougher on the defensive end.
And then there's Ron Artest. I've criticized him endlessly for his lack of offense but he came through last night. He knocked down 6 of his 9 shots including 3 three-pointers on his way to 18 points.
How can the Suns stop the Lakers when everyone on offense is a threat? So far it's been impossible. The Lakers have now won eight straight and the possibility of a Celtics/Lakers Final has both fan bases and probably the NBA salivating. But hopefully the Lakers aren't looking past the Suns. Otherwise this series could get dragged out like the Oklahoma City Thunder series and this Suns team is more mature and thus more dangerous than that squad.