Lopez Tonite! — Phoenix Sun Starting Center and ex-Stanford Star Robin Lopez crouches in Pauley, to be only ONE foot taller than everyone else… As an old man takes a picture of R-Lo’s ass and shows it to his Granddaughter.

The Suns shoulda Duct:  Kobe “Don’t call me Angus” Bryant Jacks up 40 Points and L.O. gets his Grube back with 19 & 19, as L.A. Clips Nemesis Nash’s wings, and Explodes all over the Challenger’s Club, Dismantling them 128-107… But once you Mullet over (if you’re on the Dean’s List), it’s only 1 game closer to a re-Pete

Predictable?  Not by me.

The 6-point Favorite Lakers blew out the Suns on Monday Night, 128-107, to take a 1-0 lead in the Best-of-7 Western Conference Finals.  The Suns actually got off to a great start, and led the game for the first 8 minutes.  But with Lamar Odom in off the bench, L.A. closed out the 1st quarter with an 18-4 run.  Odom came through with 19 Points and 19 Rebounds, as Phoenix could not keep a Defender on him.

Odom was able to get to the hoop easily, and that allowed him to get 7 Boards on the Offensive end.  Several Lakers were able to penetrate the Phoenix D — After the game, the Suns’ Head Coach Alvin Gentry said that his Defense couldn’t stop anyone.  He then mentioned three different Lakers, and continued with “even Jordan Farmar.”  It was ALMOST as if he meant that Farmar was the ONE guy who was NO threat to drive… But what he was really trying to do was emphasize that no matter which Laker was handling the ball, they could ALL break down the Defense and get to the Paint.

Farmar scored 10 Points with 5 Assists and a Steal, as the Lakers, who shot 58% from the floor and 47% from Downtown,  controlled the game through the final 3 quarters.  They took a 7-point lead into the Half, but in the 3rd quarter, Kobe erupted.  Looking to force a change in Phoenix’s Defensive approach, Kobe got more aggressive, scoring TWENTY-ONE of his 40 Points in the 3rd, as the Lakers built the lead up to 19.  Phoenix had a spurt at the end of the quarter to cut it to 14 and keep the viewers from tuning out and/or switching to the Dodger game, but L.A. quickly re-expanded the lead in the 4th.  In fact, Phoenix star Steve Nash never even re-entered the game, after being rested at the start of the 4th.  The lead jumped to 28, as Phoenix — the best 3-pt shooting team in the League — went 5-for-22 from behind the arc.

As Charles Barkley pointed out, Phoenix can’t compete with the Lakers in the Paint — even with Robin Lopez returning from injury to Start at Center and score 14, grab 6 Rebounds, and Block a shot.  Lopez was very effective, but with him in the Post, instead of Channing Frye who positions himself outside, Amare Stoudamire was a litlle less comfortable and free in the Key.  Stoudamire still scored 23, but the Suns just seemed out of sync, with Lopez returning after missing their first two Playoff Series.  

To make matters worse for the Suns, when Frye did come in, he couldn’t hit from the outside either.  Frye went 1-8 from the floor (1-7 from 3), as the Lakers booted Frye and Phoenix to the curb in Game 1.  They HAVE to make their Three’s to Beat L.A.

But on Monday Night, it didn’t matter what Phoenix did or didn’t do — a WELL-RESTED Kobe couldn’t be stopped.  The Black Mamba’s 40 marked the 6th straight Playoff game where he has tallied 30 or more points, and his 21-point 3rd quarter missed Elgin Baylor’s Laker Record by 1 Point.

Don’t misunderstand — It was not a 1-man show for the whole game.  As I said, Lamar Odom was a difference-maker, and so was Pau Gasol, who had a couple of Magic passes, 2 Blocks as part of rock-solid Defense, and he also managed to drop 21 points.  So Kobe scored 21 in the 3rd, Gasol scored 21 in the game, the the final margin of victory was 21.  That’s a triple Blackjack… and none of it has anything to do with the highlight reel play of the game. 

You don’t often see a MISSED shot highlighted on SportsCenter, unless there is a great Rejection, but on Monday night, Shannon Brown broke that rule, when he took the ball from around the free throw line, and elevated OVER the shoulder of his Defender on his way to a dunk attempt.  The Sun was called for a Blocking foul as the ball rimmed out, but I don’t think I have seen a Laker get that high since Odom left the van in the Staples Center parking lot before the game.  Seriously, I have only fuzzy memories of seeing Baylor play in person, but this LEAP by Shannon Brown conjured up images of Michael, Dr. J, and Nate Robinson in Dunk Contests.  If he had made it, it would have been the Play of the Year.  It’ll still make a great poster, as long as the camera clicked before the ball left his hand.

A lot of people will see this blowout as a statement, and a signal that the Lakers are just too good for Phoenix, and that a Sweep is imminent.  I don’t.  All Phoenix needed was a Split in L.A., so they are still in line to do that, on Wednesday night.  The Suns will undoubtedly shoot better than 23% from behind the arc, while Odom is not a guarantee to repeat his stellar performance.  Steve Nash has a way of motivating his teammates, and losing one game will not deflate a guy like that.

Plus, it is easy to see how the Lakers could get complacent, and take the Suns for granted.  They may even start to look ahead to Boston (or Orlando).  But if the Suns get hot from outside, they can definitely compete with a less-than-pumped Laker team.  So I still expert some fireworks from Phoenix in this Series… but I said the same thing about Utah.

The way the Lakers have been coming together behind Kobe over the last 6 games, they look like Champions.  Again.

If the Suns and Robin Lopez don’t get hotter, they’ll be on PERM-anent vacation very soon.

Robin Lopez is not even the best #42 in this photo.