Bryant outsources the Laker Offense with a Playoff career-high 13 Dimes, and his Technical Support Staff answers the call, as Gasol and Artest combine for 47 Points, and Farmar’s 4th quarter long-distance connections help put the Suns’ upset plans on hold, 124-112
The Lakers made it 8 in a row Wednesday night, with a slightly-tougher, 12-point win over the Suns, to go up 2-0 in the Best-of-7 Western Conference Finals. The Lakers were once again the vastly superior team, but this time, Phoenix made a nice run late in the 3rd quarter, that TIED the score at 90 going into the 4th. But that’s when Jordan Farmar (!) and the Lakers turned it on.
People wonder if the Lakers can just “turn it on and off like a light switch.” After the game, they admitted “falling asleep” a little in the 3rd, but when the 4th got underway, Farmar flicked on the switch. Jordan opened the final period’s scoring with a huge Three to keep the Lakers in front, and spur a lethal, 16-5 Laker scoring run, in which Farmar hit ANOTHER Three. The spurt put the lead back up to double-digits, and the Suns never threatened after that. The closest they got was 8, with a 3-pointer in flight… but it didn’t go in.
Phoenix was led by Jason Richardson with 27 Points, while Jared Dudley came off the bench to go 5-for-5 from Downtown. But their 3rd quarter run was NOT spearheaded by Richardson, Dudley, nor Star Point Guard Steve Nash. It was Grant Hill, who scored 8 straight Phoenix Points to tie it up.
The Suns might have been more competitive if Nash were scoring like he has been for the last decade. But he has not been, so far against the Lakers in this Series. Is his black eye bothering him? According to Kobe, it’s Derek Fisher and FARMAR who are to blame for Nash’s struggles, NOT the black eye. Kobe said that Derek and Jordan did a great job of staying in front of Nash, and keeping him from CREATING Offense with his usual penetration.
So not only did Farmar go 3-for-3 from 3 to score 11 — His second straight game in double-figures — but he also collected 2 Steals, and was instrumental in stifling the Suns’ Offensive catalyst. Just like Farmar, Nash ended with 11 Points, but unlike Farmar, Nash didn’t come close to expectations. He did have FIFTEEN ASSISTS, but let’s just say that Fish and JF FORCED him to pass almost every time, so of course he had a lot of Assists.
Nash might have had even more Assists, if Channing Frye weren’t struggling so badly. But Frye’s slump continued, as the ex-Wildcat MISSED ALL FIVE OF HIS SHOTS. Perhaps if Frye gets his eye back, the Suns will put up a better fight in Phoenix.
To do so, they will have to find an answer for Pau Gasol. Pau was (dare I say) dominant in the Paint, outplaying Amar’e Stoudemire again. Pau scored 14 of his 29 in the 4th quarter, as the Lakers kept pounding it inside. Kobe was playing facilitator all night, as if by design, and in crunchtime, he stayed with the plan. The Lakers just repeatedly exploited Gasol’s advantage in the Paint.
The whole night, it was as if Phil Jackson and Kobe thought since Kobe scored 40 in Game 1, that Phoenix would counter by Double-teaming him all night in Game 2. So the Lakers scheme was for Kobe to pass first, shoot second, and the plan worked. Kobe’s total of 21 broke his string of 30-point games, but I’m sure he couldn’t care less about that… even though Craig Sager immediately brought it up to him in the postgame TV interview… All Kobe cares about is the “COOKIE.” And if Gasol, Artest, Farmar, Fisher, Shannon Brown, and Lamar Odom keep converting Kobe’s great set-ups, the only question I have for Kobe is, “Got Milk?”
Below is one tribute shot of Farmar IN (NCAA Championship Game) ACTION, and then 4 UCLA Spirit Squad photos, just because.