Frustration filled the faces of every Phoenix Suns player as they watched the Los Angeles Lakers run away in the fourth quarter with a 124-112 win in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals Wednesday night, May 19.
The Suns have tried just about everything in their repertoire to slow down superstar Kobe Bryant and the Lakers, but nothing has worked as L.A. moved ahead with a 2-0 series lead.
“We have enough guys to score points,” said Suns veteran forward Grant Hill. “We just have to get them under 105. Somehow, someway… but I have no idea. Maybe we need to go back to the drawing board. We had two games now to see what they’re doing.”
According to Lakers star reservist Lamar Odom, L.A.’s strategy has been simple. They realize their opponents like to score quickly, so they’re not only matching the Suns’ starters in points, but doing a better job of scoring off the bench, which gives them an advantage.
“That’s the game they force you to play,” said Odom, who has scored 36 points off the pine in the last two games. “We can adapt to it. They know the strength to our team is our depth and the way we’re able to match up.”
But the Lakers aren’t just outscoring Phoenix; they’re also playing outstanding defense in the paint, slowing down the Suns’ star Steve Nash to only 11 points, and limiting Amar’e Stoudemire, who finished with only 18 points and six rebounds, recording single-digit boards for the second straight game.
“You have to make sure you’re aggressive and make him work on that end of the floor,” Lakers star Pau Gasol told reporters. “I imagine it must be frustrating so far.”
The Suns will now have a few days to iron out their frustration and come up with an effective game plan for Game 3, scheduled for Sunday, May 23, in Phoenix. At least that’s what Kobe will be expecting.
“They run much, much better ,” Bryant told reporters. “It’s a different kind of game on the road. We can’t play with this kind of tempo in Phoenix.”