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Lakers Roundtable: Mark Medina and the Arizona Republic's Paul Coro preview Game 3 of Phoenix-Lakers series

The Lakers might be closer to an NBA Finals rematch with the Boston Celtics. The fan base may be growing bored with the Western Conference finals match-up with Phoenix. And the Suns may have little chance to come back from a 2-0 deficit against the Lakers, particularly because Phil Jackson's teams are 46-0 after winning Game 1. But that doesn't mean the West finals series hasn't lacked story lines.

Aside from all the controversy regarding Jackson's stance on Arizona's new immigration law, there's also been his uncertain coaching future, Kobe Bryant's dominance, Pau Gasol's consistency, Ron Artest's hot shooting, Andrew Bynum's injury and, of course, Amare Stoudemire's charge that Lamar Odom simply had a "lucky game" in the Lakers' 128-107 Game 1 victory.

And as far as Phoenix goes, the Arizona Republic's Paul Coro catches us up on what the Suns are experiencing and what to expect in Game 3.

Among the highlights:

--How the time off between Games 2 and 3 could affect how Phoenix and the Lakers play Sunday.

--How the Suns' defense may look different in Game 3.

--A look at Stoudemire's future with the Suns

--What to make of Suns General Manager Steve Kerr drawing a $10,000 fine from the league for joking he'd sign LeBron James at the mid-level exception.

--Why the Lakers' bench has outscored the Suns' reserves, 80-61.

--Whether Phoenix has a shot to come back in this series.

You can follow more of Coro's work at the Arizona Republic's website as well as on his Twitter account.

-- Mark Medina

Follow the L.A. Times Lakers blog on Twitter: twitter.com/latmedina. E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

 
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SHOOTING FOR GREATNESS !!!
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I may be in the minority on this but count me as one Lakers fan who is thrilled to see the Celtics playing great. I’ve said many times that greatness begets greatness. Playing against Larry Bird and the Celtics provided Magic Johnson and the 80’s Lakers the stage on which to achieve greatness and vice versa. Now Kobe Bryant and the Lakers and Rondo and the Celtics appear ready to revive and reprise the greatness of the most storied rivalry in sports as the 2008 and 2009 NBA champs continue on their crash course to collide in the 2010 NBA Finals.
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I find it ironic how Boston’s beat down of Orlando has made many Lakers fans wary and even fearful of the vicious buzz saw the Celtics suddenly appear to have become. There is little doubt both teams are keeping one eye pealed on their longtime bitter rival even as they throttle their overmatched conference final opponents. Look for the Lakers to respond to Celtics thrashing of the Magic at home by dismantling the Suns on the road. It’s now the Lakers turn to make a statement in this media-fueled ultimate game of team one-upsmanship.
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More than any other major sport, basketball is all about the matchups. That’s why Orlando’s 8-0 early playoff run was fool’s gold. It’s also why the Celtic’s merciless pounding of the Magic or the Lakers thrashing of the hapless Suns won’t translate into a momentum edge for either team. Instead, momentum will depend upon how Kobe plays on offense, whether any Celtic will be able to defend him like Posey did in the 2008 Finals, and whether Kobe can reprise his stopper role against Westbrook and the Thunder and shut down Rajon Rondo.
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It will depend on whether the Lakers “trade” for Ron Artest to guard Paul Pierce proves to be a great move. It will depend on whether a hobbled Andrew Bynum can offset the physicality of Kendrick Perkins and whether a finesse Pau Gasol can play tough enough to neutralize a bullying Kevin Garnett. Will Derek Fisher still have enough gas to fight through those double screens to keep Ray Allen in check? And finally, will Lamar Odom and the Lakers bench be able to match the energy and effort of Rasheed Wallace and the Celtic’s bench? The answers to those questions will determine which team grabs the momentum and ultimately triumphs.
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Offensively, look for the Lakers to play inside-out basketball by pounding the ball inside to Bynum and Gasol and isolating Kobe and Artest in the post to force the Celtics to double and open up the lanes for their cutters. The front court matchups should heavily favor the Lakers this time as both Bynum and Gasol have better inside post up games than Dwight Howard, not to mention that they are both also capable of making their free throws. Also look for the Lakers to push the ball aggressively in transition for easy scores before the Celtics setup their vaunted half court defense. with Drew and Pau sprinting to beat the older Celtics big men down the court. The younger, faster, and quicker Lakers offense should dominate the slower, older, smaller Celtics.
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Defensively, look for the Lakers to play the Celtics not much differently than the Suns in that they are going to force them to take non-paint 3’s by stopping penetration with Kobe shutting down Rondo, Artest locking down Pierce, and Bynum and Gasol closing down the lane and protecting the paint, while Fisher and Odom and the rest of the Lakers use their superior speed, quickness, athleticism, and length to chase Allen, Wallace, and the other Celtics long range shooters off the 3-point line. I expect Rondo’s “greatness” to be given the same dose of reality that Howard’s “greatness” just suffered. The Lakers will turn him into a jump and free throw shooter.
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In the end, the Lakers should win the series easily for several reasons: They have the home court advantage, a Paul Pierce stopper in Ron Artest while the Celtics have lost their Kobe Bryant stopper in James Posey, and a 7-foot 285 pound Andrew Bynum to matchup against Kendrick Perkins to free Pau Gasol to play power forward against Kevin Garnett rather than center against Perkins. Bottom line, the 2010 Lakers are a much better and tougher team even with an injured Andrew Bynum than the 2008 team who lost to the Celtics in the Finals while the 2010 Celtics are an older, less talented version of their 2008 team. Lakers win in 5 games.
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM

Game 3: LAKERS versus "ALVIN & THE CHIPMUNKS"!!!!

GO LAKERS! ONE, TWO, THREE, DOMINATE!!!!

SHOOTING FOR MEDIOCRITY!!!
========================

The burning question is : Can the Lakers put forth a monumental effort, and secure a split in the first two games of the Finals at Staples?

Red's,

"SHOOTING FOR MEDIOCRITY!!!"

I suggest you rush to secure the intellectual property rights to that wonderful motto. I'm sure the Celtics will snap it right up from you during their rebuilding phase.

You can look forward to rebuilding around Rondo and Big Baby after we euthanize the Old Three this year.

The Lakers can win the 1st two games against the Celts for sure. Actually, the Lakers can sweep the Celts, not likely, but they can. Many reasons: Better team, taller team, Kobe, etc...
Yeah, the Lakers can loose too, why not? But the upset is on the Celts's side, that's for sure. That's probably what drives Celts fans here, fear...My step-dad is a Celts fan, and he doesn't fear the Lakers, but he understands the Lakers are a better team. Period. We talked over and over about the matchup, and we both agree Lakers are ahead.
Cheers.

Already we're talking about the Celtics? Too premature. Why does a 2-0 record at home by the Lakers bring us to assuming the Suns will just fold? Better watch out. We've made that mistake before---looking too far down the road instead of being in the moment, in the present, not in the future. Upsets happen like this.

"The series doesn't start until the home team loses a game." -Paul Coro

Somewhat true. But in Thunders case the series started AND ended when the home team lost a game.

GO LAKERS!

LOCK'N LOAD!!!

tick....tick...tick...

tick...tick...tick...

AAAUUUUGGGHHHH! THIS IS MADDENING!

I'M AWAITING ON IMPATIENT TENTERHOOKS, AND THIS IS GAME 3 OF THE BLOODY CONFERENCE FINALS!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dEtm_Q2LK9g&feature=related

LTLF-

Darko Milicic? Seriously?

EJK,

Good one!

To answer your question from a week or two ago...I represented/defended insurance companies, in litigation, primarily against ambulance chasers.

Another way of looking at it {or so I`ve been told}...insurance companies were paying me to see to it that "widows and orphans" would be deprived of what was rightfully due them.

MARK G... The primary problem that I have in seeing Rondo developing into a great point guard is his lack of shooting touch as well as his horrible free throw shooting. It’s a testament to his speed and quickness that he can get into the lane despite nobody respecting his outside shot. Take a lo0k a what is happening to the point guard position in today’s basketball. It is mostly inhabited by combo guards who can also hit the 3-point shot, which is more and more becoming a bigger part of every team’s offense, even teams with bigs like the Lakers. The days of KC Jones being a top flight pass first point guard with no outside shot have long past. JMHO.
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TOM

"MARK G... The primary problem that I have in seeing Rondo developing into a great point guard is his lack of shooting touch as well as his horrible free throw shooting. It’s a testament to his speed and quickness that he can get into the lane despite nobody respecting his outside shot. Take a lo0k a what is happening to the point guard position in today’s basketball. It is mostly inhabited by combo guards who can also hit the 3-point shot, which is more and more becoming a bigger part of every team’s offense, even teams with bigs like the Lakers. The days of KC Jones being a top flight pass first point guard with no outside shot have long past. JMHO.
~~~~~~~~~~~
TOM
Posted by: LakerTom | May 23, 2010 at 04:47 PM"

But Tom, Jason Kidd did pretty good as a lousy shooter. Once the 3 C.O.A.T,'s (Celtics Older than All of Time) are gone, we will see the real Rondo.

Coro is scum. What is he doing on a Lakers site?

The Lakers can win the 1st two games against the Celts for sure. Actually, the Lakers can sweep the Celts, not likely, but they can. Many reasons: Better team, taller team, Kobe, etc...
Yeah, the Lakers can loose too, why not? But the upset is on the Celts's side, that's for sure. That's probably what drives Celts fans here, fear...My step-dad is a Celts fan, and he doesn't fear the Lakers, but he understands the Lakers are a better team. Period. We talked over and over about the matchup, and we both agree Lakers are ahead.
Cheers.

Posted by: Magic Phil | May 23, 2010 at 04:13 PM

Magic-

Well if your step-dad said it ... it must be true!

Laker fan-

As far as whether or not Rondo is the best all around point guard in the league ... Ill refer you to some guy named Magic Johnson.

If you feel you are more of an authority on the subject ... feel free to take it up with him!

Another way of looking at it {or so I`ve been told}...insurance companies were paying me to see to it that "widows and orphans" would be deprived of what was rightfully due them.

Posted by: RED`S LOVE CHILD | May 23, 2010 at 04:39 PM

I would expect nothing less from a Celtics fan :)

Way too many 3 pt shots. No inside game, no adjustments. Let nobody Lopez go off. Shoot with AB, LO in foul trouble I don't understand no action Jackson not using Mbengas size and energy to alter the game and keep the scoring inside. What a waste. Looking alot like a few yrs ago. Lakers leading Suns 3-1 and then no action Jackson losing series 4-3.
Buss gave you players, how about using them?


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