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Lakers' top-ranked three-point defense to be key against Phoenix's perimeter shooting

May 15, 2010 |  1:35 pm

With the Phoenix Suns finishing as the NBA's best three-point shooting team and the Lakers boasting the league's best three-point defensive team, the Lakers view this match-up as a test of how they impose their philosophy.

Lakers guard Kobe Bryant chalks up the outcome to whether the team controls the pace and plays in a half-court set. Lakers guard Derek Fisher points to communication. Lakers Coach Phil Jackson argues the key entails the team's ability to deny Phoenix the lane. And Lakers forward Ron Artest believes it all just comes down to helping out on team defense.

The statistics show that both teams are playing at their best in these areas. Phoenix, which shot 41.2% from three-point average, shot 41.7% from the perimeter in the first two rounds and has gone 34 of 69 in the last three games. The Lakers, which held teams to 32.8% shooting from downtown this season, limited opponents this postseason to 32.3% shooting from the three-point range.

In the Lakers' three wins in four games against Phoenix, they held the Suns to only 33.3% shooting from downtown. But in the team's lone 118-103 loss to Phoenix this season on Dec. 28, the Lakers surrendered 12 three-pointers to the Suns.

But the Lakers' effort in limiting the three goes beyond defending the perimeter. It entails how Fisher matches up with Steve Nash, whether Gasol limits Amare Stoudemire inside and how focused Artest remains on D. Nonetheless, the importance isn't lost on the Lakers. Phoenix finished 28-4 when they shoot at least 45% from three-point range, while the Lakers went 12-0 when they limited opponents to under 40% shooting.

--Mark Medina

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