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Lakers vs. Phoenix: Lakers defeat Suns in triple overtime thriller

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Lakers 139, Suns 137 (triple overtime)

Kobe Bryant scored 42 points and Ron Artest scored 18, including four in the third overtime.

The Lakers escaped after blowing a 21-point lead and improved to 13-1 since the All-Star break.

Lamar Odom had 29 points and 16 rebounds and Pau Gasol had 24 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers.

Bryant also 12 rebounds and nine assists, coming up one assist short of a triple-double.

After Grant Hill fouled out with 2:19 left in the third overtime, Bryant had room to operate.

Bryant made a three-pointer over Jared Dudley for a 133-132 Lakers lead.

Then Artest did his thing.

He got a steal after Steve Nash lost the ball and raced down court for a left-handed dunk.

Artest then made a 15-foot fade-away for a 137-132 Lakers lead.

But Channing Frye made a three-pointer with 1:03 left to close the Suns' gap to 137-135.

Kobe Bryant made an 11-foot shot to give the Lakers a 139-135 lead with 14.2 seconds left in the game.

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Dissecting the Suns' three-pointers in Lakers' 121-116 loss to Phoenix

57645145Were Lakers Coach Phil Jackson a gambling man, he'd gladly roll the dice that Phoenix's penchant for three-point shooting wouldn't last.

"Our philosophy," Jackson said, "is those things even out through time."

Instead, the team's 121-116 loss Sunday to the Suns featured Phoenix setting a franchise-record 22 three-pointers, the second-highest league total any team's scored in a game.

The feat seems so uncommon that Lakers guard Kobe Bryant nearly guaranteed that you wouldn't see it happen again anywhere else.

"When guys are in the gym by themselves," Bryant said, "they can't shoot that percentage."

And Phoenix's live-and-die-by-the-three mentality seems so unorthodox, Lakers guard Derek Fisher highly doubts that strategy will prove sustainable for a playoff run.

"I'll just say I have five rings playing a particular way," he said. "I feel like that works pretty well. People do other things, and you see the results. That's just my opinion. Obviously, I'm biased."

The Lakers' refrain in the locker room after their second consecutive loss became as predictable as the Suns' relentless three-pointers. Rather than using this time to reflect on their poor defense, the Lakers pointed their fingers at Phoenix, claiming there was very little L.A. could do to stop a hot shooting night. Sure, Lakers forward Lamar Odom conceded the team could've performed better on closeouts. Sure, Lakers guard Shannon Brown acknowledged that the Lakers should've slowed the pace down to prevent the Suns from hitting so many three-pointers. And sure, Lakers forward Matt Barnes pointed to the Lakers' 18 turnovers feeding into Phoenix's high-octane offense.

But the Lakers' aura of resignation masked the plenty of things they could've prevented in allowing an opponent to set a new franchise record for most three-pointers given up in single game against the Lakers' franchise. Considering how rare it is for teams to hit such a high volume of three-pointers in a single game, it's tempting for the Lakers simply to just forget it and move on. But the tape shows this is another example of the Lakers' ongoing problems on defensive coverages.

Below the jump, I detail what went wrong on nearly every Suns' three-pointer. I left out two sequences simply because I DVR'ed Fox Sports West's replay Monday afternoon, and that version fast-forwarded through a few parts of the first quarter, leaving two first-quarter treys on the cutting-room floor. But you get the idea.

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Five things to watch in Lakers-Phoenix matchup

Pau Gasol 1. The Lakers will respond well after a loss. Coach Phil Jackson expressed uncertainty about how much a day of rest Friday would benefit the Lakers (8-1) in their matchup Sunday at Staples Center against the Phoenix Suns (4-4) since the Lakers had an uninspiring performance against the Minnesota Timberwolves after similar time off. Forward Ron Artest also noticed that the Lakers' poor habits against the Timberwolves on Tuesday carried over into the team's 118-112 loss to the Denver Nuggets on Thursday. But the Lakers will come out with a better effort because the bottom-line result woke them up more than a mediocre performance. The Lakers' practice Saturday also allowed the team to shake off any rust from the day off Friday, so there's no reason the Lakers should not look sharp against Phoenix.

2. The Lakers' front line will bounce back from an off game. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom will not combine for seven-for-23 shooting on a regular basis, a stat line that played a large role in the Lakers' loss to Denver. In addition to the poor shooting stroke, Odom was so ineffective that Jackson sat him in the fourth quarter in favor of Shannon Brown (19 points on seven-for-14 shooting). In fairness, though, Jackson also made that move because of Brown's hot hand and because Denver went with a small lineup. Gasol, meanwhile, largely struggled with close- to mid-range shots and appeared to be tired in playing a team-leading 44 minutes, the amount of time he has been on the court for in three of the Lakers' last five games.

The Lakers can't afford bad games from Odom and Gasol, but that should not be an issue against Phoenix. In the Lakers' 114-106 victory against the Suns on Oct. 29, Gasol and Odom combined for 39 points on 18-for-29 shooting, 25 rebounds and 14 assists. Suns forward Hakim Warrick has shown promise, but Phoenix has not fully developed a front-line presence to replace Amare Stoudemire and sorely lacks a rebounder to compete with the Lakers' front line.

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Caught in the Web: Lakers prepare for another meeting with Phoenix

57192553-- The Times' Broderick Turner focuses on the progress Lakers center Andrew Bynum has made, which has spurred Coach Phil Jackson to say he'll expect Bynum to practice within a week.

-- The Orange County Register's Janis Carr suspects Jackson's new timeline means Bynum won't be able to play until at least December.

--The Arizona Republic's Paul Coro details Josh Childress' path to the NBA.

-- Fox Sports Arizona's Randy Hill debates whether the Suns should trade Steve Nash.

-- ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne tells how Pau Gasol is shouldering the heavy minutes.

--The Daily Breeze's Elliott Teaford also focuses on Gasol's high productivity.

-- Silver Screen and Roll's wondahbap names Gasol the team's player of the week.

-- Forum Blue and Gold's Darius Soriano breaks down Shannon Brown's improved shooting numbers.

-- Valley of the Sun's Michael Schwartz argues Nash shouldn't be traded.

Tweet of the Day: "PAC Wow" -- RONARTESTCOM (Lakers forward Ron Artest)

Reader Comment of the Day: "This team really is special, and I think we all feel it. I'm worried right now about other team's taking advantage of our Sock-less team and keep up the sashay into the paint. However, I also think we'll compensate - the Denver game excepted because I don't think anyone can explain that other than to assume PJ wanted to see what the bench was made of. Still - it's a chess match and I do believe it's PJ's turn. Let's see what happens. " -- justanothermambafan

-- Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Phoenix point guard Steve Nash takes Lakers point guard Derek Fisher into a screen as the Suns run a patented pick-and-roll play on Oct. 29, 2010. Credit: Matt York / Associated Press

Five things to take away from Lakers' 114-106 victory over Phoenix Suns

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1.Kobe Bryant continues to make progress on his right knee. - This isn't because Bryant scored a team-leading 25 points on a nine of 19 clip in the Lakers' 114-106 victory Friday over the Phoenix Suns. It's because his minutes (34) and involvement in other areas (seven rebounds, three assists) shows he's returning to his normal self. Another sign that Bryant's making progress is he seemed to enjoy matching Grant Hill's hot shooting (21 points on 10 of 17 shooting) and testing the foul limits. The next development I'm interested in seeing entails how Bryant's body responds next week when the Lakers play four games, including Sunday against Golden State, Tuesday against Memphis, Wednesday at Sacramento and Friday against Toronto.

2. Pau Gasol shows leadership All pre-season Lakers Coach Phil Jackson has prodded Gasol into taking charge of the team. At the beginning of the fourth quarter, he gathered together Ron Artest, Matt Barnes, Shannon Brown and Steve Blake together and appeared to give them advice. The Lakers entered the quarter leading 90-79, but no lead against Phoenix ever feels safe, considering the Suns shot 44 of 93, went nine of 24 from three-point range and featured five players cracking double digits, including Hill (21), center Robin Lopez (18), shooting guard Jason Richardson (17), backup guard Goran Dragic (15) and Jared Dudley (10) as well as nine assists from Steve Nash. Gasol helped the Lakers secure the win by dishing out five of his team-high nine assists in the fourth quarter, including plays that led to two Barnes' three-pointers, feeding Bryant and Lamar Odom inside for layups and finding Derek Fisher open for a jumper. Oh, and he also contributed with 21 points on 10 of 17 shooting with eight rebounds, falling short of the triple double.

Gasol's shooting stroke looked very smooth, resulting in numerous mid-range J's. His footwork remained unstoppable resulting in a left hook over Lopez. And his patience in letting the play develop while posting up paid off numerous times.

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3. Lamar Odom isn't missing a beat - KCAL-9 Lakers analyst Stu Lantz correctly observed that some fans take for Odom's contributions for granted. It's easy to fall into the trap with this game because he's provided all throughout the training camp. He had a field day against Hedo Turkoglu in the post and on the perimeter, scoring 18 points on eight of 12 shooting, along with 17 rebounds and five assists. After nailing a three at the top of the three in the second quarter, he grabbed a rebound and fired an outlet pass, resulting in a Shannon Brown layup. He drove the lane one time and immediately noticed traffic so he kicked it out to Bryant for the open shot. And he relentlessly owned the boards against an undersized Phoenix team, most notably when he grabbed a rebound off an Artest missed shot and converted on an off-balance layup.

Although he's recorded seven turnovers in the first two games, Odom avoided getting into foul trouble against Phoenix, which prevented Jackson from having to play Theo Ratliff heavy minutes as well as give rookie Derrick Caracter playing time.

4. The Lakers continue to show trust in their bench - It's amazing to already see the work Lakers General Manager Mitch Kupchak put in this offseason already reap the benefits. Shannon Brown provided another energy game, scoring eight points on four of eight shooting, while Barnes had 11 points, including three of four from three-point range. Blake, Barnes and Brown entered the game late in the third quarter, and partly contributed to the team going on a 9-2 run to create a 87-79 cushion. Barne made a key defensive rebound that resulted in Blake converted from long-range, and Brown stole a poor Dragic pass resulting in a thunderous two-handed slam. Clearly, Jackson has confidence the bench can secure and widen leads, and it's also clear that Sasha Vujacic's zero minutes through two games will prove to be the norm rather than the exception this season.

5. The Lakers show potential to be a better three-point shooting team than last year: It's only two games so obviously this statistic remains far from definitive. But the Lakers' 47.9% mark from three-point range shows the team has better personnel to shoot from three-point range than last year's team, which went 34.1% from the field. Barnes finished three of four from three-point range, Blake and Bryant went two of five, Artest went three of eight, Fisher hit one of two and Odom nailed his sole attempt.

It's going to be a nice skill for the Lakers to acquire considering that wasn't their biggest strength last season, and it's going to give teammates fits considering how dangerous the Lakers frontline usually shows. The Lakers should approach the game, however, looking to get the ball in the lane and post first, before settling for outside. Working inside-out instead of outside-in will also help the Lakers' perimeter shooters develop a better rhythm as well.

Stat of the Night: 1,100. The number of wins for Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, who became the fastest coach in NBA history to achieve such a feat.

Quote of the Night: I'm a great rebounder." -- Lakers foward Lamar Odom to KCAL-9's John Ireland

--Mark Medina

Twitter.com/latmedina

E-mail the Lakers blog at mgmedin@gmail.com

Photo: Lakers guard Kobe Bryant drives down the lane against Suns point guard Goran Dragic in the first quarter Friday night. Credit: Matt York/Associated Press

Photo: Lakers forward Lamar Odom looks to pass over the defense of Suns forward Hedo Turkoglu in the first quarter Friday night. Credit: Matt York / Associated Press

Five things to watch in Lakers-Suns matchup

570842801.What kind of minutes will Kobe Bryant provide? -- Though Lakers Coach Phil Jackson maintained he would limit Bryant's minutes at the beginning of the regular season, he said he'd remain flexible about Bryant's playing time,  based on his comfort level and game situations. In the Lakers' 112-110 season-opening victory Tuesday over the Houston Rockets, Bryant scored 27 points on eight of 20 shooting in 37 minutes, a significant improvement in both shooting percentage and minutes compared to his preseason stat line of 12.6 points on 28.2% shooting in 21.6 minutes per contest.

Without citing specifics, Jackson said he may alter Bryant's minutes in the Lakers' (1-0) game Friday in Phoenix (1-1) because they host Golden State at home Sunday, leaving Bryant less room for recovery time.  

 2. How will the Suns look without Amare Stoudemire? - Stoudemire's departure to New York this off-season because of free agency prompted Suns guard Steve Nash to publicly doubt the team's chances of making the postseason.

"To be honest, if I was outside this picture and a betting man, I would probably pick us to be outside of the playoffs, considering all the changes and the new guys, Nash told the SB Nation Arizona's Seth Pollack.

Of course,  Bryant doesn't feel bad for Phoenix's off-season adversities, including losing Stoudemire to free agency and Leandro Barbosa in a trade.

"Good. We'll beat the hell out of them," Bryant said. "That's not my problem. We beat them in the playoffs last year, but they used to kick our butt all time in the playoffs. So I have no sympathy."

The Lakers offered many opinions on how much Stoudemire's departure affects the Suns, considering he averaged 25 points last season in the West Finals against the Lakers and partly contributed to Andrew Bynum getting in foul trouble. Bryant pointed out the Lakers won't have to "double-team a guy in the post." Jackson observed Stoudemire's penchant for high-percentage shots inside that he created, thanks to how perfect he and Steve Nash ran the screen and roll will no longer be an issue, considering center Robin Lopez has struggled so far replicating that same chemistry with Nash. And Lakers forward Derek Fisher actually argued the absence could prove more difficult, considering the Lakers' defense would have to space out more since Hedo Turkoglu, Channing Frye, Jason Richardson, Grant Hill  and Josh Childress can play from the wings.

"I'm sure at times, they'll miss the physicality and power Amare played with, Fisher said. "But I think as time goes on, their ability to shoot the ball from the perimeter complements Nash's penetration ability. I think it'll balance out a little bit. Teams like ours, it may be tough, because you got to have size in the middle, but catching us without Andrew Early and Theo [Ratliff] banged up a little bit, we'll still have to go in there and get some work done."

Although it's one game, Phoenix forward Hakim Warrick demonstrated in the Suns' 110-94 victory Thursday against the Utah Jazz that he knows a thing or two about the screen and roll. All the various contributions tie into what Phoenix Coach Alvin Gentry has described as a "continuity offense." Though the Lakers won't have to worry about Stoudemire, the Lakers still have issues. The Lakers' front-court remains fairly thin with Andrew Bynum rehabbing his right knee, backup center  Ratliff nursing a sore left knee and Derrick Caracter remaining understandably raw. Still, the Lakers should hold their own against Phoenix, which conceded 18 offensive rebounds in its 106-92 season-opening loss Tuesday to Portland.

"The combination between Stoudemire and Nash has been great in the last two years so that'll be a little timing," Jackson said. "But Phoenix will still be a good team."

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Lakers prepare to face a different Phoenix Suns team

Turkoglu_300 On Friday, the Lakers will face a different Phoenix Suns team than the one L.A. defeated in six games in the Western Conference finals.

The Lakers won't have to contend with power forward Amare Stoudemire, who signed as a free agent with the New York Knicks over the summer.

Phoenix now has Hedo Turkoglu, who was acquired from the Toronto Raptors, playing the position.

Stoudemire was tough defend rolling to the basket when the Suns ran the pick-and-roll with Steve Nash.  

Turkoglu doesn't attack the basket as much, preferring to shoot from the outside.

"Obviously it's a different power forward that they are using," Pau Gasol said after practice Thursday. "But it's still a tough match-up, and it's going to be a tough game on the road."

-- Broderick Turner

Photo: Suns forward Hedo Turkoglu drives against the Blazers' LaMarcus Aldridge in both teams' season opener on Tuesday. Credit: Craig Mitchelldyer / US Presswire

The Times' Mike Bresnahan and Mark Medina tackle some Laker questions

The Lakers are officially underway. They're finally playing basketball, providing glimpses of how the roster might shape up and giving the fans of the L.A. Times' Lakers blog something to keep them from going insane (or so I hope).

But this is one game. As much as I detailed five things to take away from the Lakers' 111-92 loss Monday to the Minnesota Timberwolves, it's one exhibition game. I don't want to say my post was a waste of time to read and write, but you have to take it for what it is. The Lakers have seven remaining pre-season games and the ring ceremony/opening night isn't until Oct. 26 against Houston.

That leaves time for The Times' Mike Bresnahan and myself to dive into a few questions after the jump.

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Steve Nash still believes Phoenix Suns will beat Lakers in Game 6

A day after making somewhat of a bold statement, Suns guard Steve Nash said Friday that he wasn't making a "guarantee" that Phoenix was going to win Game 6 of the Western Conference finals against the Lakers.

Nash said it's "a belief" that the Suns can defeat the Lakers in Game 6 Saturday night at US Airways Center and then force a Game 7 back in Los Angeles at Staples Center on Monday.

The Suns lost a last-second game to the Lakers Thursday night in Game 5 when Ron Artest grabbed Kobe Bryant's airball and scored on a putback.

The Suns trail the best-of-seven series, 3-2, and are on the brink of elimination.

"I didn't say guarantee," Nash said. "But, I have no problem with that."

While he was doing post-game interviews Thursday, it did sound as if Nash was making a guarantee.

"We lost, and they held home court," he said. "We'll go back and do the same, and we'll come back here for Game 7."

The Suns did win Games 3 and 4 at home.

Perhaps that's why Nash sounded so confident.

"It's a belief," Nash said. "I believe we're going to come home and win and go back and play Game 7 over there."

-- Broderick Turner in Phoenix

Caught in the Web: Reactions to Lakers' 103-101 Game 5 victory over Phoenix Suns

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Game stories

--The Times' Mike Bresnahan details the final moments, including Ron Artest's game-winning shot, in the Lakers' 103-101 Game 5 Western Conference finals victory over the Phoenix Suns.

--The New York Times' Howard Beck notes how Artest's shot staved off Phoenix's rally.

--The Arizona Republic's Paul Coro labels the Suns' loss a heartbreaker.

--The Orange County Register's Kevin Ding paints the festive atmosphere following Artest's game-winner.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's David Lassen calls Artest's game-winner the "Ron-Ron Rebound of 2010."

--The Daily News' Elliott Teaford describes Artest's game-winner as "improbable."

Notebooks

--The Times' Bresnahan explains how Kobe Bryant kept the Lakers in the game.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Lassen explains how the Lakers barely withstood Steve Nash's contributions.

--The Daily News' Teaford explains why Luke Walton can help solve the Suns' zone.

Sidebars

--The Times' Broderick Turner credits Sasha Vujacic's contributions. Turner also reports that Nash believes the Suns will force Game 7.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Matt Calkins features the Lakers' late-game shots beyond Artest's game-winner.

--The Daily News' Jill Painter argues that Derek Fisher's efforts often go unnoticed.

--NBA Fanhouse's Chris Tomasson reports that Jackson says it's highly likely he'll return to the Lakers.

--The Orange County Register's Mark Whicker goes through memorable game-winning shots Phil Jackson has witnessed as a coach.

--The Arizona Republic's Bob Young documents how Phoenix Coach Alvin Gentry doesn't pay much attention to outside opinion.

Columns

--The Times' Bill Plaschke dissects the enigma that is Artest.

--The Times' T.J. Simers appreciates what Fisher brings to the team.

--The Times' Mark Heisler chalks up the Lakers' win to luck.

--ESPN.com's J.A. Adande believes that Artest redeemed himself.

--The Arizona Republic's Dan Bickley argues that the Lakers stole the game from Phoenix.

--The Arizona Republic's Paola Boivin says the Suns still believe they can bounce back in the series.

--The Orange County Register's Ding argues that Artest's game-winner brought the team closer together.

--NBA.com's Scott Howard-Cooper chalks up the win to Artest being in the right place at the right time.

--Sports Illustrated's Lee Jenkins argues that Artest's game-winner proves his worth.

--Fox Sports' Mark Kriegel compares and contrasts how the team and fans viewed Artest in the final minute.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Arash Markazi credits Fisher for his consistency in the postseason.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Dave McMenamin argues that team effort proved more instrumental in the win than Artest's putback.

--The Orange County Register's Jeff Miller didn't anticipate Game 5 would happen that way.

--The Riverside Press-Enterprise's Gregg Patton argues that Artest's game-winner proves he belongs with the Lakers.

--Yahoo! Sports' Marc Spears observes Phoenix's state of shock.

--ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne details the heartbreak Phoenix experienced.

--Yahoo! Sports' Dan Wetzel believes Artest has fit in with the Lakers.

--The Orange County Register's Whicker argues that Artest's game-winner made up for his poor play.

Blogs

--ESPN Los Angeles' Andy and Brian Kamenetzky break down Artest's game-winner, contributions from Bryant and Vujacic, as well as some numbers.

--Forum Blue and Gold's Darius outlines how the Lakers overcame adversity.

--Pro Basketball Talk's Kurt Helin believes the Suns have eve more confidence considering the close effort they have against the Lakers.

--The headline on Silver Screen and Roll's article by C.A. Clark says it all: "Finally, Ron Artest makes the headlines for all the right reasons."

--Lakers.com's Mike Trudell details how Artest redeemed himself.

Radio Interviews

I recap the Lakers' Game 5 victory with 1430 ESPN's Paul Swearengin.

Mark Medina ESPN Radio


Tweet of the Day: "Phil came home from STAPLES Center kissed me on the forehead and watched the 4th quarter again. I am an NBA widow." -- JeanieBuss (Lakers executive vice president Jeanie Buss, who is Jackson's girlfriend.

Reader Comment of the Day: "Ron redeemed himself. I am happy for him. Good anticipation on that Kobe's shot. I knew it from the release that it will not go in. Ron's got good instinct on that one for him to track the ball. Good to see Ron/Kobe/Lamar on that group hug. I want the Lakers to win it again this year for those 3 players" -- jette

-- Mark Medina

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

Photo: Lakers forward Ron Artest (37) and guard Kobe Bryant react, along with the Staples Center crowd, after Artest hit the winning shot as time expired in Game 5 on Thursday night. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times

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