Lakers

NBA Analysis: Lessons Learned from Lakers vs. Suns 3 OT Thriller

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In one of the more-exciting games of the NBA season, the Lakers continued their post-All-Star game roll as they outlasted the Phoenix Suns in a three-overtime marathon, 139-137 at Staples Center on Tuesday night.

Kobe Bryant scored a season-high 42 points, including five in the closing minutes of the third overtime to get the Lakers their 13th win in 14 games since the break.  He just missed a triple-double, as he tallied 12 rebounds and nine assists in 48 minutes.

Ron Artest made two of the biggest plays of the game, as he stole the ball from Steve Nash and slammed home a dunk with 1:11 left to put the Lakers ahead 135-132. He then drilled an off-balance 15-footer with the shot clock winding down to put the Lakers up 137-132. 

After Channing Frye hit one of his five three-pointers to bring the Suns back to 137-135, Bryant hit a runner in the lane with 14 seconds left to put the Lakers up 139-135. The Suns scored two points in the final seconds, but had wasted too much time to give themselves a chance to win the game.

By the middle of the third quarter the game looked liked it would an easy victory, as the Lakers had pushed the lead to 89-68 on a Bryant shot from beyond the arc.  The Suns had gone cold from the three-point line, and it looked their erratic shooting would finally catch up to them.  But Steve Nash then hit back-to-back three-pointers to get the Suns within 15, and the run was on.

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After a wild rally in the final quarter where the Suns were down nine with three minutes left, Grant Hill tied the game with 31 seconds left on a three from the corner.  After a Bryant miss, Phoenix then missed a chance to win the game in regulation on an errant shot  by Vince Carter.  They also had a chance to win the game in the second overtime, but Grant Hill was unable to get off a desperation heave at the buzzer.

Lots of players put up huge numbers for both teams in this offensive marathon.   Five players scored at least 20 points, six players had at least 10 rebounds, and 12 players scored in double figures.

Lamar Odom, starting for the suspended Andrew Bynum, put in a season-high 29 points and 16 rebounds on 13-22 from the field.  Pau Gasol had 24 points and 13 rebounds, and Ron Artest scored 18 points.

For the Suns, Frye scored a career-high 32 points and 14 rebounds, hitting 5-13 shots from deep.  Marcin Gortat had 24 points and 16 rebounds off the bench, and Nash had 19 points and 20 assists, playing over 49 minutes.  He was clearly gassed at the end of the game, as he turned the ball over several times in the third overtime, and most of his shots fell short.  Vince Carter scored 17 points but hit just 7-23 from the field.

The Lakers took 120 shots from the floor, making 53 for 44.2%.  They hit 11-27 (40.7%) from the three-point line and 22-25 (88.0%) from the foul line.  They only turned the ball over nine times.  A very low number for a game that was so up-and-down the court.  They also had 30 assists on their 53 baskets.  Los Angeles outrebounded Phoenix 56-52, and had 18 offensive rebounds against the smaller visitors, even without Bynum.

The Suns shot 51-106 (48.1%) from the floor and took an unbelievable 41 shots from beyond the arc, making 17 for 41.5%  That means the last two times they have played against the Lakers at Staples Center, they have made an incredible 37-81 (45.7.%) from distance.  They also had 34 assists on their 51 baskets.

In the end though, it’s another win for the champs, as they proved they are one of the most versatile teams in the league, being able to play a slowdown game like the 84-80 win against Portland on Sunday, or a shootout against a very up tempo Phoenix Suns.

This was the Lakers first three-overtime game at home since February 2, 1969 when they played the San Francisco Warriors.  The Lakers actually lost that game 122-117.

The champs next face the Clippers on Friday night at Staples of course.  The Lakers are the designated home team for the game, as they look to improve on their current 4-0 homestand.  They are 2-1 against their hallway neighbors this season, and beat them last on February 25th easily 108-95.

Link: Lakers vs. Suns Box Score