Friday , Apr , 28 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Lakers, Suns play Game 3 of first-round series at Staples Center

=== Lakers, Suns play Game 3 of first-round series at Staples Center ===

(Sports Network) – The Los Angeles Lakers attempt to take a 2-1 lead in
their first-round series with the Phoenix Suns, as the teams battle in Game 3
tonight at the Staples Center.

This is a best-of-seven series. Game 4 is scheduled to be played on Sunday
at the Staples Center.

The Lakers bounced back in Game 2 after falling to Phoenix 107-102 in the
series opener. On Wednesday, Superstar Kobe Bryant poured in 29 points, pulled
down 10 rebounds and dished out five assists to lead the seventh-seeded Lakers
past the second-seeded Suns, 99-93, at the US Airways Center.

Lamar Odom ended with 21 points, seven boards and five assists in Game 2s win
for the Lakers, while Kwame Brown chipped in 12 points Sasha Vujacic netted 11
off the bench.

Steve Nash finished with 29 points, seven rebounds and nine assists in the
loss for the Suns, while Raja Bell registered 23 points before fouling out and
Shawn Marion and Boris Diaw scored 13 apiece in defeat.

The Suns are 4-6 in their last 10 Game 3s in the postseason, while the Lakers
have won three of their last five Game 3s.

There is plenty of playoff history between the two clubs, as these teams are
meeting for the 10th time in the postseason. The Lakers won seven of the nine
previous meetings and are 2-1 against the Suns in the first round.

The Lakers knocked out the Suns in the opening round of the playoffs in 1970
and 1985, while Phoenix eliminated LA in 1993. The Lakers won semifinal series
over the Suns in 1980, 1982 and 2000 and conference final sets in 1984 and

Besides their first round win over LA in 1993, the Suns also picked up a
playoff series win over the Lakers in the 1990 conference semifinals.

The last time the Suns lost in the first round was in the 2003 playoffs, when
they were eliminated in six games, 4-2, by San Antonio. Phoenix is appearing
in the postseason for a second straight year after missing the playoffs in
2003-04 because of a poor 29-53 record.

The Lakers return to the playoffs after a one-year absence. Last season,
the Lakers finished just 34-48 and missed the playoffs for the first time
since 1994. In their last trip to the postseason, the Lakers advanced to
the 2004 NBA Finals, only to lose in five games to the Detroit Pistons.

The last time the Lakers lost in the first round was in 1996, when they fell
in four games, 3-1, to the Houston Rockets.

During the regular season, the Suns won three of the four meetings between the
clubs. Phoenix was a perfect 2-0 at home, while the teams split a pair at the
Staples Center.

The Lakers were a solid 27-14 as the host during the regular season, while the
Suns were 23-18 on the road.