Sunday , Apr , 30 , 2006 C.Y. Ellis

Nash, Suns battle Kobe, Lakers in Game 4 at Staples Center

(Sports Network) – The Phoenix Suns try to even their first-round series
with the Los Angeles Lakers at two games apiece this afternoon, as the teams
battle at the Staples Center.

This is a best-of-seven series. Game 5 is scheduled to be played on Tuesday
at US Airways Center.

After the teams split Games 1 and 2 at Phoenix , the Lakers grabbed a 2-1 lead
in the series on Friday. All-Star Kobe Bryant was limited to just 17 points,
but the seventh-seeded Lakers used solid defense to beat the second-seeded
Suns, 99-92, in Game 3 at the Staples Center.

Smush Parker totaled 18 points for the Lakers, who outrebounded Phoenix,
53-34. Luke Walton had 17 points and 10 rebounds, while Lamar Odom scored 15
and pulled down 17 boards and Kwame Brown ended with 13 points and 11 boards.

Shawn Marion had 20 points before fouling out in the closing seconds of Game 3
for the Suns. Steve Nash finished with 17 points and 11 assists, while Tim
Thomas netted 18 in defeat.

The Suns have won three of their last four Game 4s in the postseason, while
the Lakers have won 13 of their last 14 Game 4s.

The last time the Lakers lost a playoff series when they were ahead 2-1 after
three contests was in the first round of the 1993 playoffs. They actually led
the Suns 2-0 in that series, and ended up losing in five games, 3-2.

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 have returned 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

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 a respectable 23-18 on the road.