Suns try to eliminate Kobe, Lakers
(Sports Network) – The Phoenix Suns can advance to the Western Conference
semifinals with a victory, as they welcome the Los Angeles Lakers tonight to
US Airways Center.
Phoenix leads this best-of-seven series 3-1. If necessary, Game 6 is scheduled
for Friday at the Staples Center.
On Sunday, reigning MVP Steve Nash scored 17 points and dished out a career-
high 23 assists to lead the second-seeded Suns over the seventh-seeded Lakers,
113-100, in Game 4 at the Staples Center.
Amare Stoudemire had a team-high 27 points and grabbed 21 rebounds for the
Suns, while Shawn Marion added 22 points and 11 boards in the victory for
Superstar Kobe Bryant had 31 points, seven rebounds and nine assists for Los
Angeles, which won Game 3 after dropping the first two games on the road.
Lamar Odom added 19 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers, who never led in
the second half of Game 4, falling behind by as many as 20 points.
Phoenix has won two of its last three Game 5s in the postseason. The Suns have
won five of their last six contests when they have the chance to eliminate
their opponent from the playoffs.
The Lakers have lost three straight Game 5s. They have dropped three straight
games when facing elimination.
There is a lot of playoff history between the Lakers and Suns, as these teams
have met 10 times in the postseason. The Lakers have won seven of the 10
series, while the clubs have split four meetings in 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 and 2006. The Lakers won
semifinal series over the Suns in 1980, 1982 and 2000 and conference final
sets in 1984 and 1989.
Besides their first round wins over LA in 1993 and 2006, the Suns also
picked up a playoff series win over the Lakers in the 1990 conference
Last season, the Lakers blew a 3-1 lead in the first round against Phoenix.
They fell in seven contests and were eliminated in the opening round for the
first time since 1996, when they lost in four games, 3-1, to the Houston
The Suns, who won their third straight Pacific Division title during the
regular season, have been eliminated in the Western Conference finals two
consecutive years. Phoenix lost in six games to the San Antonio Spurs in 2005,
and fell in six last year to the Dallas Mavericks.
The last time the Suns were eliminated in the first round of the playoffs was
in 2002-03, when they lost to San Antonio in six games, 4-2.
Bryant has made his second trip to the postseason without All-Star center
Shaquille O’Neal, who was traded to Miami in July 2004, by his side. A nine-
time All-Star, Bryant is still trying to prove that he can carry a team solo
in the postseason.
The 28-year-old Bryant won three championships with O’Neal and head
coach Phil Jackson (1999, 2000, 2001). Jackson has won nine championship rings
as a coach. He led the Lakers to three titles in his first four years in LA,
and guided the Chicago Bulls to six championships.