1. Jared Dudley is right. When it comes to playing the Lakers, the Suns need to institute some lessons taught by the Oklahoma City Thunder. That means realizing that the Lakers aren’t invincible. That means understanding that just because the Lakers play bigger doesn’t mean they have to score at will underneath the basket. Mostly, it means making this a series by doing what the Lakers have done — win your games at home. The Suns have two coming up, and now is the time to take it up a notch. “You saw what the Thunder did,” Dudley said after Game 2. “That’s our mindset.”
2. Honestly, there’s still no need to feel completely unnerved until the Lakers win in Phoenix. That said, Phil Jackson-coached teams are notoriously good on the road in Game 3s. Plus, no matter where the Suns play, they must be more physical, especially late in the game. Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom were timid in first-round games at Oklahoma City, and that’s because Thunder forward Jeff Green and center Nenad Krstic were bigger brutes at home. Amare Stoudemire and Robin Lopez need to do the same, and the good news is, they already know that.
3. The Lakers won’t continue to shoot an eye-popping 57 percent, like they have in the first two games combined. In fact, they’re likely to have a game in Phoenix where NOTHING drops. And the same bench players who have been very good at home (i.e. Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown) have been less-than-average on the road. That’s just the way it works in the NBA. Still, the Suns can’t rely on that. Instead, they just have to set the pace and take it right at the Lakers on offense, and protect the rim and dare the Lakers to keep shooting from the perimeter on defense. It’s desperation time, and the Suns have to win each of the next two games.
4. Jason Richardson (27 points) and Grant Hill (23) were very good, doing their best to keep Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest occupied. In fact, the Suns don’t really need to do anything differently offensively — as their series average of 109.5 points would be more than enough to beat most teams. In Game 2, it was their inability to get stops toward the end that proved to be the difference. Somehow, someway that needs to change, and quick.
5. Including the regular season, the Suns have beaten the Lakers just once in six tries — 118-103, Dec. 28 in Phoenix. Artest missed that game, forcing the Lakers to go even bigger by starting Odom next to Gasol and Andrew Bynum. So height shouldn’t be an issue. Also, the Suns outscored the Lakers’ bench 52-31. But mostly, as Nash said at the time, the Suns played with toughness and grit. “We had to get back to that training camp-underdog mentality,” Nash said. And now is a good time for the Suns to do the same.
Sam Amico is a reporter for NBA.com and a regular contributor to Suns.com. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.