On an exciting Friday Night the Phoenix Suns (4-5) will take on the Los Angeles Lakers (3-5) in a battle between the two time MVP Steve Nash against….Oh wait…This just in, Steve Nash is now with the Lakers of Los Angeles…That’s right. Anyways!
Good news is, Nash won’t be suiting up for L.A tonight when the Suns face-off against the Lakers in Los Angeles nor will former Suns head coach Mike D’Antoni. D’Antoni has began coaching the Lakers in practices but he won’t make his debut tomorrow night as he’s still recovering from his knee surgery. The Lakers are the favorite in tonight’s match-up by 9.0 points according to ESPN.com.
The Suns haven’t fared well on the road this season with a 1-3 record on the road thus far but on the other hand the Lakers are only 3-3 at home this season and lost to the Spurs the other night after a clutch 3-pointer by Danny Green. The Suns are fresh off an overtime loss themselves and will look to get back to .500 tonight against the Lakers.
Markieff Morris who took a nasty fall in Wednesday night’s loss to Chicago is questionable for tonight’s game and Jermaine O’Neal is as well. If Morris and O’Neal are unable to play, Luke Zeller will likely see some minutes.
The Lakers are obviously without former Sun Steve Nash; Jordan Hill is listed as day to day along with Steve Blake and second year player Darius Morris will likely start in place of Steve Blake. Although Chris Duhon could very well be the starter since Duhon was D’Antoni’s starter for one season in New York
Keys to the game: Suns
- Keep the Lakers off the glass! The Lakers are 3rd in the league in rebounding this year, the Suns are 8th in their own right but it’ll be a long game for the Suns if they struggle to keep the Lakers twin towers Pau Gasol, and Dwight Howard off the glass.
- Contain Kobe Bryant. Kobe is averaging 42 points in his last 3 games against the Suns in L.A.
- Push the ball! Mike D’Antoni has only been in Laker land a few days and the Lakers aren’t prepared to play that run and gun style just yet. The Lakers are only averaging 96.5 points per game not to mention L.A is only averaging 8.6 fast points per game(28th) thus far this season. So the Suns need to take advantage of that and not let this Lakers team beat them in a half-court set all night long.
- Get more fast break points! The Suns are averaging a mere 12.4(24th)fast break points this season. The Suns have done a good job getting fast break opportunities however they blow a lot of them, which I think it’s a chemistry issue more than anything, so the Suns got to find a way to fix that.
Keys to the game: Lakers
- Make the Suns shoot the ball. The Suns are shooting only 42% on average this season and 32% from 3-point land.
- Contain the Suns bench. The Suns bench has been a huge factor the last several games
and has changed the landscape of the game with their energy, hustle and effort. The Lakers will need to contain that one way or another because the Suns “Super-Subs” Can very well steal a win from L.A.
- Three point shooting. The Suns torched L.A a couple years ago when they nailed 22 3-pointers to beat the Lakers; well they need to shoot the 3 ball well tonight to keep the Lakers from loading up the paint defensively. This goes the same for L.A as well. The Suns are ranked 21st in 3-point percentage in the NBA, and the Lakers? 20th.
Match-up of the night!
- We’re looking at the centers tonight! Marcin Gortat vs. Dwight Howard or if you’d prefer, teacher vs. student. As most of you know, Gortat backed up Howard for 4 seasons in Orlando and these two guys will face off tonight. Gortat has averaged 8 points and 6.5 rebounds on 50% shooting in his 2 career games against Dwight Howard.