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Lakers Scorch Suns

by Tim Martinez
Nov. 13, 2009

In what was supposed to be the Los Angeles Lakers’ first major challenge against the surprisingly scorching Phoenix Suns, the Lakers showed why they were still the top team in the Western Conference after a 122-102 victory Thursday night at the Staples Center.

Kobe Bryant once again showcased some of the new moves he learned from Hakeem Olajuwon before the start of training camp, and without attempting one three-point shot, scored a game-high 29 points on 13 for 21 shooting.

But the big news of the night was the return of Andrew Bynum after missing two games due to a strained right elbow. Bynum was an offensive presence with 26 points on 13 for 18 shooting and a defensive beast with 15 rebounds and three blocks.

Bynum’s presence in the paint contributed to the overall fantastic defensive effort the Lakers put out Thursday. Although the Suns were at the end of a long trip, Derek Fisher did a great job forcing the ball out of Steve Nash’s hands. Also, Nash had very little few open shots from beyond the arc, which limited the Suns’ typically high three-point percentage.

The Lakers are going to need another strong defensive effort tonight against the Denver Nuggets, who are 6-3 in the standings and are behind the Lakers and Suns in the Western Conference.

The Nuggets, facing the Lakers for the first time since losing to them in the last season’s Western Conference Finals, are going to be putting pressure to prove themselves real contenders.

One of the keys to tonight’s game is to limit Carmelo Anthony’s offensive output. With Anthony currently number four on the scoring leaders list at 30.6 points a game, Lakers SF Ron Artest is going to get the opportunity to show off his defensive capabilities and prove to the Lakers whether or not the swap for Trevor Ariza was the right move.

The Lakers who are still without Pau Gasol, will need to force the ball from Anthony’s hands and get the ball inside post, either to Bynum or Bryant. Double-teams on either player would result in some open outside shots against the Nuggets.

Nevertheless, the second night of a back-to-back in Denver is going to be difficult for the Lakers, which is why they are going to need a big game from the bench.

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