NBA Playoffs Lakers Suns Game 3: Lakers will find Suns much hotter in Phoenix


GHill_dunk.jpgThe Phoenix Suns are not going to get well against the Lakers. Not this series, the Lakers are going to win it. Phoenix is not going to be able to do the one thing it needs to counter the Lakers — grow three or four inches a man.

But like taking a cold medication, for a few hours — one game or two — the Suns can mask the symptoms. They can simply outscore the Lakers in a shootout.

Their medicine: Going home. US Airways Center.

The Suns cannot stop the Lakers offense. Look at the Lakers big men’s numbers through three games: Pau Gasol 65.6 percent shooting, Lamar Odom 64 percent, Andrew Bynum: 77.8 percent. After Game 2, Grant Hill and Suns coach Alvin Gentry said they basically were not sure how to slow the Lakers.

But the Suns are capable of scoring a lot more points.

That the Suns do at home, and do it well. The Suns play at a faster pace at home. Like most teams, the Suns stars do not get a lot better at home but their role players do — guys like Channing Frye (who Gentry said the Suns had to start getting something out of this series) and Jared Dudley and Dragic Dagic suddenly seem unable to miss. They seem quicker, too. They play with more confidence.

We have seen the Suns do this for a spurt — the third quarter of Game 2. The Lakers “only” scored 25 that quarter but the Suns scored 34. They got some turnovers and converted them to easy buckets in transition. They drained three pointers. Grant Hill looked 25 again. The vaunted Suns offense started to really click.

It didn’t last into the fourth quarter. And let’s be clear, the “we’ll just outscore them” mentality will not carry the series for Phoenix. But it can for one game. The Suns are not going to roll over.

“You know, no one just let us get to the Western Conference Finals,” Gentry said. “We earned the right to be here. And we’ll continue to plug away.”

To a man, the Lakers said they know this. They talked about expecting the Suns to play better at home and that they need to step up. That their defense will need to be sharper, that their offense will need to continue as it has.

In the end, the Lakers have the winning hand — they are taller, they are better. But the games Sunday in Tuesday in Phoenix will be tougher than the first two, the Suns will not go down easily. The Suns still think this is a series.

Kings pick up option on G Ben McLemore

Ben McLemore, Rodney Hood
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SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) The Sacramento have picked up the 2016-17 option on guard Ben McLemore‘s contract.

General manager Vlade Divac announced the move Saturday.

McLemore was Sacramento’s first-round pick in 2013. He averaged 12.1 points, 2.9 rebounds and 1.7 assists last season.

Paul George reiterates “I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot”

Paul George

In the Pacers first exhibition game of the season Saturday against the Pelicans, Paul George started at the power forward spot and looked healthy — that should be the big takeaway. He also showed off his offensive game in the first quarter, eventually finishing the night with 18 points on 7-of-15 shooting. He forced some shots in the second half and had some defensive challenges, but it was a solid outing for a first preseason game.

George did not see it that way, and that will end up being the big takeaway.

He complained about playing power forward during training camp and given the chance after this one game he did it again, as reported by Candace Buckner of the Indy Star.

“I don’t know if I’m cut out for a four spot,” George said after the Pacers’ 110-105 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, a game in which he started matched up against 6-foot-11 All-Star Anthony Davis.

“I don’t know if this is my position. We’ll sit and watch tape and I’m sure I’ll talk with coach (Frank Vogel). I’ll talk with Larry (Bird) as well to get both their inputs on how the first game went but…I’m still not comfortable with it regardless of the situation. It’s still something I have to adjust to or maybe not. Or maybe it’s something we can go away from.”

George sees himself as a wing, where he has played his entire career. He doesn’t like defending traditional fours, as a scorer he doesn’t like expending all that energy defending pick-and-rolls and banging with bigger bodies. He’s been clear about that.

He still needs to be open to the idea. How much time George gets at the four on any given night should depend on the matchup — and Anthony Davis is about as rough a matchup as he is going to see. Davis scored 18 points in 15 minutes, and the Pelicans controlled the paint against the small-ball Pacers. George had a hard time defending Davis — welcome to a rather large club, PG. That said, George scored 12 points in the first quarter mostly with Davis on him, he pulled the big out in space and got what he wanted.

Back to the matchups point, George will struggle defensively against the best fours in the game (most of whom are in the West). But what about the nights in the East when George would be matched up on Thaddeus Young from Brooklyn, Jared Sullinger (or David Lee, or whoever) from Boston, or Aaron Gordon with the Magic, or Carmelo Anthony with the Knicks when they play small? There are a lot of lineups the Pacers will see where George at the four makes sense.

The Pacers are transitioning from a plodding and defensive-minded squad to a more up-tempo style, and that’s going to take time— a lot more than one preseason game. However, if George is throwing cold water on the plan after this one effort, it might take a lot longer and be a lot bumpier to make that transition than we pictured.