The Lakers-Suns series started out looking like it was going to be a non-series. The Lakers came out firing in games one and two and came away with two relatively easy wins. A major factor in these games was the stellar play of Lamar Odom. The Suns then returned home and made it a series by winning games three and four. A major factor in these games was the not-so-stellar play of Odom. One constant throughout the first four games was the play of Kobe Bryant. Bryant brought it each and every night, but the series was still tied. Then came game five- and Kobe brought it again. Odom showed up and the Lakers had an 18 point lead in the second half. The Suns fought back and tied it with 3.5 seconds. Then Kobe got the in-bounds pass and air-balled a very tough shot, but a lapse in defense by the Suns allowed Ron Artest to rebound and put back the game winning, buzzer beating shot.
If there was any doubt, there is none now. The Suns can hang with the Lakers, and they will show up ready to play in game six on Saturday night. But, perhaps the true question is – Will Lamar Odom show up?
Odom’s stats for the first five games are shown below:
min fgm-a 3pm-a ftm-a +/- off def tot ast pf st to bs ba pts
30:33 9-15 1-2 0-0 +24 7 12 19 3 3 1 1 0 2 19
33:18 7-10 0-0 3-4 +8 3 8 11 4 3 0 2 1 2 17
34:56 4-14 0-4 2-4 -9 2 4 6 2 6 0 3 2 1 10
35:25 6-13 1-3 2-4 -12 4 6 10 3 4 1 0 0 0 15
36:51 7-11 0-1 3-4 +8 5 8 13 4 1 1 2 0 2 17
There are a few things that stand out to me:
- Positive efficiency ratings in each of the wins, and negative ratings in the losses
- 10 fouls in the the two losses, 7 in the three wins
- Averaging 5 offensive boards per game in the wins and only three in the losses
- Averaging a double-double in the wins (17.7ppg/14.3rpg), five less points and six fewer boards (12.5ppg/8.0rpg) in the losses
- 63.9% shooting in the wins compared to 37.1% in the losses
It’s crazy to think about how different he plays away from the Staples Center– or you would think from looking at this series stats. Here are Odom’s home and road splits for the entire 2009-10 season:
G GS MPG FG% 3P% FT% OFF DEF RPG APG SPG BPG PPG
Home 41 19 30.4 0.460 0.333 0.680 2.1 7.5 9.6 3.9 0.9 0.8 10.2
Road 41 19 32.7 0.466 0.300 0.706 2.4 7.6 10.0 2.6 0.9 0.6 11.3
Yes, his stats were almost identical home and on the road throughout the season, in fact he was slightly better on the road. This makes it even harder to believe his play during this series.
The Suns are hanging in this series because their bench has outplayed the Lakers’ bench, especially in Phoenix. Lamar will need to step-up his game tonight if the Lakers want to close this one out in Phoenix. The Suns, despite the crushing way they lost, have the confidence that they can beat the Lakers in Los Angeles.
I think the Suns come ready to play tonight. I look for an early double digit lead for the Suns, with the Lakers making a comeback in the third quarter, but falling short and losing by six points. I then would not be surprised to see an overtime thriller in game seven with the Suns pulling off the upset.
So, will Odom show up tonight? Time will tell, but the Lakers will need him to play well because Kobe can only do so much. He hasn’t had a bad game all series long. He is shooting lights out, his assists are up, but the Suns are still hanging with the Lakers.
Photo Credit: Bridget Samuels via Wikipedia