The Phoenix Sun had a tough task playing the Los Angeles Lakers for their home opener and the result was as expected. But the home town boys gave the fans a solid game through a combination of gritty effort and skilled play. The Suns had no answer for Pau Gasol (not many teams do) and couldn't keep Lamar Odom off the glass but offensively Phoenix continues to make quick progress. There are no moral victories in sports but if there were, this would be one.
Defensively, the Lakers took advantage of Turkoglu defending Odom and the Suns rarely double-teamed Pau Gasol who is one of the league's most efficient scorers. Odom finished with 18 points and 17 rebound and Gasol 21 points and 8 rebounds. The Suns had Grant Hill assigned to Kobe Bryant most of the game and just like in the playoffs last year, Grant played solid defense and Kobe still hit shots. He finished with 25 points on 9-for-19 shooting. The Lakers shot 48.4 percent from the field and out-rebounded the Suns 46-43.
With the ball, the Phoenix Suns showed a more varied attack with Steve Nash finding Robin Lopez more frequently on pick and rolls and penetration dump-offs. The spacing initially was off but they kept working at it and improved within the game. The Suns were able to take advantage any time Lakers guard Derek Fisher moved off Nash and tried to "hide" on Grant Hill or Jason Richardson. The Suns attacked that mismatch relentlessly and punished Fisher in the post.
The star of the game for the Suns was Slovenian back up point guard Goran Dragic. Dragic single-handedly keep the Suns in the game in the second quarter with an array of drives and pull-up shots. He finsihed the game with an impressive 15 points and 4 assists in only 18 minutes of play. The Suns are going have to find more minutes for their most consistent and effective bench player.
Robin Lopez, who struggled in his previous two games of the season, played extremely well and finished with 18 points and 14 rebounds. Hedo Turkoglu played better than his 9 point, 6 rebound, 3 assist stat line might show and Grant Hill was a stud as always leading the Suns scoring with 21 points.