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Bryant Already Has Suns Guessing

April 26, 2006|Mike Bresnahan | Times Staff Writer

PHOENIX — On the other hand, the Phoenix Suns aren't sure what to expect either.

Will they get the aggressive Kobe Bryant who set an arena record earlier this month in Phoenix with a 51-point effort? Or will they see the pass-first, stick-with-the-plan man who had 22 points on seven-for-21 shooting in Game 1?

Sun guard Raja Bell, who has had his share of tussles with Bryant over the years, got first crack at what would happen tonight in Game 2.

"I think everybody knows who's going to show up," he said Tuesday. "I think he's going to come out and be more aggressive. There's no guesswork involved with that."

Or maybe there is.

"We'll probably see something in between," Sun guard Steve Nash said. "He's going to try to get the ball to his teammates, but at the same time, he's going to be much more aggressive when his opportunities arise.

"They played one way pretty much the whole season, so it's a very fine line they're trying to walk here and we just got to be ready to adjust."

The Lakers also had their say in yet another day of series analysis.

"I just told him to take advantage of opportunities in a situation like that," Coach Phil Jackson said. "I don't think I ever used the word 'passive,' but I do think that he's looking to feed his teammates first, he's looking to pass first and shoot later. In this game, I want him to carry the threat."

Bryant, for his part, said he would continue to stick with the strategy -- pound the ball down low to Kwame Brown -- and aim for a better personal shooting effort.

"I think we'll stick to the game plan," Bryant said. "The shots that I got in Game 1 were very makeable shots for me. I got some very good looks, I've just got to put them down."


The Lakers did what few teams do to the Suns, holding them to 19 points in the second quarter and 17 in the third quarter of Game 1.

The problems, of course, were the 39 points they surrendered in the first quarter and the 32 they gave up in the fourth.

"I think our defense in the first half will be important," forward Lamar Odom said. "We can't give them a 39-point quarter. We can't give these guys a double-digit lead on their home court. We have to take care of the ball, finish layups, dunk the basketball against them. We'll be all right."

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