The Phoenix Suns shot better from three-point range in Game 2.
The Suns didn't get punished by the Lakers on the backboards. The Suns didn't get ripped by Kobe Bryant. The Suns tied the Lakers heading into the fourth quarter.
All the good it did the Suns.
They still lost, 124-112.
After going down 0-2 in the best-of-seven Western Conference finals, after playing so well in the third quarter, the Suns sounded perplexed.
"Well, what can you say?" Suns Coach Alvin Gentry said. "We are just having a hard time.... We can't slow them down.
"I thought we played well offensively. But every time we tried to make an adjustment to slow them down, they go somewhere else."
The Suns shot 49.4% from the field, just like they did in Game 1.
They shot 41.7% (10-for-24) from three-point range, much better than the 22.7% they shot in the first game.
Five Suns scored in double figures.
They closed the rebounding gap, getting out-boarded just 39-34.
The Suns found some success with a small lineup in the third, going with Amare Stoudemire at center, Grant Hill at power forward, Jared Dudley at small forward and Jason Richardson and Steve Nash in the backcourt.
"We think that there were some good things that we showed tonight," said Hill, who had 14 of his 23 points in the third. "We've got to look at that and we've got to try and do those things that we were doing."
The Suns actually began to heat up in the second quarter, scoring 32 points, making half of their eight three-pointers, putting the Lakers on notice.
Then came the third quarter, when the Suns scored 34 points against a subpar Lakers defense, shooting 63.6% from the field, Phoenix working hard enough to tie the score at 90-90 at the end of the quarter.
"It takes so much energy to get back into the game and fight to get a lead," Hill said.
The Suns ran out of gas in the fourth. A Nash turnover led to a Jordan Farmar three-pointer, putting the Suns in a 104-95 hole. A Nash turnover led to a Bryant jumper, putting the Suns in a 106-95 hole.
From that point, the Lakers continued to pick the Suns apart, the culmination coming when the Lakers moved the ball around the perimeter, forcing the Suns to chase all over the court.
When the ball wound up in Derek Fisher's hands, the Suns ran at him to prevent a three-pointer.
Fisher didn't take the shot. Instead, Fisher he passed the ball down low to Lamar Odom for a dunk that gave put the Suns down in an ever bigger hole at 120-106. Gentry called a timeout with 1:57 left, his team reeling
The Suns play Games 3 and 4 at home next week. But they also know that only 14 teams have ever come back to win a series after being down 0-2.
"We'll keep plugging away," Gentry said. "We'll keep trying. We're not going to give up, and we'll see what happens."
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