The Los Angeles Lakers have made the annual trip in 12 of the past 13 years. The “Grammy Trip” is the longest road trip of the season for the Lakers every year. This year’s trip begins tonight in Phoenix against the 15-30 Suns, and ends on February 10th (the day of the Grammy’s) against the Miami Heat. The Lakers (20-25) have won three games in a row for the third time this season as a result of last night’s 111-106 victory over the New Orleans Hornets. Despite an 18 point lead with just under six minutes left, the Hornets stormed back to make it a one possession game with 1:21 left in the game. The Lakers pulled out the W thanks to key buckets from Antawn Jamison and Steve Nash.
The Lakers have found the key to creating good chemistry, passing the ball. In the last three games Los Angeles has averaged 29.7 assists per game, which is well above their season average of 22.0 prior to the streak. More often than not, when teams share the ball they tend to win games but more importantly, teams that share the ball enjoy playing together. Kobe Bryant is leading the assist binge the Lakers are on, averaging 13 assists in the last three games. The Lakers are playing better on offense but what is more important is their effort on defense. Los Angeles has held their opponents to under 96 points a game during the win streak which is just about what Phoenix averages per game.
Steve Nash, who played for the Suns for 10 years of his career, will visit Phoenix for the first time since joining the Lakers in the offseason. The Suns are a completely different team at this point in the season. They are without the long-time face of their franchise in Nash and without former head coach Alvin Gentry, who resigned early this year. They are now coached by NBA veteran Lindsey Hunter on an interim basis. Hunter is 2-2 as coach and is currently on a two-game losing skid. The Suns are a balanced team which has six players that average double figures in points. Goran Dragic leads Phoenix in scoring with 14.2 points and 6.3 assists per game. Dragic has always given Lakers’ guards problems when the Suns have the ball. He is a prototypical European player that can slash to the basket and handles the ball well. The Suns run a system similar to the D’Antoni system so pay attention to the short amount of time it takes them to get a shot off. The offense is heavily reliant on Dragic however, if the Lakers shut him down, so go the Suns.
#15 World Peace SF #17 Tucker
#6 Clark PF #14 Scola
#12 Howard C #4 Gortat
#24 Bryant SG #3 Dudley
#10 Nash PG #1 Dragic
The match tips-off at US Airways Center at 7:30PM PT on TWC SportsNet and ESPNLA 710.
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