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The LAkers Story: "E" for Effort

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Despite all the talk about the Lakers’ newly revitalized motivation after reading about how the Phoenix Suns and their coach put them down in a book about last year’s playoff series, no one realistically expects the Lakers to beat the Suns in this year’s playoffs. Recent projections by four “NBA experts” printed in Sports Illustrated called Phoenix to win in either five or six games. Couple that with the Times reporting Lakers coach Phil Jackson himself telling his team, “We’ll be out of this series in four games,” and it seems like no one is willing to bet on a sleeper series win for the Lakers.

Regardless, there was a faint glimmer of “just maybe” during today’s game – the first of the series- when the Lakers were holding a steady 10-point lead in the second quarter, going into halftime with a nine-point lead. Kobe Bryant seemed his usual superstar self, scoring 28 points in the first half and rookie Jordan Farmar showed some defensive gusto by holding Phoenix star Steve Nash to nine points.

But, as usual, the Lakers lost it in the second half. Leandro Barbosa came off Phoenix’s bench to score 19 of his 26 points in the second half, and the Lakers lost to the Suns 95-87. Still, it was not a blowout, and the struggling Lakers proved they could at least put up a fight against the mighty Suns and probably win a couple. Next game of the series: Tuesday night, 7:30 p.m.

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AP photo by Ross D. Franklin