SB Nation's Suns blog is named Bright Side of the Sun for a reason. Seth Pollack is, by nature, an optimist, and he tried to find reasons to be optimistic after the Lakers' Game 1 beatdown last night.
A truly uninspired way to start the series, but still only one game. Just keep repeating that. It's only one game. It's only one game.
Can Kobe keep hitting contested shot after contested shot and get to the line as well 12 times as well?
Can Lamar Odom play this well for an entire series? Seriously, Lamar Odom was incredible and Gentry rightly called him the difference in the game.
Can Ron Artest keep hitting shots when it matters?
If so, this series will be over fast. But I don't think so.
It's true, it was just one game. And it's probably true that Kobe Bryant won't have a performance like that again this series. It's even more likely that Lamar Odom won't have a performance like that again this series.
But as Pollack notes, the Suns have problems, especially defensively. Offensively, they scored 107 points on 49.4% shooting, which is good enough to win some games. But defensively, they were really bad. It wasn't just how they guarded Kobe, it's how they guarded everyone else. As Pollack writes:
The Suns were still very much in this game until the third quarter when Kobe went off for 21 points on 7 of 10 shooting and 6/6 from the line. Coach Alvin Gentry wasn't all that unhappy with the way his team played Kobe, stressing that when he's shooting like that, your only option is to double him, which Phil Jackson expects the Suns to do, but it doesn't sound as if Gentry is so inclined.
His concern was more about the middle drives the Suns allowed, especially to Odom and he was particularly critical of the team's perimeter defense.
I think Gentry is taking the right strategy here. Kobe went off last night, but a lot of his points came on tough shots. It's Phoenix's defense on the other guys that needs to improve if they want to get back in this series.