2010 NBA Playoffs: Los Angeles Lakers Are Suddenly Looking Very Vulnerable

It's not a novelty act anymore . After the Phoenix Suns stole Game Three from the Los Angeles Lakers, many experts and analysts laughed off the Suns as a serious threat.

That's their one win in the series. It'll be over by Game Five. It won't get past six games . The Suns don't have the bigs or defense to hold down the Lakers.

Well, here we are, the Suns just ran the Lakers out of Phoenix, tying up the series at two games a piece, and bewildering the supposedly tough Lakers with a smothering zone defense.

Experts have ridiculed the zone, called it "girly," and predicted the smarter, stronger Lakers would find ways to expose the trial defense, and would still be able to match Phoenix score-for-score.

Well, they were all half right.

The Lakers aren't having any trouble scoring. They're just having a lot of trouble stopping the Phoenix Suns.

It's as simple as this:

In the first two games in L.A., the Lakers were destroying the Suns, facing pathetic man defense, and exploiting one-on-one matchups routinely.

This allowed the Lakers to pound the ball inside, get easy lay-ups, and penetrate at will. This meant Kobe Bryant could open up his three-dimensional game, as he got others involved, attacked the basket, and played solid defense.

But the Suns zone is messing with the Lakers' swagger. It's making their players fall in love with the jumper, and more importantly, the three-point shot.

It's become strikingly clear that the Lakers can compete with the Suns at their game, but with this new defense that forces L.A. to completely play Phoenix's game, the Lakers just don't matchup.

The Lakers are not a good three-point shooting team, and outside of Kobe Bryant, they don't have a go-to scorer who can operate from the outside, create, and finish by himself.

Pau Gasol is virtually useless against this zone. Ron Artest, who has alrea...

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