Don’t Zone Out: How the Lakers can Avoid a Game Five Letdown

Entering Sunday night, the Los Angeles Lakers held the opportunity to push their opponent, the Phoenix Suns, to an 0-3 deficit. Instead, the Suns showed the NBA that the team wasn't just happy with making the conference finals, but that the team was in it to win it.

Behind Amar'e Stoudemire's 42 points, the Suns bounced right back into the series, making it only a 2-1 lead for the Lakers.

Two nights later, the Lakers stood in the same position, holding the ability to push the Suns to the limit. Forty-eight minutes later, the Suns showed their adversaries that Game Three was no fluke.

Result: Series tied at 2-2.

Much like the Oklahoma City series, a series that went six games, many spectators and fans have already begun to write off the Lakers.

Question is: Are they believing that the Suns are the greatest? Or are they simply the latest?

For the Lakers, the solution to the problem could not be any simpler.  However, the predicament for them lies in the equation.

Regardless of losing the rebound battle by 15, I found a more interesting stat that can better sum up these losses: This postseason when the Lakers trail the free-throw disparity by at least 19, they lose. (0-4 to be precise.)

In the post-game presser, Phil Jackson stated that, "Although we outscored them from the field both nights and out-shot them in both games, they beat us at the foul line both nights." Hmm...interesting thought isn't it?

Interesting that free-throws and defense have been the difference in the wins and losses. Who would have thought that not giving up free-throws by playing defense would put you in a (better) position to win the game. (Sarcasm...)

With all due props to the Suns, who were the deserving winners in the last two games, the Lakers defeated themselves. The zone that Phoenix has been running has not been the problem, sure it's easy to point ...

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