By: Jeff Girouard

As Laker nation holds its collective breath for Andrew Bynum and mulls the possible addition of Chris Webber, reality and first place in the Western Conference (the Lakers are currently in sole possession of first) stare them in the face tonight. Phoenix rolls into town, winners of 7 of their last ten, and that glaring hole in the middle of the Laker lineup will certainly be the topic of pre-game chatter.

While Suns fans see this club as ripe for the picking, Laker fans most cope, at least for one game, with the idea that Kwame Brown will be our anchor. He has become a defensive stalwart in the one-on-one game, matching up well with folks like Carlos Boozer and even Yao Ming, but this means very little against one of the best pick and roll center-point guard combinations in the Association. Amare Stoudemire should have a huge game tonight. Also, his offensive prowess (or lack thereof) is considerably inadequate when compared to Bynum’s soft hands and clever footwork. Moreover, Drew’s game makes Amare work on the defensive end and has traditionally gotten him into early foul trouble, especially at Staples. So I suspect Amare should have a huge game tonight.

However, perhaps lost in this panic of the Bynum injury is another key loss: Vladimir Radmanovic. That’s right, the snowboarding space cadet, will be sorely missed in tonight’s game. Though he was a relative no-show in their first meeting in Los Angeles, his shooting was critical to the Laker’s blowout win in Phoenix way back on November 2nd. Without him as an outside shooting threat look for the Suns to pack the middle and focus on limiting LA’s points in the paint. Make no mistake the Suns hate to see the Lakers sitting atop the Pacific Division and their vulnerability is sure to induce maximum effort at both ends.

Check back for a full Laker Report sometime this weekend.

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