Although Charles Barkley had exceeded his regular-season rebounding and scoring averages in the first three games of the series, the Lakers were reasonably satisfied they had minimized the damage Barkley could potentially inflict.
Until Thursday, forwards Elden Campbell and A.C. Green were doing the job on Barkley, who had 28 points and 11 rebounds in the Suns' 101-86 victory.
"I don't know if anybody really handles Charles," said assistant coach Bill Bertka, who is responsible for much of the Lakers' defensive strategy. "You try to hold him in check, which is extremely difficult because of his size, his mobility and his skills. I think we've affected his shooting percentage somewhat (46% through the first three games): He shot 52% during the season.
"Maybe we've just kept him in check. A lot of times, you spend so much time controlling him, other people get off, but we haven't let that happen."
"It would be good for me to make a shot every now and then," Barkley said before the game. "That would definitely make us more effective."
The Suns have made it past the first round in only eight of their previous 14 playoff appearances.