The only trap for the Lakers was the one they fell into Sunday, when they seemingly deluded themselves into thinking they had the answers to the riddles of slowing down Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire. After a one-game blip, the Suns resumed their domination of the series’ pace, resolved all of their issues from the previous game and put themselves on the brink of the second round with an easy 113-100 Game 4 victory over the Lakers in front of a deflated crowd of 18,997 at Staples Center. Nash, stifled in Game 3 when the Lakers confused him and the Suns with a trapping defense, reasserted his authority and had 23 assists, one short of the NBA playoff record, and 17 points. Stoudemire, harassed at both ends by Kwame Brown threedays earlier, dominated from the start, finished with 27 points and 21 rebounds and eliminated any semblance of an inside game by the Lakers. “They made their adjustments to what we were doing,” said Kobe Bryant, who scored a team-high 31 points to go with nine assists and seven rebounds. “We made some pretty good adjustments during the course of the game, but it wasn’t enough. They just had too much firepower for us today.” In an odd, full-circle sort of way, the Lakers must now draw motivation from last year’s first-round series, in which they led the Suns three games to one but lost the next three games and the series. Now the situation is reversed, and the Lakers must make an identical comeback. “We’re a team that always plays well with our backs to the wall,” said forward Luke Walton, who committed a game-high seven turnovers. “We can’t get any closer to the wall than we are right now.” Nash had eight assists in the first 8:41 and 15 by halftime, which tied an NBA playoff record for most assists in a half, held by Magic Johnson and Doc Rivers. Nash fell one short of the full-game record, shared by Johnson and John Stockton, but his 23 assists were two more than the Lakers totaled as a team. “We just wanted to be in the right spots, and I just wanted to be a lot more aggressive,” Nash said. “I just felt like I was going to be more aggressive, put the onus on myself to make plays.” Nash had little problem with Jordan Farmar, who started at point guard for the Lakers, and pushed the action from the start with his usual array of bounce passes and drive-and-dish plays in the paint. On the rare instances when the Lakers tried to trap Nash, he dribbled out of it or passed to an open teammate. Nash broke Kevin Johnson’s franchise record for most assists in a playoff game (19). “If we shot the ball well, he could have had 35 (assists),” Suns guard Raja Bell said of Nash. “We run when he runs. He’s the engine that can really rev us up and get us in transition.” Phoenix took the lead for good with an 8-0 run midway through second quarter for a 47-40 lead. The Suns held a double-digit lead early in the third quarter and led by as many as 20 points in the fourth. Wednesday’s Game 5 in Phoenix could bring the end of the Lakers’ topsy-turvy season, one that showed so much promise early, but now seems destined to end in a flurry of defensive miscues. “I’m not going to count them out,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of his players. “They’re a team that has remarkable resilience against all odds this season, with injuries and whatnot. They’ve come back many times and found a way to do things, so I’m certainly not going to count them out.” Sunday’s game couldn’t have been much more different than Game3, in which the Suns took a 17-point lead but relied too much on jump shots and let the Lakers slow down the game with strong inside play. This time, the Suns led by only five after the first period but played at a pace more to their liking. Nash became more aggressive, which neutralized any thoughts the Lakers had of trapping him. “You just can’t get out there and trap Steve,” Suns coach Mike D’Antoni said. “They tried, but once you get blown by a couple times, you’ve got to come up kind of softly because you just can’t do that. … It’s not the first time in 15 years he’s been trapped. It usually doesn’t work. It just did the other night.” Phoenix’s improved inside game helped give Nash some options. Stoudemire stayed out of foul trouble, and on defense, the Suns’ pack-it-in philosophy often turned the Lakers into jump-shooters. When the Suns did come out of their interior-defense shell, they often sent multiple defenders at Bryant, who was unable to drive to the basket consistently and took only three shots in the fourth quarter. “In Game 3, I made some adjustments, and I had a split-second to operate and I operated,” Bryant said. “In this game, they just said, `To hell with it.’ They just came and took the ball out of my hands.” Bryant didn’t get much help. Lamar Odom, who has a sore shoulder and a hyperextended left elbow, had 19 points, 13rebounds and five assists, but made just 2 of 6 free throws and 1of5 shots from 3-point range. Brown, bothered by a stiff back in the first half, finished with nine points, four rebounds and four fouls in 29 minutes, and the backup big men, Andrew Bynum and Ronny Turiaf, did not score. In their Game 3 victory, the Lakers had a solid rebounding edge – particularly on the offensive end. On Sunday the Suns held the edge in both defensive (33-29) and offensive (11-10) rebounding. firstname.lastname@example.org (818) 713-3611 160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set!