But for Kobe and the Lakers, facing Phoenix is hardly anything to celebrate. The defending champs are merely at the midpoint. Lose now and it's a failure, not an achievement. Longtime teammate Derek Fisher is putting plenty of stock in those two meetings, even though he actually wasn't with the Lakers when Phoenix won first-round series in 2006 and '07.
"It is personal for me," said Fisher, who's played 11 of his 14 seasons in Los Angeles. "Obviously we can't take back what happened then, but this is the closest we can get to doing it. And so I'm going to take on the extra emotion that a lot of the guys that were on those teams will have."