Hidden X factor gives Lakers wins and Suns hope

In playoff basketball, sometimes the surprise isn't the what of a series -- it's the how.

Take the Lakers' series against Phoenix, for instance. Considering how both teams ended the season, few could say they're amazed the Lakers are holding a 3-1 lead. Mildly surprised, yes -- most prognosticators gave Phoenix a slight edge -- but everyone knew this was within the realm of possibility.

What's utterly shocking, however, is the way the Lakers have done it.