Thursday, May 04, 2006

Suns 126, Lakers 118

Well, that was a pretty good game....

I didn't start watching until almost 8:30. I had to go to a vasectomy class tonight. Apparently my wife does not want to have any more children. At least not with my DNA. Then, because the TiVo is set to record Earl and The Office starting at 9:00, I had to do some power watching in order to get through the first half so I could get to the other TV and watch the second half in real time. I must say, it was impressive. I went into TiVo Hyper Drive - one boodoop after made baskets and non-shooting fouls, two boodoops on free throws and of course three boodoops on time outs. Watched the first half, put the kids to bed, and sat down to watch the second half without missing a play. What did I do before TiVo?

Now, as you know, it is very rare that I am wrong, and rarer still that I admit it. But I was dead wrong about the Lakers-Suns series. I looked at that 7-0 record of the Nash Suns versus the Kobe (i.e no Shaq) Lakers, and said no way. I had the Suns winning this one easily, with maybe one game going to the Lakers based on some heroic Kobe effort. As it happens, the exact opposite is true - the Lakers lose when Kobe gives the heroic effort, as he did tonight.

Truth be told, I think a lot of what has happened in this series so far has to do with the Suns missing shots, plain and simple. Nash and Tim Thomas have been great, and Diaw is a revelation. But going into tonight's game, Shawn Marion was shooting 44% (compared to 52.5% during the season), and Barbosa, Jones and House are a combined 5-21 from Three. Of course, everyone will credit the Lakers defense, because to NBA analysts and writers, everything always has to happen for a reason. But you've watched the games. Those guys were missing open 3's. Same 3's they made all year, they were missing them. Did it happen for a reason? Maybe because none of them have any playoff experience, but not because of tremendous Laker defense.

Conversely, Devean George, Sasha Vujacic and Brian Cook were a combined 18-34 going into tonight's game. Now let that sink in a little. Barbosa, Jones and House, 5-21; George, Vujacic and Cook, 18-34. 13 more threes for those Laker reserves than for their Phoenix counterparts. That's a BIG part of why LA held a 3-1 lead in this series.

Barbosa came up big in game 6, and he had to with Bell out. (BTW, what is up with Kobe's elbows? Didn't Rip get fined $15K last week for catching Redd with what looked to me like a completely inadvertent 'bow? Kobe has caught guys in the face 3 times in two games and drew blood on the third one, and the only whistles have been to tell those pesky defenders to keep their mean old faces away from Kobe's tender young elbows.)

One interesting aspect of this game is that Kobe went for 50 without Bell guarding him, but don't read too much into that. Sure Kobe scored more - because he shot more. A lot more. Kobe was averaging fewer than 19 shots per game in this series before tonight - he hoisted 35. And while Barbosa certainly doesn't have the size to bother his shot or keep him from posting up, he need a good job of staying in front of him, and he usually got help on the post up, which would happen for Bell also. And I thought Marion did a very good job on Kobe also.

But how many times did you say to yourself, as the shot clock was winding down, and Kobe had the ball with two guys on him, with nowhere to go, and he's already pump faked three times, and you know he's got to shoot, and you say "there's no way that one's going in"... and then it went in. OK, I literally said that out loud three times... and I thought it about 4 more (I had to stop saying it cuz Laura was getting mad at me for talking so much.)

I don't know how exactly you can tell if someone has made a pact with the Devil, but I'm pretty sure that banking in not one but TWO three pointers in the same game is one of the signs. That and cloven hooves, but the Nikes hide those.

So back to Phoenix we go, and the Clippers get two more days off. What a contrast, btw, in terms of team depth. Of course the Suns were playing without Bell, not to mention Kurt Thomas (and I won't mention Amare, at least not without parentheses.) And the Lakers are without Mihm. But the Suns played basically 6 guys in this game, and Nash, Barbosa, Diaw and Marion logged 46, 47, 49 and 50 minutes respectively. (Marion would have played all 53 had he not gotten a third foul in the first half.) Meanwhile, the Lakers pretty much played 7 guys, and Kobe and Lamar played 52 and 51. On the other hand, the Clippers have 8 guys that are all good enough to start, to the point where Dunleavy goes to put Cassell back in the game because it's time, and Sam tells him to leave Livingston out there cuz he's playing so well.