LAst Night's Action: Lakers-Suns Preview Edition
LAKERS-SUNS PREVIEW. The last time the Lakers faced the Phoenix Suns in a playoff series, Kobe Bryant famously proclaimed that he would rather play on Pluto rather than return to the Lakers in the aftermath. It’s amazing the difference that three years makes. Kwame Brown was jettisoned off for Pau Gasol and one ring later they are looking to make it to the NBA Finals for the third consecutive year.
The Suns also went through a bit of transition. Once the Gasol trade happened, they responded by trading for Shaquille O’Neal. Head coach Mike D’Antoni was jettisoned in favor of Terry Porter which ended up being a disaster. Three months later Porter was fired and Alvin Gentry became the head coach, and it seemed like the Suns were spiraling down the drain not making the playoffs last season.
But something clicked with them. No longer playing the seven seconds or less offense and Amar’e Stoudemire actually playing something that remotely looks like defense, they have climbed back into the playoffs as the three-seed this season and swept their longtime playoff nemesis San Antonio Spurs.
And it really is a good story these Suns. Like the mythical bird their city is named for, they torched themselves to ashes and have risen a stronger team. Unfortunately they’re not going to get past the Lakers.
Not only do the Lakers have a height advantage over the Suns, but when they are on top of their game they dictate the pace of the game as they did in their four-game sweep of the Utah Jazz. And while much has been made of Derek Fisher’s age and his inability to defend other point guards one-on-one, I have said endlessly that defending point guards is a product of team defense.
The Suns will present a bigger threat on the perimeter than the Jazz did because the Sun can actually make those three point shots with regularity. Those shots will continue to go down for the Suns but not with as much regularity as they did against the Spurs.
Lakers will win the series in five games.
UTTER DISGRACE. What we witnessed in Game 6 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics was a team who just quit. The Cavaliers were down by nine points with more than a minute left - an eternity in the NBA. With Boston running down the clock, the Cavs decided not to foul Rajon Rondo who was atrocious at the charity stripe all night. No. They quit, packed up and wanted to get off the court as fast as possible in their 94-85 loss.
And that’s a shame because LeBron James did have a triple-double with 27 points, 19 rebounds and 10 assists. But the real Achilles heel for the Cavs was the turnovers, nine of the 24 committed by James himself. Also Kevin Garnett had a monster game with 22 points, and Paul Pierce and Rasheed Wallace made appearances with 13 points apiece.
Now we come to something that is more annoying than the Quarterback-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-Live-From-Hattiesburg-Mississippi Watch. For the next two months, all we will be hearing is where LeBron James will end up as a free agent. From deluded Knicks fans to deluded Bulls fans and even deluded Clippers fans will try and woo him. I don’t know where he ends up going, but whatever team lands him better hope they get LeBron the player and not LeBron the GM/coach.
LA Dodgers (17-17) at San Diego Padres (21-12). Ramon Ortiz (1-1, 5.16 ERA) vs. Jon Garland (4-2, 1.71 ERA). 7:05 pm FS Prime Ticket, AM 790 KABC.
Oakland Athletics (18-16) at LA Angels (15-21). Dallas Braden (4-2, 3.33 ERA) vs. Joe Saunders (1-5, 6.19 ERA). 7:05 pm FSWest, AM 830 KLAA.