Now We've Got A Series
Right around the start of the second quarter of game three between the Suns and Lakers last night, a wave of desperation washed over Laker fans -- lose this game and it’s over, and the good guys were down by 17.
But that same wave seemed to wash up some hustle -- not to mention the sudden ability to defend the pick-and-roll -- on the Lakers' players. Seemingly out of the blue, the fun-to-watch Laker team last seen right before Christmas reappeared. And just in time to get the 95-89 win and make this a 2-1 series.
What did that wave bring ashore? Let me list a few things.
Desire. It had been seemingly months since the Lakers had played with "diving on the floor for loose balls" passion. (Well, except for Ronny Turaif.) But when they got desperate you could see it in how hard they went after rebounds and how they got after it on defense. They played like they desperately wanted to win.
Switching on the pick-and-roll. We won’t bore the non-basketball hardcores with the details (read here instead) but the Lakers changed how they defended the Suns bread-and-butter play. And, because they played defense with the above-mentioned passion, it worked. The Suns didn’t get the plethora of easy baskets their success is built on.
Kwame Brown. He is the defensive anchor for the Lakers -- when he is in the game (and motivated that day) the Lakers don’t allow easy lay-ups. For example, there was late in the game when he surprised the Suns’ Leandro Barbosa (the Suns player most used to uncontested lay-ups) by clogging the lane and blocking his shot. In games one and three combined, the Lakers have outscored the Suns by 17 points when Kwame has been on the floor -- the highest number of any Laker.