Sorry about not getting this up earlier. I typically attempt to write this post right before I go to bed and for what seems like the 6th or 7th time since the playoffs started, I actually fell asleep with the computer on my lap. Seriously.
Well I guess they're just going to have to miss me at the wedding. For those of you who read my column from yesterday, you're aware that with the Suns claiming their second game of the series, there would definitely be a Saturday Game 6 -- and that means I would be skipping a wedding that I committed to months ago. Now as any of my co-workers and friends are aware, this was a problem I was more than willing have to deal with. Thus instead of spending my Saturday morning driving up to Sedona to watch two lovely people swap wedding vows, I will be back in Phoenix preparing for either the Suns opportunity to clinch a berth in the NBA Finals or fend off elimination. Either way, I feel pretty good about my decision.
Tuesday May 25th Playoff Results:
Phoenix Suns 115 Los Angeles Lakers 106 (Recap): Now we've got ourselves a series. This is what I texted to my buddy from Kansas in the moments immediately following the Suns 115-106 defeat of the Lakers in which they evened the Western Conference Finals at 2 games a piece. The teams got off to equally average starts in the first quarter and walked out completely even at 23-23. Yet the second quarter brought the long-awaited emergence of the Suns bench and a phenomenal 17/23 team shooting performance to give Phoenix a 9 point halftime lead. Kobe Bryant apparently did not find that outburst particularly cute, as he went off for 16 points in the third quarter and helped trim the Suns lead to just one point. But that is when the bench asserted itself -- again. In the fourth quarter, the Phoenix bench produced an 18-3 run, in which Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire remained chained to the bench the balance of the quarter, and helped the Suns hold on late for the win.
The Phoenix scoring was about as balanced as it comes, as Stoudemire led the team with 21 (although he missed five free throws), but 5 other players scored in double figures (Nash, Richardson, Barbosa, Frye, and Dudley). The real story from a statistical standpoint was the performance of the bench. Although the Suns reserves went just 3/21 (and 0/11 from three) from the field in Game 3, they managed to rally to hit 19/32 Game 4 shots and outscored the Laker bench 54-20. Reserve big man Channing Fye -- who had come into the game hitting just 1 of his 21 attempts -- finally awakened from his series slumber by hitting 4 of his 8 three pointers and coming up with 14 points. Barbosa had likely his best game of this postseason as he hit 6 of his 8 shots for 14 points, and Goran Dragic was excellent again as he scored 8 (including on this sick move) and dished out 8 assists while not turning the ball over. In the ever analyzed +/- statistic, all the Suns starters were a minus while no bench player was less than a +12. Craziness.
Kobe Bryant was awesome again for the Lakers, going for 38 points on 15/22 shooting and again closing in on a triple double with 10 assists and 7 rebounds. The array of contested jumpers he hit were downright impressive. Yet the problem for LAL was that they weren't getting outstanding performances from anyone else. Los Angeles again attempted a bundle of threes (28) and again shot under 33% in doing so. In addition, Pau Gasol had a quiet 15 points to go with only 5 rebounds. Andrew Bynum rebounded from a rough Game 3 to post 12 points and 8 rebounds, but he was a -16 for the game.
So ... um ... find a way to win one in LA? Please? I hear Phil Jackson is 46-0 when his team takes a 2-0 lead in a series. Why would he want that to continue?
Conference Finals Series Standings:
Tuesday May 25th Playoff Game:
Game 5: Celtics @ Magicians:The pressure has to have shifted to the Celts at this point. Orlando was down 3-0 and now they are down one game less than that. Win tonight and it's even one game less than that. Call me crazy, but I think Orlando takes this thing to a Game 7. If I were Boston, I'd try to step up immediately.
90's NBA Flavor - Terrell Brandon - the absolute epitome of an underrated point guard.