House of the Rising Suns

 —  November 20, 2004

Some thoughts and observations from last night’s Lakers’ loss to the Suns, plus some other flotsam and jetsam in my head:

* This Suns squad lived up to their billing — they are an entertaining team to watch. Steve Nash has really helped coalesce a team that was already athletic, plus he seems to have instant chemistry with Amare Stoudemire.

That said, have to say that they strike me as the Dallas Mavericks for a new generation — fun to watch but a team built for the regular season that can’t play playoff basketball. Time will tell.

* Despite his sore foot, Kobe played 45 minutes against the Clippers and 45 minutes against the Suns. So much for cutting back his minutes….

* Rudy T. and the Laker staff must have seen something they really liked on film, because from early on the plan was to feed the ball to Lamar Odom in the low post against Shawn Marion. It worked like a charm early — he had nine of his 18 points in the first quarter and the Lakers were up by 12 when that was the primary option. When the Suns adjusted, the Lakers never really found the other openings.

* It’s weird to say this about a guy with a triple-double, but this was not one of Kobe’s better games this year. He fell in love with the jumper and didn’t penetrate enough — he had 33 shot attempts, 10 from behind the arc, and just five free throws (he had averaged more than 12 a game coming in ). He shot 30% for the game.

Apparently, Rudy T. blames the refs for this.

* Could the Suns’ new center-court logo look more like the House of Blues logo?

* Lots of press about Fred Roggin’s interview Thursday on 1540 am (The Ticket) with Laker owner Jerry Buss. Two quick thoughts:

1) He said he made the changes to the team because he feared ending up like the Chicago Bulls, riding the dynasty too long into a long rebuilding process. As I and others have said before, that fits his style. So does the effort to return the Lakers to a more fast-paced team, reminiscent of the Showtime era. To Buss’ credit, he’s been right far more often than wrong over the years.

2) He also said that Kobe never said anything or asked for Phil and Shaq to be pushed out, neither did his agent. Of course they didn’t — they didn’t have to. It was clear already. Do you really think that if Shaq had been resigned Kobe would be a Laker right now?

* I had the chance to hear Staples/AEG honcho Tim Leiweke speak Thursday morning at an event, talking about AEG’s plans to bring shopping, residential, hotels and more to the area around the Staples Center (and, more importantly financially, the Convention Center). Leiweke said one of the things he’s trying to lure to the project is a West Coast headquarters for ESPN (note that he never mentioned the company by name, but the implication of the “worldwide leader in sports with an office and studio in Time Square” was pretty clear).

At lunch, ESPN employees there can go over to the Fox Sky Bar for some food. Just a thought