Around The World (Wide Web): Lakers/Suns Game 4 Reactions

Phillip Barnett —  May 26, 2010

Orange County News - May 25, 2010

THE BLOGS

From C.A. Clark, Silver Screen and Roll: I’ve seen this game too many times, and I’m sick of it already.  You might as well keep it in your DVR for a while, and next year, when the Lakers go into a series up 2-1, just play this one back on repeat.  If you didn’t recognize tonight’s performance, I don’t think you qualify as a Lakers fan, because this was vintage.  Once again, the Lakers were put up against a dangerous and desperate team in a Game 4, and once again they were out-worked, out-muscled, and out-smarted by a team that had no business doing any of those things.  Once again, they decided that 80% would be good enough, and the Houston Rockets er, Denver Nuggets um, Oklahoma City Thunder oh, Phoenix Suns made them pay for it.

From Phillip Barnett, Talkhoops: Kobe Bryant finished the game with 38 points and 10 assists. He shot 15 for 22 and the Lakers still lost. This is his second straight 30 and 10 game and the Lakers second straight loss. The Lakers cut their turnover total down from 17 to six and cut the Suns fast break points from 18 to six and they still lost. How is this possible? The answer is two fold. The Lakers failed to attack the zone with any kind of tenacity and they failed to grab defensive rebounds. On Suns misses, the Lakers only grabbed five more rebounds than the Suns did. If you’re going to win playoff games, that disparity has to be much, much larger. By comparison, the Suns had a +20 point difference on Lakers misses. If the Lakers cut the Suns offensive rebounds in half, they win this game and all of the zone talks go away.

From Matt Moore, Hardwood Paroxysm: The only point that anyone outside of the Phoenix locker room will believe the Suns can win this series is when the clock hits zero of a fourth Suns win. It’s not just the enormous disadvantages the Suns face that they’ve overcome in Games 3 & 4 or the remarkable number of things they need to go their way, but like SSR points out, we’ve seen it. The Suns need for something very unlikely to occur in order to win this series. In a game in LA, they need for things to go their way. The shots to fall for them but not for LA. The calls to go for them (and boy did they go for them in Phoenix) in Staples. And the zone to keep working. Dwyer mentioned that this series had a familiar feel to it, like the predictable horror movie that still scares you. But even with the win, there’s still that familiar feeling with it. The Lakers simply proved they still are who they always have been. The amazingly talented, brilliantly effective, world-class team that only chooses to execute when it absolutely has to, believes in its own hype, and lacks any sort of true killer instinct against good teams. And they can and will still win in spite of that.

From Marcel Mutoni, SLAM: Despite the troubles they’ve had handling the Phoenix Suns’ “girly” zone defense in Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference Finals, the Los Lakers have done just fine on the offensive end. By every metric, the offense has done enough to win games, but that has obviously not been sufficient. The reason L.A. now must play a pivotal Game 5 back at Staples Center on Thursday night, against a surging Phoenix team that’s slowly beginning to believe it can win the series, is because their defense has been so atrocious lately. Or as Kobe might say, it has “sucked.” Bryant — who once again performed brilliantly in a losing effort — was livid following the game last night, tersely addressing the assembled media about his team’s lack of urgency, and porous attention to detail on the defensive end of the ball.

From Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don’t Lie: I’ve never seen anything like it. Have you?

If it weren’t for fatigue, the Phoenix Suns would have rolled the entire fourth quarter with five bench players on the floor: Goran Dragic, Leandro Barbosa, Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, and Louis Amundson. That’s significant in and of itself, as that crew essentially turned the game on its ear in the second, and then the fourth quarter. The Lakers had an eight point advantage in the first and third quarters, mind you, with the Suns starters milling about. But what got me the most, beyond the bench dominance or the fact that only tired legs led to Steve Nash and Amar’e Stoudemire (those bums) coming back into the contest with around four minutes left in Phoenix’s Game 4 win, was the way Gentry uses this bench. It’s been growing all year, but we’re now at a point where Gentry is just alternating teams. I’ve never seen anything like it at this level.

From the K-Bros, Land O’ Lakers: With 6:47 to go in the fourth quarter, both teams took the court after a full timeout by the Lakers. Jared Dudley had drained a three-pointer before the stoppage, pushing a lead to 98-89 as part of a 9-2 run. This burst represented just one chunk of a frame owned entirely by Phoenix, who began the proceedings with a slim 85-84 advantage. Even more striking, the Suns did this damage rolling with five subs: Lou Amundson, Leandro Barbosa, Goran Dragic, Jared Dudley and Channing Frye. The Lakers, however, paired their three main subs with Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant, the latter a one-man wrecking crew to this point.

From Dave Gold, Momma There Goes That Man: Let me just come out and say it. The Phoenix Suns are just not that good of a team. Their Western Conference Finals appearance is a fluke and really, the Lakers should have started their rest for the NBA Finals last night after Game 4. Right after Game 2 was over with, it pretty much seemed like L.A. was gonna steam roll over the Suns and and get some much needed rest before they go up against the Doomsday squad known as the Boston Celtics.

THE PAPERS

From Kevin Ding, OC Register: When you get this close to the NBA championship, love for the game should be like Robin Lopez’s hair … here, there, everywhere. It should be spilling all over the floor, past those Western Conference finals logos and right to the bench area that should look as united and animated as Phoenix’s crew was Tuesday night. Even after getting the theoretical jolt of a Game 3 loss, the Lakers just stood around in Game 4. They stood around and assumed they would stand taller. They didn’t, because the Suns used their passion for the opportunity at hand and actually jumped. “We’ve got to fight,” Phoenix’s Steve Nash said. “They’re bigger than us. Most people can make an argument that they’re better than us. But we’ve got to have a lot of heart and a lot of determination and find ways to win the little battles.”

From Mike Bresnahan, Los Angeles Times: Phil Jackson had an animated day, and it had nothing to do with the breathless pregame rumors that had him coaching in Chicago or New Jersey next season. The Lakers’ coach was in the faces of his players and popping up off the bench more often than usual in an emotional game the Lakers eventually lost to the Phoenix Suns, 115-106. His activity was a prime indicator of how much Game 4 meant to the Lakers, the Suns evening the Western Conference finals Tuesday with their runaway offense. Jackson didn’t like the Lakers’ defense, to say the least.

From Bill Plaschke, Los Angeles Times: It was playoff basketball reduced to maddening math. The Phoenix Suns stormed through Tuesday’s Game 4 of the Western Conference finals with 10 players. The Lakers staggered around with six. The Suns were like a joyful college team, everyone playing, everyone scoring, the sidelines dancing. The Lakers were like a somber high school team with one star and five kids from shop class. “They had 10 guys involved out there, we had about half that,” said the Lakers’ Lamar Odom, shaking his head. “They had help from all over the place, and we didn’t.”

From Vincent Bonsingore, The LA Daily News:
You knew it was going to happen sooner or later. It was bound to, had to happen. The Phoenix Suns shoot too well, are too deadly from 3-point range to go an entire series without getting hot from behind the arc. It was only a matter of time before Channing Frye eventually made a long-range shot – or multiple ones – and Leandro Barbosa got untracked. It was inevitable a Suns team that played the regular season as one of the best 3-point shooting clubs in league history, then used those hot hands to storm through the first two rounds of the playoff, would unleash that firepower on the Lakers in the Western Conference finals.

THE MAJORS

From Kevin Arnovitz, TrueHoop: The Suns are unusual in that Alvin Gentry doesn’t install a traditional rotation. At the 12:00 mark of the second and fourth quarters, these five guys take the floor as a single unit. On Tuesday night, they dazzled. Dragic probed the Lakers’ defense. Barbosa was decisive with his trigger. Dudley was his usual bundle of energy and heady intuition on both ends of the floor. Amudnson did yeoman’s work up top screening for his guards (and snuck behind the Lakers’ bigs for a couple buckets of his own). And Channing Frye? After enduring one of the most brutal stretches we’ve seen in recent years from a sharpshooter, Frye broke out of his slump with a vengeance.

From Dave McMenamin, ESPN Los Angeles: The number on the white board in the Los Angeles Lakers’ locker room, representing the countdown to the wins necessary to complete their road to a repeat, remained at six after Tuesday’s 115-106 Game 4 loss to the Phoenix Suns — but the only thing on the team’s mind seemed to be Game 5 on Thursday. “Critical game,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. “We say they’re all critical, but this is what playoffs are about. If you can support yourself on the home court, you have a chance of going back and pulling an upset or winning the game, No. 5, and creating the momentum change. So, we’ll see what comes out on Thursday. Should be interesting.” For the second time this postseason, the Lakers jumped out to a 2-0 lead to start a series, only to lose Games 3 and 4 on the road. Against Oklahoma City in the first round, Los Angeles was able to take Game 5 at home and Game 6 on the road to close out the series before it went the distance.

From Ramona Shelburne, ESPN Los Angeles: There are no time limits anymore, no command to shoot 3-pointers like there’s a never-ending ball rack off to the side. And yes, there are such things as bad shots in Phoenix these days. Mike D’Antoni took the “seven seconds or less” era with him when he left for New York two seasons ago. But that’s not to say that this calmer, gentler version, this “11 or 12 seconds or less” offense, doesn’t look like the old days every so often. When the 2010 Suns offense is flowing, as it did Tuesday night in Phoenix’ 115-106 win over the Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, it can still burn hotter than any offense in the NBA.

Phillip Barnett

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19 responses to Around The World (Wide Web): Lakers/Suns Game 4 Reactions

  1. (brought over from a previous post)…

    “This just in: Chris Bosh spotted in the shower talking with Kobe. Artest was told to stay out of the shower.” (THE eminent Roland Lazenby himself laughed at this comment of mine on twitter…ha)

    Anyway, I’m not going to “panic” unless the Lakers lose Game 5. Seems like this is the M.O., for better or worse, of this team. Time for Phil and his $12mm to find the right lineups and strategy to hit the zone (a little more Walton might be ok, since he seemed to manuever through the zone pretty well). But as stated by a lot of the comments, it’s about the Lakers defense stepping up.
    Too many times the Lakers guards were out 30 feet guarding Barbosa/Nash/Dragic, and they were able to blow by them, completely throwing off the defensive rotations. Also, don’t know what you can say, but we need more people crashing the boards (where is Artest?) on the defensive end. I understand why we can’t crash the offensive end boards (Fastbreak defense), but it’s inexcusable that we can’t board better against a zone defense.

    Kobe is so amazing, and once again, he seems to be in that 2006-07 “island” where he plays dominantly and his teammates wither under the sun. No platitudes here, Lakers need to stop complaining about the refs, draw fouls the same way the Suns are getting them. Game 5 could be a very pivotal moment in Lakers’ history.

  2. if anyone mentions the PHX zone defense again it automatically renders that person as someone who knows jack about bball.

    screw the offense. kobe thanks for keeping us in the game with ur mad skillz, but your box out and defense can be better. I understand this will wear him out if he needs to carry the offense, but risk he needs to manage carefully.

    we are getting plenty of points, shooting the ball well, and getting minimal free throws. OFFENSE is not a problem.

    DEFENSE IS. win the rebounding battle, hold them to under 45%, get to the darn free throw line.

    The D was so bad i was curious to see if the Suns would miss on 2 possessions in a row, and I think it happened once in the second half.

  3. The Suns just seemed to what to win more, except for Kobe. As Bill Bridges stated in the last thread, there were a couple of NBA rules that were not followed by the refs, and it effected the way the game turned out. If you take Bynum out, that hurts the Lakers defense big time. If you allow players 3 seconds in the paint, they are recovering faster. I think Sasha should get some burn, he is our shooter, is he not?

    Anyway, I blame the Laker players themselves for the loss, and I am still bummed out. This series has gotten more interesting, indeed. I will be watching the next game with a different feeling, like that feeling before a final exam in college, the test result will significantly effect your final grade, and you think you know the material, but…

  4. Now I am going to calm laker fans down.

    Pau Gasol was 6/14
    Shannon Brown was 1/7, 0/4 from 3
    Jordan Farmar was 1/5, 1/3 from 3
    And Even Derek Fisher was 0/2 from 3

    Kobe was literally the only one who showed up last night to hit some shots and play some D. I expect much better efforts, both offensively and defensively in the next game. Many of Brown and Farmar’s shots were wide open. Even if they are bad shooters, and NBA player can hit wide open shots.

    I also want to see Artest post up some bodies in their zone. His shooting has been terrible (save a few games) ever since he broke his hand, so if we get him to body up some of the Suns defender, and set low and weakside picks, the game should open up for the trailing big – either Pau or Bynum, whoever needs to be cutting to the basket in that play.

  5. Defense, defense, defense.

    This was absolutely the missing ingredient in Games 3 and 4, but will also be the key ingredient against Boston. The Suns’ girly zone and Boston’s SSZ can’t win games if we’re stopping them of D on the other end.

    Watching the Suns’ reserves torch us is unbearable. While they do mix-things-up from a match-up perspective, do we REALLY need to bring three men into the paint in response to out-of-control drives by Dragic or Barbosa?!? For real…

    If the only way the Suns can beat us is by getting hot behind the arc, you’d think we’d return the focus to 3-pt D, as in games 1 and 2. Honestly, I’m a little relieved when the Suns “settle” for a high percentage lay-up, so long as they’re not permitted any more uncontested 3’s. Sheesh.

  6. Yeah… so… I’m thinking we should have seen that loss coming. I still think we’ll take the series though.

    Lakers in 6 or 7.

  7. I don’t see why we’re being so despondent. We were tied or down 1 in both games going into the fourth quarter. We just couldn’t come up with shots when we needed them (which is a shame considering Kobe was on the court all that time). This led to the up-chuckery of threes, which further ballooned the deficit since missed threes (which are generally the threes we take) led to long rebounds, which led to transition opportunities for the Suns, which led to wide open threes for the Suns, which they hit.

    Honestly, if we make 2-3 shots at the start of the quarter instead of missing 4-5, both of those games end very differently. It’s only due to lack of execution early in the fourth quarter and the lack of patience to get back into the game slowly and not throw up bricks from three that led to those games not being particularly close in the end.

    Lakers fans, and media types, are guilty of over-hyping their own expectations. They saw the Suns at their worst in games 1 and 2 and expected the Suns to continue to play that way, and when it didn’t happen, they were totally amazed and appalled and are now overreacting in the opposite direction.

    This Laker team, unlike its fans, has responded well to adversity in the past. The last three series (OKC, Denver, Houston), in which the Lakers came back home tied 2-2, they won Game 5. And as basketball-reference.com outlines, the Suns are a completely different team at home versus at Staples. I look forward to an exciting game on Thursday, but I also fully expect the championship-caliber Lakers to show up.

  8. @Zephid
    On average, the Lakers fan base is considerably more neurotic than average.

  9. For all the Lakers fans who are worried please think back how you felt after game 4 of last years WCF against Denver. I was much worried last year because Denver already had won game 2 in LA and the other game that the Lakers won in LA it went down to the wire and if not for Ariza’s steal the Lakers could easily could have lost that one as well. Phoenix has not shown it can win in LA (as mentioned above by Zephid) though the last game was the closest they been in the four games played in LA (regular season, playoffs)

  10. Cookie Monster May 26, 2010 at 12:58 pm

    Just a general question, to anyone who can answer-

    Why don’t the Lakers use Vujacic instead of Farmar/ Brown? Having Farmar, Brown and Kobe on the floor at the same time is unnecessary- and Vujacic can at least try to pester Dragic/Barbosa/Dudley, and most definitely not try to create his own shots like Brown or NOT run an offense like Farmar tends to do. Phil Jackson should at least explore using him… and who knows- if he DOES end up making his shots, the zone could end up collapsing on him leading to easier buckets inside.

  11. swedishmeatballs May 26, 2010 at 1:00 pm

    @KeZ (previous thread)

    Ja jag är svensk.

  12. @swedishmeatballs
    En till? Vi blir bara fler och fler här… :)

  13. I too think we should give our guys a bit of a break, though we should have crashed the boards with more effort this Suns team has probably the best offense ive seen the league for a very long time but no way can their bench do it at Staples and with some balanced officiating we’ll be fine

  14. Totally agree with CA’s post over at SS&R.

    The Lakers got nothing from their bench, but the biggest issue is not Phoenix’s zone defense.

    People are crediting their defense as being incredible for “holding” a team to 50% shooting. Let that sink in.

    The only reason their defense looks “good” is because we shot 60% in games 1 and 2.

    Kobe said it. We lost because our defense sucked. We didn’t box out. We didn’t get after loose balls. We lost focus when their bench was in.

    Our offense hasn’t scored under 105 points in 4 games. Our offense isn’t the problem. Play some D, win the series. It’s that simple.

    Incidentally, I would pay Phil whatever he wanted to have him put M’Benga in just to stand up for Fish against Lopez.

  15. Who knows what is going on in Jackson’s head… but most coaches of good teams hate having the other coach dictate what they do. So Phil just might be stubborn and doesn’t want Gentry to force him to play Sasha.

  16. @10

    i dont think anyone really knows what sasha’s health is at this point…

  17. First of all, Kobe was superb! He’s literally on fire. As I have been screaming since the middle of the season—He will be the #1 Reason, the main reason, the obvious reason, we win another ring. Kobe is the true MVP of the league. It’s ashame he couldn’t get playoff intensity effort from at least one more player.

    I think we loss the game for four very distinct reasons.

    #1. Phil Jackson was out-coached. He should have better prepared is lackadaisacal team for the zone. Alvin prepared his team wonderfully for the “girly” zone defense and it worked. I expect Phil to take this personal and destroy the zone in game 5.

    #2. Pau Gasol played “girly” like. I have said over and over again that we need him to win a ring. But we need monster efforts from Pau–not just scoring but rebonding and blocks. He was just absent all night.. I hope he gets his game in order and takes some tough juice that Kobe carries in his locker.

    #3. Lamar and Ron played like twin ungaged boys during a rainy day with nothing to do. There stats are not worthy of playoff performance. Whatever they need, candy for Lamar, Hennesey for Artest? Get in the game dudes. They didn’t rebound well nor did they defend well.

    #4. Bench lack of contribution. Once again, we look bad when we call on the bench. Why was Luke in there doing crucial time? Why even put Farmer in the game? He hasn’t proven himself. At least Sasha is a fiesty defender. Shannon needs to inhale and exhale. We will need better bench performance to win the next 6 games.

    So with better preparation, more focus, tougher Pau, engaged Artest, motivated Lamar and contributing bench with overall DEFENSE we will win the damnnnn thing like we are suppose to!

    C ya at the parade. Kobe MVP..