Lakers/Suns Game 5: Overcoming Adversity

Darius Soriano —  May 27, 2010

There are so many things to say about this game.  It was exciting.  It was hard fought.  It was high quality basketball.  It was two teams understanding the importance of the contest and then playing their hearts out to try and bring home the victory.  In the end, the Lakers were the team that came out on top and the Suns lost a game that must feel like a kick in the stomach.  Because after the Suns tied the game with a Jason Richardson three pointer that left only 3.5 seconds left on the clock, Ron Artest was able to play the hero by sticking a truly difficult put back off an errant Kobe Bryant attempt to win the game.  But we’ll talk more about all that a bit later.  For now, I cede the floor to Zephid so he can tell the other story to this game:

Overcoming adversity. That’s what Phil Jackson teaches our teams in the regular season, by not calling timeouts, by letting his teams “figure it out themselves.” It is not mental; it is more akin to spiritual. That willingness to give everything of yourself to win a game; to fail, and to learn from failure.

Ron Artest, so maligned for his performance this series and before, just showed what it means to overcome adversity. He is a competitor; he wants to land to knockout blow. You can’t fault him for shooting those shots; he was wide open. But he failed. Big time. Reading up in the comments, you can see the derision directed at him for those shots. No doubt he himself felt just as bad if not worse about his own performance.

However, he overcame the adversity. Everyone knows that Kobe is going to get that last shot; all five of the Suns definitely did. With all their concentration on Kobe, they forgot that the simplest of plays can make the greatest of difference: Artest came entirely across the lane, fought for the rebound, and put up an extremely difficult shot high off the glass. He could’ve easily just skulked on the weak side and waited for the game to go into overtime. But he learned, through failure, that success comes to those who overcome adversity.

But let’s not forget the other stars of this game. First and foremost, credit the Suns for never giving up, for battling hard, and putting forth everything they had to win this game. That’s the one thing that cannot be taken away from the Suns; they battled.

So many other Lakers shined. Kobe Bryant, the leader, came through throughout the game and in the clutch, keying our offense when we were going stagnant. With a game high 30 points, 11 rebounds, and 9 assists, as well as 4 blocks, he successfully outdueled Steve Nash and put our team on his back in the 4th. Derek Fisher, like Artest, so maligned during the regular season, has hit so many momentum altering shots that I can no longer keep track. 7-12 for 22 points with 4 assists to boot? On a day when Shannon Brown and Jordan Farmar gave almost nothing, Fisher showed why he’s the starter, why he’s the veteran, and why he has Phil’s faith. Lamar Odom, so derided for his mental lapses and lack of effort, took the battle to the Suns, grabbing 5 offensive rebounds and making some aggressive moves with his hook shots to the tune of 17 points and 13 rebounds.

In a game we needed to win, our main players showed up and took this hard fought game. Could we have played better? Certainly. But it’s when we don’t play at our best that the team shows its heart.

—————————————————————————————————————————

This truly was an amazing game, though.  Besides the game winner and the Suns’ fantastic push to get back in the game after being down by 17 on two different occasions, the intensity level and chess match between both teams was just great theatre.

A few observations from a game that will probably only be remembered for Ron’s redemption:

*The Lakers defense tried to switch up their approach to playing the Suns’ sets.  Literally.  On a lot of the Suns’ P&R actions, the Lakers not only hedged hard, but had their big man stay with the ball handler for that extra second and ultimately switch on a lot of the ball screens outright.  This led to Bynum, Gasol, and Odom playing Nash one on one in space on many possessions.  Meanwhile, the rest of the Lakers weak side defenders crowded the paint on Amare’s dives to the rim while the strong side help defenders stayed glued to the Suns shooters.  This strategy paid dividends early in the game as it allowed the Lakers to better cover the passing angles that Nash loves to exploit on the P&R (limiting his assist numbers) while also keeping the defensive rotations more manageable.  This led to the Lakers playing much better on the ball defense with a ratcheted up intensity that we haven’t seen in several games.  However, with the Lakers’ bigs playing Nash a lot he was able to go off scoring the ball…

*Nash ended the night with 29 points – easily his highest output of the series.  And even though the Lakers were limiting his assist numbers early, he still ended the night with 11 dimes.  I know that as Nash has aged and his defense has remained sub-par those facts make it easy to place him below guys like Deron, CP3, or even Rondo on the PG totem pole.  I also understand that there will always be some Nash backlash from his back to back MVP awards.  However, it’s nights like these that show you how great a player and competitor he is.  His shot making, court vision, and feel for setting up his teammates is simply amazing and it will be a sad day when he’s no longer around and we can’t watch his exploits on the hardwood.  Yes, he’s the opponent – the enemy – but he’s one hell of a ball player.  Tonight, he did everything he could to lead his team to victory.  His team fell short, but it wasn’t because of his lack of effort.

*Phil extended his rotation tonight and it paid dividends.  On a night where Farmar (13 minutes, 0-2 FG, 0 points, 4 assists, 2 rebounds) and Shannon Brown (6 minutes, 1-4 FG, 2 points, 1 rebound) didn’t play that well, Phil called Luke and Sasha’s numbers and got some quality minutes out of those two players – especially Sasha.  In 9 minutes of game action, Sasha played inspired defense on his countrymen Goran Dragic (getting under his skin with his trademarked pestering style), made 2 of his 4 shots, scored 5 points, and had a few other hustle plays (including a chase down tip from behind on Leandro Barbosa on a Suns’ fast break).  I know there have been many that have wanted to see what Sasha could do with some burn and tonight he rewarded the coaches with some solid play.  Whether or not Sasha can play well in his next stint is an unknown, but tonight should give the coaches some confidence to give him the chance.  And while Luke didn’t have a good game statistically and missed a bunny underneath, he did pick up a key charge on Amar’e and moved the ball well on offense.  You know, he did Luke Walton things and overall I was okay with his brief stint.

*On offense, the Lakers did make some subtle adjustments in attacking the Suns’ zone.  They did a much better job of flashing players in and out of the high post in order to set up the passing angles to set up the high low action that really hurts the Suns’ scheme.  Gasol and Odom combined for 9 assists working from that high post area as they were able to slide in to the creases and make themselves available to receive the ball.  The Lakers also started to set ball screens on the guard that was defending Kobe at the top of the zone.  This allowed Kobe a bit of extra space on his jumper and then forced a second defender to help – creating some open passing lanes for Kobe to hit open teammates.  Kobe matched Pau and LO by getting 9 assists of his own and a lot of that was based off how the Lakers positioned Kobe on the floor (using him on the weak side against the zone) and then the screens they set to free him up.

*Speaking of Kobe, the man is amazing.  I mentioned his 9 assists, but he also had 30 points, 11 rebounds, and 4(!) blocked shots.  Kobe was everywhere tonight and he did everything for his team.  Just as I credited Nash for being a player that competed his hardest to try and get his team the win, the same is true for Kobe.  His level of play is astounding (even for his standards) and he’s controlling the game like few perimeter players can or even ever have.  He’s just superb.  I mean, look at his series stats: 33 points, 9.6 assists, 7.4 rebounds, 53.5% shooting (stats from Marcel Mutoni).

We’re now at the point where the Lakers have a 3-2 series lead and only need one more win to advance to the NBA Finals for the third straight season.  Let that sink in for a moment.  Tomorrow can be a day to forget that fact and focus on what the Lakers need to do to actually get that precious victory.  But tonight, celebrate like the team you root for did after Ron sunk the game winner.  Smile.  Be happy.  This was a fantastic game and the Lakers came out on top.  Yes there were things that were bad about this game (you know that I know what they were based off the comments in the game thread), but those things can be discussed another time.  Enjoy this win.  Games like this don’t come around too often – especially not in crucial contests in the WCF.

Darius Soriano

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63 responses to Lakers/Suns Game 5: Overcoming Adversity

  1. Oh darn… I had gotten out the calculator and worked up the numbers on Kobe’s stats for this series so far based on the box scores at NBA.com…I was all excited to post them here and here they are in the recap! haha. Nice work!

    Anyway yeah- Kobe has been INCREDIBLE. I don’t know where this gear came from…especially with how things were beginning to look in OKC but something rejuvenated Kobe and he’s putting up some of the gaudiest game by game playoff stats of his career.

  2. Great post. Great finish.

    Just like in Game 4 of the 2009 Finals, the Lakers found a way to beat Bennett Salvatore’s attempt at fixing the game for the other team.

    That was the most impressive part of the victory for me, they fought through the attrociously lopsided refereeing…AT HOME.

  3. Thanks D money

  4. 2 hours later I am still astonished that Gasol didn’t get a call on that dunk attempt. He did everything you are supposed to do – took it hard to the rack, went for the dunk instead of the layup or finger roll, drew contact (including a vicious head chop from behind – and…. nothing.

    Maybe the worst non-call I’ve seen this year.

  5. Jesus, can we stop talking about the refs for one minute? It’s like Craig Saiger interviewing Artest after the biggest shot of his career, and all Craig can say is, “Ron, why did you take that horrible shot earlier? Have you heard of the shot clock?”

    Sometimes I think we, the Lakers Nation, has to stop being so anal and sit back and enjoy just how fortunate we are. Even though there are currently 17 conspiracies against us.

    Great job, Darius, Zephid. Artest also saved Pau’s a$$, making people forget how he blew a dunk with a minute to go. (To be honest, I was overjoyed he just went up like a beast and tried to throw it down).

    Steve Nash is mothaf’n incredible. Incredible. Wow. Shot after ridiculous shot. The guy just controls every single thing on the offensive end.

    I think we have a new catch phrase everytime Ron does something positive on the court:

    QUEENSBRIDGE!

  6. Well, I guess the complaints of no good series this playoffs can be put to bed. Great game. I thought that sequence of O rebounds that eventually led to J-Rich’s banked 3 was entirely deja vu to 2006. Happy, happy, happy the game ended differently.

    I liked the effort and obviously hope this carries over to Game 6. The PHX system is such a Joker and I don’t want to take the chance that the bounces go their way come Game 7.

    Lets see what ORL brings tomorrow.

    With the injuries mounting on the slime colored Lepers, it would be nice to see them go 7 and our boys get a little rest.

    I have no more worries that our boys will come into the Finals too soft. PHX is for real.

  7. Snoopy2006-

    Pau got fouled. They didn’t call it. He didn’t blow the dunk.

    Steve Nash is incredible. So incredible, in fact, that he doesn’t need ticky tac foul calls that he got tonight or the non called travels.

    I don’t think there are conspiracies against the Lakers per se. There are, however, many many reasons that the league would like longer series. (millions of reasons) These same reasons also apply to wanting closer games that go to the wire.

    Here’s what I believe: I think that there are refs who absolutely hold grudges against certain players. I believe that refs absolutely control the flow of the game. I don’t believe that they called the game consistently tonight for both teams. If you disagree with me then that is your prerogative.

  8. Snoopy –

    Give me a break, dude. I’m normally one to let the refs slide, but that non-call against Pau was atrocious. He didn’t miss a dunk, he got tomahawk chopped from behind by Amare.

  9. I was thinking about the WCF last year. That series looked scary for a while. The Lakers took a tense game 5 at home, and then completely wiped the floor with the Nuggets, on the road, in game 6.

    I’d REALLY like to see that happen this year.

  10. I believe we can close it in PHX. My prediction of 5 is already off, but hopefully not by too much.

    Hoping that Orlando, however, can force a game 7.

  11. ronronfanclub May 27, 2010 at 11:21 pm

    I’ve watched this highlight 10 times, and every time, it’s like the first time when I was screaming and high-fiving everyone sitting around me. I have this giant, ear-to-ear grin. Feels good to be a laker fan! Man, I wonder how Chris Webber is feeling right now? Or Manu Ginobli? Or Ron Adelman? Just think how many times the suns will watch it, and hear about it, until saturday. go lakers!

  12. I didn’t get to see most of the game tonight as I was doing family things that meant missing all but 5 minutes of the game on TV and listening to the last 6 minutes on the radio while driving home.

    I’m pretty sure my girlfriend thought I was going to throw myself out of the car onto the 57 freeway when Ron shot those back-to-back bricks or when Pau missed the dunk (I didn’t see the play and Spiro said nothing about a foul).

    Then I’m pretty sure she thought I was trying to punch my way through the windshield when Ron redeemed himself.

    God I love this game.

  13. The Dude Abides May 27, 2010 at 11:25 pm

    Snoopy, I would have been ok with the mostly one-sided officiating (and not commented on it in the last thread or this one) if they had made the right call on Pau’s dunk. It was two inches from being a flagrant foul (Pau got hit by a full swing on the neck and shoulder, Amare barely missed his head), and it was an obvious intentional foul to prevent the dunk. You absolutely have to make that call if you’re a referee with any semblance of integrity.

  14. Nice write-up Darius. You have a real talent, whether the Lakers win or lose.

    Guys calm down about the officials – yeah they were terrible today, but we fought through it and won anyway. Gasol’s gotta know to just keep attacking, and eventually the tides will turn on the refs and the zone D.

    I don’t really love the move to have Gasol on the High Post on every play. I think it plays into the Suns hands. A little bit of banging down low, with Stoudemire/Lopez in foul trouble is how the Suns get out of rhythm. If we let them play no foul basketball, they are too fresh on the other end. I also think it gasses Kobe – he has been doing a ton of ball handling, and cutting these past few games (though he has been brilliant).
    I think Gasol has got to get his booty on that left block. Too many times I thought he took jump shots a few feet too far out from the hoop. Whereas he is money 8-10 ft, i think he is far less efficient in the 12-15ft range, especially if he is near the baseline. He has also gotta know that if he drives into the lane, he is bigger then most guys in the zone. Hold the ball up high and slam it home. Make them foul you. I know we won the Chip last year, but I was actually happy Gasol went for the Game Clinching Dunk (even though he was hacked), over the layup. You can see his mentality has changed, if only a little bit, and I think that is important when you need to win big games.
    I am gonna call it out though – Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown have to show up in Phoenix. They have been incognito since game two, and whether its hustle plays or big shots, they are going to have to be a factor to further free up Kobe and Gasol to do work.

  15. This has not been mentioned much, but great adjustment by Coach Phil on the SR of Nash to Amare. Pau was getting burned by Nash on the switch. On the last play, he switched Artest on Amare. Nash wasnt able to get a shot off with Ronron on him.

  16. In a way, it made the victory sweeter that the Lakers were able to play 5 on 8 and still win.

    Phoenix was able to stay in the game (and give them credit for taking advantage), because every time the Lakers made a run, the refs called a bunch of touch fouls and put Phoenix on the line (or helped them reset a bad possession). It was pretty obvious.

    As everyone else said, Pau got absolutely leveled on that dunk attempt by Amare with no call.

    Phoenix was getting whistles for A LOT less contact all night.

    The crazy part is the Lakers were at home.

    What’s going to happen on the road?

    I’m seriously considering skipping Game 6. It’s going to be parade to the foul line for the Suns to ensure a Game 7…just watch.

    My guess for the ref crew for Game 6?

    Kevin Johnson
    Tom Chambers
    Dan Marjle

  17. Seriously, everyone, I’m not going to moderate the officiating comments, but there was so much more to this game than the inconsistency of the refs. Complaining about the refs is nearly as tired as what the game threads looked like during the regular season when everyone was trashing Fisher. I get it, folks think the Lakers are getting jobbed by the refs. I don’t agree, but I understand that take. Do me a favor, instead of commenting here about the refs, take the time to email the league or write the commish a letter. I’m serious. You’re a consumer of the product and you think the officiating is completely biased and awful. If I felt that way I wouldn’t complain on a blog, I’d write to the people that can make a difference. (I must admit though, that comment about game 6’s refs being KJ, Majerle, and Chambers made me chuckle.)

  18. Theworminator May 27, 2010 at 11:44 pm

    I’m glad to see that it wasn’t just me that thought we were playing eight on five at a few points during this game. But you could tell that’s how it was going to go just watching the first 30 seconds of the first qtr. I realize that someone could be called for a foul on just about every play of every game but if your going to call ticky tack fouls on one end call em on the other that’s all I ask.

  19. : )

    I knew I spelled Majerle wrong!

    As to the actual X’s and O’s, I was really proud of how resilient the team was.

    How about Derek Freaking Fisher, everybody!

    I was killing him as much as anyone during the season, and he has been awesome during the postseason.

    I would go so far as to say he was the second most important player tonight. He hit some HUGE, HUGE shots in the fourth quarter.

    I thought Phil made a nice defensive switch towards the end when he put Ron on Amare so when they ran the pick and roll, Pau wasn’t left trying to cover Nash. Smart move, and it worked.

    And how about SASHA!

    In his limited time, he made a bigger impact than Shannon and Jordan COMBINED. I yelped when he hit that three in transition during the fourth quarter. Great shot!

    I hope Phil gives Sasha more burn in Game 6…

  20. I wish everyone got that just like you did Darius… not just the Laker fans, but anyone who complains about the officiating.

  21. You are completely on point Burgundy,lots of people think the same way.At home,29 to 23??Incredibly blatant calls missed.

    KB is the man,hope they survive this round..

  22. Agree Bur

    At this point I would much rather see Sasha in there then Jordan. He looks and plays scared.

    Hard to think we can win in desert when one starter has 2 points and another has 4.

    Fisher and Kobe have been very
    good. The rest of the team like a giant yoyo. Up and down.

    Suns are very good and I don’t want to see them in game 7. Finish them please.

    More Sasha, less Farmer, less Andrew. 7 deep on saturday and stop pulling Kobe with 2 minutes left in the half. Cost us 5 points and stop shooting 3’s Ron.

  23. I missed most of the second half until there was one minute left. Caught it in the gym locker room.

    From that terrible shot, to the game winning shot, I just felt really good for Ron. I mean, after that ill-advised 3, Ron went to the bench, and Phil just gave him this look like “Are you kidding me?” And you can just tell that Ron was feeling terrible. I mean, you could see it in his face. 3 offensive rebounds by the suns later, and the game is tied. I really felt that Ron was going to come up big (no seriously, I did think, it would be great for Ron to come up big somehow… I SWEAR!). After seeing the shot from Kobe, I watched Ron artest the whole way… and just WOW.

    I mean, he was a goat and a hero in the same game.

    And what a game.

    I was listening to the 710 radio at about 11.30, and a reporter said that everyone in the Suns locker room was dressed and headed out except for Stoudemire. He was still in uniform and just staring into space… and he seemed affected by the loss a lot more than anyone else.

    Can’t wait for Game 6.

  24. How come everyone is saying Ron went from goat to hero on that shot… i thought goat means greatest of all time

  25. AA _ G.O.A.T vs. goat.

    Acronym vs. noun.

    But in this case, yeah I guess he went from goat to GOAT (not a strong case, but).

  26. I just finished watching the game, and I must have watched the last 3.3 seconds like 50 times, at least. I just love Laker basketball… I am a happy camper tonight, just great stuff indeed.

  27. The point wasn’t whether or not the whistles were unfair. If you look at my a comment I made in the Game 4 thread, I thought the refs absolutely killed the Lakers, and while tonight was better, I still thought there were many blown calls.

    The point was this – why complain it about now, after such a fantastic win? Why not just soak in a terrific thriller? Obviously I don’t presume to know what’s best for everyone. But to me, it looks like you have 2 choices after such a win: 1) enjoy the win, or 2) bitch about stuff. Hence the Craig Saiger reference. Yes, Ron’s shot was awful, but why harp on it? Why not enjoy the moment? No one’s denying the refereeing has been suspect (read: awful), but doesn’t it make more sense to be more upbeat/less bitchy in the immediate aftermath of such a great win?

    Darius actually stole the words from my mouth. The ref comments have started to clog and dirty up the boards just like the Fisher whining did. It’s reached the point where the contribution to the forum is zero, and this blog just becomes an outlet for frustration.

    Edit: 26 – That’s what I’m talking about. sT knows what’s up.

  28. hahah…watching that replay…still laughing. Greatest ending to a Laker game in a season that’s been chock full of epic last second wins.

  29. Lakers win because…

    1. Kobe is awesome

    2. Bynum changed the game in the 2nd quarter with his defense

    3. Fisher played well

    4. Sasha actually played! There was a moment in the 3rd quarter where the ball was passed out to Kobe and a Suns defender LET KOBE SHOOT by running to Sasha to keep the ball from being swung to the Machine for a corner three. Against a tall PG like the Dragon, Sasha is your guy. But he also is the teams only pure shooter and needs to be in the game against a zone. Better late than never Phil.

  30. Sasha’s minutes definitely need to be upped for Game 6. This season’s Sasha has stuck to the correct game plan far more than last season’s Sasha. The outside shots he took tonight were the right play each time. He also moved the ball well, and Jeebus H he’s the only guard off the bench who knows how to pass the ball into the post. Against the zone, the ball has to go to Pau, Kobe, or Lamar near the FT line, and neither Sasha nor Jordan is getting it done.

    Finally, his defense was superb on Dragic. I’m also going to defend Drew’s play. He was solid on defense, blocked four shots, forced still more misses, and hit the boards hard. It sure would be nice, though, if he sprinted down the court during the game just as fast as he sprinted to Ron’s side for the celebration :D

    I do agree that the team is going to have to bear down in Phoenix and fight through the inevitable adversity, much like they did in the 4th quarter and overtime of Game 4 against Orlando in the Finals.

    Edit-don’t get me wrong, Snoopy, I’m celebrating! Everyone I was with was screaming at the end of the game. But I’m also venting, mainly because of that one ridiculous non-call at the end. I’m also sure that everyone who vented was also celebrating just as hard, and enjoyed that win just as much.

  31. ray – lol as much as I hated the shot, I felt really bad too. Ron had that half-sad, half-spaced out look on his face, like he didn’t understand why everyone in the building had screamed at him not to shoot. He’s fought so hard for us all year, I’m glad he got the chance to redeem himself.

    I second Burgundy’s comment. Fisher has been outstanding. He actually bailed us out on quite a few possessions – when we couldn’t penetrate the zone and the only thing left was an outside shot, I immediately looked to Fisher as our only true shooter. And he came through as well as he did a decade ago.

    I’d like to see what happens when Sasha is a tiny bit (emphasize ‘tiny’) more assertive offensively and takes more two-pointers. His magic touch from 3 seems gone, but when he sets his feet and doesn’t shoot off the move, his midrange game seems polished. It could lead to a nice impact on the game, and maybe even give him more rhythm for his long range shots.

  32. The non-call on Pau is doubly frustrating since it cost Kobe’s triple double ;)

    Still, if we’re gonna win, might as well win when the calls DIDN’T go our way, right? So no happiness lost, just a strange way of savoring victory.

    Just one more til the finals.

    One more, while LeBron, Wade, Bosh and Johnson sit idly and talk about getting to where we are at instead of watching us.

  33. Snoopy2006-

    Look I was jumping up and down in celebration just like every other Lakers fan. I love this team and I love it when they win. I love it when they play hard.

    Again let me reiterate that I don’t believe there is a conspiracy to have the Lakers in or out of the Finals. I do believe that the NBA is a corporation though and that just like every other corporation its goal is to make as much money as possible. A longer and more competitive series will bring in more money. I’ll be honest with you…I buy a lot of what Tim Donaghy says about referees. An NBA ref can call a foul on every single play. Travelling also occurs on nearly every possession. 3 second calls can happen on nearly every single possession. This gives them an amazing leeway in controlling a game.

    Darius-
    I’m sorry if our “whining” about the refs is getting old. I disagree with you when you say that it’s akin to all the Derek Fisher bashing though! That really hurts…Great post btw!

    I fully agree with The Dude. Sasha has to get more burn in the next game. Brown is not performing very well and Farmar is getting abused by Dragic. Sasha brings a little something personal to guarding his fellow Slovenian! I also have this feeling that he could be the difference maker when it comes to shooting the Suns out of their zone.

  34. OMG! DARIUS, ZEPHID anyone. SAVE THIS DATE!!.

    AARON complimented Fisher, without it being a backhanded compliment.

    Wow. Just as miraculous as Ron’s put back.

  35. I know people are harping on the non-call against Pau, and when I saw it, I thought he should have been sent to the foul line, but still, you have to play. Let it go and play.

    I mean, it wasn’t the referees fault that we gave up 2 offensive rebounds that led to a game tying three pointer right? I mean, one defensive rebound (say LO boxing out on Nash on that first three) and we would have been sent to the free throw line. I’m more upset about those rebounds than the referees in this game.

  36. one of the funnest games I’ve ever watched. Will look back on this game as a huge momentum changer, mark my words.

  37. In Ron we trust babyyyyyyyy!!!!! yeah!!!! despite a low performance of artest well what can i say he saves the day!!! hopefully we will not let suns erase a big lead again…stay focus and continue to attack their defense and at the same time defend the basket most specially 3s cause they got a lot of guys who can shot 3s when wide open…anyway game 6 coming up and for sure we will take it from the suns yeahhhhhhhhhhhh!!!!

  38. Thriller’s reaction after that put back was priceless. Never have I seen the game winning shot maker, jump all over his teammate a la Ron Ron and Kobe.
    Great game! 5 more to go.

  39. swedishmeatballs May 28, 2010 at 5:36 am

    @Mimsy

    Nice to hear about your conversion, especially since it was on the expense of NHL hockey =) which I strongly dislike (well hockey in general really, except for the occasional swedish national team triumph every now and then). Anyway I’m glad to have found a fellow swede here who understands the greatness of the NBA and in particular the Lakers, what with their arrogant shooting guard and all.

    Gotta love Ron-Ron constantly reminding us of his “one point in time” 40-from-three shooting percentage =) The guy is just amazing. Hope this buzzer-beater gives him some momentum and confidence for next game!

  40. thisisweaksauce May 28, 2010 at 6:09 am

    I read an article by Wetzel on Yahoo! talking about how Artest has not fit in since he arrived. While I agree to a certain extent (offensively, he’s been “up and down,” as Kobe would say) like many people outside LA, Wetzel has ignored the incredible defense Artest has provided. I like the article, but he makes it seems like Artest has never belonged all year, to which I disagree.

  41. Darius,
    I don’t believe in a conspiracy theory and I think the styles of play have been the reason the Suns have garnered more foul shots. They have been aggressive and we have been jump shooters.

    However, I do believe having a particular lead referee — Bennett Salvatore — does make a difference in a Laker game. It is just much more obvious in a home game.

    I think that is the beginning and end of the argument.

  42. I wish TNT had a live translator to hear the trash talk between the Slovenian bros Sasha and Goran. Loved how Sash just got into Dragic’s head.

    Also, Dime Mag’s blog has a good point about how fans should stop standing up for committed whiners/ref-bashers like Kendrick Perkins because objectively speaking, they openly badger the refs all night with incessant complaining. Some players, like Kobe, do complain a lot to the refs. But I believe Kobe strategically uses technical foul calls to let the refs know about his displeasure.

    So, our guys do complain a lot to the refs. Maybe some refs take umbrage to that and let it affect their job duties. I’m not one to harp about ref-biases, but it seems to me as a Lakers fan, you get what you get when you are deemed a consistent whiner/complainer. Wonder if toning it down a bit would help? Who cares, great win last night and so happy for Ron! Here’s to one more night of the Slovenian Civil War between Sasha and Dragic.

  43. Seriously, you guys who blame everything on the officiating need to grow up. I have complained a lot about this team and their lack of consistency throughout the year, but I never blamed it on the refs. If the refs were trying to fix the game at all, they would be helping the Lakers so it would set up a Laker/Celtic final. The Suns are good, they have really aggressive offense and that is going to lead to more fouls. Sure, the refs blow calls, but that is all part of the game and is to be expected.

  44. Wetzel is like a lot of national writer hacks. They try to cover the entire breadth of sports and don’t have the time nor inclination to write anything deeper than superficial observations.

    My frustrations over the refs was good for one thing, it made my joy and exhilaration over the win so much sweeter. I had so much pent up negative emotion because of the refs, when Ron’s shot went down, the giddiness and high was ridiculous. It was like a drug but legal.

    Just an amazing game of highs and lows. I was so torn watching Nash. As a Laker fan, I was absolutely hating what he was doing. As a basketball fan, I couldn’t help but admire his artistry.

    Kobe is just so amazing. It’s not just his stats which are astounding. But he’s in control of so much on the court. Not just offensively but defensively too. He truly does have a otherwordly feel for the game. Then to back up that feel with the ability to do what’s needed for the team. If he thinks boards are needed, he gets the rebound. Blocks? Yup, got them too. How about some outside shooting? Sure. Compromise the D and get some easy shots for teammates? How about some assists?

    I have to remind myself how lucky I am to have grown up watching Magic. Now as an adult I get to watch Kobe. So, so privileged to have the opportunity.

  45. Artest has had a hard time fitting in this season on offense, as if he feels he has something extra to prove. That shows up by not playing smart/within the flow of the offense. (RElative lack of familiarity with the triangle obviously contributes to that as well.) It will be interesting to see if last night’s shot changes that at all.

  46. Foul or no Foul, you have to LOVE Pau going hard to the rim. SO many times on this blog people have given Pau crap for being “soft”. Well he has certianly turned the corner and I for one love it!

    Great win, Great win.

  47. There are problems with league refereeing in general and, like Joe @ 43 above, I agree that “Sure, the refs blow calls, but that is all part of the game and is to be expected.”

    It’s probably also helpful to keep in mind that The Lakers don’t have a monopoly on talent, desire, pride, or drive. The Suns are a truly elite team or they wouldn’t still be playing this time of year.

  48. For the Suns fans this is a heartbreaking loss-but that is all it is. Suns are sure to shake it off and likely get the W on Saturday and if that happens anything is possible in a Game 7 and all the pressure is still on the Lakers. There is no pressure on the Suns-no one outside of the Suns fanbase expects the Suns to win this series. For all the heartbreak of the game, to me one thing is clear-the Suns are clearly capable of winning this series. They just dont yet fully beleive it themselves. They are getting there though.. Slowly… And this Win should give them tremendous confidence…after the pain of the loss wears out they should be able to clearly see that. They are matched against a fantastic Lakers team… but I fully beleive they are slightly better overall as a team. Lakers of course have more individual stars……These are my thoughts on plusses for Suns vs Lakers
    Suns – Talent – overall slightly better
    Age-Suns Younger and faster
    Height and Strength-Lakers are clearly ahead
    Length of the Series-Lakers are getting more and more tired as the series gets longer-you can see that in the dip of their overall stats from game 1 through 5.
    Bottomline, if this goes to 7 games, Suns will win this series. Lakers best shot is to close it out in Phoenix. Suns need to stop being star-struck, fully beleive in themselves and remember to stick to their game plans (they looked completely off their game plan from late 1st qtr to later 3rd quarter in game 5). If they stay confident they will not fall behind like they did in Game 5 and they will Win. Its easier said than done, but they are good enough to get it done. If they dont, no worries, this has been an outstanding series between 2 exceptional teams. Its been great to watch and will savor for a long time. Just wish the darn games start an hr or so earlier for us eastern timezone folks.

  49. Plain and simple Jordan and Shannon have to set up and play better. They are getting good looks but are just not hitting shots. It was good to see Sasha play good. He looks more confident out there now. And Kobe Bean Bryant is playing out of his mind right now. He is doing everything out there and I think he is motivated by all this Lebron talk. I have a good feeling about Saturday and I think we close it out on the road again!!!!

  50. exhelodrvr,
    I have heard the ‘Artest is having a hard time fitting in’ thing a number of times – once from Ron himself – and I always do a double take.

    Ron is one of the few players who has operated in the triangle system on three different teams in his NBA career. Granted, his previous stops weren’t nearly as sophisticated or dedicated to the system, but still… Why all the problems now?

  51. @swedishmeatballs
    We’re not the only ones. There are at least two other Swedes here that I know of, but if they haven’t spoken up yet though, I think it would be rude to “out” them. :)

    I’d like to take this moment to formally and officially take back and eat my bad words about Ron Artest’s shooting last night. At a time when the rest of the Lakers simply waited and watched Kobe shoot with two defenders literally hanging off his shoulders, the way they always do, Ron moved, fought for the rebound and grabbed it, and threw it back up and in, just in time to beat the clock.

    As someone mentioned in the game thread (was it snoopy?), one of the greatest things with Ron is he plays 100% every single possession. He never takes a possession off on either end, he is always going full out.

    Speaking of playing hard, hats off and a respectful bow to Steve Nash. The man is a great player and a real fighter, and deserves some respect and praise for this entire series.

    By the way, I just rewatched the video (again!), and find myself thinking, why didn’t you rebound to Fisher? He had Nash on him, and has been shooting great all night, why didn’t you give it to Fisher!?! :D

  52. Did the whole Artest thing feel like a scene from JERRY MAGUIRE? The maligned player who didn’t fit in with the team, etc., who finds “redemption” of not only the season, but for his career, all encapsulated in one great moment?

    Here’s to finishing what Artest and the Lakers started…5 more wins to go!

  53. Great game!!!! Just one comment:

    Jackson needs to rest Kobe sometime in early forth quarter. He obviously was a bit tired down the stretch. If we depend on him to close out a game for us. We need his fresh legs.

  54. Craig W,
    “Why all the problems now?”

    Of course, it could be that he is just not disciplined enough offensively from the logical/mental perspective. That certainly shows up periodically, including with previous teams.

  55. @ 44: “Wetzel is like a lot of national writer hacks. They try to cover the entire breadth of sports and don’t have the time nor inclination to write anything deeper than superficial observations.”

    ^^ Quoted for truth. Most sports reporting nowadays is an absolute joke. It basically involves deciding what your talking point is (Artest = failed gamble by the Lakers) and hammering it home ad nauseam, analysis be damned.

    Unlike many of you, I don’t live in L.A, but the silver lining there, from what I’ve seen is that I don’t get Plaschke & SImers on my paper’s sports section everyday.

  56. You know how teams task an assistant to tell players how many TOs and team fouls they have during end-of game huddles? That guy needs to remind the players to play til the horn sounds. Here’s Phoenix’s last possession:

    Nash walks up and shoots over Lamar. Lamar stands utterly still and quiet while Nash strolls past and retrieves the rebound. Nash passes to Richardson and Gasol contests, then stands utterly still and quiet while Richards runs over and receives the pass for his game winning shot. That was as turrible as Richardson, who at least made some contact with Artest.

  57. Darius-

    I have sent a letter to David Stern, and he sent me a hand written reply. Very nice guy. I wasn’t complaining about his refs, though, so your readers’ results may vary.

  58. A great write-up on Derek Fisher, and how important he is to the team. He has been great in this series, and even greater last night, he deserves some love as well. :)

  59. @ 52 – agreed – It seemed like Phil was getting max minutes from Kobe in game 3, and then, when we didn’t win it, in game 4 was well to try and close out those games since they were both tied going into the 4th quarter. The gamble being that if we get either of those games, the series is 95% likely over in 5.

    And – When we lost both games in Phoenix, game 5 became essentially a must-win for us, so Kobe had to play all of it as well. It’s going to be interesting to see how much Phil leans on him for game 6 especially since we likely get less from our bench as is de rigueur for road games

    At some point, I too worry that fatigue will be a factor that haunts us now and possibly through the finals though it is worth noting that Kobe said that the pace of the games vs. Phx didn’t tire him out that much.

  60. not to complain about the officiating, but is there a replay clip of the dunk Pau missed? Foul or no foul, I still can’t believe he missed that dunk.

    anyway, good W. Let’s hope hitting the winner gives Ron the confidence to play more comfortably in game 6.

    Game 6 will be a battle, but if we get what we’re used to from Kobe and Pau we always have a chance. The question will be, how much energy will we have on the defensive end?

  61. The Lakers have got to be leading the league in “dumb fouls at the end of quarters/when the shot clock is expiring.” Does Hollinger figure that in to any of his stats?

  62. @Travis,
    ESPN’s highlights from last night also show that dunk.

    I think it’s the video on this page: http://sports.espn.go.com/nba/recap?gameId=300527013

  63. Why are we being called for so many fouls and they are not? And I am not talking about ref bias. The Suns are doing something on defense that allows them to “hide” their fouling. I’ve noticed that the Celtics get away with a lot of fouling as well. Are there techniques involved? It can’t just be a matter of reputation since the Suns have no such rep. I know people talk about being aggressive going to the hoop, but it has to be more than that since the Lakers have been fairly conistent these last two games going to the basket. Are there things coaches teach, veteran techniques that allow players to “foul” their opponent without getting called for it?