By Bryan Jeon
Let me start off by saying that I am happy the Phoenix Suns’ Steve Nash came up just shy of the single-game playoff assist record with 23 assists – the record being shared by the Los Angeles Lakers’ Magic Johnson against the Suns in 1984 and the Utah Jazz’s John Stockton against the Lakers four years later.
With that being said, let me tell you how this game really broke down in the Suns’ 113-100 victory Sunday afternoon – stuff that you’ll never read in any major news article about this game.
- I have always hated Nash for his lack of ability to play defense when he gets so much credit for “being smart” in taking charges (as well as taking his sweet ass time at the free throw line). Oh, please. You couldn’t find a bigger flop in the game, and the only reason why Nash gets the calls is because of who he is. Just this game, I caught the guy-instead of putting his arms up under the basket for any attempt to play defense-cross his arms to get ready to flop a charge but didn’t because he felt the contact was too minimal for any dramatization that time.
- On that subject, add Leandro Barbosa to that list. The guy who I chose to be the Sixth Man of the Year and then marveled at in his Game 1 domination, I now hate because of the way he plays the game. Like Nash, he is undersized and thus feels the most effective way he can play defense is to take charges, which the refs forgivingly grant. But hey, if it works, why stop, right? On the offensive side, Barbosa has become predictible in driving to the hoop everytime and now is receiving phantom calls in his favor when he is simply out of control driving to the basket from his “blazing speed” half the time. But again, why stop what’s working?
- Kobe Bryant calls foul on every single play that doesn’t go his way, and believe it or not, he’s right almost all the time. It’s unfortunate that his constant whining makes every real foul cry wolf, as he certainly deserved to take more than 6 attempts from the free-throw line. Despite his all-around game of 31 points, 7 rebounds, 9 assists, 2 steals and a block, his 6 turnovers were just too much for the Lakers to overcome and made too many mistakes against a running team that’ll make you pay with fast-break buckets.
- The Lakers bench stinks worse than Shaquille O’Neal‘s drawers, with the only exception a perimeter-shooting Maurice Evans, who is otherwise pretty worthless when his shot’s not falling. Barbosa is single-handedly outscoring the entire Lakers bench, and that is not a pretty sight for any Lakers fan.
- Finally, it is worth mentioning two people who don’t even play – Suns coach Mike D’Antoni and referee Dan Crawford. D’Antoni is one of the coaches who complain the most, and his cherry red face when he screams is something you just want to smash the ball with. As for Crawford, what is he doing joking and exchanging ass-slaps with Nash mid-game? He gives calls the Suns’ way and seriously ruins the meaning of home-court advantage. He needs to call the game straight and stop nut-huggin’ the two-time MVP.
In the end, it was just too much Amare Stoudemire, who many believe to be the final piece of the puzzle for the Suns to win it all this year. He finished with a strong 27 points and a career playoff-high 21 rebounds, as he faced no competition in the paint on the way to too many uncontested dunks. The Lakers are going to need to play better defense than that if they want to survive any longer. Watching the Lakers really makes me empathize with their struggles and every “fuck” and “shit” that comes out of Kobe’s mouth. Oh by the way, I have Phoenix going all the way in my bracket.
The Suns now have a 3-1 series lead. Game 5 is back in Phoenix on Wednesday at 7:30pm PST.
Image courtesy of AP Photo.