There is a faint heartbeat
The Lakers looked as if they were ready to take an early vacation. The Suns jumped out to an 11-0 lead and seemed as if they would never look back. My thoughts started to wander about how this team could be rebuilt within a season. It didn’t get any better as the Suns took a 31-17 lead into the 2nd quarter. But the switch was flipped and the Lakers looked like a new team. Playing great defense, other guys stepping up and making plays and all of a sudden the Lakers were only down 3 at the half. Fortunately for us Lakers fans they kept up the intensity throughout and were able to secure the 95-89 victory making the series 2-1 and brought some life back into the team.
As I have said all along, as everyone else has as well, someone else besides Kobe needed to step up to make some plays and that happened last night with Kwame and Lamar pouring in 19 and 18 points respectively. The question now is can these other guys keep it up? What else can we say about Kobe that already hasn't been said? 45 points in 45 minutes on 57.6% shooting and 100% from the line. Including the game clinching turnaround jumper which he hits with such ease but when I try to replicate it when I practice on the court I can never hit it. Another key to Kobe's success last night was he did not settle for jumpers and took the ball to the rack. Kobe settles for the jumper too often when he doesn't need to and hopefully he will look back on this game film and realize he can and needs to attack the basket to give the Lakers a better chance to win.
In addition, the major key was defense and energy. The Lakers played great defense and you could tell it looked like they wanted it more and played harder. All the key stats for this went in the Lakers favor as they had more steals, blocks and rebounds than the Suns. They also had fewer turnovers than the Suns which was key. I really liked what Phil did in bringing in Shammond Williams to play more physical defense on the Suns guards. It worked last night but we will have to wait and see what adjustments are made on both sides. I can’t say enough about the defensive effort as the team settled down after the big first quarter by the Suns and did not allow more than 20 points the last 3 quarters.
Those were all the positives to take from the game, the one point that really bugs me right now still is that fucking idiot Smush Parker instead of holding the ball tried to make a point by slamming it at the end of the game. There is no need for that especially considering we are still down 2-1 in this series. Boneheaded play like that is part of the reason why Smush is disliked by so many Lakers fans. He reaches too much on defense, takes stupid shots, and then like last night makes stupid decisions. The Suns are already going to be ready to play on Sunday, no need to add fuel to the fire, especially considering it was directly in front of the Suns bench.
An interesting point was brought up by Kenny Smith in the post game show. He was discussing with Sam Cassell when they were on the Rockets that during the playoffs they would always try to start out playing at a level 8 but never below a level 6. Once they lost a game they would tell themselves they would have to play at a higher level the next game. The Jet brought this up in context of how will the Suns react now that the Lakers have stepped up their game, will the Suns take it now to a level 9 or 10? Because the Lakers are now playing at that level and the Suns will need to match or exceed that to win. The same question can be asked of the Lakers are they ready to play even harder on Sunday knowing that the Suns will be coming out with more urgency than they did last night considering they had thoroughly dominated the Lakers on Tuesday, then jumped out to an immediate 11-0 lead so they let their guard down thinking it would be smooth sailing the rest of the way. Can’t wait to see what the Zenmaster has in store for matchups and adjustments. But we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves, this team does have its problems and I am concerned about the ability of the others on the team can step up the way Kwame and Lamar did last night. The Lakers must also play defense like last night the rest of the way if we stand a chance to win this series, which considering the explosiveness of the Suns offense, is not very likely. But I'll be glad to eat crow on that statement.