Friday, May 28, 2010

Whew! That Was Close... Too Close!

About a week and a half ago I posted my first comments on this year's NBA playoffs. Off course since I'm about twenty minutes down the 110 Freeway from the Staples Center you know where my allegiances lie. I have been a huge Laker fan for over forty years. I go back to the Jerry West/Elgin Baylor era.

In my earlier post I also came real close to making the stupid statement that Steve Nash was overrated. I was letting politics get in the way of critical thinking as far as Steve Nash is concerned because of his dumb comments on Arizona's new immigration law. I'm glad I kept my big fat mouth shut on that one. Last night Nash absolutely refused to let the Suns lose. It's as if he was trying to will a victory out of Phoenix. It's too bad the Lakers had a bit to say about the outcome because Steve (And the rest of the Suns) played his heart out. I will say this - Steve Nash has the ugliest two-handed shot in the league and travels damn near every time he drives in for a layup. But - he is deadly accurate with with that ugly little shot and nearly single-handedly beat the Lakers last night with that nasty little running jumper.

Straight up Phoenix should have won the game. If not for a very good team effort and hustling defense the Lakers would have lost. Teams don't usually give away seventeen point leads in playoff games and still win against a top quality team like the Suns. The Lakers dodged a bullet last night and everyone knows it. For about half of the game it look like L.A. had finally figured out the zone defense the Suns are playing. Unfortunately teams play two half's in the NBA and the Lakers slacked off in the second half.

So how did L.A. pull this one out of the fire? Credit Ron Artest with not giving up on rebounding Kobe Bryant's baseline jumper with three seconds left in the game. Artest pulled off the play of his career and saved what surely would have been a fourth loss in Phoenix and no NBA finals this year. Thanks to Ron Artest the Lakers are still very much in the picture.

For much of the game Ron looked lost. His outside shooting has been very streaky. Last night was a cold shooting night for Artest. He did play outstanding defense to make up for his shooting problems. But - with fifty-six seconds to play and a full twenty-four seconds on the shot clock Ron threw up a three point brick that had me screaming bloody murder. It led to a Suns rebound and plenty of time to tie and possibly win the game. It was a huge mistake on the part of Artest and came close to causing a loss and sending the series back to Phoenix and giving the Suns a chance to clinch at home. And the Suns would have done just that.

With the series now 3-2 in favor of the Lakers I have serious doubts the Lakers can take the sixth game in Arizona and clinch the West. And, as I have been bitching about for years, the calls NEVER go in favor of road teams in NBA games. I hate it but that's the way it is. The Lakers will have to go seven games if they can/will wrap up this series. They will not win in Phoenix. And to win in L.A. they will have to bring their very best A-Game to beat the pesky Suns.

I (or my Heart) can't take too many more of these dramatic endings. I'm no Spring Chicken and I'd like to survive to see the Finals. Hopefully for some payback against a (fast fading) Boston Celtics team who look to be aging right before our eyes as their series against Orlando goes to the sixth game. A week ago I was predicting a Boston sweep but the Orlando Magic have come back to life and shown why they're in the Eastern finals. But bear in mind though that no team has ever come back from being down three games to win a Conference finals series. Orlando has a chance to make history. They play tonight at six Western time.

Check out Ron's gutsy rebound and the final play of last night's game in the video below. In my opinion he saved the series for the Lakers. At least for the time being.

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