A continued conversation between The Purple And Gold Blog and Don of With-Malice about the Western Conference Finals series between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Phoenix Suns.
WM: Well - no way around that: it was a disappointment. To waste a performance like that from Kobe. I mean: 36 points, 11 assists 9 rebounds? Insane.
The Lakers looked confused and desperate at times - confounded by a zone defense? That was the bit that surprised me - the lack of adjustment that occurred on the fly. Apparently, Bynum is questionable for game 4. Truth be told, his participation was questionable in game 3! Artest didn't really show up... and the bench crew lead superbly by LO of late was ineffectual.
TP&GB: The Suns may have won Game 3, but they're still not in this series yet until they can win Game 4. They did what they're supposed to do to stay alive...for now. For some reason, zone D bothers the Lakers for a veteran team with bonafide post-players. But they somewhat managed to force the Suns to get out of it in the 4th but not enough adjustments to stop Stoudamire and Lopez.
Phil can only tell his players what to do, so it's still up to the players to interpret his guidance on the floor. It's just wasn't there for them tonight. The Lakers didn't help themselves either with turnovers galore and late-game defensive breakdowns. But with all the things that went right for Phoenix and all the bad for the Lakers, the Suns took this game with Lopez's production. The Lakers will move on and refocus for Tuesday. They now know what to expect from Phoenix.
Lakers in 5...still.
WM: The free throw disparity bothered me a bit. And before anyone brings up "Phoenix were more aggressive" - it's worth pointing out that they weren't. Counting shots in the paint or thereabouts, LA had 27 shots to PHX's 23. I get that playing a zone will suck this up a little, but for it to end up being 42 FTs to 20? A little skewed for my liking. No, not a conspiracy... but perhaps a little too much on "homecourt advantage".
But anyway: LA have always been a team that has thrived on 'external motivation'... and I see Boston providing some of that tomorrow.
TP&GB: Interestingly enough, the only time the Lakers had more free-throw attempts than the Suns were in Game 2 (34-26). But Phoenix got some ticky tacks and phantom fouls in their favor like: Shannon's foul on Barbosa to end the first half and Pau's foul on Amare when he tried to shoot the ball around Gasol's arm in the 4th. Those are two plays that resulted in free-throws for the Suns. I saw that play in real-time and Pau got nothing but ball. Even Stoudamire reacted like it was a clean play.
But we have to give credit where it's due. Both Amare and Robin played their best basketball of the series. They were the only ones who were more aggressive than usual. But the Lakers should be blamed for this loss than anyone else. They allowed the Suns to control the pace of the game and didn't show a lot of smarts and patience against that zone defense. But the only thing this win proves is the Suns will be going on that annual fishing trip from Los Angeles.
WM: A really interesting piece over at Silver Screen and Roll today by C.A. Clark, basically covering the FT disparity. Some very interesting points raised... mainly:
- In the 3 playoff losses that the Lakers had, each time - FT disparity was the difference.- In NO GAME so far this play-offs, have the Lakers been beaten on the floor - LA has had the superior score in EVERY SINGLE GAME.- In the 3 losses, the average difference in FT attempts has been 20. TWENTY.- The Lakers have won on the road despite shooting 17 less FTs (in OKC game 6) and 12 less FTs (in Utah game 3).
With a difference of 16 FTs shot vs. given up in home vs. away contests for the Lakers, I think we can safely say that games involving Los Angeles are being officiated in different ways based upon the location. That discrepency is too big to be ignored or discounted. It's highly doubtful that the Lakers get foul happy on the road, but play a clean game at home.
And since we're in this topic, the technical fouls called against Phil and Kobe are interesting when you look at how the Suns react to some fouls called on them and they never got a T blown in their direction. Did you see the way Nash reacted to the foul called on him when he clearly grabbed Kobe's arm who was going up for an offensive rebound?
WM: I don't want to get into conspiracy theories... but it's interesting conversation-fodder.