Heir’z Corner: Lakers All Over Suns
Great win last night. Coming in, I really wasn’t going to be surprised if we won. It was one of those games where you just have a gut feeling the team will play well. Phoenix had played the night before against Seattle, and watching them, I really wasn’t that impressed. They don’t seem to be clicking and playing the way everyone has expected them to. Judging Kobe’s comments before the game, I would think he was the one who made a note to the players that they would need to jump on this team early and gain momentum. And they did just that.
Luke Walton- Luke played fantastic. For the few fans who don’t appreciate his game, watch this one and maybe you’ll learn a thing or two about not only him, but the game of basketball in general. His floor vision was as great as it’s ever been. If you make the proper cuts and movements in this offense, Luke will find you. He’s so dangerous when we slide him in the post. His fadeaway has improved, so the defense has to worry about him passing AND scoring in the post. He hustled all night and played a great game. Final stat line: 9 points, 3 assists, 5 rebounds.
Ronny Turiaf- The main thing that I noticed about Ronny this game, is that he had a big impact even when he wasn’t doing anything at all. By that, I mean that he’s made his presence felt on the defensive end in shot blocking. It seems like players are worried when they go up that Ronny will send the ball to the stands. He was the recipient of some great passes which led to some dunks. Ronny got it done tonight. Final stat line: 6 points, 5 rebounds, 1 block. From my analysis, you would probably think that his stats were a little better, but that’s what Ronny Turiaf brings to the table. Every one of those 6 points, every one of those 5 rebounds, and every one of those 3 assists impacted the game.
Kwame Brown- Can’t say enough about Kwame in this game. He and Drew both made it difficult for Stoudemire all game long. After blowing 2 layups and being blocked by Skinner in one sequence of play, I’m sure Kwame got the memo. Dunk the ball. Every time he had an opportunity for a layup, he threw it down HARD. He even got a steal and ran the floor, Kobe found him for a beautiful breakaway jam. Watching him play thus far in the season would make you forget that he’s still not completely healthy. He, along with just about everyone else on the team, played well. Final stat line: 7 points and 9 rebounds.
Kobe Bryant- Kobe played under better control in this game. I thought he forced entirely too much against Houston, but in this game he got in the mix. The team meshed well on the floor and he was a big part of it. 6-15 shooting isn’t great, he did take some bad shots, but what I liked is that he realized the team was playing well without him and he didn’t change what he was doing. He stepped back and allowed his teammates to stay in that rhythm. He recognized that the team didn’t need him to score, so he did other things. Passed, rebounded, and played defense. Great job, Mr.Bryant. Final stat line: 16 points, 11 rebounds, 4 assists.
Derek Fisher- Fish started off the game hot and never cooled off. He gave Nash fits on offense and actually got a few isolations against him. It must have been difficult for Nash playing defense for once. Fish’s hot shooting got us off to a terrific start and gave the other players energy. That was what stuck out to me. Our offense didn’t have any energy until he and Kobe hit a series of jumpers. Like I’ve said more than once, having him as our point guard is a breath of fresh air. Fish is always under control. Final stat line: 19 points on 7-9 shooting.
Vladimir Radmanovic- Looking at the box score, I’m surprised. I don’t even remember Vlad missing any shots. haha, he shot the ball incredibly well and hit a lot of “back-breaker” shots. Almost every jumper he hit, whether it was a 3 or a long 2, came during a surge by the team. The 3 pointer he hit to beat the buzzer at the end of the 3rd quarter summed up his night. Final stat line: 19 points, 6-8 from the field, including 4-4 from downtown.
Andrew Bynum- Who didn’t play well tonight? I really can’t think of any negatives for Drew in this game. He snagged a ton of rebounds away from the tiny Suns and really bullied them in the paint. His hook shot was smooth and everything came at ease for him. He especially gave Stoudemire fits. Every time he had Stoudemire in the post, he went right at him and came away with good results. And on defense, his long body gave Stoudemire problems and caused him to settle for jumpers. He normally gets to the foul line more than any other Sun, but tonight he shot only 3. Bynum and Kwame both made it difficult for Stoudemire. Final stat line: 19 points, 13 rebounds, 7-10 shooting.
Jordan Farmar- Farmar has really improved in attacking the rim, he’s become dangerous in the open floor. He’s continued to lead the second unit and keep everything under control. In the first half, he took the challenge of guarding Barbosa and did a decent job. Final stat line: 8 points, 3-5 shooting, 3 assists.
This was a great TEAM win. Everyone got involved and played hard on both ends. This was against a team that has had our number entering 3 years. It’s always difficult to beat this team in Phoenix, not only for us but in general. The crowd was quiet all game long. We got under the skin of their players as Stoudemire started out the second half on the bench, assuming that’s what his coach wanted because of his poor play in the first half. And D’Antoni initiated a shouting match with Phil where he repeated “Don’t worry, we play you 3 more times after this, don’t worry!” Both Phil and Kurt Rambis tried to explain to him that calling a timeout then would actually cause the game to end more quickly so that ESPN wouldn’t have to take a commercial break. Said Phil: “He wasn’t thinking straight.”
D’Antoni had this to say after the game: “Two timeouts in a row. He took eight minutes over there to explain maybe one play that he probably didn’t run? Yeah, I was pretty upset. I thought he disrespected our players. But he likes to play mind games, and that’s fine. He might want to try and do it in playoff time when we bust them every time.”
What D’Antoni said was very unprofessional and embarrassing for his team and city. Just because your team is getting badly beaten doesn’t mean you lose your composure. This was only the second game of the season. I’ve never been a big fan of D’Antoni because he never wants to give credit to the other team when his guys lose. There’s always a conspiracy going on as if his team is being cheated. He needs to accept losing for what it is and act like he has at least a little class. By that comment, I get the feeling that his attitude reflects his team and their sometimes dirty play. We earned this win and should be enjoying. This rivalry has taken another turn. See you in LA, Phoenix.
Next game: LAL vs Utah @ 6:00.
Our own life is the instrument with which we experiment with the truth.
-THICH NHAT HANH