NBA Playoffs, Lakers Suns Game 3: The Suns try to keep it simple, stupid


Hill_Bynum.jpgAlvin Gentry asked his team to step up its defensive game as they came into the Western Conference Finals with the Lakers. He asked them to front to keep the ball out of the post, to pressure the ball out of Kobe Bryant’s hands, he asked them to do things a little bit differently and count on rotations. He asked them to take their defense to the next level.

Didn’t work. Not even close. In two games the Lakers have scored 132.6 points per 100 possessions, just a ridiculous number (best regular season number was 112.7, by Phoenix, ironically). The Lakers have done whatever they wanted.

And while we and others have piled on Amar’e Stoudemire for his defense — and it has not been good — the problem is much larger than one man. This is a whole team failure. There were no rotations behind Stoudemire. There was terrible communication and recognition of assignments. Watch these videos for the details. It was a team failure.

So the Suns are going back to simple back home for Game 3. Back to what they did prior to this series, Gentry said. Maybe that will help.

The Suns are also counting on scoring more at home. They will play at a little faster pace, and they hope to suck the Lakers into that pace more. Some of their role players will need to step up — backup guards Goran Dragic and Leandro Barbosa were a combined 2-10 with six points in Game 2. They should — they need to — play better at home.

Then there is Channing Frye, who has been a disaster this series and needs to show up if the Suns are to have any chance.

The Lakers role players have stepped up — Jordan Farmar is 8-11, Ron Artest is 12-23 and Shannon Brown 5-9 in this series. The Suns need to slow them down, because if the Lakers stars and subs are scoring you are doomed.

The Suns may be doomed anyway. They cannot change the core problems of size and skill inside. But they can mask the problem with some better scoring and some improved defense. That may come at home.

Just keep it simple stupid, and hope that is enough.

Players’ union, NBA to set up cardiac screening for retired players

2015 NBA Finals Cares Events
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First it was Darryl Dawkins. Then it was Moses Malone.

Two all-time great players who recently died — and at t0o young an age, 58 and 60 respectively — from undiagnosed heart conditions. Even before that, recognizing the issue the NBA players union and the league itself were setting up supplemental health coverage to provide cardiac screening for retired players, something ESPN’s Jackie MacMullan recently broke.

The joint effort between union executive director Michele Roberts and NBA commissioner Adam Silver — at a time when there still may be potentially acrimonious labor negotiations looming for their sides — is intended to ease the health concerns of its retired players.

Roberts said action from the players’ association on providing screening for its retired players is “imminent.”

“I wish I could give you an exact timetable, but we have to make sure all the components are in place,” Roberts told ESPN recently. “I will tell you we hope to have something sooner than later.”

The Cardiologists are affiliated with the NBA already, and some of the money will come from the league, while the union is both pitching in a chunk of cash and is the one organizing this, according to the report.

It’s good to Roberts and Silver working together on this. While you’d like to think this would be the kind of no-brainer move that the league and union would work together on, in the past the relationship didn’t always facilitate this sort of cooperation even on the obvious.

I’d like to think this bodes well for future labor talks, but I’m not willing to completely draw that parallel.


Stephen Curry drops 30 on Portland in preseason (VIDEO)

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Somebody is in midseason form.

Stephen Curry put up 30 on Portland in a preseason game Thursday night, hitting six threes and getting to the line 15 times over the course of his less than 26 minutes. It was quite a show.

Portland won the game 118-101 behind 25 points from Allen Crabbe and 22 from Damian Lillard. Not a lot of defense in this one but it was fun to watch.