Tag: Lakers Suns Game 1

Shannon Brown: I could have made that dunk


Brown_dunk.jpgWhat was the most jaw dropping play of Game 1 between the Lakers and the Suns had a couple things wrong with it.

It was Shannon Brown almost leaping Jason Richardson for a dunk. The problems are: 1) That should have been called a charge; 2) Brown missed the dunk.

But he says he could have made it.

“I looked at the rim a little too late,” Brown said. “I sized up the defense and took off, but if I had looked at the rim I could have made that a spectacular play.”

It was still pretty spectacular — it had Kevin Durant tweeting that Shannon Brown has the biggest hops in the league. Brown said he knew he was going to attack from the start.

“When I got the ball from L (Odom) I looked and tried to let my peripheral (vision) do the work. I saw there was nobody in front of me and the guy on my left was occupied and to my right there wasn’t anybody,” Brown said. “Jason Richardson stopped, and when he stopped I seen where he stopped and then before he can do anything I just took off.

“Like I said if I had looked at the rim a little bit earlier I would have finished it. I was looking to see if he was set. I was looking to see how far away he was from the basket and all that… if I had looked at the basket I would have got higher, but I didn’t look at the basket until I was in the air already.”

Finishing that dunk would have been spectacular. But it was still a charge.

David Arquette's new role: Staples Center security guard. He gets knocked down for his troubles.


arquette.jpgThere are celebrities who show up to those prime courtside Lakers seats to be seen, and then there are celebrities who are Lakers fans. Or maybe a little of both. Jack Nicholson likes to be seen, but nobody questions his fanhood.

Same with David Arquette. You know him, the guy from the Scream movies married to Courtney Cox. (Oh and don’t worry, they are making Scream 4.) He’s in the front row all the time at Staples and he’s a fan.

And, apparently, he wants to be a security guard for a second job. ESPNLosAngles.com’s Ramona Shelburne had the story.

Eyewitnesses describe Arquette as a “peacemaker” after he was knocked to the ground trying to help a security guard who’d been pinned to the ground by a fan who rushed the court after the Lakers beat the Suns 128-107 in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals.

Michael Roth, vice president of communications for AEG, which operates Staples Center, couldn’t confirm Arquette’s involvement in the incident, but confirmed a physical incident occurred along the courtside seats opposite the Suns bench at the end of the game.

“At the end of the game, a fan came out of the stands and out on to the court,” Roth said. “Any time a fan breaches the court, you don’t know what their intentions are. We approached him and asked him to leave and when he didn’t want to leave, there was some force used.”

Remember, Arquette has some wrestling experience, you may not want to mess with him. Those wrestlers know how to use those courtside folding chairs.

NBA Playoffs, Lakers Suns Game 1: Kobe don't need no stinkin' practice


No practice for a week. Fluid drained from your knee. So what? These little inconveniences did not slow Kobe Bryant in Game 1 against the Suns. He dropped 40 and was a key reason the Lakers won big to take a 1-0 series lead.

The Suns will make adjustments, although there may not be many they can make on Kobe.


NBA Playoffs, Lakers Suns Game 1: In LA, Suns burned by their own defense


SBrown_acrobat.jpgGregg Popovich touted the Suns improved defense. Everyone was talking about it. That’s how they were finally going to get over the hump — be just good enough on defense to go with an amazing offense.

The Lakers blew that defense up.

They blew right by it from the perimeter and right into the heart of the Suns defense. The Lakers drove the ball right down the middle — literally, slashing down the center and into the paint all night long. It was the heart of their surprisingly easy 128-107 win.

“To be honest with you guys, it wasn’t exactly the post up plays and big guys,” Suns coach Alvin Gentry said of the 56 points in the paint the Suns surrendered. “It was the middle drives and perimeter players driving in the paint.”

Everyone expected the Lakers to pound the Suns inside but it was how they did it that was the surprise.

“They were denying, they were denying everywhere,” Shannon Brown said of how the Suns tried to cut off post entry passes from the Lakers. “(Middle drives) is what they were giving us, so we had to take advantage of what they was giving us. There were denying a lot of our entry passes which left the middle wide open for us.”

Gentry went so far as to say the Suns could have lived with what Gasol did. They could have even lived with most of Kobe’s 40 — when his jumper is falling like that there’s nothing you can do. But when Kobe and Jordan Farmar and Shannon Brown and even Odom are driving middle right into the heart of the Suns defense, everything breaks down.

“Our strategy is no middle drives,” Amare Stoudemire said. “That’s our strategy, we’ve got to do a better job.”

The Suns to a man talked about stopping those drives. That may be easier said than done — Grant Hill had trouble staying in front of Kobe, and Steve Nash is not exactly a defensive force.

But they can guide players to help. Gentry talked about pushing the Lakers more baseline, taking away the easy shots in the middle. Jared Dudley also said it was simply a matter of Suns players taking responsibility.

“It’s an adjustment (you make) watching film,” Dudley said. “You watch film and you say ‘you can’t have that.’ In the triangle they have to (be forced to) drive baseline. That’s not something that coach can tell you, just as a player you have to take that on yourself.”

For the Lakers, that means making the counter adjustment.

“If they adjust then we just hit our other options,” Brown said. “I’m sure they want to adjust but I know they still want to be aggressive on us. They’re going to take away the first pass, I don’t know about the second and third passes, but they’re gonna still be up, we just got to read the defense.”

The chess match has begun, but we don’t get to see the next moves until Wednesday.

NBA Playoffs, Lakers v. Suns Game 1: Everything's coming up Lakers


kobe-wcf-game1.pngGame 1 of the Western Conference Finals made one thing abundantly clear: unless the Suns are able to come up with some truly remarkable performances, the Lakers will win this series. L.A. is so talented and so long that they’ll receive the benefit of the doubt in almost every regard, and barring a transcendent performance from Steve Nash or Amar’e Stoudemire, Phoenix will lose.

Call it cheap analysis if you will, but the Lakers are better. They are not going to melt down in this series, which puts the onus on the Suns. It’s up to Phoenix to somehow stop the unstoppable force in purple and gold and manage to see the sky through the trees.

I wouldn’t say Game 1 was necessarily par for the course (the Lakers’ offense scored at a rate of 139.1 points per 100 possessions, a truly scorching level of efficiency) but L.A.’s dominance in their 128-107 victory was not unfounded.

Los Angeles has a much better shot at stopping Phoenix’s offense than vice versa, and the Lakers exposed that painful truth in their complete dissection of the Suns’ vaunted, improved defense. Kobe’s 40 has to be the centerpiece, and his 21-point third quarter was the type of noteworthy performance that so frequently gets lost in the playoff shuffle. If the Lakers go on to win the championship, few will remember Bryant’s 21-point Q on a mid-May night, no matter how it demoralized the Suns’ defenders.

That said, we may not see a more singularly dominant stretch of basketball from any Laker this postseason, and for that Kobe deserves to be recognized. Grant Hill, Jared Dudley, and Jason Richardson all did their best to defend Bryant. They fought for position, tried to deny, and challenged shots. It didn’t matter, because Kobe is so, so good at what he does. When Bryant is in that special place, the bucket is less a possible outcome and more an inevitability. That’s what the Suns were charged with stopping tonight, and it’s what the Jazz failed to stop at times in their four-game out in the previous round.

I’d love to say that Kobe is destined for a fall back to earth at some point, but the guy has scored 30+ in every game he’s played since April 27th. He’s done it with plenty of time off and just a day off, at home and away, by shooting 45% from the field or better, against three different opponents, and with one notable constant: winning. Kobe is putting up impressive totals and guiding the Lakers to the promised land, two results that have not always coincided. During this playoff run however, they seem almost inextricable, with just two of the Lakers’ nine wins coming in sub-30-point performances for Bryant.

As always seems to be the case with these Lakers, he wasn’t alone. Lamar Odom (19 points, 19 rebounds) was ridiculously effective, and looked right at home working against Amar’e Stoudemire. Pau Gasol wasn’t nearly as good on the boards (or rather, didn’t have to be as good on the boards), but had 21 points on 10-of-13 shooting.

Those two players best exemplified the problems with the Suns’ defense; Hill et al’s defense on Bryant may have been an exercise in futility, but the Suns’ D on Odom and Gasol was more of a demonstration of their ineptitude. Even if you buy the argument that the Suns are improved on defense this season, those improvements amounted to nothing against players as skilled, as versatile, and as big as Gasol and Odom.

Throw in some beautiful discretion from Ron Artest, better-than-expected defense from Derek Fisher, and solid play from the Lakers’ bench, and it would be a wonder if the Lakers didn’t win in a walk.

Los Angeles wasn’t exactly perfect on defense, though, even if they did manage to prevent Phoenix from scoring at maximum efficiency. The Suns benefited from a balanced offensive performance, featuring six double-digit scorers who were able to attack the Lakers’ D in a variety of ways. However, the Lakers’ true battle was fought — and won — against the Suns’ pick-and-roll.

Robin Lopez (14 points 6-7 FG, six rebounds) looked great rolling to the rim and working the offensive glass, but even his impressive playoff debut wasn’t enough to overcome the Lakers’ smothering of Steve Nash and assault on the passing lanes. Phoenix found ways to move the ball, but the great looks the Suns are accustomed to getting were merely good ones, and considering Phoenix’s considerable defensive troubles, that was more than enough to drop Game 1 into L.A.’s lap.

As I mentioned before, Steve Nash (13 points, 13 assists, four turnovers) and Amar’e Stoudemire (23 points, just three boards) can’t just show up and play. They have to seriously perform if Phoenix is going to have any shot in this series. They’ll need to execute tirelessly on the offensive end, not only to provide the bulk of the offense, but to open up the game for the Suns’ shooters. In a sense, you have a situation in Phoenix similar to that in Orlando, only instead of relying on Dwight Howard’s interior dominance as an offensive foundation, this team relies on the Nash-Stoudemire tandem.

Without that regular offensive threat, the Suns shooters were blanketed on the perimeter, as evidenced by the team’s 22.7% shooting from beyond the arc. That’s more than just a cold night, even if every miss from the perimeter can’t be attributed to L.A.’s close-outs. Jared Dudley (1-5 3FG) and Channing Frye (1-7 3FG) were forced into some contested looks and were out of rhythm when they finally found the space to fire unimpeded.

If you’re looking for one side of the ball to attribute blame, the offense wasn’t it for Phoenix. The Suns’ offensive efficiency in this game (116.3 points per 100 possessions) was actually higher than their season average. As I mentioned before though, the Suns will have to be good enough on offense to make up for their major defensive flaws, and until we see even a spark of that in this series, the games will continue to default Lakers.