Suns Still Defenseless Against Lakers
The Lakers took a commanding 2-0 lead in the Western Conference finals with a 124-112 win at Staples Center on Wednesday night. Someone might want to ask former Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni if he's a believer in the notion that the Suns' defense has improved, as they gave up 57.7 percent shooting after a similar Game 1 effort (or lack thereof). Let's take a look at the action:
Hero of the Day
As the Lakers were taking care of Oklahoma City in the first round, Kobe Bryant's father, Joe "Jellybean" Bryant, compared his future Hall of Famer son to Picasso. And as the Lakers continued to take care of business with championship aplomb, Bryant is indeed painting a marvelous picture with his game. After his 40-point outburst in Game 1, he played the part of facilitator with a personal playoff career-high 13 assists to go with 21 points.
The Suns were right where they wanted to be, having finished the third quarter on a 10-4 run to tie it 90-90 entering the fourth. But the clogged lane continued to confound the pick-and-roll game between Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire, and the Suns point guard's sloppiness coupled with a Lakers' scoring surge led to a 20-7 run.
Key Coaching Decision
Suns coach Alvin Gentry said he wanted point guard Steve Nash to get much more involved offensively. But with Derek Fisher keeping up with his fellow hoops senior citizen and the Lakers' bigs rotating beautifully, Nash had just eight shots (hitting four) in his 11-point, 15-assist outing.
Outside the Box
Jared Dudley showed once again what he means to this Suns team, albeit in a losing effort. It wasn't just the fact that he found his shot again (15 points on 5-of-6 shooting), but he was scrappy and spirited in his defensive effort against Bryant before fouling out late in the fourth quarter. Now perhaps if Channing Frye would have followed suit, it may have been a different story.
You Had to Be There
For a guy who fans seem to universally loathe, official Joey Crawford has no shortage of respect among his colleagues. Early in the fourth quarter, Crawford was bowled over by Goran Dragic on a drive and pinned on his backside. He signaled Lakers ball from the floor, then was helped up by a trio of players who came his way to assist. Grant Hill checked in with Crawford too, of course, because the ageless wonders have to stick together.