Game 4 Could Be Stoudemire's Suns Home Finale
If the Suns, trailing 2-1 to the Lakers in the Western Conference finals, lose Game 4 at US Airways Center and Thursday's Game 5 in Los Angeles, they won't make it to a Game 6 Saturday at home. In that scenario -- and if Stoudemire opts out of his contract this summer and bolts -- that would make Tuesday his Suns home finale.
"We're looking to try to win this series,'' the forward said Monday in an interview with FanHouse. "So we got to take it one game a time. So I really have no number set on my last game here.''
If the Suns lose Tuesday, there figures to be some doubt from Suns fans about whether they will have seen Stoudemire at home for the final time.
"It's not over until it's over,'' said Stoudemire, not wanting to think about the possibility of Phoenix losing the series 4-1. "So we've got to keep going and keep playing to try to get these wins.''
For what it's worth, even after tying his career playoff high with 42 points in Monday's 118-109 Game 3 win, Stoudemire said nothing has changed about the chances he will return to Phoenix.
"I still think 50-50,'' said Stoudemire, who has spent all eight of his NBA seasons in Phoenix. "I cherish the organization. They've been great my whole career. But it's still about halfway there (toward a possible return). It hasn't moved at all (from previous "50-50'' declarations).''
For anybody who might be criticizing Phoenix coach Alvin Gentry for his Suns playing a zone for 80 percent of Game 3, he's offering few apologies.
"If we have to play our girlie zone, that somebody says, we'll play our girlie zone,'' Gentry said. "You don't particularly like what you're doing and that's not the way basketball-wise you've kind of grown up. I've been in this league long enough to know ... not a whole lot of teams spend a lot of time playing zone. But you've got to do whatever you have to do to try to win a game. We won't play zone if (the Lakers) won't throw it in the post.''
Stoudemire was unfazed when a reporter asked about Gentry referring to it as a "girlie zone.''
"Whatever it takes to win,'' Stoudemire said. "The goal is to win ballgames, to do whatever it takes.''
Who Is This Guy?
Lakers forward Ron Artest knows Brook Lopez is pretty good. He didn't know that about his twin.
Phoenix center Robin Lopez, who averaged 8.4 points during the regular season to Brook's 18.8 for New Jersey, erupted with 20 points in Game 3.
"I don't even know who's better, him or his brother,'' Artest said. "His brother is really good. But (Robin Lopez was) hitting jumpers, left-handed layups and jab steps and free throws. I don't know.''
Arest said "not at all'' did he anticipate Robin Lopez playing as well as he did Sunday.
Derek Fisher doesn't shy away from going after big men.
Last spring, it was Houston forward Luis Scola being the recipient of an elbow that earned the Lakers guard a one-game suspension. On Sunday, it was Robin Lopez.
Fisher banged into the Suns center after he got in his way during a trip up the court in the third quarter. Both were assessed technical fouls.
"(It shouldn't be a situation) where we never kind of get under each other's skin,'' Fisher said. "That the way it should be. ... With championships on the line, people pay money to come see us play, and should see some guys going back and forth. No fights at all, but just making sure that the game is being played right.''
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant laughed off Sunday's incident.
"Derek already made a statement,'' Bryant said. "Robin should know you can't elbow Derek in the head. That's the one place you don't elbow him. His head is too damn big. You elbow him, you hurt yourself.''
The Greek economy is in great shape compared to Channing Frye's field-goal percentage.
The Suns big man is shooting a disastrous 1 of 20 (5 percent), including 1 of 14 from three-point range, in the series. But Frye, who vows to keep shooting to break out of his slump, offered Monday what sounded like a bit of a guarantee.
"It's going to,'' Frye said of shots falling in Tuesday's Game 4. "I'm going to tell you that they're going to go in (Tuesday). If not. If I don't make a shot this whole (series), you're going to be like, 'Hey at least you didn't stop shooting.' One thing I'm not going to do is stop shooting.''
Frye didn't stop in Game 3, when he went 0 of 7, including 0 of 5 from beyond the arc. But Gentry did put a bit of a halt to it, playing Frye just 18 minutes. He averaged 27.0 during the regular season
Chris Tomasson can be reached at email@example.com or on Twitter @christomasson