Suns' Bench the Difference in Game 4 Win Over Lakers
As it turned out, Bryant was right. The Suns got 54 points out of their bench and had six players finish in double figures as Phoenix evened the series with L.A. at two games apiece with a 115-106 victory on Tuesday.
Bryant was masterful, entering the final quarter with 31 points, seven rebounds and seven assists. But he didn't get involved in the fourth until it was too late, failing to score his first points of the final period until making a free throw with 2:37 to play with his team down by eight.
Hero Of The Day
Channing Frye couldn't hit a shot through the first three games of the series and was 1 of 20 from the field heading into Game 4. But he finally got going in the second quarter, hitting a three-pointer with 7:00 left in the period that extended the Suns' lead to 41-34. This obviously excited the rest of his teammates, who followed Frye's three with bombs from Jared Dudley, Leandro Barbosa and Steve Nash -- and then two more from Frye -- on five of the Suns' following six possessions.
The Lakers briefly took the lead at the start of the fourth quarter, but after a layup from Louis Amundson put the Suns back up by two, Frye hit his fourth three-pointer of the game with just over eight minutes to play as the shot clock expired. That was the beginning of a 10-2 Phoenix run that pushed the Suns' lead into double digits, and L.A. wasn't able to get any closer than six the rest of the way.
Key Coaching Decision
The Suns were winning this game on the strength of their bench play, and with the team leading 103-94 with roughly three minutes remaining, a timeout was called, presumably to let the starters finish the job. But Gentry let the bench ride it out for another minute or so with Nash and then Stoudemire playing with the second unit against the Lakers' starters, and they held their ground to seal the victory.
Outside the Box
Common sense would dictate that the Lakers would probably do well not to get into a three-point shooting contest with the Suns, but that's exactly what they ended up doing, thanks once again to Phoenix going with a zone defense at times. Phil Jackson said after Game 3 that shooting 32 three-pointers isn't how they want to play basketball, but the Lakers shot 28 in this one, and made only nine.
You Had to Be There
The crowd was on its feet with the game in hand and under a minute remaining, just waiting for anyone to score to put the finishing touches on the win so that they could explode. Grant Hill provided them with what they were looking for when he hit a 15-foot turnaround jumper to push the lead to 110-99, and the noise became deafening as the home fans cheered not only that shot, but the fact that their team had just come back from an 0-2 deficit to tie up the series with the defending world champs.