Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Lakers get 'Benched'
In consecutive games, the Phoenix Suns have come up with the answer to beat the Lakers and tie the Western Conference finals at 2-2.
In Game 3 Sunday night, it was Phoenix's zone defense that stymied Los Angeles. Last night in Game 4, it was its bench, a group of second stringers that out-hustled, out-muscled and out-shot the Lakers for a 118-109 win.
Just when a lot of people in L.A. had the Lakers swapping Cabernet for clam chowder with their Celtics counterparts in Boston, along come the Suns to spoil the coast-to-coast party.
Don't look now but the Lakers are in trouble. If Phoenix wins tomorrow night at Staples Center, this series is pretty much over. Even if the Suns don't win, you still have to like their chances in Game 6 on their home court.
Suddenly the Lakers are beatable. With Andrew Bynum limited in his mobility because of a knee injury that will require surgery later on, and with everybody except Kobe Bryant playing like they don't want to defend their NBA title, and throw in Phil Jackson's hints that he wants to coach somewhere else next season, this pot of disaster is at a boil.
Speaking of Jackson, does he have to give a sarcastic answer to every opening question that Craig Sager, TNT's courtside reporter, asks him? His "I'm smarter than you" attitude is wearing thin during the breaks between quarters.
Maybe Jackson should listen to Kenny Smith, who quite possibly is the best basketball analyst on television. Smith almost went hoarse trying to explain how easy it is to beat a zone defense and why not having a true point guard may be the Lakers problem in getting open shots.
It's the Lakers' turn to come up with an adjustment that will counter the Suns' sticky zone. Phoenix's bench is better than the Lakers' but Los Angeles has the talent to win the series, if only the starters would get with it.

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