PHOENIX — Here are a few noteworthy quotes and themes from the Los Angeles Lakers prior to Monday morning’s practice: Phil Jackson on … Shooting so many three-pointers...

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The Phoenix Suns squashed the Los Angeles Lakers’ hopes of a Western Conference finals sweep with a crucial Game 3 win. Baffling the Lakers with zone defense, the Suns defended their home court...

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PHOENIX — It wouldn’t be a Phoenix Suns playoff series if Steve Nash didn’t suffer a facial injury. This time it’s his nose after Derek Fisher collided with Nash near the end...

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Amare goes to his patented behind the back move to tie up Odom and force a jump ball. Didn't know you had that one, did you?

More photos » Ronald Martinez - Getty Images

Amare goes to his patented behind the back move to tie up Odom and force a jump ball. Didn't know you had that one, did you?

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The vast majority of questions today for both teams in their massive media availability was about the Suns' zone defense. (There was at least 75 media types here compared to oh ... about 4 on a regular season off day.)

Have you ever in your entire life seen so much zone played in one NBA game?

How can you beat the zone?

Will you use the zone more?

What is a zone?

You get the picture. The answers were predictable and I am not going to insult your refined basketball sensitivities by delving into such nonsense. Needless to say, the Lakers reported being surprised by the zone. Gentry said he didn't expect it to work that well. Jackson said they would look at film and adjust. I have no idea what Kobe said because I couldn't get within 20 yards of him.

And Ron Artest had no complaints, "It was a lot of zone. It was cool, though. I like zones."

The real untold story for this series so far is the Lakers defense or lack thereof.

Artest, that great NBA analyst and philosopher, summed it up best, "It's the nature of this series. Everybody is scoring the ball. It seems like there's no defense being played." 

 

For all the talk about the Suns' crappy defense, the Lakers are giving up 116 points per 100 possessions compared to the Blazers (115.2) and Spurs (113.9). The Lakers were one of the better teams this season in defensive efficiency with the 4th best 103.7

So yeah, the Suns haven't been able to slow down Kobe and Pau, but the Lakers aren't exactly locking anyone down either and that's with Channing Frye's shot somehow Lost on a tropical island with the Smoke Monster (I haven't watch the finale yet, so no spoilers, but I really hope the Channing's three makes it off the island).

What do the Lakers think about their vaunted defense?

"We didn't do it very well last night, but I do think we have a handle and a feel for how we want to defend this team," Derek Fisher said with some measure of denial.

Fisher, by the way, had maybe a slight bump on his forehead thanks to Robin's elbow, which Fisher certainly thought was intentional. Can't argue with that. I asked Robin how his elbow felt and he just grinned. His back is perfectly fine by the way, and he said his wind and stamina are good, although Gentry said he's still only at about 70% recovered.

Fisher also reported this injury:

"I had a little red mark from Steve's nose last night. I didn't know until I left the building that his nose was actually broken. I hate that for him. I don't think it will effect his game much, but you never want to see guys injured in that way."

Nash, as I am sure you already know, was diagnosed with Nasal Alignment Malfunction Syndrome, but no one thinks a slightly crooked schnoz will slow down Steve Nash. Except maybe Phil Jackson, who somewhat hopefully pointed out how Manu Ginobili's play was affected by his run-in with Dirk's elbow.

Bynum says his knee is OK. Jackson seemed to agree after watching the tape. Everyone feels that it helps Robin to not have Bynum on the floor and playing effectively.

Back to the Lakers so-called defense. Gasol explained the problem in a bit more detail. I have to say Pau's English might be the best of any of the Lakers I've heard speak. Dude knows his grammar.

"He's a driver, preferably right, and he's an explosive player. It will probably take more than one player to take him away from his comfort zones and things like that. Especially because they run so much pick and roll that you are always keeping your body off of him. You are always trying to be aggressive with Nash, which is an important part of your success, but then the whole defense has to react to that and last night we were a little slow reacting to the penetration and to pick and rolls."

And finally, I can't leave you without mentioning this Phil Jackson remark, which you've probably already seen on TNT, NBA TV, ESPN and other numerous sources. But in case you are boycotting them ...

Asked about the high number of three-point shots his team took, Phil fired one across the bow of his team, "There's a reason some guys are open and those guys that were open and took some of those shots have to figure out why they are open."

Audio, for your listening pleasure

Gentry practice 052410

Artest practice 052410

Gasol practice 052410

Amare practice 052410

Fisher practice game 052410

Jackson practice 052410

Robin practice 052410

 

2010-05-24_11

Amare's warrior face. Shame on all of you who doubted him.

 

Links ... Lots and Lots of Links

See, these guys know bad defense when they see it, too ...

Lakers 109, Suns 118: What Is This "De-Fense" You Speak Of? - Silver Screen and Roll
In building a two-oh series lead in Los Angeles, the Lakers used a volcanic offense to hide some wanky D. They'd never really stopped the Suns' attack for more than brief stretches at a time, but the volume of their own points production made that failing irrelevant. Not tonight.

The ineffectiveness of Andrew Bynum puts the Lakers in a tight spot vs. Suns - Silver Screen and Roll
The Lakers do not have what you would call a deep roster, and nowhere is the roster thinner than at the top. It seems odd to consider the Lakers as thin in the post, since they have, without question, the best combination of bigs in the league.

Forum Blue And Gold " Lakers/Suns Game 3: Amare, Suns Finally Get In The Zone

2010 NBA Playoffs: The Phoenix Suns brought the Los Angeles Lakers back down to earth - ESPN Los Angeles
The Game 3 loss to the Suns may be just what the Lakers needed.

Robin Lopez plays unsung hero in Suns' Game 3 win - Chris Ballard - SI.com
"Truth is generally the best vindication against slander" -- Phoenix Suns locker-room whiteboard, prior to Game 3

Suns Get Gritty, Feisty in Game 3 Win -- NBA FanHouse
PHOENIX -- The eye was still black and blue, with subtle shades remaining from the Tim Duncan elbow Steve Nash had endured nearly two weeks

2010 NBA Playoffs: Los Angeles Lakers look like old selves against Utah Jazz - ESPN
After two games where the Suns' defense seemed non-existent, it was time to break out the zone.

Lakers' Lamar Odom on his bad game: 'It happens' - latimes.com
This guy is a clown

Lakers run into big problems in 118-109 Game 3 loss to Suns - latimes.com
So much for keeping up with the Celtics. The Lakers blinked before their Boston counterparts did,

The Suns’ Long Road - Off the Dribble Blog - NYTimes.com
If it is true that there is no place like home, then the Suns may have an excuse for opening the Western Conference finals with consecutive losses to the Lakers: their last home game was May 5.

Lakers’ Weakness Inside Is Exposed - Off the Dribble Blog - NYTimes.com
A 42-point explosion by Amar’e Stoudemire was much less surprising than it was timely, but a 20-point outburst by Robin Lopez was both. Against a Lakers frontline diminished by the inability of the ailing Andrew Bynum to stay on the floor

SUNS: Postgame Quotes: Suns vs Lakers Round 3, Game 3

Robin Lopez flashes polished offensive game, shows why his return means so much to Phoenix Suns| Valley of the Suns

Video: Stoudemire Talks About His Huge Game 3 Against Lakers -- NBA FanHouse
PHOENIX -- There's no question that Amar'e Stoudemire was the Hero of the Day in the Suns' Game 3 win over the Lakers. He put

Video: Steve Nash on His 'Rearranged' Nose, Stoudemire's Game -- NBA FanHouse
PHOENIX -- You may have seen Steve Nash messing with his nose near the end of the Suns' Game 3 win over the Lakers, and

NBA Dish: Amare Again Says He Hasn't Made Up His Mind About Next Season  - The Baseline - The Baseline - Sporting News
Like I’ve told you guys all season, I’ll play this season out and see how it goes and then try to make a decision this summer," Stoudemire told reporters, according to The Arizona Republic. "It’s still 50-50, and it’s always going to be that way until a decision is made." ...

Behind the Box Score, where Amar'e and the Suns were zoned in - Ball Don't Lie - NBA  - Yahoo! Sports
Comprehensive National Basketball Association news, scores, standings, fantasy games, rumors, and more

Phoenix Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire turns into Superman in Game 3
Phoenix Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire turns into Superman in Game 3, This is what the Suns wanted from star forward.

Phoenix Suns utilize zone defense in win over Los Angeles Lakers
Phoenix Suns utilize zone defense in win over Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix was a little shaky with the zone in Saturday's workout, but it did the trick Sunday.

Phoenix Suns beat Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of Western Conference finals
Phoenix Suns beat Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of Western Conference finals, Amar'e Stoudemire scored 42 points in the Suns' 118-109 win. LA still leads series 2-1.

azcentral.com blogs - Coro's Suns dish - PaulCoro - A hair-raising performance
Coro's Suns dish: Phoenix Suns update: The Suns were going to have go big to have a chance against the Lakers. That meant more of Robin Lopez or Channing Frye. Lopez played big. Frye shrunk. The most stunning part of Lopez's 20-point game would be that it was just his... />

NBA Playoffs, Lakers Suns Game 3: The Phoenix starters came up big on a rare off-night for the heralded reserves - ProBasketballTalk - Basketball - NBC Sports
The Suns' reserves have been the heart and soul of Phoenix's extended playoff run. Goran Dragic, Leandro Barbosa, Channing Frye, Jared Dudley, and Louis Amundson have each had their moment in the spotlight, with their collective shooting, energy, savvy, and synergy making all the difference for the Suns in these playoffs. That wasn't exactly the case in Game 3.

Phoenix Suns' Dan Majerle would be interested if Chicago Bulls call - ESPN Chicago
"Of course," he said to ESPNChicago.com before Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday night. "Yeah, I'm willing to listen to anybody."

2010 NBA Playoffs: Phoenix Suns' Robin Lopez happy on the fringe - ESPN Los Angeles
He doesn't need anything linking him with Diamond, a much-maligned actor who has become a punchline. But Lopez embraces the Screech comparisons, the loveable nerd played by Diamond in the hit 1990s TV show "Saved by the Bell." Lopez's Twitter-feed bio even says he's the "Screech Powers of the NBA." "He's a clever guy," Lopez joked. "Everybody from my era loves Screech."

Behind the Box Score, where Amar'e and the Suns were zoned in - Ball Don't Lie - NBA  - Yahoo! Sports
Comprehensive National Basketball Association news, scores, standings, fantasy games, rumors, and more

Phoenix Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire turns into Superman in Game 3
Phoenix Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire turns into Superman in Game 3, This is what the Suns wanted from star forward.

Phoenix Suns utilize zone defense in win over Los Angeles Lakers
Phoenix Suns utilize zone defense in win over Los Angeles Lakers, Phoenix was a little shaky with the zone in Saturday's workout, but it did the trick Sunday.

Phoenix Suns beat Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of Western Conference finals
Phoenix Suns beat Los Angeles Lakers in Game 3 of Western Conference finals, Amar'e Stoudemire scored 42 points in the Suns' 118-109 win. LA still leads series 2-1.

azcentral.com blogs - Coro's Suns dish - PaulCoro - A hair-raising performance
Coro's Suns dish: Phoenix Suns update: The Suns were going to have go big to have a chance against the Lakers. That meant more of Robin Lopez or Channing Frye. Lopez played big. Frye shrunk. The most stunning part of Lopez's 20-point game would be that it was just his... />

NBA Playoffs, Lakers Suns Game 3: The Phoenix starters came up big on a rare off-night for the heralded reserves - ProBasketballTalk - Basketball - NBC Sports
The Suns' reserves have been the heart and soul of Phoenix's extended playoff run. Goran Dragic, Leandro Barbosa, Channing Frye, Jared Dudley, and Louis Amundson have each had their moment in the spotlight, with their collective shooting, energy, savvy, and synergy making all the difference for the Suns in these playoffs. That wasn't exactly the case in Game 3.

Phoenix Suns' Dan Majerle would be interested if Chicago Bulls call - ESPN Chicago
"Of course," he said to ESPNChicago.com before Game 3 of the Western Conference finals on Sunday night. "Yeah, I'm willing to listen to anybody."

2010 NBA Playoffs: Phoenix Suns' Robin Lopez happy on the fringe - ESPN Los Angeles
He doesn't need anything linking him with Diamond, a much-maligned actor who has become a punchline. But Lopez embraces the Screech comparisons, the loveable nerd played by Diamond in the hit 1990s TV show "Saved by the Bell." Lopez's Twitter-feed bio even says he's the "Screech Powers of the NBA." "He's a clever guy," Lopez joked. "Everybody from my era loves Screech."

Even More Links

Introducing the Steve Nash Injury Index - Ball Don't Lie - NBA  - Yahoo! Sports

A look at the lousy quarter that gave the Suns new life - Ball Don't Lie - NBA  - Yahoo! Sports

Robin Lopez's Game 3 Offensive Outburst Is No Aberration - Eric Freeman - The Baseline - Sporting News
The transition to the NBA was not always easy for Lopez, yet the flashes have been there. Seth Pollack of Bright Side of the Sun has told me about the moment he became a Robin Lopez fan, a spin move he made during his first summer league that only a few post players in the league can consistently make.

Robin might have been drafted to supply defensive toughness for the Suns, but his offensive skill is a real and exciting part of his game. I don't mean to suggest that Lopez will become a 20-10 player or ever approach the scoring averages of his brother. But you should not be surprised by regular offensive outbursts like the one he produced last night, because that's just who he is. The Suns have a heck of a developing big man on their roster, and it's best that people recognize it soon.




Amare_believe_medium

WARNING: If you're not a LOST fan you may want to skip to after the jump.

42. It seems fitting that on the night when the iconic series LOST ended Amare Stoudemire would post 42 points. 42 is just a number but LOST has turned it (along with 4/8/15/16/23) into a mysterious icon...an enigma. LOST was a show that constantly provided more questions than answers much the same way Amare has for Suns fans. Both Amare and LOST have been a source of joy, frustration, glimpses of brilliance and subpar performances (LOST fans can never forget - no matter how bad they might want to - the Nikki and Paolo episode). With both, however, supporters have always been given reasons to feel vindicated for the endless arguments trying to convince others that each was great. Last night, on the night when LOST stepped away leaving (for the most part) fans satisfied, Amare unleashed his inner beast and helped bring the Suns back from the brink.

Going down 3 - 0 would have left little to no hope (just ask any Orlando Magic fan). However, being down 2 - 1 because of a game where our starters showed up and won the game even when our bench collectively took a dump on the court should have Suns fans believing again in our little team that has overachieved this season. There are many reasons why the Suns won last night (zone defense, Robin Lopez and Steve Nash's brilliant 1 turnover game are a few) but there's little denying that Amare Stoudemire carried this team last night. As the Philadelphia 76ers' new coach Doug Collins put it, Amare Stoudemire was the star among stars. Everything Amare did last night was great - and yes, I'm including the halftime question he so eloquently posed to Sir Charles Barkley - and if he can keep this fire lit we could very well be looking to head back to LA with the series tied 2 - 2 and all of the momentum.

That's the power of 1. 1 man (who just so happens to don the number 1). 1 game. I have long been a believer in Amare Stoudemire and last night he gave me reason to continue believing and Suns fans a reason to believe not only in him but in what this team...this team that before the season was predicted to be a quick out in the Playoffs if they made it there at all. As Hurley told Jack in last night's finale, 'I believe in you.' I believe in the Suns and I believe in Amare Stoudemire.


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