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Sunday, April 15, 2007

Off-Key Jazz Silenced by the Suns, 126-98

IF the Suns can play like this during the NBA's postseason marathon then they will win the 2006-07 NBA title. That's a big "if," which is why I capitalized both letters. I still don't believe that it will happen--but the Utah Jazz might have been convinced after the Suns blasted them 126-98 on Utah's home court. Utah had won the previous three meetings between the teams this season but the Suns jumped on the Jazz right from the start on Saturday night, taking leads of 6-0 and 13-1. The Suns went up by as much as 15 before the Jazz pulled within five points with 8:12 left in the second quarter. People who claim to have been abducted by UFOs speak of unexplained missing blocks of time; I think that is what happened next in this game, because the score went from 36-31 to 68-44 faster than you can ask, "Is Phoenix this good or is Utah this bad?" (it actually took a little less than eight minutes to happen but I don't think that we can completely rule out the idea that aliens did something to the Jazz and/or the space-time continuum during this game)

Leandro Barbosa led the Suns with 28 points, while Steve Nash had 13 points and 18 assists. A night after shooting horribly versus the Lakers, the Suns connected at a .524 rate (43-82) from the field. Mehmet Okur had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the Jazz. On Friday night, the Jazz beat the league-leading Dallas Mavericks 104-89 in Dallas but prior to that the Jazz had just lost five straight games. They are battling with the Houston Rockets for home court advantage in their first round series, so they should hardly have been complacent about facing the Suns at home. Like the Jazz, the Suns were playing the second game of a back to back after winning the first game.

The way to beat the Suns is to pound the ball inside on offense and shut down the Suns' three point shooters. Granted, this is easier said than done, but Utah failed pretty miserably on both counts, not establishing an inside game until the Suns had a big lead and letting the Suns shoot 10-23 (.435) from three point range. The Suns also shot 30-31 (.968) from the free throw line. Jazz announcer Ron Boone, broadcasting the game for NBA TV, kept insisting that Utah would make a run and get back in the game but the Jazz never cut the margin to less than 19 in the second half. The Suns need one victory or one San Antonio loss to clinch the second seed in the Western Conference.

posted by David Friedman @ 1:26 AM



At Sunday, April 15, 2007 12:21:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

steve nash is brillant he makes the players around him better because without him, there a 45 win team rather than a 61 like right now kobe take notice of what nash is doing this what those other 5 players did wilt shaq, bird magic, jordan without them they were just average team. unfortunately the suns cant win a championship because of the way they play defense but it still is great to see what nash is doing he gets the ball to the right peole at the right time i dont think he could mes with kobe talent or as a player but he's way better in the intangible area that truly makes you great making players better and instilling confidence in them making them belive.

At Sunday, April 15, 2007 1:31:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Actually without Jordan they were a 55 win team.


And to say that the Showtime Lakers and 80's Celtics were average without Magic or Bird, is dumb. Those teams had multiple hall-of-famers and excellent role players. The Suns have two all star caliber players in Marion and Stoudamire, they have Bell, Barbosa, Diaw.

The Lakers have a malcontent who pouts when he doesn't get enough playing time in Smush Parker, an inconsistent-even with healthy-and injured player in Lamar Odom, a defensive player with questionable offense in Kwame Brown, a project in Andrew Bynum, Luke Walton, an energy guy with bad hips in Ronny Turiaf, a solid backup guard in Maurice Evans.

If you seriously think that the Lakers have talent on the level of any of those teams, you're mistaken. It has nothing to do with making players better. I hate it when people repeat that over and over. Yes you can help your team (and Kobe does, as without him they'd be a lottery team with probably among the worst records in the league), but you can't make lead into gold; just like you can't make bad teammates into good ones.

The only people who hold onto that illusion are people who ignore the stats and talent and go by what the fanboys say.

At Sunday, April 15, 2007 7:22:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

when magic came in the lakers were a average to a second round team 4or 5 years previoulsy those same players were there didnt win to magic came one person makeing an impact after magic left the lakers 91 by the way 91 no kareem old worthy a bunch of clowns still got to the finals he was 32 carrying that team. larry bird came to the celtics 79-80 celtics won 61 games they won 29 the previous season one player making an impact they had no mchale or parish then or those "excellent role players" they had pistol pete and old tiny archibald and win bird left in 93 they were terrible been terrible ever since . steve nash came to the suns win 62 games the previous year they won 29 games those same two all stars were on that team the year before but only mustered 29 victories thats one player makeing an impact. 1n 92-93 the orlando magic won 25 games more than they did the year before because of shaquille oneal and the heat won 17 more games in 2004-45 than 03-04 went to the eastren conference finals and last year won the championship because of one player and dont say wade without shaq they were 8 games under 500 they just went 17-6 with no wade. micheal was diffrent but he didnt play with no one like odom early in his career they sucked he still got 45 wins 86-87 though that was an atlanta hawks and memphis grizzles type team of couse later he got the six rings outside of pippen and rodman who was he playing with and rodman didnt score pippen wasnt a big scorer either. wilt impact wow member the 76ers were non existent after he left till dr j they won 9 games in 72-73 one player makeing an impact. kobe has more talent than all of them theres no excuse why you start 27-14 and then go 13-26 you know why you do because of the intangibles factor makeing them belive instilling confidence and being a leader he's terrible in that aspect of his game. mike tyson had more talent than ali ray robinson, sugar ray leornard, jack johnson all them he didnt have the mental toughnes intangibles thats why he's not better. kobe is mentally tough and all that but he has not instilled confidence in other players. temp and link and david are excellent basketball insiders dare i say but yall got to be as dissapointed as i am in kobe he's allowed this debacle to happen

At Sunday, April 15, 2007 7:55:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

In each of the examples that you cited you are ignoring many other factors that affected what happened. The Sixers dropped to 9 wins not only because of losing Wilt; they also lost Billy Cunningham, Luke Jackson and Chet Walker, plus Hal Greer reached retirement age. The Lakers were a strong team before Magic arrived and his skills put the team over the top. The year before Nash arrived the Suns had no point guard of any note at all during the second half of the season after Marbury was traded, plus injury problems. There are flaws with the other examples as well, most of which can be easily figured out by simply getting an NBA Guide and looking at which players played for those teams in the seasons in question. You are just looking at the arrival of the big name player and ignoring injuries, trades, coaching changes and other factors.

Steve Nash is definitely an excellent player who shoots very well and makes good passes. If you watch the Lakers games closely then you will notice that Kobe has to be constantly double-teamed or he will score 40-plus points. So his teammates are playing four on three. Bryant repeatedly gives up the ball and his teammates miss shots. Bryant was the leading playmaker on three championship teams, so he has shown that he can function very well on a championship team (something that neither Nash nor Nowitzki have yet done). Without Kobe, the Lakers would be the worst team in the league right now. Even with him scoring at record levels in the second half of the season their record is bad--and it's been a while since they've won a game in which he's scored less than 43 points. He has carried the worst team in the league to the brink of the playoffs (if Odom, Walton and others had been healthy all year I wouldn't say that the Lakers are the worst team but with both of them at less than full strength plus having Smush at point guard the Lakers are a pretty sorry team at the moment).

At Sunday, April 15, 2007 9:56:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

david theres flaws in your argument as well stephon marbury was on the team with the two all stars they won 42 games 02-03 not 62 as when nash came there go look at the nba guide you can find that out when nash wasnt in there this year they were 1-3 and looked very average. as soon as he came back they back on track running and gunning also you continue to dodge the shaq factor 17-6 with no wade he 35 years old everybody thought they had no chance of makeing the playoff because he didnt have wade he has the same roster as the lakers they didnt fall apart. i know youll say that shaq didnt play most of the season but yall didnt say that when wade got hurt you said there was no chance of they would make the playoffs thats carrying your team. i notice when kobe scores alot he doesnt get many assist i watch every game closely early when they was 27-14 he was usually takeing two or 3 shots the first 6 minutes or so getting alot of assists 8 or 9 usually a game. when he scores alot he tries shooting over 2 or 3 people he goes a little overboard sometimes in shot selection and he never has alot of asissts in those games this year or last usually one or two a game. nash and nowitzki can function on a championship team kobe is more clutch than them but they could function on a championship team i think dallas will win it this year plus it's always easier when you play with shaq to function on a championship team wade will tell you and of course of course kobe will tell you know aint nuthing like playing with shaq he knows that whole debacle was a mistake on his part and shaq but he's paying for it alot more now

At Monday, April 16, 2007 2:20:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Marbury is horrible. That's why they got rid of him. Every team he leaves gets better and every team he goes to gets worse. Amare was a rookie in '03 and not an All-Star--but you were not talking about '03. You said that Nash took the Suns from 29 wins to 63 and I said that you are giving Nash too much credit. The fact that they won 44 in '03 strengthens my point, not yours: that '04 team won only 29 games because they had so many injuries and because, as bad as Marbury is, the team had backups playing at starting point guard for the second half of the season (after Marbury was traded).

The four games that Nash has missed this year are too small of a sample size to prove anything. Most teams are worse when their best player is out; that doesn't mean that the Suns would play at a 1-3 pace for a whole year without Nash.

As for Shaq, go back and look at what I wrote. I specifically said when he came back and Wade got hurt that the team would do better with him and without Wade then they did the other way around. I never said that they had no chance of making the playoffs without Wade; in fact, I wrote exactly the opposite. Check out my March 3 post titled "Why the Heat Won't Miss Dwyane Wade as Much as Most People Think" (you can find it by going to the archives on the right hand side of the main page; links that are posted here in comments don't always work).

As for Kobe not passing when he has big scoring games, you are completely wrong. In my April 8 post titled "Suns Wear Down Lakers in Fourth Quarter" I listed the stats from Kobe's 16 40 point games this year. He averaged 4.7 apg in those games, which is more than most shooting guards. In addition, from the All-Star break until that post (which covers more than 16 games), he averaged 37.2 ppg and 5.2 apg. Furthermore, assists only tell part of the story. When Kobe is double-teamed on the block and passes the ball, teams rotate to that first guy. That player then passes and the second player has an open shot opportunity. If he makes the shot, then the guy Kobe passed to will get an assist, not Kobe--but Kobe is doing his job, as Hubie Brown pointed out more than once during the Suns game when he emphasized that Kobe gives up the ball and that the other Lakers must shoot when they are open.


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