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Thursday, May 03, 2007

Suns Sprint Past Lakers, 119-110

The Phoenix Suns eliminated the L.A. Lakers from the playoffs with a 119-110 home victory on Wednesday night. Last year the Lakers took a 3-1 lead against the Suns before succumbing in seven games--but this year the Suns have Amare Stoudemire, who had 27 points and 16 rebounds; his inside presence was felt throughout the Suns' 4-1 series victory. Shawn Marion added 26 points and 10 rebounds. Steve Nash contributed 17 points and 10 assists, but shot just 5-15 from the field and committed seven turnovers. The Lakers countered with a two-pronged attack: Kobe Bryant scored 34 points but shot just 13-33 from the field; he shot well in the first half but faded down the stretch, which was the case in four of the five games. He also missed practice on Tuesday due to a back injury that he suffered in game four, but his mobility did not seem to be affected in this game. The Lakers' other main weapon was Lamar Odom, who scored a playoff career-high 33 points on 13-21 shooting, adding 10 rebounds. Odom showed a lot of heart and a lot of grit in this series, continuing to play despite injuries to his shoulder, elbow and knee--and there is no doubt that his physical pain pales in comparison to the emotional pain from the death of his infant son last summer. Many of the Lakers can rightly be accused of quitting or being soft--but not Odom.

Bryant and Nash are their teams' respective leaders but neither really displayed his "A" game (as Tiger Woods would put it). The difference, of course, is Nash has two other All-Stars to rely on, plus Sixth Man of the Year Leandro Barbosa (18 points), All-Defensive First Team selection Raja Bell and versatile reserve Boris Diaw. A dramatic demonstration of this difference happened in the second quarter. Lakers' Coach Phil Jackson took Bryant out of the game at the 7:56 mark of the second quarter with the Suns leading 41-34. Just 1:45 later, the Lakers trailed 49-34 and Jackson had to put Bryant back in the game; he promptly converted a three point play to pull the Lakers back within 12 and they maintained that distance the rest of the half, trailing 64-52 at the break. Bryant scored 18 points in the first half on 8-16 shooting. TNT's Craig Sager asked the Lakers coaching staff if they could afford to give Bryant any rest in the second half and they told him that apparently they could not; Bryant played all 24 minutes in the second half.

Odom did most of his damage in the third quarter, scoring 16 points while Bryant struggled to find his shooting stroke during the period. Bryant finally made a couple jumpers, one of which cut the Suns' lead to 87-85. That was as close as the Lakers would get, though, as the Suns scored the final four points of the quarter. The Suns began to pull away in the fourth quarter and Bryant's mounting frustration boiled over, leading to a technical foul. He complained on several occasions that he was fouled when the Suns stripped the ball away from him, so it was only a matter of time until he got the technical foul. Nash made the resulting free throw to put the Suns up 105-91 with 6:46 left, but the Lakers made one more run, capped by back to back Bryant three pointers that trimmed the margin to 111-106 with 3:00 to go. Marion hit a jumper and Stoudemire split a pair of free throws to make the score 114-106 but an Odom layup and Bryant jumper sandwiched around two Nash free throws kept the Lakers in striking distance, down 116-110 with :50 left. The game concluded with three Suns' free throws and two missed three pointers by the Lakers.

During the TNT telecast, Doug Collins touched on some subjects that have been recently discussed in this space. He called Bryant "the most criticized great player in the NBA." Collins also said that he thought that Bryant may have made this year's All-Defensive Team more on his reputation than on his play this year, while Shawn Marion missed out on making the team because the voting is based on position (which hurts Marion because there are several standout defensive forwards). Collins is certainly right about the amount of criticism that is directed at Bryant and I made the exact same point about Marion's "snub"--he finished 12th overall, but behind several top notch forwards. Collins is certainly entitled to his opinion about how much "reputation" factors into All-Defensive Team voting but I don't buy this idea from him any more than I buy it from fans. The All-Defensive Team is voted on by head coaches, not media members. When Golden State Coach Don Nelson directs Baron Davis to attack Steve Nash in the post or has his forwards take the ball straight at Dirk Nowitzki he certainly knows who the weak links defensively are on those squads; there is a truism around the NBA that if you want to know who is the weakest defender on a team just watch who Nelson runs an isolation play against in the first half court set of the game. I would assume that if Nelson can identify weak defensive players then he can also identify good ones and I'm pretty confident that the other 29 coaches can do this too. Bryant did not barely make the All-Defensive Team; he is on the First Team, receiving more votes than any other guard. Why exactly would coaches be swayed by "reputation"? As for Marion, despite all the media hype about his defense, the coaches have never voted him to the All-Defensive Team; while Marion does face stiff competition at that position he also is frequently talked up by the media as a top defender, so if the coaches are voting by "reputation" then why has he never made the team? It's not because of Phoenix' bad defensive "reputation," either, because Raja Bell is on the First Team alongside Bryant. This whole "reputation" thing is just meaningless until somebody actually talks to a representative number of coaches and finds out their thinking on the subject of All-Defensive Team voting.

As injuries hit the Lakers during the second half of the season it became apparent that the team could only win when Bryant scored at least 40 points while shooting a good to excellent percentage--which is quite a burden for any player to carry. In the five games against Phoenix, Bryant averaged 32.8 ppg on .462 field goal shooting, .357 three point shooting and .919 free throw shooting. His field goal percentage was virtually identical to his regular season rate, while his three point and free throw numbers improved in the playoffs (field goal percentages tend to go down in the postseason because of tougher competition and because teams zero in on one team for several games in a row). Bryant also averaged 5.2 rpg and 4.4 apg, meaning he averaged 1.2 ppg more and .5 rpg and 1.0 apg less than during the regular season. Keep in mind that he sprained his ankle in the game two loss, the only contest in which he scored less than 31 points. Bryant's best performance came in game three: 45 points, 15-26 shooting from the field, six rebounds and six assists. Not surprisingly, that is the only game the Lakers won. The normally perceptive J.A. Adande of the L.A. Times wrote, "The Lakers' only victory in this series came when he made an effort to set up his teammates for shots in Game 3, rather than throw them the ball in desperation after getting caught in a double-team." That statement makes no sense because the reality is that the only game the Lakers won is the only game in which Bryant scored 40-plus points; in the next game he had nine assists (plus 31 points on more than acceptable 12-25 shooting) but the Lakers lost by 13--in other words, they needed him to get more than 40 points.

Adande offers this quote from Bryant on the current state of the Lakers: "I'll do whatever it takes to win. I've had to do a lot just to get us into the playoffs. I don't want to do that. I want to win championships. I don't want to be a one-man show, a team that goes onto the road, the opposition crowd wants to see me score 50 and lose. I'm not with that. I'm about winning. I want to win championships and win them now. So, they have some decisions to make" (maybe Bryant is listening too much to his critics, because the fact is that when he scored 50 points this season the Lakers went 7-3, so there were not that many instances of him scoring 50 and losing; the problem is that even he cannot score 50 points in enough games to push the Lakers to elite status).

The "they" that Bryant spoke of is, of course, the Lakers front office. Bryant had an extraordinary season in 2006-07, carrying an injured team into the playoffs; now the ball is in the hands of the Lakers front office and they need to make some exceptional moves of their own.

posted by David Friedman @ 6:31 AM


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At Thursday, May 03, 2007 8:28:00 AM, Anonymous Edwin said...

Nice observation, thanks.

At Thursday, May 03, 2007 9:08:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

the lakers suck no other way to put it nash is nash he led his team kobe tried he came up short nash got more help than kobe but he still makes his team go. i agree already with collins that he didnt deserve the all nba defensive spot and doug collins is not a kobe hater that says something to me. adande was right in one sense game 3 he was trying overboard to help his teamates he only took 10 shots in the firsthalf but his teamates the other games didnt come through so what is he supposed to do he had no help when he needed it odm inconsistent where was that all season the rest of the players you know the story. the lakers got to get a kg or jermaine oneal or artest to help this team is not going to win a ring but collins barkley and smith dont belive theres enough on the roster to get a big name guy so they in trouble i guess david

At Thursday, May 03, 2007 11:08:00 AM, Blogger marcel said...

just wondering since you used a tiger woods analogy him and jordan playing golf together who do you think is better woods or jordan to me they slightly overated they have alot more media today then when jim brown or willie mays played they get proped up as gods to sports and everybody belives it they both great just wondering your oiion i think steve nash is better than both nah im just kidding

At Thursday, May 03, 2007 7:42:00 PM, Blogger alternaviews said...

here's a post from a cnnsi.com message board:

"Kobe shot 13-33 in game five. The rest of his team shot 53%. Odom was hot (13-21), yet in the fourth quarter Kobe kept jacking up bad jump shots through contested double teams. Kobe had only 1 assist in the game, for the second time this series.

And you wonder why the Lakers have a hard time getting guys to play with Kobe?"

you are in love with kobe, but he is not an elite level team player; he is more of a novelty act and a great individual player.

it is impossible for others to develop without getting shots. that's why Caron Butler is good now, away from LAL

I have really tried to root for kobe. but today i read his on his official website (kb24.com) in the news section, where he rips his teammates and speculates on which ones will return -- this after he ended their season with 20 missed shots and 6 turnovers in a close game five.

how he can have his website ripping his teammates and speculating on their futures is vile and filthy -- esp. after he ended their season AND HE TAKES UP AN ENORMOUS AMOUNT OF CAP SPACE TO PREVENT THEM FROM GETTING BETTER COMPLEMENTARY PLAYERS

he is obviously the best individual player in the NBA, and maybe the best besides Jordan of all time; by this I mean that in a 1-on-1 game, or if you needed one star to play with high schoolers, you'd easily take Kobe among today's star or anyone else but MJ

but as a team player, I dont think you can serioulsy argue taht Kobe is a top 10 level player now. isnt it funny that his teammates are always the problem, allegedly? just a coincidence, right?

Shaq took Penny, Wade & Kobe to finals. Among them, without Shaq, they never won a playoff series.

Kobe is a very special talent -- ESPN's dream highlight reel. But a very mediocre team player who makes his teammates look bad.

great players make teammates look good. Jordan made Paxon, Kerr look great. Magic could've made the ball boy into an all-star candidate.

coincidence that every Phx Suns player, including such previous unkonwns as Diaw, now looks like a really solid player or ALl Star?

Kobe makes his teammates look bad, until we realize that they're not the real problem

this year is an epitome of his career -- great in exhibition, pickup style game (ALL Star MVP), but in team setting his shooting too much and turning ball over cost his team an elimination game that they could've won in playoffs

i shdn't write this on a kobe fan club website, i Know!

and hey, Kobe sells tickest & merchandise for LAL -- b/c he is a great spokesman for selfishness, and deep down we all want someone to tell us it is okay, no ADMIRABLE, for us to be selfish. if only that were true...

At Thursday, May 03, 2007 7:44:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

I don't think that Tiger or MJ are overrated. It is hard to say who is greater within his sport. For one thing, Woods still has several more prime years left. I think that if he breaks Nicklaus' record he will be widely considered the greatest golfer ever. MJ will always have to contend with Wilt, Russell and others for that title. It's hard enough just to compare basketball players to other basketball players, let alone to golfers or other athletes. At this point, though, I am more convinced that Tiger will be considered the greatest golfer than that MJ will be considered the greatest basketball player.

At Thursday, May 03, 2007 8:10:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...

Kobe has already won three championships. Funny how that is always left out, like those rings don't count. Coaches select him to the All-Defensive Team almost every year, but I guess they know less about basketball than random posters at cnnsi message boards.

Kobe is the only player about whom people take a referendum on every shot he takes and every game he plays. Yes, Game Five was not a great game for him overall--but the only game the Lakers won against Phx was when he had 45 points while shooting a great percentage and also distributing to his teammates.

Butler played one season with the Lakers. That year the team went through multiple coaches and Bryant missed 16 games due to injury. Butler is a young player who is continuing to develop. If anyone is at fault, it is the Lakers for trading him and only getting Kwame in return.

The statement that the Lakers have a hard time getting people to play with Kobe is not true. The Lakers have salary cap issues. Again, that is the province of management, not Kobe. Jermaine O'Neal has expressed interest in playing with Kobe, just to name one.

Doug Collins said that about three Lakers went into game five thinking that they could win. Kobe and Odom were obviously two of them and I frankly have no idea who the third was. Smush will be gone and it will be interesting to see if any team picks him up. The Lakers got little production from the center and pg positions this season. That is a fact, not an opinion. The Suns are very strong at those positions, to say the least, with Amare and Nash--yet four of the five games were competitive.

Kobe is the best player in the game today. Virtually everyone who knows anything about basketball acknowledges that, even if they believe that the MVP award should go to someone from one of the elite teams. To say that he is not even a top 10 player is completely absurd. I have already explained numerous times why Kobe is the best player: he is the most complete and most fundamentally sound player because he has no weakness. He can score inside and outside with a variety of moves, he rebounds, he passes, he defends and he is a good ballhandler.

Kobe is not a selfish player. He often passes out of double-teams. The problem is that his teammates do not want and/or cannot make those shots. That is why the ball keeps ending up back in Kobe's hands.

As for Nash and his effect on the Suns' players: he is a great point guard, so of course he delivers the ball on time and on target. However, Marion was an All-Star before Nash got there. Amare was drafted right out of high school, so it's not like he is a guy who has no talent. Barbosa is a player who gets a lot of his offense on his own because of his speed. The fact that Atlanta did not know how to utilize Diaw does not mean that he was a bad player before. By the way, Diaw seems to have regressed this year, doesn't he?

The Dall-GS series is not over but last year Dirk took the Mavs to the Finals without Nash. Dall replaced Nash with Jason Terry and got better. Is there any other MVP in history, let alone a two-time MVP, who could be adequately replaced by Jason Terry?

Kobe is not playing alongside even one All-Star. He leaves the game for less than 2 minutes and the Suns go on an 8-0 run. Kobe was not forcing shots or shooting a bad percentage in the first half. What happened in the second half of four of the five games is a combination of fatigue on his part because he can't come out of the game for even a minute and the fact that in the second half the Suns send their whole team against him. Last year in game seven Kobe passed the ball in that situation and then everyone said that he "quit." When he tries to split the double-team and shoot, then he is "selfish." He can't win, because the criticisms are not fair and stem from a lack of understanding of basketball.

By the way, Shaq and Wade combined to win one fewer playoff game than Kobe this year. Shaq and Wade won one championship in their first three years together under Riley; Shaq and Kobe won three titles together in their first three years with Jackson. Yes, those are different situations with players at different age levels but Shaq needed what Kobe provided at that stage in their careers. Shaq has lost more series in 4-0 sweeps than any other great player in NBA history.

At Thursday, May 03, 2007 9:58:00 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

"normally perceptive J.A. Adande"? Is this a joke?

Adande is a Shaq nutrider. He hates Kobe and takes every opportunity to spew misconceptions about Kobe.

Also, Kobe has a reasonable contract for a superstar, just like any franchise players in other teams.

Before Kobe gets a decent supporting cast, screw that not making his teammates better crap.

At Thursday, May 03, 2007 11:22:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

they scrutunize kobe like that because they feel he ran shaq out and it's a way to make him pay i belive as well it is unfair to scrutinize every shot as well they didnt scrutinize him like that when he played with shaq. tiger woods is great all day no doubt but dont jordan and woods get compared so much because they nike athletes and there so well liked and personality etc. to me bird and magic wilt a case could be made were as good as jordan in basketball just like bobby jones and jack nicklaus might of been as good as tiger. to make it like there the best and if you make a case for anybody else you commited a crime is the only thing i dont like thanks for your opion though

At Thursday, May 03, 2007 11:23:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Five more quick points:

1) Check out Sam Smith's book The Jordan Rules to read about what kind of teammate Jordan was in the years when his supporting cast was not quite up to snuff. Kobe's comments after the game five loss--in the heat of the moment, no less--are tame compared to how MJ spoke about and reacted to his teammates.

2) Speaking of Smith, here is his take on the Shaq-Kobe relationship (this is from Smith's recent mailbag, which can be found at the Chicago Tribune site; I'd post the link, but links don't seem to work in the comments section). Someone asked Smith about Shaq's subpar conditioning during his career and Smith responded: "I believe that was the true genesis of the Kobe-Shaq feud. Kobe is a serious player and was appalled he'd work so hard and see Shaq out of shape and doing little work, that he'd spend the season getting into shape. There were other issues later that caused the breakup, but Shaq plays basketball because he is big and it enables him to have the lifestyle he wants outside basketball. It has been a huge frustration to every coach he ever has had, but he's so unique and talented you'd accept what he did. Because when he played, no matter if it wasn't at top form, there was no one to handle him. He is a classic what if, though many big men don't like the game and were forced into it as kids. If Shaq had Jordan's desire and attitude, he'd probably be the best player in the history of the game and have won a title every year he played." Remember a while ago when I asked you how good would Shaq be if he had Kobe's mindset?

3) The idea that Kobe is holding back his teammates is ridiculous. Go back and read the article that I wrote for NBC about impact players and look at Kobe's offcourt numbers; when he is out of the game, the Lakers operate at a huge deficit. If his teammates had game, that would be a good time to show it; the fact is that, other than Odom, none of them can score without Kobe drawing double-teams. Heck, some of them can't score even with Kobe drawing double-teams.

4) Before Game Five, Phil Jackson said that his players have the attention span/intelligence of slugs or earthworms. Do you think that he was talking about Kobe or someone else?

5) If Kobe's shooting and scoring are such a negative then why do the Lakers have such a great record when he scores 40+ and 50+ points? Again, the Lakers went 13-5 in the '07 regular season when Kobe scored 40+ and 7-3 when he scored 50+. This is not a one year phenomenon either. In his career, the Lakers are 59-26 in his 40 point games and 15-6 in his 50 point games. The Lakers have thrived in his big scoring games, even dating back to the championship seasons.

At Thursday, May 03, 2007 11:27:00 PM, Blogger David Friedman said...


I don't read all of Adande's stuff but, from what I've seen, I think that in general he makes good points. If you read any writer long enough you will find that you agree with him sometimes and disagree with him on other occasions.

At Friday, May 04, 2007 12:14:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


You are right that good cases can be made for Nicklaus and Jones in golf and for Wilt, Magic and others in basketball.

At Friday, May 04, 2007 12:16:00 PM, Blogger marcel said...

kobe could play team ball he's desion making is what i question at times though if he's hot hell come down and fire everytime no matter how many guys is guarding him he's the best player in the league right now james is coming though

At Friday, May 04, 2007 3:03:00 PM, Blogger alternaviews said...

of course LAL wins when kobe scores 50 points ... but too often they lose when he TRIES to score fifty (by going 13 for 33, e.g.) and ends up with much fewer points

all year you said MVP is kobe (best player) or Dirk (best on best team). and I said Mavs arent clearly better than Phx based on a few extra wins, esp considering they split head-to-head with Phx and Phx lost a bunch of games that Nash missed. And you wouldnt relent from your strident position: Kobe or Dirk was MVP but not Nash.

Well, now let's see. Was Dallas really teh best team, based upon a few more wins than Phx and SanAn? Is Dirk really an MVP quality player? (No need to answer those...)

As for Kobe, I admitted he is best individual player -- skills, etc. But in a team sport, how do you showcase your VALUE by losing. They lost so many bad games to bad opponents this year, and had so few quality wins after January, that Kobe didnt have the chance to prove himself MVP.

And he didnt -- we'll never know if maybe LAL would've won a couple of his 30% shooting games, if he'd let Odom or Walton or others take a few more shots. Either way you can no more give Kobe regular season MVP after that season than you can give him Finals mvp this year -- team just wasnt good enough (and I admitted that if LAL won 45 or more, then I'd change my tune unless Nash outdid him down the stretch)

bottom line, Steve Nash does more for Phx than any other player for any elite team. He is the MVP, and the postseason has made that all the more clear.

He had 23 assists -- plus 17 points, all in 39 mins - in the pivotal game of LAL v. Phx, on LA's home court. that is MVP material

case closed

At Saturday, May 05, 2007 3:21:00 AM, Blogger David Friedman said...


Your statement that the Lakers lose when Kobe tries to go for 50 and shoots poorly is not supported by the facts. Kobe has stated repeatedly, including in interviews with me, that he takes what the defense gives him; he does not shoot more or less to prove a point or to win the scoring title or to outscore a certain player head to head. When he is in a position to score (single coverage or a double-team that he can split) then he shoots; when he is not, he passes. Those are not empty words on his part either; what he is doing is apparent to anyone who watches him play. People who harp on his assists totals clearly have not watched him play, because many times when he passes the ball is reversed before the shot it is taken, so he does not get an assist even if a basket is made. Assist totals alone do not prove or disprove what kind of passer someone is.

Jackson specifically and very publicly exhorted Kobe to shoot more in March because the Lakers' roster was so depleted; Kobe did so, had one of the best scoring months ever and basically dragged the Lakers into the playoffs singlehandedly. He did something similar in 2003 when Shaq was dinged up, racking up nine straight 40 point games. We have to separate missing shots from forcing shots. Kobe struggled to make shots in the second halves of most of the playoff games versus the Suns--but that does not mean that he forced shots. Granted, in some cases he did, but a lot of times he missed the same shots that he made in the first half and has been making for his whole career. EVERY great scorer forces shots from time to time, including Kobe; that is part of the job description. I define a "force" as being either low percentage relative to that player's skill set or a poor shot choice due to score, time or another player having a better shot opportunity. In other words, what is a "force" for one player is not a "force" for Kobe or T-Mac or Wade, etc. Still, even by my definition, all of the great scorers force shots at times.

The idea that Kobe's shot attempts are taking away from opportunities for his teammates is, by far, the most ludicrous idea that you have suggested here. Just take a look at Kobe's off court numbers; the team is garbage without him. Odom's game five performance was one of his best of the season not because Kobe is stifling him the rest of the time but because Odom is an inconsistent player who has no desire to shoulder a major scoring load night after night. That is one reason he has been in the league for quite some time on several teams and never been an All-Star. The Lakers center position consisted of Mihm, a possible starter who sat out the entire year; Brown, a career underachiever who battled injuries; Bynum, the youngest player in the league, who would have spent time in the D-League (the coaching staff has said this) were it not for the injuries to Mihm and Brown; Turiaf, a high energy bench player who can only be effective in short stretches. The Lakers point guard position consisted of Smush (likely the worst starting point guard in the league); Farmar, a rookie with some promise but also prone to mistakes; Shammond Williams, a career journeyman. The Lakers small forward position consisted of Luke Walton, a heady passer who does not score like most top flight small forwards and can be overwhelmed physically on defense--still, he has some value and his various injuries definitely hurt the Lakers; Maurice Evans, an energy player but a journeyman.

The fact that Bryant carried this group of players to the playoffs speaks volumes about his value.

I believe that the MVP should go to the best player and Kobe Bryant has been the league's best player the past two years ('06 and '07).

Dirk had a fantastic regular season this year and his numbers would have been even better except for sitting out some fourth quarters as the Mavs blew teams out. He was clearly the best player on the team that ran away with the league's best record. So, from that standpoint, he is a logical MVP choice. Nash, Duncan and LeBron James rounded out my top five this year. I've got Nash and Duncan in a dead heat, with LeBron a little behind them.

I agree with Barkley that Nash has a lot more help than Dirk does and obviously that applies even more when comparing Nash to Kobe.

Even if Nash turns out to be the best player in this year's playoffs--which I can pretty much assure you will not happen--that does not mean that he deserved the '07 regular season MVP. He did not have a better regular season than Dirk. Go back and look at any statistical system you like: Hollinger, NBA EFF, Roland Rating--Nash was not better in '07 than Dirk in any of those. If Nash does in fact play better than anyone in this year's playoffs and lead the Suns to the title then he will very much deserve--and undoubtedly receive--the Finals MVP. Of course, Nash will have to actually take the Suns to the Finals to win that award.

Nash's one big game in the Lakers series no more clinched a regular season MVP than Dirk's one atrocious game cost him the MVP. That is the same poor reasoning used by Awful Basket and False Bucket when they look at how Nash did in one game versus Dallas and then ignore how Nash and the Suns played for the next week and a half after that.

Also, two more random thoughts:

1) Golden State was, for various reasons, a bad matchup for Dallas. If Dallas had played anyone else in the first round, they certainly would have won. Admittedly, I picked Dallas to beat G.S. anyway but as soon as I saw the first game I said that it would take Dallas seven games to do so (unlike when Denver beat the Spurs and I said that the Spurs would quickly dispatch them; I could tell that Denver could not repeat what it did but that G.S. could play the same way again). We will see in the next round if G.S. is really a great team or just a team that really knows how to beat Dallas. By the way, when Kobe scored 43 in a late season win against G.S. I heard a lot of stuff about that not meaning anything because G.S. is not that good. Now that looks like a pretty decent win for the Lakers, doesn't it?

2) The Spurs are just as bad a matchup for the Suns as G.S. was for Dallas--and, of course, the Spurs are proven champions. Before Nash fans get all giddy about beating Kobe and the Lakers and about Dirk and Dallas losing they should wait to see how this round turns out. In about 10-14 days, Nash and the Suns are going to be on the same fishing boat with Kenny Smith that Dirk and Kobe are. Assuming that happens, will you change your MVP vote to Duncan? I mean, if you are going to base your regular season MVP vote on team success in the playoffs, then your choice might have to change every round. Would Dirk have been your choice last year until the fourth quarter of game three of the Finals? Dirk's team beat Duncan's and Nash's and had a 2-0 lead in the Finals. Dirk won a seventh game on the road in San Antonio and dropped 50 on the Suns in a critical game.

3) Kobe has already won more rings than Dirk and Nash will win, combined, in their careers. Yes, you can file that away and throw it in my face if I am wrong; I'm not worried. Kobe was an All-NBA and All-Defensive Team selection on those teams, so this is not like talking about Will Perdue's championship rings (all due respect to Perdue and to anyone else who is good enough to draw an NBA paycheck).


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