The LA Times’ J.J. Adande suggests that if the Lakers blow a 3-1 lead against the Suns, Los Angeles’ relative lack of playoff experience will be the key.
As I looked around the Laker locker room before Game 6, I noticed that the nameplates of Kobe Bryant and Devean George stood out from the rest of their teammates.
“Bryant” and “George” are written in longer, narrower letters, in the font that was used when the Lakers first moved to Staples Center. This isn’t a critique of the interior design but an observation of how few of the players on this team have been through the playoff battles that defined the Lakers in the first half of the decade.
It’s the first playoff series for Smush Parker (above) and Sasha Vujacic. It might as well be the first for Kwame Brown, who got the boot from the Washington Wizards midway through the opening round last year.
Want to know something the last seven visiting Game 7 winners had in common? Each team had advanced to at least the conference finals the previous year. Three teams were defending NBA champions. What location is to real estate, experience is to a Game 7.
It’s the Lakers’ biggest weakness, something Bryant and Jackson kept referring to Friday as they went over the mistakes of that devastating Game 6 loss.
One of the ways that experience shows is in consistency. The Lakers have not been able to sustain the patience on offense and the pressure on defense that allowed them to win three of the first four games in the series. And like an unhappy 3-year-old, they went back to clinging to their security blanket: Bryant.
Bryant’s taking 35 shots wasn’t the problem in Game 6, especially when he made 20 of them.
Bryant did try to give his teammates a crack at it. But Brown kept bobbling the ball and the Suns forced Luke Walton away from his preferred baseline spot, making him shoot in the middle of the clogged lane. The Lakers were slow and sloppy in getting into their offense, which kept Lamar Odom from setting up in the low post.
Oh, and Smush Parker didn’t want to shoot. Parker’s inaccuracy ” he’s three for 20 on three-pointers in the series ” and his growing reluctance to put up shots have reached the point that when Jackson was asked if he can continue to play Parker with this type of performance, Jackson said: “No. I can’t.”
I have no problem with Phoenix using Cedric Ceballos as their master of ceremonies before tonight’s tip-off, but can’t he at least wear a blindfold?
My sources tell me Queen James is set to be honored by the league with a complex opera of praise and thanksgiving based on the opening Vorspiel from Das Rheingold, with a libretto featuring transcribed moans from David Stern’s many LeBron centered wet dreamz, all sung in Spanglish by the hot or not chick from the Black Eyed Peas. Look for a bonus DVD featuring a rock version by Franz Ferdinand, a jazz version by Wayman Tisdale (above) and a free-skronk noise version by the newly reunited Harry Pussy!