Memo to myself — it is not over until the fat lady sings or in this case until the Lakers figure out how to beat a zone defense.
What a difference a week makes.
Last week I had written the Phoenix Suns off for dead after two embarrassing losses to the Los Angeles Lakers, in which the defending NBA champions shot 59% from the field, got mammoth performances from Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, plus a huge Game 1 from Lamar Odom and a solid Game 2 from Jordan Farmar.
The Suns had no answers for the Lakers length, no ability to slow down their high powered offense and the Suns’ two stars Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash were held in check.
Stoudemire was held in check so much that after a total of nine rebounds in the first two games the criticism was raining down on him from coast to coast.
The question at the time wasn’t if the Lakers were going to reach the NBA Finals it was how soon would they polish off Phoenix. Would it be a sweep or would the Suns get a game and go down in five.
The thought of Phoenix winning four of the next five games against the Lakers seemed like a pipe dream. And Phil Jackson had been a remarkable 46-0 when leading a series 2-0 in his career.
So excuse me if I thought the series was over because it sure seemed that way.
Now, all bets are off.
The Suns responded at home, tied this series and, turned it into a Best of three. They have also caused panic in Los Angeles, put the halts on the Celtics-Lakers talk for the time being and climbed within two victories of reaching the NBA Finals for the first time since Charles Barkley could see his toes.
The Suns played so well in these last two games that the sound you are hearing are the brakes being put on the bandwagon because it needs to slow down so all the fans and myself can hop back on.
But before we get ahead of ourselves let’s remember one thing — the Suns are going to have to win in Los Angeles to win this series and thus far the road teams have played four awful games. Phoenix was bad in the first two games and the Lakers were not very good in the last two games.
Maybe, just maybe, this zone defense that is forcing the Lakers to hoist up long-range bomb after long-range bomb, another 28 three-pointers attempted Tuesday night after 32 were jacked up Sunday, could be the difference in the series.
Maybe the awakening of the Phoenix bench which scored 54 points and dominated Game 4 could swing the pendulum in Phoenix’s direction.
Maybe there really is something special about this group of players who didn’t even make the playoffs last season.
Or maybe destiny is on their side.
There is still two more big wins to get and it won’t be easy. But we learned a valuable lesson about this team in the last three days — do not count them out because they certainly never counted themselves out when everyone else did.