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Green: Big bad Lakers are bleeding

There’s a scene in the newest Iron Man movie, where Ivan
Vanko (played by Mickey Rourke) tells Tony Stark (played
by Robert Downey Jr.) “If you could make God bleed, people
will cease to believe in Him. There will be blood in the
water, and the sharks will come.”

The scene came after Vanko first challenged Stark and,
while he ultimately ended up in jail, he got Stark to
doubt his invincibility, which led to self-destructive
tendencies for our hero.

Well, all blasphemy aside, the Suns, in losing to the
Lakers, did make them bleed, and the manner in which they
did it will undoubtedly have the Lakers questioning
themselves.

I know it’s tough right now to be optimistic. Many of us
thought the Suns needed to win Game 5 in LA to have a shot
at winning this series because it was difficult to foresee
any scenario where they could go into Los Angeles and win
a Game 7.

I was one of them as recently as tipoff Thursday night,
but by the time Ron Artest’s shot fell through the net I
was no longer in that camp.

The Suns made a great
comeback and had a legitimate shot to steal a game on the
road and, if they had done so, would have had a chance to
close out the series and earn a berth in the NBA Finals
Saturday night in Phoenix.

But, in typical Phoenix sports heartbreak fashion, Jason
Richardson’s three-pointer left just enough time on the
clock for Kobe Bryant to miss right into Artest’s hands.

Side note: The media will talk about how Artest gets to
go
from goat to hero, and that’s all well and good, but if
there is any karma in this world it surely would not come
to rescue Ron-freaking-Artest. Seriously, have you ever
seen a dumber basketball player? But I digress.

As disappointing as it was to see the Suns lose a chance
at overtime, we must remember that the best-case scenario
had the two teams playing another five minutes. Would the
Suns have won? Maybe, but there was no guarantee.

Side note #2: At least it wasn’t Bryant making the
game-winner, as that would have led to 48 hours of “Kobe
is the greatest clutch player ever” and other irrational
fawning from the national media. He’s a great player, no
question, but the way his game-winners are treated is
ridiculous.

Rant over, the only thing we did know was
that there would be a Game 6 in Phoenix, regardless of
Thursday’s outcome, and the Suns would likely need to win
it to have a chance at knocking off the defending champs.
So, where are we now?

Well, the Suns still need to win Game 6 to have a chance
at knocking off the defending champs.

The silver lining in this dark cloud is that the loss, as
heartbreaking as it is, did not end the Suns’ season.
There will be another game Saturday, and I think we all
know this team will not fold up shop, as it is easily the
most resilient Suns team in recent memory. You’d have to
be to come back from a large deficit on the road in a
place where you haven’t played well in roughly three
seasons.

And that, my friends, is why I’m confident that the Suns
can still win this series. In games three and four they
proved they had the talent to beat the Lakers in back-to-
back games. In Game 5 they proved they can bounce back and
give themselves a legitimate chance to win in Los Angeles,
where the reeling Lakers needed a fortuitous air ball to
avoid possibly blowing a large lead, in their own
building, in the Western Conference Finals. While I have
no doubt the Suns’ confidence is not (and likely cannot
be) shaken, you better believe there is some doubt in the
minds of the Lakers.

So, as you spend the next couple of days wondering about
what could have been, focus on what still could be. As
long as the Suns take care of business Saturday they will
get another shot at the Lakers in a building that they now
believe they can win in.

The Suns may not have defeated the Lakers, but they have
made them bleed, made them question their invincibility –
even in the Staples Center.

Adam can be reached with your questions and comments by
e-mail

here.
, and you can follow him on Twitter @theAdamGreen