With more than a middleman’s share of things to be said regarding the Lakers’ egg laying performance in Game 4 against the Suns, there’s one thing that we can quite honestly cease discussion of.
It was not the Phoenix zone that bamboozled Phil Jackson’s offensive game plan. I was listening to 710 ESPN following the game and a listener echoed the sentiments of Phil and Kobe in saying that the Lakers scored 109 and 106 points, respectively, in the last two games – more than sufficient to win a playoff game under more conventional circumstances. That circumstance of course being, if the Lakers were to actually play some solid defense.
Following the game, Kobe kept it short and sweet in saying, “We lost the game because our defense sucked.”
Our defense let this one get away in a hurry. The Suns jumped all over us in the fourth because for whatever reason, we continuously allowed ample airspace space to Channing Frye, Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley, each of whom drilled dagger threes to tie the series up at 2-2.
Our infamous bench played hookie on us as well last night, getting mercilessly pummeled and outscored 54-20. The Lakers will go nowhere and fast at that, if the second unit does not find their rhythm and execute consistently, both offensively and defensively.
Time and time again, our players were out-hustled and out-muscled (big surprise), especially on the boards, giving up 18 offensive rebounds to the spirited Suns. Overall we were crushed on the glass, 51-36, and just when we all thought that perhaps Pau Gasol had finally quelled all of the talk of him being soft, Robin Lopez and Amare Stoudemire made him look about as rigid as a peanut shell.
I don’t know if anyone else caught it, but during the fourth quarter, the camera flashed to a shot of Gasol following Jared Dudley’s monster three that put the Suns up nine, and he looked uncomfortably discouraged. It’s as if he knew that he had been pushed around and could already feel the wave of criticism that had already begun during the game.
Individually, Pau definitely did not play up to his postseason standard of 11.8 rebounds per game, but Andrew Bynum did not do his part either. With each passing game and lackluster outing, Bynum is fueling the fire amongst detractors who believe that his decision to play on a torn meniscus, while admirable, is ultimately detrimental not only to his long-term health, but the Lakers’ chances at repeating this year.
Like I said a couple of days ago, put the Boston talk to rest because if we continue to play this hapless defense and fail to crush the Suns on the boards as we did in games 1 and 2 of this series, not only will we not defeat the Celtics, we will not even be fortunate enough to have the chance of playing against them.
NEXT: The Kobe Effect