By the end of the third overtime against the Suns on Tuesday, it was almost exactly 11:00 pm PST. The game had lasted 3.5 hours. Being 2:00 am on the east coast, it made me wonder how many people, if any, actually stayed awake to see the end of the game.
In all honesty, the game should have never have reached even the first overtime. The Lakers lead by as much as 21 points in the 3rd quarter, but by the middle of the 4th quarter the Lakers found themselves in the middle of a legitimate contest. The Lakers left the door open for Phoenix in regulation and it caught up with them in the end. Lamar Odom’s three-point foul kept that door open, allowing Channing Frye to tie the game and extend it into more overtime. Poor offensive possessions and shot clock management by the Lakers seemed to give Phoenix as much opportunity as possible to stay in the game.
While the Lakers will need to address those details between now and the playoffs, last night’s triple overtime victory was the best thing that could’ve happened to the Lakers at this point in the season.
Phoenix is in a dog fight for the last and final playoff spot in the West. Every possessions matters to them right now. Every win in crucial. They are giving each of their opponents their very best effort right now. This shouldn’t be anything new to a team like the Lakers, the two-time defending champions. They get every team’s best effort on a nightly basis because teams like to see how they stack up against the NBA’s reigning champion and favorite to three-peat.
But Phoenix wasn’t playing to see how they measured up. They played on Tuesday for mere survival. They played out of complete desperation. They played as if that was their elimination game from a playoff series. While it seemed to me the Lakers were in large part to blame for letting the game go on that long, it was important for them to come out on top of a dog fight before the big dogs come to play in April and May.