It took a few possessions for Ron Artest to go from goat to hero. A rare occasion where a player can literally steal the show and become the man of the hour with a 2-9 shooting performance. However, you have to tip your hat to Artest for being a professional and continuing to play as well as doing the little things that win games. Ron-Ron officially became a Laker by a timely rebound and put back game-winning basket.
Kobe said it best by stating, “We allowed the tying three because we didn’t box out; they lost the game because they didn’t box out.” Despite way too many mental lapses, the second put back shot heard around the world in the Playoffs for the Lakers allowed the Purple and Gold to remain undefeated and improve their record to 19-0 when a series is tied 2-2.
A win is a win and I’ll take it, but it should not have been that close. The Lakers played solid defense for the majority of the game and seemed to lose focus at the end. Also, lost in the joy of a miraculous win, is the fact that the squad blew an 18-point lead… at home.
The Lakers are in position to close out the Suns in Phoenix. The Lakers have won 8-of-last-9 close out games, the only loss coming in Game 6 at Houston last year.
The back-court has really come through, as evidenced by Kobe averaging nearly a triple double. Kobe has missed three triple-doubles in the past three games by one rebound, three rebounds and one assist, respectively.
Derek Fisher has been huge as evidenced by his 22-point effort on Thursday night, his second highest total since dropping 27 on the Orlando Magic in December. It won’t be an easy task, but in my opinion this is a must-win game. The Lakers have to make a few more adjustments to accomplish this task.
The keys to victory are defense and rebounding. In my opinion, both were instrumental for a victory in Game 5.
The Lakers using dribble penetration were much more aggressive against the Suns zone defense and that has to continue. The Lakers have to stop relying on jump shots and get to the basket. This aggressiveness should allow them to get to the free throw line more. The Suns have been giving the Lakers three-point shot opportunities and the they have failed to knock them down. If the Lakers were knocking down their three-point shots this series would be over.
The Lakers have to be active, play with high level of energy and intensity. Defensively they have to continue to make Steve Nash a scorer against the bigs to limit him from getting his teammates involved. The Lakers need to continue to switch on the Suns pick and roll plays. They have to play defense without fouling and hold the Suns bench in check. The reserves have to make an impact. Also, they need to control the tempo, stop the dribble penetration, do a solid job of defending the pick and roll plays, get back in transition, and extend their defense out to the three-point line.
The Lakers have not played a solid road game in this series and I feel that it will happen tonight. Head Coach Phil Jackson said it best when asked about the team’s mind state going into tonight’s game, “We don’t plan to lose three times on their court. We’re not going over there to fill a date, we’re going over there to win a game.”
Tip-off: 5:30 PM PST
Los Angeles: TNT
* Los Angeles: 710 ESPN (Spero Dedes & Mychal Thompson)
* Phoenix: KTAR 620 AM (Al McCoy & Tim Kempton)
- Ron Artest (Left Heel Bruise/Sprained Left Thumb)
- Shannon Brown (Sprained Right Thumb)
- Kobe Bryant (Avulsion Fracture, Right Index Finger)
- Andrew Bynum (Small Tear in the Meniscus of his Right Knee)
- Sasha Vujacic (Severely Sprained Left Ankle)
- Luke Walton (Pinched Nerve, Back)
- D.J. Mbenga ( Retinal Surgery, Left Eye)
- Robin Lopez (Back)