The Phoenix Suns won 100-92 and return to Phoenix for a showdown on Tuesday night.
And any analysis following an event like Suns-Lakers Game 4 in Los Angeles on Sunday needs instinctive advice.
The Phoenix Suns tied the series at 2 in a memorable Game 4, with momentum jumps, dramatic injuries and some Lakers superstar leaving his team.
Here are some of the intrigues to unravel:
The Phoenix Suns are a dirty team.
It took root when Devin Booker sent a (approx) 120-pound Lakers goaltender flying through the air Thursday in what certainly wasn’t clean, nor could it be described as a basketball game.
When Jae Crowder made a much less dangerous foul on LeBron James on Sunday, the Twittersphere were furious.
Ha. The most whiny segment of Lakers fans must have jumped on this topic (in the absence of legitimate analysis).
The opinion: Similar to Monty Williams’ post-game comments (he chose not to address the ‘narrative’), we have no reason to believe that there is anything other than the anxious desperation of the Lakers fans driving this one. this.
Phoenix Suns field leader Chris Paul convinced Williams he could go – then showed everyone what the regular-season Suns can do.
Williams had decided to have Paul sit down, but was convinced in a very intense and emotional conversation earlier Sunday to allow Paul to prove that he was healing – and that it was necessary for his team to be successful.
Williams said if Paul’s teammates had seen the conversation, “it would have given us even more juice today.”
Paul was also uncertain ahead of the game and said he discussed the decision with Booker and Crowder. “I told them,” he said, “if you all feel like I look like trash, tell me and I’m off.”
Williams added: “He’s been working his cock for years to be in this moment and I don’t want to be the doofus trainer to take that off.”
The opinion: Monty Williams is the opposite of a doofus coach. He is the best coach in the game right now and is constantly making measured, strategic and smart decisions.
The Phoenix Suns players just showed more courage and envy than the Lakers – AD injury or not.
At the end of the third quarter, Williams replaced Torrey Craig and matched Craig with Marc Gasol to the five.
In about 37 seconds, Craig gave a major boost.
With just over 90 seconds to go in the third and a 75-64 lead, Craig:
- 1:37: Blocked Markieff Morris to recover a rebound.
- 1:24: Gasol distracted (or maybe Gasol just did that), allowing Chris Paul to take him to the rim for a layup.
- 1:10: Thwarted the Lakers’ later possession by simply being more difficult when Gasol posted him on the low block, bringing Gasol back.
- 1:05: Performed a spectacular block on Kyle Kuzma during that same possession after LA performed a high screen which caused Craig to switch to Kuzma.
- 1:00: His block triggered a quick break that ended with a Jae Crowder layup and a 79-64 Suns lead.
- 38.3: Gasol knocked out, uh, got removed from lineup.
A free throw from Morris and two free throws from Paul made it 81-65 for the fourth quarter.
The opinion: Torrey Craig should be used even more – albeit to the detriment of Frank Kaminsky, who hasn’t provided much.
The Phoenix Suns and Los Angeles Lakers don’t get much quality from the referees – something Suns fans are familiar with this season.
“We have to forget about officiating first,” Lakers coach Frank Vogel said in his interview with ABC ahead of the fourth quarter.
The opinion: Hahahahaha. The Lakers were getting the small end of the stick? Puh-leeeeze.
And it wasn’t like the officials hadn’t tried. An “and-1” call to the Suns that dunked LeBron almost came true – luckily, the more sane manager dissuaded the LeBron-loving official from his decision.
The Phoenix Suns, who held an 18-point lead with 10 minutes remaining, made just enough good decisions and found just enough offense to stifle the Lakers’ return.
There were several suggestions for how the Suns could win Game 4, but it came down to training, skill and execution – as well as intensity.
During a segment at the microphone, Williams urged his team, saying, “But we have to have crazy possession poise right now. Every possession counts.
A Booker 2, Daniel Caruso 3, Cavalier Paul, Gasol 3, then a free throw from James left the Suns with a seven-point lead. After a Crowder miss of 3, Paul provided a huge lift.
Gasol tampered with a pass, dragging Paul into the air. When Paul extended his left arm, Gasol shot the pass to Wesley Matthews with a right angle bow. Paul then extended his (injured) right arm and deflected, then stole, the pass.
“Everything clicks a bit better with ‘3’ on the pitch,” Crowder said afterwards.
The opinion: Memories of 100% health were rekindled when Paul punched Deandre Ayton for a traffic lob, buried a patented CP3 elbow jumper.
The Phoenix Suns are no slackers; the Lakers sometimes quit.
Do you want an example ? Take a look at LeBron on the next possession. With 1:33 to go, Dennis Schroder missed a layup and Ayton bounced back. James put his head down, shoved Ayton behind his back (no call, because, you know, LeBron), and then… BOUDÉ !!
The game wasn’t over – at all, as most Suns fans would attest – but James simply gave up. He and Schroder stayed in the backcourt (Schroder finally arrived – too late) as the Suns put on a nice quick break that resulted in a Crowder 3 to push back the lead to 10 with 1:23 to go.
The opinion: Not good looking, although James was quite capable of taking the field back on Tuesday night. But that’s for another day. At present, after stopping the “King”, game 4 is over.
The Phoenix Suns are not going to go away.
NBA-TV’s Steve Smith: “I felt the passion of Chris Paul… I’m all about the Phoenix Suns.
His co-hort Ryan Hollins: “With or without Anthony Davis, the Suns have surpassed the Lakers. “
The opinion: Devin Booker didn’t have to overdo it and, with or without AD, this series is definitely back.