The Los Angeles Lakers are known for making history in the playoffs, but it is usually a positive mark on history. Well, not this time.
As all of you probably know, and for sure all Laker fans know, the Lakers became only the eighth team in NBA history to blow a 3-1 playoff-series lead.
After barely losing game one, the Lakers impressively won the next two games and dramatically won game four when Kobe Bryant made two amazing shots after tremendous defensive plays by Smush Parker and Luke Walton.
That, however, was the highlight of the Lakers series because Los Angeles then went to Phoenix and got killed. Then they came back to Staples Center for game six, only to lose on a Tim Thomas three that pushed the game into overtime.
In that extra session, the Suns outscored the Lakers 21-13 to take game six, tie the series at three and send the series back to the US Airways Arena for game seven.
And in game seven, it was not close, as the Lakers lost by 31 points. Thirty-one points, Laker fans. Ten minutes into the game, L.A. was down by 15. It was nice for the Lakers to show up for game seven, after Bryant proclaimed the Lakers “would be fine.”
If you did not watch game six, let me tell you how it ended. The Lakers were up by three with 30 seconds remaining and Phoenix with the ball.
Instead of fouling the Suns to force them to make one free throw, miss the second on purpose, get the rebound and make another shot, the Lakers gave the league’s best three-point shooting team a chance to tie the game.
Even worse for the Lakers, they had a foul to give, which meant they could have fouled the Suns, forced them to take the ball out again, which would have run more time off the clock and put more pressure on Phoenix.
MVP Steve Nash missed a wide-open three-pointer but Shawn Marion, who had been outworked the whole series by Lamar Odom, outworked Odom, got the rebound and passed it to Thomas behind the three point line.
Thomas then faked out Kwame Brown and made the wide-open three-pointer with six seconds remaining.
Bryant then had a chance to win the game, but came up short and sent the game to overtime. Phoenix dominated overtime and won the game and basically the series.
Even though there was still another game to play, game six was where the Lakers lost the series.
Contrary to what other people are saying, this loss goes on the shoulders of Phil Jackson and not Bryant. I know most members of the media are saying that Bryant shot too many times in game six, but he had to. The rest of the Lakers could not score.
Jackson, who is supposed to be the greatest coach of all time, could not instruct his Laker team to foul the Suns, which would have forced more time off the clock because L.A. had a foul to give.
I know for a fact that it is much harder to make one free throw, miss the second on purpose, get the rebound and make another shot than it is to make one three pointer. Jackson, I guess, could not figure that out.
Not fouling a team when you are ahead by three has cost so many teams that it still amazes me that not everyone does it. It cost Washington a huge upset in the NCAA tournament and now it cost the city of Los Angeles the much anticipated “Hallway Series.”
Bryant could not have done anymore in game six to keep his team in the game, making incredible threes and other amazing shots. So it is unfair to blame him for that.
He was invisible in the second half of game seven, but even if he had scored 50 again, the Lakers till would have lost by more than 20.
Jackson came up with a brilliant game plan throughout the first four games of the series, but when it mattered most, he went brain-dead. The coach who could inspire anyone, could not inspire his team to win two huge playoff games. Maybe Michael Jordan and Shaquille O’Neal did have a lot to do with it, considering Jackson has not won a big game without at least one of them.
As for the Lakers, yes it is inexcusable to lose three games in a row when only needing one to win the series. But the better team won, which usually happens in a seven-game series. After being down 3-1 and costing his team a chance to win the series, Nash comes back and plays the best basketball of his life, which is why he is the MVP.
Justin Satzman can be reached at email@example.com.