May 5th: "Lakers lose the 6th in O.T." "Game 7 Previews."
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Phil
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 7:25 am    Post subject: May 5th: "Lakers lose the 6th in O.T." "Game 7 Previews."

Too Much Sun in L.A.
City's dream of Laker-Clipper playoff series stays on hold as Suns win again to force Game 7
By Mike Bresnahan, Times Staff Writer
May 5, 2006

A city waited, but never celebrated.

The Lakers still can't call on the Clippers because of the Phoenix Suns, a lingering problem that's growing larger by the quarter, putting up so many points in so little time and sapping the soul from Staples Center with a 126-118 overtime victory against the Lakers Thursday in Game 6.

The Suns tied the best-of-seven series at 3-3 and reminded everyone how they beat the Lakers in seven of the teams' last eight regular-season meetings: They ran and ran, and then ran some more.

Steve Nash had his way with the Lakers, scoring 32 points and delivering 13 assists. Leandro Barbosa, filling in for the suspended Raja Bell, had 22 points.

Kobe Bryant countered with 50 points, the fourth-most in Laker playoff history and 21 more than he scored in any other game this series. Lamar Odom had 22 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists.

It wasn't enough. Game 7 is Saturday in Phoenix. Road teams are 17-75 in Game 7s in league history.

Laker Coach Phil Jackson was already setting the table, drumming up the Lakers-as-underdogs theme.

"There's a lot at stake," Jackson said. "For them, terrific comeback for them. For us, it's a monumental upset."


Last edited by Phil on Fri May 05, 2006 7:05 pm; edited 1 time in total
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 7:26 am    Post subject:

Lakers: Suns haven't set yet
Phoenix forces Game 7 with overtime win
BY ROSS SILER, Staff Writer


They had a three-point lead with less than 30 seconds left in regulation, playing on their homecourt with a chance to close out their Western Conference first-round playoff series against a team playing without its suspended guard.

The opportunity lost for the Lakers in Game 6 Thursday night was staggering to comprehend, but it started there and ended with the Phoenix Suns heading home with a 126-118 overtime victory and the chance to save their season.

Tim Thomas connected on a 3-pointer off a wild play to tie the score at 105-105 with 6.3 seconds left in regulation, and the Suns went into overtime and more than avenged those two last-second shots Kobe Bryant made at the end of Game 4.

Phoenix was playing without the suspended Raja Bell and dealt the Lakers a collective clothesline takedown with the victory. The odds will not be with the Lakers for Game 7 Saturday night at US Airways Center.

Just consider that road teams are 17-75 all-time in Game 7s. The last time the Lakers played Game 7 on the road, though, they left Arco Arena with a victory over Sacramento in the 2002 Western Conference finals.

"At night, when you go to the bathroom, you don't stand there and look at what you just dropped in there," Bryant said. "At some point, you've got to flush it."
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 7:29 am    Post subject:

The Lakers are Sun damaged
Los Angeles' 3-1 lead goes up in smoke as Phoenix forces a decisive Game 7.

BY KEVIN DING
The Orange County Register


The Lakers' Kobe Bryant shows his frustration after missing his final shot in regulation.

KEVIN SULLIVAN, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER
MORE PHOTOS
WEB EXTRA
Did you see that?
Better than Raja
Unlike Raja Bell, who wouldn’t initiate a pregame handshake with Kobe Bryant even before the Game 5 incident, fill-in Phoenix starter Leandro Barbosa went over and patted Bryant hello before the opening jump ball, scored 22 points and made a mega-steal with 2:43 left in overtime.

Bench surprise
Grant in aid
With a depleted Suns roster and Shawn Marion foul trouble, Brian Grant - being paid almost $30 million this season and next not to play for the Lakers -- got to play the last 2:51 of the first half. He missed two foul shots, but drew a Bryant charge and avoided letting any wads of $100 bills fall out of his high black socks.

Thumbs up
The Thomas guide
It takes some cold blood to miss two gigantic shots with your team losing and then come back and stroke the third one the way Suns forward Tim Thomas did. Thomas’ three-pointer with 6.3 seconds left wound up forcing overtime.

KEVIN DING/The Register
LOS ANGELES – The Lakers' storybook tale is now on the brink of a train-wreck of an ending.

They were one Kobe Bryant shot away from that ending being deliriously happy again. Instead, Bryant missed at the regulation buzzer, and the Phoenix Suns jetted to a 126-118 overtime victory at Staples Center on Thursday night.

The Lakers are on the brink of becoming just the eighth NBA team in 161 league playoff series to lose after holding a 3-1 advantage. Game 7 is Saturday night in Phoenix, and the Lakers will have to reconstruct a defense that fell to pieces in Games 5 and 6.

"They definitely got things going," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said of the Suns, "and they're playing with the momentum."
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 7:30 am    Post subject:

Lakers' lead disappears

No OT magic this time as Suns rally, force Game 7

01:05 AM PDT on Friday, May 5, 2006

By BRODERICK TURNER
The Press-Enterprise

LOS ANGELES - The Lakers had caught Phoenix, had a chance to win their first-round playoff series, and had the ball in the hands of Kobe Bryant for another potential game-winning shot.

However, Bryant, who had won the fourth game with a dramatic shot the previous game at Staples Center, came up short on a desperation attempt at the end of regulation Thursday, and the Suns went on to win Game 6 in overtime, 126-118, to force a decisive seventh game.

There was a time when the Lakers had command of this series. Not any more.

The Lakers lost the big edge they had battled for, failing to close the best-of-seven series both at home and on the road.

Now they head back to Phoenix for Game 7 Saturday, having lost two of three there. The winner advances to play the Clippers in the second round. The loser goes home for the summer.

Both teams are looking at joining the history books.

Only seven times has an NBA team wiped out a 3-1 deficit and come back to win a series. The Suns are looking to become the eighth.

The Lakers seek to become just the fifth seven-seeded team to upset a second seed since the NBA went to its 16-team playoff format in 1984.

"A terrific comeback for them to be able to do it," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "For us, it's a monumental upset" if it happens.
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 7:32 am    Post subject:

Suns run in OT, force Game 7
Series shifts back to Phoenix for Game 7 Saturday

Paul Coro
The Arizona Republic
May. 5, 2006 12:00 AM

LOS ANGELES - The Suns' locker room was euphoric through the exhaustion as they relived Tim Thomas' three-pointer that put Game 6 in overtime and the deluge of seven straight made Suns shots in overtime that gave the Suns a 126-118 victory over the Lakers.

Then, Steve Nash walked it and told everybody, "Guys, calm down. We're only up 4-2 and we've got another game to go," referencing how they felt Game 4 was stolen from them to set up the scenario of needing to win three straight games.

Now, the Lakers will find out what it is like to play a game under the diress of win or go home. With the series tied at 3, the Suns are a Saturday home win away from what seemed darn near impossible quest at the start of week - become the eighth team in NBA history to win a series after being down 3-1.

Phoenix now has a date with destiny: Game 7, 5:30 p.m., US Airways Center. And Raja Bell, suspended for Thursday's game and watching at a L.A. restaurant full of Lakers fans, can come along this time because Shawn Marion got a piece of Kobe Bryant's game-winning try at the end of regulation.

"It was amazing," Bell said. "It was kind of surreal. I don't have kids so this is the proudest I've ever been. I'm struggling for words. That was bigtime. I'm more emotionally drained than if I had played the game."
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 7:34 am    Post subject:

Suns burn Lakers in overtime to force Game 7
By Jerry Brown, Tribune
May 4, 2006
LOS ANGELES - Just a stone's throw from Tinseltown, the Suns followed the kind of script even a Hollywood producer might find too outlandish to swallow to push their wild playoff series with the Lakers to the distance. Look for Suns-Lakers VII, opening Saturday night in Phoenix.

With three players who were projected starters in training camp — Amaré Stoudemire, Kurt Thomas and the suspended Raja Bell — all unavailable, the Suns marshaled what was left of their forces and threw everything they had at the Lakers, using an incredible 32-point, 13-assist performance from Steve Nash and 22 points from patch-in starter Leandro Barbosa to turn back the Lakers 126-118 in overtime, sending Jack Nicholson, Denzel Washington, Penny Marshall and 19,000 other Staples Center fans home without the Thursday night party they were expecting.

“We lose people to injury, to suspensions, we’re too small and all that, but we just show up and we play you all night long,” said Nash, one of four Suns to play at least 46 minutes. “Leandro comes in and give us what we need, Shawn Marion was a monster — it’s the kind of team you're proud to play with.”
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 7:35 am    Post subject:

Loss Really Throws Off Belief System
May 5, 2006

There he stood, on the sidelines, late Thursday night, gesturing for an exhausted team and a frustrated city.

Jack Nicholson, sunglasses tight, but fingers waving, desperately trying to hex the Phoenix Suns into finally giving up.

"Yeah, we saw him, it was hilarious," said the Suns' Tim Thomas. "And you know, he got us once. But we got him back. And it was a big one."

A giant one. A stunning one. A series-cracking one?

Six seconds from a victory, the Lakers lost.

Moments after another incredible Kobe Bryant shot, the Lakers blew it.

Shortly after chasing the Suns into an overtime, the Lakers collapsed.

They're going to need more than a Joker's tricks to survive now.

The Suns have tied this Western Conference first-round series at 3-3 after a 126-118 overtime victory in Game 6 at Staples Center.

Their best hope can be found in the wisdom of Bryant's best toilet humor.

"When you go to the bathroom, you can't stand there and look at what you just dropped," he said afterward. "At some point, you have to flush."
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 7:37 am    Post subject:


L.A. can't answer the bell

BY STEVE DILBECK, Columnist

No last-second heroics. No dramatic comeback. No control of the series. Maybe no all-Los Angeles playoff series.

In a game the Lakers very much needed to win, their game escaped them, and so to in the end did Thursday's Game 6 to the Phoenix Suns.

The Lakers strained all night to find their game, to take advantage of Raja Bell's absence, to seize the pace of the game.

They did well enough to force overtime, where it was the Suns hitting the big shots, exerting their will, taking command of the game, and just maybe, the series.

The Suns got a huge shot they never should have had on a 3-pointer from Tim Thomas with

6.3 seconds to play in regulation, saw Kobe Bryant's jumper at the buzzer miss and then rolled in OT for a 126-118 victory.

"We had it all done but crossing the T's," coach Phil Jackson said.

Now the first-round series heads back to Phoenix for Saturday's Game7, the most dramatic of playoff situations, a final game in the Arizona desert, before orange-clad fans, with Bell back, the momentum clearly swung to the Suns.

"It's going to be fun," Kobe said. "I'm looking forward to it. Game 7s are always fun."

After seemingly taking command of the series by winning three of the first four games, the Lakers are now in the most perilous trouble of their season.

"We didn't have enough to push it over the top," Jackson said.
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 7:38 am    Post subject:

Suns Have Answer for Kobe

10:00 PM PDT on Thursday, May 4, 2006

GREGG PATTON

It was Kobe Bryant's time.
Silvia Flores / The Press-Enterprise
Even 50 points from Kobe Bryant were not enough to help the Lakers beat the Suns.

Then it wasn't.

When it came time for Bryant to be Bryant, and hit the toughest clutch shots -- it didn't matter.

Phoenix had an answer every time. Stunningly -- almost as shockingly as the Lakers one-for-the-ages victory on Sunday -- the Suns struck back with a killer of a win of their own Thursday night.

Phoenix, its season 6.3 seconds from ending, wouldn't go away. Just like the Lakers on Sunday, the Suns found life where there wasn't. They pushed a sure-loss to overtime and -- all the way back to Arizona for a Game 7 on their home floor.

Bryant finished with 50 points. It may as well have been five.

He launched a jaw-dropping three-pointer in the final two minutes of regulation as the 24-second clock expired to give the Lakers a 103-102 lead, and followed that with another bucket with 30 seconds to go to put them up 105-102.
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 7:39 am    Post subject:

Phoenix regains advantage

JEFF MILLER JEFF MILLER
Register columnist
jmiller@ocregister.com



LOS ANGELES – In the end Thursday - the very end, the last end, not the end that only led to overtime - this playoff game wasn't about the Suns lacking Raja Bell. It was about everything else the Suns possess.

Steve Nash's brilliance. Leandro Barbosa's sudden dead eye. Tim Thomas' ability to arc arrows from beyond the three-point line.

And now Phoenix again owns the two most important things of all - momentum and home court.

Lakers-Clippers - It wouldn't be the Freeway Series, it'd be the Hallway Series, the teams' locker rooms in the same corridor. - will have to wait. Perhaps for two days. Perhaps for many seasons to come.

Because, for the first time in 72 hours, this series wasn't about unmanly acts or macho words or, mercifully, Bell's genitals. It was about players having to make plays for their teams' survival, about a Game6 that felt like a Game7.
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 7:40 am    Post subject:

Lakers notes: Barbosa gets Bryant
BY ROSS SILER, Staff Writer

The first reaction for Lakers coach Phil Jackson after learning Wednesday about the NBA's decision to suspend Phoenix guard Raja Bell for Game 6 was to assume the Suns would start forward Shawn Marion on Kobe Bryant.

But Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni elected to start guard Leandro Barbosa on Bryant instead, preferring not to shuffle his forwards and keep Marion on Lamar Odom and Boris Diaw on Kwame Brown.

"Shawn will guard him some," D'Antoni said. "But we need speed. We can't put Tim Thomas in and not L.B. because it will slow us down. We want James Jones to start. I can't get Boris Diaw in foul trouble so he doesn't need to be on Odom.

"There's a lot of factors involved."

Marion's long arms and athleticism make him one of the NBA's best defenders. Barbosa, on the other hand, gives up almost three inches and 40 pounds to Bryant and has been posted up by bigger players like Luke Walton all series.

"We respect the ability of Leandro to score," Jackson said. "He's a terrific guard. He's got great speed and as you know he's a terrific 3-point shooter. We know that he can pick it up on the offensive end, relieve (Steve) Nash a little bit of the ballhandling duties.

"We know that it changes up and that's one reason I made the statement ... that we'd just as soon have (Bell) here because it changes them up enough to give us a little different look."
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:25 am    Post subject:

Barbosa was Suns' only choice

By JANIS CARR
The Orange County Register

LOS ANGELES – For Suns coach Mike D'Antoni, there wasn't any question which player would start in place of the suspended Raja Bell.

Guard Leandro Barbosa was his choice. There wasn't a Plan B.

D'Antoni said he was confident Barbosa could contain Kobe Bryant, or at least disrupt the Lakers guard long enough to keep him from leading his team to victory Thursday.

The Suns coach was partly right.

Bryant scored 50 points, but the Suns prevailed with a 126-118 overtime victory that forces a Game 7 on Saturday in Phoenix.

"If LB (Barbosa) comes out and plays unbelievably, it won't make any difference," D'Antoni said.

Barbosa scored 22 points on 7-of-9 shooting from the field and 6 of 7 free throws. He wasn't the only Suns player who had a big night.

Steve Nash scored a team-high 32, and Shawn Marion added 20 as the Suns continued their attempt to become the eighth team in NBA history to erase a 3-1 deficit and win a playoff series.
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:27 am    Post subject:

Suns' Bell Is There in Spirit
By Mike Bresnahan, Times Staff Writer
May 5, 2006

Phoenix Sun guard Raja Bell wasn't at Staples Center, as per league rules for suspended players, but he watched Game 6 from the swank team hotel in Beverly Hills and was still part of the festivities, in a sense.

Laker Coach Phil Jackson disputed Bell's version of their Game 5 sideline chat, saying he did not use an expletive while critiquing Bell's defense. Then, for extra measure, he reiterated his assertion that Bell had been unfairly hounding Kobe Bryant throughout the series.


"He impedes," Jackson said. "In hockey, we call him a shadower. Wherever he's at, he's in his way, impeding progress, and he's taking a dive once a game to draw an offensive foul and taking a couple charging fouls. Kobe knows he's got to be careful around him all the time. He just doesn't have a free space to work with."

Before Bell was officially suspended by the league, Jackson said a few times he wanted him to play. But Jackson acknowledged criticizing Bell for physical play earlier in the series.

"I told him that before, during the course of the series, that I don't know how you get away with what you do," Jackson said. "I don't know why Kobe hasn't knocked you down before in this situation because he is hanging all over him."
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:28 am    Post subject:

No Bell for Suns

Broderick Turner

10:00 PM PDT on Thursday, May 4, 2006

LOS ANGELES - Though Kobe Bryant averaged 42.5 points against the Suns during the regular season, it wasn't for lack of defensive effort by Phoenix guard Raja Bell.

Bell has played more hard-nosed defense against Bryant in the first-round playoff series, but his clothesline of Bryant in Game 5 and the following one-game suspension kept him from playing in Game 6 Thursday night at Staples Center.

Bryant and Bell have been in each other's face, pushing and shoving, neither willing to back down.

"He's always there," Coach Phil Jackson said of Bell. "He impedes. In hockey, they call him a shadow. So wherever he's at, he's in the way, impeding his (Bryant's) progress, and he's taken a dive once a game to draw an offensive foul and taken a couple of charging fouls.

"So Kobe knows he's got to be careful around him all the time. He just doesn't have a free space to work with."

Leandro Barbosa, who started in place of Bell, is smaller and not as strong as Bell and not as good a defender. But the Lakers know Barbosa poses a threat on offense.

"We respect Leandro's ability to score," Jackson said. "He's a terrific guard. He's got great speed and is a terrific three-point shooter. So we know that he could pick it up on the offensive end and relieve (Steve) Nash a little bit in the ballhandling duties."
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:30 am    Post subject:


Lakers: All that talk put on hold

BY VINCENT BONSIGNORE, Staff Writer

Hold all that talk about a Lakers-Clippers Hallway Series at Staples Center. The Lakers have some major business to take care of in Phoenix first.

And the way the Suns have played the past two games, the Clippers might want to check out flight plans to the Valley of the Sun.

A 3-1 Lakers lead over the Suns in the first round of the playoffs has suddenly deteriorated into a 3-3 tie. Now, the Lakers have to go to Phoenix on Saturday for a seventh and deciding game.

The Suns made sure of that Thursday, unleashing a flurry of fast break dunks and three-point daggers at a stunned group of Lakers in a 126-118 overtime victory at Staples Center.

A Suns team that was reeling after the Lakers ripped their hearts out last Sunday in overtime victory bounced out of Staples Center on Thursday buoyed by the prospects of returning home for Game 7 in Phoenix.

"We just continue to believe in each other and continue to stick together," Steve Nash said. "That's the biggest thing we've done."
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:31 am    Post subject:

Baylor Scoffs at Rivalry

10:00 PM PDT on Thursday, May 4, 2006

JIM ALEXANDER

EL SEGUNDO - Elgin Baylor's jersey hangs from the wall of Staples Center -- his Lakers jersey.

Yet for the past 20 seasons he has been associated with the Clippers as their general manager. Thus, you'd think that Baylor, of all people, would have an appreciation of the relationship between LA's franchises, and a sense of how historic, how unique a playoff meeting between the two would be.

Nope. He doesn't want to hear about it. And not just because when he spoke Thursday afternoon, the Clippers' second-round opponent was still undecided.

"Rivalry?" he said with a laugh, when asked if the rivalry between franchises meant anything to him. "Not really. To me, you're just playing another team. We want to beat everybody we play. That's the way I look at it.

"People are saying rivalry. I don't think it could be a rivalry. It's (potentially) the first time we've played 'em in the playoffs. Normally, you get teams that play each other (in the postseason), like when the Celtics would play the Lakers, and they'd consider that a rivalry."

More Lakers Ties

In addition to Baylor, only Coach Mike Dunleavy and assistant Jim Eyen have ties to the other team in town.

Dunleavy was the Lakers' coach for two seasons, reaching the Finals in 1990-91 and getting back to the first round the following year after Magic Johnson's retirement. Eyen was a Lakers assistant for Pat Riley's last season and Dunleavy's two, then followed Dunleavy to Milwaukee, Portland and the Clippers.
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:48 am    Post subject:

NBA Playoffs: 50 From Kobe Not Enough As Lakers Lose To Suns

POSTED: 3:15 am EDT May 5, 2006
UPDATED: 4:40 am EDT May 5, 2006

Suns 126, Lakers 118 (OT)

LOS ANGELES (Sports Network) - Tim Thomas' three-pointer sent the game into overtime and the Suns used a big run in the extra session to beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 126-118, to force a Game 7 in their Western Conference quarterfinal series. Kobe Bryant had a playoff career-high 50 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but missed a potential winning shot at the end of regulation in Game 6 for the seventh-seeded Lakers. The Lakers held a 3-1 lead in the best-of-seven set, but are now headed back to Phoenix for the deciding contest Saturday night. The Lakers are in danger of losing a couple of monumental streaks. They are 27-0 in a series when leading 3-1 and no Phil Jackson-led team has ever lost a playoff series when leading in 44 tries. Steve Nash scored 32 points and dished out 13 assists for the Suns. Thomas, who hit a three with 6.3 seconds left in regulation, ended with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Leandro Barbosa, replacing the suspended Raja Bell, tallied 22 points for Phoenix. Barbosa guarded Bryant most of the game since Bell was suspended after knocking Bryant to the floor in Tuesday's contest. Shawn Marion scored six of his 20 points in OT and pulled down 12 rebounds for the Suns, who used a 13-2 spurt in the extra period. Lamar Odom narrowly missed a triple-double with 22 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers.
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:50 am    Post subject:

Suns refuse to set


LOS ANGELES (AFP) – Steve Nash scored 32 points and Tim Thomas hit a 3-pointer to force over-time, lifting Phoenix over the Los Angeles Lakers 126-118 Thursday to level their National Basketball Association playoff series.

Seconds from elimination, the Suns rallied to ruin a 50-point performance from Kobe Bryant to force a decider Saturday at Phoenix. The Suns can become only the eighth NBA team to win a best-of-seven series after trailing 3-1.


“We hung in there. We’ve gone through a lot of adversity,” Nash said. “We hung in and kept playing. We just stuck with what got us here.”

Thomas, coming off back-to-back 3-point misses, evened the game at 105-105 with a shot from beyond the arc with 6.3 seconds to play in the fourth quarter, following up a Nash miss with the only Sun basket of the last three minutes.

“I rushed my 3,” Nash said. “Timmy sidestepped his man and made a big shot.”
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:53 am    Post subject:

Suns 126, Lakers 118, OT
Posted: Friday May 5, 2006 12:02 PM


LOS ANGELES (AP) - Tim Thomas felt some of the Los Angeles Lakers tightened up down the stretch.

He didn't.

Thomas made two huge 3-pointers, Boris Diaw and Shawn Marion each scored six points in overtime, and the Phoenix Suns beat the Lakers 126-118 Thursday night to force a Game 7 in the first-round Western Conference playoff series.

Kobe Bryant scored all but one of the Lakers' 13 points in overtime, and finished with a career-playoff high 50.

But it was all for naught, and now, the much-anticipated Battle of L.A. is in jeopardy.

Game 7 will be played Saturday night in Phoenix, where the second-seeded Suns beat the Lakers 114-97 to send the series back to Los Angeles for Game 6. The home team has a 75-17 advantage in NBA playoff Game 7s.

"Our place is going to be crazy on Saturday,'' Thomas said.
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:54 am    Post subject:

Vote: Is the Lakers-Suns series the best you've seen?


This is arguably the best first round the NBA playoffs has ever seen. There's been lots of scoring, great finishes, a large dose of physical play and, of course, strong individual efforts.

But if you had to pick one series that's stood out from the rest, it's certainly been that of the No. 2-seeded Phoenix Suns and the No. 7-seeded Los Angeles Lakers. Steve Nash, the league's repeat MVP, against Kobe Bryant, who some feel was more deserving of the honor this season.

Raja Bell is not one of those willing to give Kobe MVP love; and even with him suspended for Game 6 in Los Angeles, the Suns were able to avoid elimination in a thrilling overtime victory. Bell will return for Game 7, so what can we expect? And who will win this fantastic series?

Answer the questions below and see how your answers compare with the rest of SportsNation.
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 10:56 am    Post subject:

Lakers Not Sticking to the Script

Taken to the brink

In what was supposed to be the final game before they began their series to reclaim LA from the rise of Clipper Nation, the Lakers forgot one thing. The Phoenix Suns... Yeeeah, the SUNS... remember them? Apparently the Lakers didnt. The game 5 asswhuppin that was put on them in Phoenix (literally and figuratively) wasnt enough to get them to stick to the script that has them one win away from a historic second round date with the Clippers instead of reelling from a 126-118 OT loss.

This was not what we were supposed to be writing about. This seems all to eerily familiar. Kobe goes for 50? Wait that's not good. Too much Kobe is not good. This is not what this city was waiting for (in spite of what the ratings guys at the networks and in the NBA office think).

The script: Play solid D. The Suns go over 100 points for the second straight game. In the three Laker wins the Suns never sniffed triple digits. In the three losses? 102, 114, and 126. Do you see a trend? Nash goes off for 32 points on 14 shots and 13-13 free throws. He was going to the bucket and hitting shots almost at will, aching back and all. Smush and his smushy D made him look like he actually deserved that MVP trophy. Ugh...
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 11:00 am    Post subject:

Dream series in danger
By Ross Siler Staff Writer


Kobe Bryant reacts after being called for a foul during the first half against the Suns Thursday evening at Staples Center as referee Dick Bavatta makes the call. (Will Lester/Staff Photo)
• Photo Gallery: 05/04: NBA Playoffs - Lakers vs. Suns
• Photo Gallery: 05/04:NBA Playoffs - Lakers vs. Suns

LOS ANGELES - They had a three-point lead near the end of regulation, playing on their home court with a chance to close out the playoff series against a team playing without its suspended guard.

The opportunity lost for the Lakers in Game 6 on Thursday night was staggering to comprehend, but it started there and ended with the Phoenix Suns scoring a 126-118 overtime victory and gaining the chance to save their season.

Tim Thomas connected on a 3-pointer off a wild play to tie the game 105-105 with 6.3 seconds left in regulation. The Suns went into overtime and more than avenged those two last-second shots Kobe Bryant hit at the end of Game 4.

They were playing without the suspended Raja Bell and dealt the Lakers a collective clothesline takedown with the victory. The odds will not be with the Lakers for Game 7 on Saturday at US Airways Center.

Just consider that road teams are 17-75 all-time in Game 7s. The last time the Lakers played Game 7 on the road, however, they left Arco Arena with a victory over Sacramento in the 2002 Western Conference finals.

Only seven teams ever have come back from down 3-1 in a series in NBA history, but Phoenix will have the chance to be the eighth. Meanwhile, the Clippers wait and wonder about a Hallway Series that looks less likely by the day.

"There is a lot at stake," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "For them, it would be a terrific comeback. For us, it would be a monumental upset."
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Phil
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 1:59 pm    Post subject:

Suns find surprising answer for Kobe

By GREGG PATTON
The Press-Enterprise
05-MAY-06

LOS ANGELES -- It was Kobe Bryant's time.

Then it wasn't.

When it came time for Bryant to be Bryant, and hit the toughest clutch shots _ it didn't matter.

Phoenix had an answer every time. Stunningly _ almost as shockingly as the Los Angeles Lakers one-for-the-ages victory on Sunday in Game 4 of their NBA Western Conference first-round series _ the Suns struck back with a killer of a win of their own Thursday night.

Phoenix, its season 6.3 seconds from ending, wouldn't go away. Just like the Lakers on Sunday, the Suns found life where there wasn't. They pushed a sure-loss to overtime and _ all the way back to Arizona for a Game 7 on their home floor Saturday.

Bryant finished with 50 points. It may as well have been five.

He launched a jaw-dropping three-pointer in the final two minutes of regulation as the 24-second clock expired to give the Lakers a 103-102 lead, and followed that with another bucket with 30 seconds to go to put them up 105-102.

But the Suns had a team of Kobe Bryants all lined up.

Tim Thomas did his impersonation first, hitting a three-pointer with 6.3 seconds left to tie. When Bryant's lean-away shot at the buzzer fell short, the Suns were alive.

In overtime, Bryant did what he does _ he went to the basket and put the Lakers ahead. Boris Diaw answered with one of his own.
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 3:47 pm    Post subject:

Game 7 gamble: Why are the Lakers falling apart?

By Brian Covert
Fri, May 5, 2006

Jack Nicholson was stunned. Don Magic Juan (Snoop Dogg’s “spiritual” adviser) sat motionless.

The Los Angeles Lakers had just lost Game 6 to the Phoenix Suns 126-118 as 4-point favorites, completely erasing any mental advantage from their 3-1 advantage four days earlier.

To make matters worse, the Lakers now must head back to Arizona for a decisive Game 7 Saturday as 6-point underdogs.

What was most surprising to observers was how the Lakers lost, seeming to abandon their slow-tempo strategy that had been so effective in Games 2 through 4. The result has seen the Suns rediscover their offensive mojo, averaging 120 points and covering their last two meetings after scoring 94.3 points and dropping the cash in each of the previous three games.

“They definitely got things going,” Lakers coach Phil Jackson told the Orange County Register, “and they`re playing with the momentum.”

But while it is easy to pass the problem off as Phoenix finally finding a solution to the Los Angeles defense, and therefore requiring only a couple of tweaks by Jackson to solve it, there may actually be a greater, more unsolvable issue than that.

The Lakers are one of the league`s youngest teams boasting a starting lineup with an average age less than 26 years of age. And it is the youth of this starting lineup that unfortunately revealed itself at the most crucial times in Thursday’s loss.
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PostPosted: Fri May 05, 2006 6:00 pm    Post subject:

Preview: Lakers at Suns

Associated Press
Fri, May 5, 2006

GAME: Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns.

PLAYOFF SERIES: Western Conference first round; tied 3-3.

TIME: Saturday, 8:00 p.m. EDT.

LINE: Oddsmakers have set the Suns as 6-point home favorites, the total is set at 206 1/2.

Point guard Steve Nash believed the Phoenix Suns could react positively or negatively after falling behind 3-1 in their first-round series to the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Suns have responded with two wins, forcing a decisive Game 7 at US Airways Center against the Lakers.

Phoenix tied the series at three games apiece with Thursday`s 126-118 overtime Game 6 victory at Los Angeles despite a playoff career-high 50 points from Kobe Bryant.

``When your backs are against the wall, you can react two ways,`` said Nash, who led the Suns with 32 points and 13 assists. ``Obviously, we`ve reacted positively. There`s been some great games - a lot of drama as well, a lot of controversy.``

Tim Thomas forced overtime by making a 3-pointer with 6.3 seconds left in regulation, and Boris Diaw and Shawn Marion each scored six points in the extra period.
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