May 6th: "Not Even Close: Suns Rout Lakers in Game 7" Pre and Post game Atricles.
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Phil
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:36 am    Post subject: May 6th: "Not Even Close: Suns Rout Lakers in Game 7" Pre and Post game Atricles.

Jackson's Patience Has Limits
By Mike Bresnahan, Times Staff Writer
May 6, 2006

The margin for error being so slim, Smush Parker will get fewer minutes tonight if his shooting slump continues.

Laker Coach Phil Jackson was not ambivalent when asked if he could stick with Parker as long as he did in Game 6. Parker, who has made only three of his last 24 shots, had two points in 42 minutes Thursday, when he missed all five of his shots from the field.

"We'll have to make some changes if Smush doesn't rise to the occasion," Jackson said. "We believe that Smush can. He's turned himself around after a couple of bad games during the regular season. That's why we've kind of believed in him."

On his fourth team in three NBA seasons, Parker became a national name after his Game 4 steal helped push the Lakers to victory. But present-day reality has the Phoenix Suns leaving him wide open, as he was when Kobe Bryant air-balled a potential game-winner at the end of regulation in Game 6.

The Suns have thrown double teams at Bryant and Lamar Odom, often daring Parker to make a shot. Parker passed up numerous possibilities in Game 6. Those he took, he missed.

"I think they know that Smush's confidence is not all there right now, so they're leaving him a little bit," Bryant said. "Smush just has to shoot the ball. That's something we talked to him about. Just let the ball fly. Just stay aggressive. It just means you're due."

If Parker falters, Sasha Vujacic will get more minutes. Vujacic made eight of 11 three-point shots in the first four games of the series but has scored a total of two points over the last two games.


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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:38 am    Post subject:

Experience Says the Answer Is at End of the Road
May 6, 2006

Well, I can't say there's no way the Lakers win Game 7 in Phoenix. Not after I spent all day Thursday saying there's no way there will be a Game 7 in Phoenix.

If the Suns could overcome the daunting tasks of playing without starting guard Raja Bell and having Dick Bavetta officiate a game in which the NBA would benefit from the home team's winning, then the Lakers have a chance to beat the overwhelming odds that favor home teams in Game 7.

A chance. Not a big chance, but a chance.

"It could happen," Lamar Odom said. "Sports … anything can happen."

Start with the one thing the Lakers have in their favor: the best playoff road performer of this era.

"Whatever the game demands, Kobe's going to rise to the occasion," Phil Jackson said.

Combine that with the knowledge that the Lakers played well enough to win in two of the previous three games at US Airways Center, and there's the wick and wax for the candle of hope burning in Laker Land.

Even though those are only two things going for them, it's more than what's going against them. But that one is a biggie: their inexperience.

As I looked around the Laker locker room before Game 6, I noticed that the nameplates of Kobe Bryant and Devean George stood out from the rest of their teammates.

"Bryant" and "George" are written in longer, narrower letters, in the font that was used when the Lakers first moved to Staples Center. This isn't a critique of the interior design but an observation of how few of the players on this team have been through the playoff battles that defined the Lakers in the first half of the decade.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:40 am    Post subject:

Lakers like Jackson's spin
The coach says the pressure might be on Phoenix, not his team that missed on two closeouts.

By KEVIN DING
The Orange County Register


With the series on the line tonight in Phoenix, Phil Jackson, right, says the Lakers ‘feel OK about this game.’

KEVIN SULLIVAN, THE ORANGE COUNTY REGISTER

EL SEGUNDO – In the moments after the Lakers lost Thursday night to ensure a Game 7 showcase would be set up tonight, a backstage pass indicated they were nowhere near ready to assume the spotlight again.

In the quiet locker room, Kwame Brown described the scene this way: "A lot of guys are moping around."

Luke Walton's words of bewilderment were more befitting a confessional: "We just got mentally weak after that 3-1 lead. We stopped throwing it down, pounding it inside and talking on defense. We stopped working as hard."

Part of the dismay was that even Kobe Bryant had gotten rattled. That last shot in regulation fell so weakly short because Bryant "forgot" Shawn Marion was guarding him.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:42 am    Post subject:


Lakers notes: Parker on short leash

BY ROSS SILER, Staff Writer

EL SEGUNDO - The only player to start all 82 regular-season games for the Lakers - not to mention all six first-round playoff games so far - was guard Smush Parker, whose entire NBA career before he came to Los Angeles totaled only 82 games.

Parker is expected to stay in the starting lineup for Game 7 of the Lakers' series with Phoenix, but his recent slump has alarmed coach Phil Jackson. Parker has made just 3 of 24 shots in the last three games and will be on a short leash tonight.

Jackson did not mince words when asked Friday whether he could afford to play Parker the 41 minutes he did in Game 6 if he is not more productive.

"No, I can," Jackson said. "We'll have to make some changes if Smush doesn't rise to the occasion. But we believe that Smush can. He's turned himself around after a couple bad games during the regular season and so that's why we've kind of believed in him."

The low point for Parker came in the fourth quarter Thursday in Game 6. He passed on an open 3-pointer and Lamar Odom was called for a three-second violation as a result. Parker later had a shot blocked by Boris Diaw with 1:03 left and the Lakers leading 103-102.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:43 am    Post subject:

Lakers: Heat is on
BY ROSS SILER, Staff Writer

EL SEGUNDO - It took Magic Johnson only two games to pronounce from the TNT studio that the Lakers and Phoenix Suns would be part of the greatest first-round playoff series in NBA history.

And that was before Kobe Bryant's two last-second shots to win Game 4, before Raja Bell's clothesline takedown of Bryant in Game 5 and before the Suns' shocking overtime victory on the road in Game 6.

Now there is a final chapter to be written today in Phoenix, a winner-take-all Game 7 that will leave the Lakers with one of their greatest upsets or the Suns with a comeback like no other.

"You've got to understand that we weren't even supposed to be in the playoffs, let alone have an opportunity to beat the Suns," Bryant said. "This is a great opportunity for us. I don't think anybody should be nervous. Just go out there and do what we've been doing."

The Lakers - who with a victory tonight would advance to a second-round series against the Clippers in what has been dubbed the "Hallway Series" - will have to put Thursday's overtime loss behind them, a game in which they had the opportunity to close out the series at Staples Center until Tim Thomas hit a 3-pointer with 6.3 seconds left in regulation for the Suns.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:45 am    Post subject:

Ready to rumble

Doug Haller
May. 6, 2006 01:00 AM

So after six games, several shoves, some questionable calls, a last-second heartbreaker, a monumental deficit, an ill-timed clothesline, a one-game suspension and a goofy hex from Jack Nicholson, it comes down to this:

Game 7.

Please, Suns fans, take a deep breath this morning, because once the ball goes up at 5:30 p.m. in sold-out US Airways Center, no one is sure where this wild ride will end, what crazy script will unfold.
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The Lakers and Suns have engaged in a first-round matchup for the ages. A survey on ESPN.com Friday afternoon wanted to know whether this was the best playoff series ever. It has turned into a classic battle with numerous subplots, and it has many here thinking back to 1993, when the same franchise stole our hearts and took them all the way to the NBA Finals.

"There are a lot of similarities," said Mark West, an assistant general manager for the Suns today, a starting center for the Suns back then. "We were down to the Lakers in the first round, in what seemed to be an insurmountable situation, and we rallied back to force a (deciding) Game 5. You can feel that same type of energy, that same type of excitement building for this."

Only seven teams in NBA history have rallied from a 3-1 deficit in a best-of-seven series. A few days ago, the Suns were considered dead men dribbling, killed by a mastermind coach and an extraordinary talent willing to sacrifice his scoring for team unity.

The experiment suddenly has mixed results.

The Suns won Game 5 at home, but many didn't start to believe until Thursday's Game 6 in Los Angeles, when Steve Nash and Tim Thomas hit long-range jumpers, when Kobe Bryant - he's human! - finally missed a game-winning shot.

"You should've heard everybody, it was unbelievable," said Charles Koons, 28, who watched the game at a downtown Phoenix restaurant. "People were yelling and banging their bar stools on the floor, pounding the tables."
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:47 am    Post subject:

Good to be back home
Suns worked all season and climbed out of hole to get what they wanted

Paul Coro
The Arizona Republic
May. 6, 2006 12:00 AM

The odds of the Suns knocking out the Lakers in the first round measured long at the start of the week, when a 3-1 series deficit engulfed Phoenix like a house of ghosts.

It turns out the Suns' resolve and resiliency run longer. Phoenix did not play scared, and all that pressure turned up diamonds in must-win Games 5 and 6 that set up this evening's delicious circumstances at US Airways Center.

The Suns and Lakers play to decide whose season is extended for a second-round series with the Los Angeles Clippers and whose season finishes in a disappointment.
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The Lakers would be only the eighth team to blow a 3-1 series lead if they lost, and the Suns would be the Western Conference's first No. 2 seed to bow out in the first round since the 1991 San Antonio Spurs.

It is Phoenix's first Game 7 since the 1995 Suns blew a 3-1 series lead against Houston.

If you're looking for comfort, the last time the Suns' starting backcourt of Steve Nash and Raja Bell were involved in a Game 7 was in the 2003 playoffs as Mavericks. They won two Game 7s that postseason.

Lakers coach Phil Jackson, who has never lost a series his team was leading, is 4-2 in Game 7s, but both losses were on the road. The team leading 3-1 in NBA playoffs history is 4-5 when forced to a Game 7.

"Games 7s are always kind of the pinnacle of our sport," Nash said. "To play an elimination game when both teams have their backs against the walls is when the game is most exciting. That's when hopefully all your hard work pays off.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:49 am    Post subject:

Lakers in a do-or-die situation
Reeling L.A. or the Suns will advance to a second-round playoff series against the Clippers or go home after tonight's Game 7 in Phoenix.
By Phil Collin
Daily Breeze

And for their third trick, they'll try to go back to the first trick.

The Lakers, having squandered two opportunities to pull off a first-round playoff series victory over the Phoenix Suns, get their final shot this evening on the most difficult of stages.

Game 7 on the road. A loud, boisterous Phoenix crowd awaits to go crazy for a team that has fought back from a 3-1 series deficit and will be boosted by the return of their Kobe-bashing hero, Raja Bell, from a one-game suspension.

Waiting in the wings viewing the drama is the cast of the Clippers, who will face tonight's winner on Monday in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

The Lakers were one rebound away from an All-L.A. series late Thursday night in their excruciating Game 6 overtime loss at Staples Center. Now, naturally, they say they wouldn't have it any other way than to set it up with a dramatic seventh-game win on an opponent's court.

"Being on the road, it'll be tough, but that's what we're all here for,'' Lakers forward Lamar Odom said. "This is what it's all about, when you're a little kid in your back yard, 5-4-3-2-1, being Magic or Bird, this is what you dreamed about. This is a great position to be in.''
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:51 am    Post subject:

It all starts with Nash, Bryant
It should be a treat to watch two of the league's MVP candidates square off in an elimination game tonight in Phoenix.
By Mike Waldner
Daily Breeze

Everything radiates from Kobe Bryant and Steve Nash.

No, Game 7 of the Lakers-Suns first-round NBA playoffs series tonight in Phoenix is not just about Bryant and Nash.

It's about Smush Parker not allowing himself to be "smushed" again by the magnitude of the event.

It's about Kwame Brown, also showing deer-in-headlight signs, mixing in more rebounds and rolling someone when the Suns try to pick the Lakers apart with pick-and-roll plays.

It's about Luke Walton not getting in foul trouble.

It's about Lamar Odom continuing to play at a high level.

It's about so many things, including excellent basketball played by the Phoenix supporting cast.

But everything does start with Bryant and Nash. They present a study in contrasts and similarities.

Bryant is today. Nash is yesterday.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:52 am    Post subject:

Lakers might lose, but Jackson, Bryant rose to the challenge

Bruce Jenkins

Saturday, May 6, 2006


In the greatest challenge of his distinguished NBA career, Phil Jackson coaches two teams. The first one, known as Kobe, was on display all season as an unsettling mixture of chaos and virtuosity. Then there are the Los Angeles Lakers, shockingly unveiled as a cohesive, dangerous unit for the playoffs.

With Game 7 coming up in Phoenix tonight, Jackson and Kobe Bryant face a gut-wrenching decision. In the desperate moments of Game 6 in Los Angeles, it became evident that the Lakers can't match talent, depth or clutch-shooting options with the Suns. While his brittle supporting cast fell apart, reverting to the flawed bunch of characters we'd seen for months, Bryant by necessity became a one-man, 50-point show.

So what happens now? The irrepressible Steve Nash awaits, ready to overcome his back problems and control the floor. Tim Thomas, Shawn Marion and Leandro Barbosa appear to be splendid options at any time. The humbled Raja Bell, he of the Game 5 lunacy, returns to the lineup.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:55 am    Post subject:

Lakers embrace Game 7 challenge

By David Lassen, dlassen@VenturaCountyStar.com
May 6, 2006

EL SEGUNDO — Game 7s are defining moments. This one will determine whether the Lakers' playoffs are defined as a success or a flop.

Forced to a Game 7 in a series they once led 3-1, the Lakers will try one last time to complete their upset of the Phoenix Suns tonight in Phoenix (5:30 p.m., KCAL Ch. 9, TNT), and those who have experienced such moments know they're something special.

"Being on the road, it will be tough, but this is what we're all here for," said Lamar Odom. "This is what it's all about. When you're a little kid in your backyard ... being Magic or Bird or whoever you were, this is what you dreamed about. This is a great position to be in."

Odom played in one Game 7 while in Miami. What he remembers most is "the intensity from the layup line all the way to the end of the game. It's going to be a physical game. Every possession is going to be important."

Kobe Bryant, surrounded by players who will be in their first Game 7, thought back to his first — the comeback win over Portland in the 2000 Western Conference finals — and had similar recollections.

What he remembers most is "the emotion behind it. Every rebound, every loose ball, you just go after everything full bore, even more so than usual."

Still, as fraught with meaning as tonight's game will be, the best thing, suggests Phil Jackson, is to not dwell on the significance.

"We have to look at this game as going out and playing a game," he said, "and not look at it in terms of seventh game or season-ending or whatever else. You just react and you play the game the way you've been taught."
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:57 am    Post subject:

Suns’ offense burning Lakers

Phoenix in gear entering Game 7

By Bob Baum
Associated Press

Phoenix teammates, from left, Shawn Marion, Steve Nash and Leandro Barbosa, walk off the court after Phoenix defeated the Lakers to force a Game 7 in their series tonight.

PHOENIX – Raja Bell says he watched from a Beverly Hills restaurant bar with “30 or 35 Laker fans” as his Phoenix Suns teammates pulled off an inspired victory without him in Los Angeles.

The minute Game 6 was over Thursday night, Bell called Steve Nash in the locker room, screaming words that Nash said he really couldn’t understand. It was elation mixed with relief because Bell knew his one-game suspension for bulldogging Kobe Bryant and throwing him to the court did not cost the Suns the series.

Instead, Phoenix is on the brink of becoming the eighth team in NBA playoff history to come back from a 3-1 deficit to advance.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 6:59 am    Post subject:

Series recalls playoffs from '93
Memorable run began vs. Lakers

Doug Haller
The Arizona Republic
May. 6, 2006 12:00 AM

People bring it up to Dan Majerle all the time. That amazing first-round comeback. That incredible run to the NBA Finals.

The 1992-93 Suns injected enthusiasm seldom seen into the Valley, starting slowly in the postseason's first round against the Lakers before rallying, just as this season's team has done.

"That was probably the best basketball year of my life," Majerle said.
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The Suns won an NBA-best 62 games that season. Charles Barkley was the league's Most Valuable Player. Kevin Johnson, when healthy, was among the league's best point guards. Majerle and Danny Ainge were among its best shooters.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 7:01 am    Post subject:

Big shots adds to the fun for Thomas
D'Antoni likes vet's confidence

David Vest
The Arizona Republic
May. 6, 2006 12:00 AM

Tim Thomas remembers the first thing coach Mike D'Antoni told him when he showed up at his first Suns practice in March.

"He said: 'I'm never going to get mad at you for shooting the basketball, I'm going to get mad at you for not shooting the basketball,' " the nine-year veteran forward recalled after Friday's practice.

That green light from D'Antoni and Thomas' it's-just-a-game attitude have served Thomas and the Suns well in their first-round playoff series against the Lakers.
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Thomas has made multiple clutch shots vs. Los Angeles, including a season-saving three-pointer with 6.3 seconds left to force overtime and key Phoenix's victory Thursday in Game 6.

Asked Friday how he handles the pressure of taking "big shots" like that one, Thomas smiled.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 7:03 am    Post subject:

Bell will make his presence known tonight

Paola Boivin
The Arizona Republic
May. 6, 2006 12:00 AM

As soon as the television announcer said: "Raja Bell is watching Game 6 from an LA restaurant," the Lakers fan snickered.

"I wonder which one he's at," the fan sitting inside a Beverly Hills restaurant said. "We should go over there and . . . "

Bell cracked up. The Suns guard was sitting right behind the guy, serving a one-game suspension for clotheslining Kobe Bryant in Game 5. It has been that kind of surreal series for Bell, whose mano a mano with Bryant has been one of this postseason's most interesting subplots.
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His stranglehold on the Lakers star was a boneheaded move because it could have cost his team the season, but it also epitomized his unwillingness to back down against Bryant and made him the face of a team whose bark is as nasty as its bite. The Suns are tougher than we gave them credit for, ensuring that tonight's Game 7 will be a cage fight on a hardwood floor.

Bryant and Bell are doing their best to pretend they've forgotten their recent past.

Riiiiight.

Bryant, to LA reporters: "Payback? I don't even think about payback."

Bell: "Whatever happens, happens. I've got bigger things to do, which I'm sure he does, too."

Uh huh.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 7:06 am    Post subject:

Old Soft Show
Lakers reverted to some bad habits, notably on defense, in wasting a 3-1 lead. They need to shore things up to overcome odds, Suns in Game 7.
By Mike Bresnahan, Times Staff Writer
May 6, 2006

They looked like the Lakers of old, but not the ones who took three titles in a row as a city smiled upon a championship franchise.

The Lakers of the last two games were akin to those from earlier this season — confused on defense, error-prone on offense and gatherers of losses, two, three or four at a time.

The first-round series held such promise for the Lakers early on, as Coach Phil Jackson donned his 2000 championship ring, Kobe Bryant bought into a share-the-ball mantra and the defense held the Phoenix Suns under 100 three consecutive times.

Then the Suns became the Suns, averaging 120 points and shooting 52.7% over the last two games.

Bryant took it upon himself to do more on offense in Game 6, which he did efficiently as a scorer, making 20 of 35 shots and scoring 50 points, although it led to stagnation at both ends of the court for other players and, ultimately, a loss.

This being the NBA, there's always tomorrow, which would actually be today, when the Lakers get a final chance to avoid becoming a statistic. Only seven teams in league history have come back to win a best-of-seven series after trailing, 3-1.

The Lakers have tried to brush it off — "We were up, 3-1, so what?" Lamar Odom said. "Doesn't matter now. This is Game 7" — but a sea change will have to happen in the desert if they are to become only the 18th NBA team in 93 tries to win a Game 7 on the road.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 7:08 am    Post subject:

In series of swings, Lakers need last

LA must win today to avoid stunning postseason collapse

01:28 AM PDT on Saturday, May 6, 2006

By BRODERICK TURNER
The Press-Enterprise

EL SEGUNDO - Win or go home.

It's that simple for the Lakers and Phoenix Suns.

The winner of today's Game 7 at US Airlines Center in Phoenix will go on to the second round of the playoffs and a matchup with the Clippers.

The loser will lament and wonder about what might have been.

And if it's the Lakers, they will be smarting over how they let a commanding 3-1 series lead get away and watched the Suns win the last three games to complete a stunning comeback.

Coach Phil Jackson said the Lakers have to play the way they've been taught and not think about the game as potentially their last of the season.

Forward Lamar Odom said the Lakers have to play their best game of the year -- or better.

"For some of us, our best game of our lives," said Odom, who had 22 points, 11 rebounds, nine assists and four stitches in Game 6 -- the latter after catching an elbow to his lower lip.

Twice the Lakers failed to close out the series, most recently Thursday night at Staples Center. The Lakers had that and other issues to resolve Friday at practice before they headed to Phoenix.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 7:10 am    Post subject:

L.A. Fans, Businesses Hoping to Go to Town
The streets of the city would be 'electrified' by a Laker-Clipper series, business leader says.
By Greg Johnson, Times Staff Writer
May 6, 2006

Get ready for the "Hallway Series," possibly coming soon to a T-shirt, ball cap or coffee mug near you.

There is that slight matter of the Lakers' do-or-die playoff game tonight in Phoenix against the resurgent Suns. But if the Lakers manage to clear that not-insignificant hurdle, the NBA will try to flood Los Angeles with merchandise carrying the "Hallway Series" moniker and logos of the hometown Clippers and Lakers.


The league hopes to stay a step ahead of a swift-moving and often-illegal army of T-shirt manufacturers that also will be scrambling to turn a profit should the long-awaited postseason series with the Clippers and Lakers materialize.

"There's probably a lot of that [unlicensed] stuff already being manufactured," said David Carter, executive director of the USC Sports Business Institute. "The only problem is that if the Lakers don't win [tonight] then you'll see it all for sale at the end of freeway exit ramps in L.A. and Orange County on Sunday morning."

It's too soon to tell whether "Hallway Series" will join "Three-peat" and "Da Bears" in the sports marketing lexicon.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 7:11 am    Post subject:

Lakers, Suns Battle In Game 7 At US Airways Center
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(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns play for the right to advance to Western Conference semifinals, as the teams meet at US Airways Center in the decisive Game 7 of the first-round series.

The winner of tonight's contest will play the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round.

After going down 3-1 in the series, Phoenix has won the last two contests to force a Game 7. On Thursday, Tim Thomas' three-pointer sent the game into overtime and the second-seeded Suns used a big run in the extra session to beat the seventh-seeded Lakers, 126-118, in Game 6 at the Staples Center.

Steve Nash scored 32 points and dished out 13 assists in Game 6's win for the Suns, while Thomas, who hit a three with 6.3 seconds left in regulation, ended with 21 points and 10 rebounds. Shawn Marion scored six of his 20 points in Overtime and pulled down 12 rebounds for Phoenix.

Leandro Barbosa, replacing the suspended Raja Bell, tallied 22 points for Phoenix. Barbosa guarded Bryant most of the game since Bell did not play because he was serving a one-game suspension for knocking Bryant to the floor during Game 5.

Kobe Bryant had a playoff career-high 50 points, eight rebounds and five assists, but missed a potential game-winning shot at the end of regulation for the Lakers.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 7:14 am    Post subject:

Bell has no plans to back down from Kobe
By Craig Morgan, Tribune
May 6, 2006
When the Suns’ bus reached the tarmac at LAX late Thursday, it was greeted by a babbling one-man fan club. Standing at the top of the stairs to the plane was guard Raja Bell, so overcome with excitement, joy and gratitude that he could barely enunciate his words.
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“I couldn’t control myself,” said Bell, who missed the Suns’ dramatic Game 6 escape due to a onegame suspension for his well-publicized flagrant foul on Kobe Bryant. “I think they thought I had one too many beers but I actually hadn’t been drinking.”

Bell still felt drunk. The Suns’ heroics had given him a playoff hall pass and he was so eager to exploit it that he showed up at the US Airways Center practice court Friday at 10 a.m. — two hours before the Suns were due to work out.

“I would have been here earlier except I got caught at home doing some stuff,” he said.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 7:16 am    Post subject:

Win or lose, this series has had it all
By Scott Bordow, Tribune Columnist
May 6, 2006
Game 7. Your palms are sweaty. Your heart is racing. You can’t wait for the game to begin. Anxiety has tied your stomach in knots. You want to watch every second. You want to close your eyes when Kobe Bryant has the ball.
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You’re just a fan, and untold emotions are swirling inside you. Imagine how the players feel.

“This is what it’s all about, why you train and work hard all year,” Suns guard Steve Nash said Friday. “Game 7 is the pinnacle of our sport. It’s the time of your career you’ll remember for years.”

Who knows what theatrics Game 7 will provide tonight, but it will have to be extraordinary to top what’s transpired so far.

This already is being called the greatest first-round series in NBA history. It’s been high drama on the hardwood, exhausting and exhilarating, basketball the way it’s supposed to be.
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 7:17 am    Post subject:

Lakers find matchups tough with Barbosa on the floor
By Mike Tulumello, Tribune
May 6, 2006
LOS ANGELES - To hear the Lakers tell it, the NBA’s suspension of Raja Bell didn’t exactly do them any favors. They’re hoping Bell’s return somehow can hurt the Suns as much as the increased role of Leandro Barbosa helped them in Bell’s absence in the Suns’ thrilling win Thursday night.
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Barbosa’s presence “speeds up the game,” Kobe Bryant said. “Barbosa is a more skilled player offensively.”

“Barbosa stood tall and played well,” coach Phil Jackson said

“We weren’t prepared for that. That was our mistake.”

“I was a little worried about Barbosa being in the game,” Kwame Brown said, “because Barbosa is a better offensive player.

“With Barbosa starting the game, the tempo was so fast. It was actually a more difficult matchup than with Bell in the lineup.”
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Phil
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 10:01 am    Post subject:

Lakers-Suns Preview

GAME: Los Angeles Lakers at Phoenix Suns.

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

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

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.

The Suns, who are 2-4 all-time in Game 7s, are on the verge of completing their first rally from a 3-1 series deficit after failing on four previous occasions. Only seven NBA teams have won a best-of-7 series when trailing 3-1, and five eventually won the NBA title.

``It's going to be a great Game 7,'' Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. ``The pressure is on both teams. We feel good, obviously, about ourselves. We took the wind out of ourselves a little bit but we'll come back. They'll be ready and we'll be ready it should be a great game.''
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Phil
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 12:08 pm    Post subject:

The Big Bang: A brief history of Bell vs. Bryant
Stein
By Marc Stein
ESPN.com
Archive

PHOENIX -- It's probably the only certainty going into the first Game 7 of these playoffs.

Don't look for Kobe Bryant and Raja Bell to shake hands when it's over.

No matter what happens.

Kobe Bryant, Raja Bell, Luke Walton
Barry Gossage/NBAE via Getty Images
The Lakers say Bell leans on Bryant. Bell accuses Bryant of elbows to the chops.

Bryant and Bell weren't tapping fists at the center circle or acknowledging each other in any way before games even before Bell clotheslined Bryant late in Game 5 of this epic Lakers-Suns series. Now their final encounter in a season of animosity also happens to be the game that will break this 3-3 deadlock between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns and decide whether Kobe or the Kobe Chopper advances to Round 2.

The following timeline traces how Bell joined San Antonio's Bruce Bowen, Seattle's Ray Allen and Ruben Patterson -- the self-proclaimed "Kobe Stopper" -- on the list of swingmen most likely to get tangled with No. 8.
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Phil
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Joined: 03 Aug 2001
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PostPosted: Sat May 06, 2006 2:51 pm    Post subject:


Lakers-Suns: One and done

May 06, 2006


(AP) -- 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.

The Suns, who are 2-4 all-time in Game 7s, are on the verge of completing their first rally from a 3-1 series deficit after failing on four previous occasions. Only seven NBA teams have won a best-of-7 series when trailing 3-1, and five eventually won the NBA title.

``It's going to be a great Game 7,'' Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. ``The pressure is on both teams. We feel good, obviously, about ourselves. We took the wind out of ourselves a little bit but we'll come back. They'll be ready and we'll be ready it should be a great game.''
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