Sunday , Apr , 29 , 2007 Oly Sandor

Steve Nash And Amare Stoudemire’s Career Nights Help Phoenix Take A 3-1 Lead

Steve Nash dropped an absolutely epic game 3 performance on the Lakers at Staples Center. His 23 dimes even garnered props from Magic Johnson and the Laker faithful. Believe it or not, Nash isn’t what makes this Suns squad so dangerous. The key is Amare Stoudemire’s much-improved defense and rebounding……..

What Happened: During a third quarter interview with ABC Sports, Magic Johnson said “he loved ’s play” in game four.

Of course, Johnson, the ultimate pass-first point guard could appreciate Nash’s performance.

Nash, the reigning 2005 and 2006 MVP, dished out a career-high 23 assists to lead the to a 113-100 victory over the .

Nash also had 17 points in the win, which helped the Suns take a convincing 3-1 lead over the Lakers in their Western Conference playoff series.

Other Suns made major contributions. scored 27 points to go with a career-high 21 rebounds. had 22 rebounds and 11 rebounds. chipped in with 16 points off the bench, while scored 11 points.

The Lakers were looking to build off of their game three win. However, Phoenix took away L.A.’s momentum, out-rebounding the Lakers by a 44-39 margin.

Turnovers were also a problem for the purple-and-gold. They committed 20 turnovers to Phoenix’s 15.

posted a near-triple-double for the Lakers, contributing 31 points, seven rebounds, and 9 assists. had 19 points to go with 13 rebounds, while Maurice Evans and Smush Parker each added 11 points.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Phoenix.

Reaction of Phoenix Coach Mike D’Antoni on the pace of the game:
"The speed of the game was ours. They surprised us with their intensity in Game 3. Today wasn’t a surprise. We have our system, and we ran it pretty good today. We had 34 assists on 41 baskets and that’s because of our spacing. That’s what we do — we’ve done it all year." (CNNSI)

Reaction of Phoenix guard Raja Bell
on what Nash’s assist total could have been:
"If we shot the ball well, he (Nash) could have had 35 (assists). We run when he runs. He’s the engine that can really rev us up and get us in transition." (ESPN)

Reaction of Los Angeles Coach Phil Jackson on Phoenix’s play:
“They were a better team than we were today. They were a little quicker at everything. "We have to get ourselves geared up and we’ll have another chance to bring this game back here to L.A. on Friday." (CNNSI)

My Take: Phoenix, when they play at this tempo, is difficult to beat. The Suns offense was outstanding in game four, scoring 113 points. Believe it or not, the Suns missed several easy baskets and could have had 20 more points.

Nash’s play is what sticks out from game four. But he’s not what makes this Phoenix team so dangerous. The key is Amare Stoudemire. His defense and rebounding have improved, giving the Suns a low-post dimension that they’ve never had. If Stoudemire continues to dominate the paint, the Suns suddenly become the NBA’s best team.

Click here to read more of Oly Sandor’s NBA blog. E-mail Oly at