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Monday , May , 31 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Who replaces Amar’e Stoudemire if he leaves Phoenix?

Instead, they held a team meeting on Sunday, then spoke of the joys of the season and the hopes that it was only the beginning. Whether that future includes Amar'e Stoudemire is the big uncertainty.

Stoudemire said only that he would begin his evaluation process on Monday. Team owner Robert Sarver and general manager Steve Kerr wouldn't address the issue. Suns coach Alvin Gentry said "you would expect" Stoudemire to opt out of his contract and test the free agent market.

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HoopsVibe's Quick Call: Today, I was listening to a radio show, where the hosts referred to Amar'e Stoudemire as 'fools gold'.

They complained that STAT doesn't play an ounce of defense for Phoenix and believed this would prevent him from getting a max' offer when he inevitably opts out July 1st and hits free agency.

These opinions aren't new. But reporter Bruce Arthur of The National Post raised an interesting scenario: Stoudemire opts-out and Steve Nash convinces his old buddy Dirk Nowitzki, who is also a free agent, to replace him in the Suns' frontcourt.

To be fair, Arthur classified this as a remote possibility. After all, Nowitzki has a bond with the Dallas Mavericks and owner Mark Cuban.

However, nothing is so far fetched that it couldn't happen in this current climate of free agency and change.

Who replaces Stoudemire if he leaves The Valley of The Sun?

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Sunday , May , 30 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Video: Why Kobe Bryant ‘will Kill’ Sasha Vujacic

HoopsVibe's Call: It was The Slovenian Elbow.

With the Los Angeles Lakers up 91-76 and on their way to a fourth and decisive victory in the Western Conference Finals, Sasha Vujacic got personal, throwing an elbow at countryman and mortal enemy Phoenix Suns guard Goran Dragic.

Vujacic and Dragic - both hailing from Slovenia, a tiny republic on the other side of the Atlantic Ocean - often resemble Hollywood socialites with their beef both on-and-off court.

Anyway, the refs caught Vujacic's elbow, assessed a flagrant foul and, suddenly, the Suns had enough energy for a fourth-quarter charge. In a post-game interview with Craig Sager, Kobe Bryant said he would 'kill' The Machine (Vujacic) for such a lapse in judgement.

Check out our grainy video and get at us with thoughts on Vujacic and Dragic's feud.

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Sunday , May , 30 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Kobe and Lakers oust Suns, face Celtics in NBA Finals

Get ready, Boston, for a rematch with Kobe Bryant and his Los Angeles Lakers.

Bryant wrapped up a magnificent series with 37 points, Ron Artest added 25 and the Lakers held off the Phoenix Suns 111-103 on Saturday night to win the Western Conference finals.

The Lakers and Celtics, the NBA's premier teams for much of the league's history, will meet in the finals for the 12th time with Game 1 Thursday night in Los Angeles.

"We'll see how much we matured," Bryant said. "They challenged us extremely well in the finals a couple years ago. Now is a chance to see how much we've grown."

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HoopsVibe's Quick Call: The Phoenix Suns' zone, fast tempo, and affinity for the three-point shot wasn't enough because the Los Angeles Lakers were simply better and deserved to advance to the NBA Finals.

For instance, the Suns' fourth quarter charge was put out by Kobe Bryant, who nailed two clutch jumpers, even though Grant Hill was playing air tight defense. After sinking the second jumper, Bryant even gave Suns coach Alvin Gentry a friendly tap and stretched his arms in celebration.   

The Lakers will now face the Boston Celtics in a classic finals match-up.

These two teams met in the 2008 NBA Finals, with the Celtics prevailing in six games because of their superior toughness down-low.

The 2010 championship will also be decided in the paint. Expect Boston to try and impose their will with bigs like Glen Davis, Kevin Garnett, Kendrick Perkins, and Rasheed Wallace, while L.A. will be anxious to show they can mix it up in the middle.

Got thoughts on a Boston-Los Angeles NBA Finals? Come back to HoopsVibe for more Finals coverage.   

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Saturday , May , 29 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Will L.A. Lakers make Alvin Gentry and Phoenix Suns sick in game six?

HoopsVibe's Quick Call: It would have been understandable if this was Alvin Gentry's reaction to Jason Richardson forgetting to box-out and allowing Ron Artest to win game five of the Western Conference Finals with a bank shot at the buzzer.

However, J-Rich's mishap wasn't the cause of the Phoenix Suns' sideline boss coming down with a case of gag reflex.

Instead, Gentry got up close and personal with the trash because of an upset stomach during the second quarter of Thursday's game against the Los Angeles Lakers.

Watch the clip, if you like, and tell us if Gentry will be need the Pepto Bismol for game six of the Western Conference Finals between the Lakers and Suns.  

(Charles Barkley: That is what you get for eating deep fried avocado.)

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Saturday , May , 29 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Ron Artest believes Steve Nash has ‘no respect for us’

Los Angeles coach coach Phil Jackson and Game 5 hero Ron Artest had different takes on comments made by Steve Nash.

"Maybe we deserved this game, maybe we didn't," Nash said during a postgame news conference Thursday night. "But we lost. And they held home court. We'll go back and do the same and we'll come back here for Game 7."

Jackson said he was not offended.

"What else is he going to say?" Jackson asked. "'We're going to go home and lose?'"

Fresh off his game-winning shot in Game 5, Artest took the comments another way.

"That's like no respect," Artest said after Lakers practice Friday afternoon. "No respect. No respect for us."

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HoopsVibe's Quick Call: Ron Artest has a case of the 'Aretha Franklins' and he's blaming Phoenix Suns point guard Steve Nash.

The forward believes Nash doesn't respect the L.A. Lakers because he suggested the Suns may have deserved a better fate in game five. Of course, Artest was the hero Thursday with a last second bank shot that gave the purple-and-gold the win.

As usual, Artest's perspective is unique. Nash likely meant no offence and Lakers coach Phil Jackson interpreted his comments as such.

Oh yeah, it's worth noting Artest was late for Friday's practice. No word on whether his tardiness showed a lack of respect.    

Is Ron Artest right? Did Steve Nash disrespect the Lakers?

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Friday , May , 28 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

A tale of two athletes: Steve Nash and Vince Carter

Former Canadian Olympic teammate Todd MacCulloch was saying the other day that he hoped Nash, a two-time NBA most valuable player, got a ring, “just so no one can say anything bad about his career.”

He needn't worry.

But Vince Carter? You'd like to say he should worry, but it's hard to make the case he does.

Evan as the Orlando Magic have rallied in their series with the Boston Celtics – winning twice in a row to trail 3-2 before Friday's game – Carter's reputation as one of the sport's great underachievers won't require revision. Impossibly, at least in the eyes of Toronto Raptors fans, he's made Magic followers lament the departure of Hedo Turkoglu, as Carter has turned into a $16-million (U.S.) spectator when the stakes are highest.

Link to Michael Grange's article on Globe and Mail

HoopsVibe's Call:  Nash and Carter's careers have been moving in different directions for years because of athleticism. Not just because of effort.

Nash never had Carter's raw physical gifts, so he developed his all-world skill-set and cared for his health. Carter, however, is still living exclusively off his athleticism, which, at 32, is starting to betray him.

For instance, Nash often dodges in-and-out of pick-and-rolls and drops amazing bounce passes, displaying the talent that won the 2010 Skills Contest, while Carter settles for fade-aways and rarely attacks the hoop like the player who won the Slam Dunk Contest.

Also, Nash is an amazing athlete. Sure, he isn't a leaper or speedster, but Hall of Fame NBA writer Jack McCallum wrote in Seven Seconds or Less that Nash's hand-to-eye coordination and reflexes was in the top percentile of players.

Such rare skills allow Nash to hold his own in pick-up soccer matches against American and European pros and helped him excel at baseball, ice hockey, lacrosse, and rugby as a teenager.

Nash's athletic gifts have not depreciated as quickly as Carter's, which explains both their performances in the 2010 playoff.

Why is Nash relevant and Carter irrelevant? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts. 

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Friday , May , 28 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Goat to hero: Ron Artest wins game five for L.A. Lakers

Ron Artest beat the buzzer with a wild bank shot after rebounding Kobe Bryant's miss, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns 103-101 on Thursday night to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.

Bryant had 30 points, 11 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, but Artest was the improbable hero with just his second basket of the night.

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HoopsVibe's Very Quick Call: Only in Los Angeles can Ron Artest go from goat to hero in mere moments.

With a minute left and the Lakers up three, Artest could have run time off the clock, but took and missed a deep jump shot.

Phoenix rebounded his miss and Jason Richardson tied the game with three seconds remaining on a desperation, bank shot three-pointer. The lockdown swing, however, redeemed himself by grabbing Bryant's miss, sinking a basket as time expired, and winning game five for the Lakers.

Artest's heroics position the purple-and-gold to advance to the NBA Finals, as they hold home court advantage.

Meanwhile, the Suns return to Phoenix knowing they missed a chance to steal a road game and close out the Western Conference Finals by winning game six at home. 

During a post game interview, Artest had TNT broadcaster Craig Sager shout out his home of Queensbridge.Goats can't get away with such antics, but heroes, like Artest, can.   

Got thoughts on Artest, the Lakers, and the Western Conference Finals? Come back to HoopsVibe News on Friday for more on L.A. and Phoenix.

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Thursday , May , 27 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

L.A. Lakers must defend against Phoenix Suns

The Lakers' swagger is more of a stagger after consecutive losses in the Western Conference finals.

After leaving town last week to chants of ``We want Boston,'' Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol realize they won't even get the chance to defend their NBA title unless Los Angeles starts defending the Phoenix Suns.

Although Gasol says Game 5 on Thursday night is ``a must-win for us,'' the champions' California cool shows few signs of cracking, beyond Bryant's grumbling about missed defensive assignments.

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HoopsVibe's Call:  The Los Angeles Lakers have to get back to defending.

Look for the world champions to focus on getting stops, especially since they've struggled with their shooting against the Phoenix Suns' zone.

However, the Lakers hold the advantage. They're more talented. And two of the next three games will be played in the friendly confines of Staples Centre.

Still, as the Washington Post's Michael Wilbon pointed out last night during TNT's halftime show, these Suns aren't afraid; they can score in the halfcourt and play defense, too (even if it's a zone).

One thing is certain: expect a classic finish between L.A. and Phoenix.

Got thoughts on game five, six, and possibly seven? Let us know in the comment box below.  

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Wednesday , May , 26 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Why the Lakers can’t handle the Suns’ zone

The Los Angeles Lakers were outnumbered and outplayed in the desert.

The Phoenix Suns got a decisive performance from their hustling bench to overcome Kobe Bryant's 38-point, 10-assist performance and beat the Lakers 115-106 in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Tuesday night.

A series that looked like a Lakers' breeze a week ago is all even at two apiece heading to Game 5 on Thursday night in Los Angeles.

The Suns reserves, considered an advantage entering the series but largely ineffective through three games, outscored their Lakers counterparts 54-20.

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HoopsVibe's Call: The Phoenix Suns are in 'The Zone'. Literally.

The surprising Suns have tied the Western Conference Finals by using a zone defense against the Los Angeles Lakers. There are several reasons the defending world champions have struggled against this unorthodox defense:

-Zone is rarely used in the NBA, especially come playoff time. In fact, for decades zone was banned because it was believed to limit the players' ability to showcase individual talent. The purple-and-gold is out of sync against a defense they've rarely seen.

-The Lakers lack a true point guard. A classic, pass-first table setter can direct the offense and find the holes against a zone. Too often, Shannon Brown, Jordan Farmar, and Derek Fisher settled for outside shots and allowed teammates to become perimeter players.

-Bryant had a strong game, hitting 15-of-22 shots for 38 points and adding 10 assists and 7 rebounds. However, he couldn't get clean looks against the zone for most of the fourth quarter and Pau Gasol struggled.

-The zone forced the Lakers to play at the Suns' breakneck pace. No team - not even the great Lakers - beats Seven Seconds Or Less when the game becomes a track meet. 

The Suns' zone has made the Western Conference Finals a best-of-three affair. The Lakers must adjust to the zone or another team will be hoisting the Larry O'Brien trophy in June.  

What do you think of Phoenix's zone? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts.

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Saturday , May , 22 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Is the Sun setting on Amar’e Stoudemire and Phoenix?

Given how successful the team has been lately, could Amare re-sign with the Suns (this summer)?

“I don't think it's going to happen," a source close to Stoudemire told ESPN. "Amare feels like the organization disrespected him. Amare loves his teammates and has really enjoyed playing for the team these last few months, but he's reluctant to commit to Phoenix long-term."

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HoopsVibe's Call: The sun isn't brighter and the grass isn't greener on the other side.

Amar'e Stoudemire, like former Phoenix forward Shawn Marion, also seems destined to learn this lesson the hard way. Nash and 'The Seven Seconds or Less' system suits and highlights Stoudemire's all offense-no defense game.

So why leave?  

STAT supposedly wants to suit up for a contender. Well, the Suns are in the Western Conference Finals. And another elite team won't pay him the max' money deal he wants because of his one-way play.

Bottom line: Phoenix, with Steve Nash in the fold, is perfect for Stoudemire. 

Should Amar'e say arrivederci to the Suns this summer? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts?

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Thursday , May , 20 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Andrew Bynum amazed by Pau Gasol

Before he left Staples Center, Andrew Bynum stopped to chat with a locker room attendant, eager to describe what he witnessed from his spot on the bench late in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals.

“Man, I have never seen anyone ever dominated a guy for six straight minutes like Pau did tonight,” Bynum said. “I mean, never. It was incredible.”

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HoopsVibe Call: As Andrew Bynum noted, there's nothing Pau Gasol can't do when healthy and focused.

The Spanish post missed the early portion of the year with a leg injury and even went public with his frustration over touches and shots.

However, as his game two performance showed, Gasol is hitting his stride at exactly the right time. And his fine play puts the Los Angeles Lakers on track to repeat as world champions.

Are the Lakers unbeatable when Gasol brings his A-game? Get at us in the comment box below with thoughts.

 

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Wednesday , May , 19 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Boston Celtics, because of defense, could win 18th NBA Title

Paul Pierce scored 28 points, Rajon Rondo had 25 and the Boston Celtics again avoided a late collapse to take a commanding lead in the Eastern Conference finals with a 95-92 victory over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday night.

Boston bullied and bruised its way to a 2-0 series lead on the road against a Magic team that had won 14 straight until this series. The Celtics held the Magic to 39 percent shooting.

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HoopsVibe's Quick Call: The Boston Celtics - the team most 'experts' pronounced dead at mid season - are two wins from advancing to the NBA Finals because of defense.

The green-and-white's ability to get-stops at home and, most importantly, on the road gives them a chance in every game. And great teams, world champions, have to be able to grind out wins in the other team's barn.

The Celtics, with a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals, have done exactly that against the Magic. And there's no reason they couldn't do the same against either the Los Angeles Lakers or Phoenix Suns.

Boston, with a still relevant Big Three and rapidly developing Rajon Rondo, could very well raise their eighteenth championship banner this June. Not bad for a supposedly dead team.

Could the Boston Celtics really win it all this year? Get at HoopsVibe News with thoughts in Comment box below.

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Tuesday , May , 18 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Why Amar’e Stoudemire called Lamar Odom ‘lucky’

Can Lamar Odom's 19 points and 19 rebounds in the Los Angeles Lakers' 128-107 win in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals be attributed to something as trivial as his uniform number, lucky No. 7?

Phoenix's Amar'e Stoudemire seems to think so.

"I'm not giving him no hype right now; he had a lucky game in Game 1," Stoudemire said after Suns practice Tuesday at Staples Center. "We just got to make sure we box him out. I think I focused so much on Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum to where he snuck in there and got 19 boards, so now we just got to make sure there's three guys out there that can rebound well [when] adding Odom. So, we got to do a better job on them."

Odom barely batted an eyelash when told about Stoudemire's claim after the Lakers finished practice.

"So be it," Odom said. "Hopefully I can have another lucky one."

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HoopsVibe's Call: The game behind the game is in full effect.

Instead of Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson making random references about the cowbells of Sacramento or the state of Arizona's immigrations laws, the Phoenix Suns' Amar'e Stoudemire surprisingly took a swipe at forward Lamar Odom.

The reason: Stoudemire knows Odom, specifically his length, presents problems for the Suns, so he's trying to gain any possible edge against the man, Odom, who made cameos in Jadakiss videos and Entourage episodes.  

We'll see if STAT's strategy pays dividends in game two on Wednesday evening.

Got thoughts on Stoudemire calling out Odom? Get at us in the comment box below.

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Tuesday , May , 18 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Greatest missed dunk of all time: Shannon Brown versus Vince Carter?

"Even though he missed, that totally gets a "wowee we wa" from this guy. The miss was so good that people immediately started calling it the best missed dunk of all-time. You be the judge. Either way, I'd offer up that this missed dunk provided some of the most amazing pictures in the history of dunking."

(Ball Don’t Lie)

HoopsVibe’s Call: It made you stand, shake your head, and curse in amazement.

Last night, in the final frame of the Los Angeles Lakers' blow-out win against the Phoenix Suns, Shannon Brown wowed the crowd with a missed dunk.

Yes, a blown facial is making headlines after a disappointing game one. Some, like Ball Don’t Lie, proclaimed it The Greatest Missed Dunk of All Time.

While HoopsVibe News was amazed, impressed, and stunned with Brown’s attempt, we weren’t quite ready to hand over G.O.A.T status.

Instead we’ll pit Brown against Vince Carter's body of work and let you decide who had the greatest missed dunk ever?


(Brown’s blown jam.)


(Carter's career best misses.)

Who has the greatest botched dunk of all time: Brown or Carter? Let us know in the comment box below.

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Tuesday , May , 18 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Lamar Odom’s length gives Suns fits, Lakers win game one

"Even on a balky knee, Kobe Bryant had no problem giving the Los Angeles Lakers an early leg up in the Western Conference finals.

Bryant scored 40 points, Lamar Odom added 19 points and 19 rebounds, and the Lakers opened the series with ruthless offensive efficiency in a 128-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Monday night.

Pau Gasol had 21 points for the top-seeded Lakers, who won their seventh straight playoff game and snapped the Suns' six-game streak with a phenomenal second half highlighted by Bryant's 21-point third quarter.

The defending NBA champions beat the third-seeded Suns at their own uptempo game when necessary, fluidly running the court to set up baskets for Bryant in his sixth straight 30-point game. Bryant then rested his sore knee for most of the fourth quarter in the 11th 40-point game of his playoff career."

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HoopsVibe’s Call: The headlines, news stories, and highlights will give most of the credit to Kobe Bryant, who tallied 40 points, 5 rebounds, and 5 assists in the L.A. Lakers’ game one win over the Phoenix Suns.

Fair enough. Bryant, however, wasn’t the difference maker. Lamar Odom’s length was.

The ultra versatile forward dropped an impressive 19 points and 19 rebounds, using his lanky frame to give the Phoenix Suns fits.
 
For instance, during one sequence in the second half, Mr. Khloe Kardashian grabbed two impressive offensive rebounds before drawing a goaltending charge against Amar’e Stoudemire.

Odom’s fine play propelled the purple-and-gold to the NBA championship last season. And the Lakers are a different team when their chubby cheeked reality star brings his A-game.

How important was Odom to the Lakers winning game one against the Suns ? Get at HoopsVibe News with thoughts in the comment box below.

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Monday , May , 17 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Will Robin Lopez anger Kobe Bryant and L.A. Lakers?

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HoopsVibe's Thoughts: Seven Seconds Or Less is getting defensive.

Literally.

Word is the Phoenix Suns are planning to start physical post Robin Lopez against the Los Angeles Lakers and finesse-four Pau Gasol in the Western Conference Finals.

Lopez, who is on the mend from injury, provides the Suns with their most physical presence since Raja Bell. Of course, a few years back, Bell made his bones against Kobe Bryant and the Lakers in the Western Conference playoffs. 

Will Lopez, an equally spirited player, get under the skin of the purple-and-gold like Bell?

Get at HoopsVibe News with thoughts in the comment box below.

   

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Saturday , May , 15 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Grant Hill to Guard Kobe Bryant in WCF

Bryant averaged 27.5 points against Phoenix this season on 54.4 percent shooting and is coming off a Utah sweep in which he scored at least 30 in each game. This is the point last year when he turned dominant, averaging 34.0 points against Denver in the conference finals and 32.4 in the NBA Finals vs. Orlando.

Step right up, Grant Hill. The Suns are expected to again turn to their best defensive player, although guard Jason Richardson defended Bryant the most this season. The decision to put Richardson on Portland's Andre Miller for Game 1 of the first round backfired when Miller dominated and Richardson struggled offensively. Freed of a defensive load, Richardson thrived the remainder of that series and the San Antonio series with Hill taking primary defensive targets Miller and Manu Ginobili.

"You just try to make a guy like that work," Hill, 37, said of Bryant, 31. "You've got to go in ready to compete and not be discouraged. He'll make shots even when there's defense.
 
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Saturday , May , 15 , 2010 Hoopsvibe

Phil Jackson: Steve Nash Carries the Ball

When the Los Angeles Lakers clinched a berth in the Western Conference finals on Monday, Lakers coach Phil Jackson had nothing but praise for his team's upcoming opponent, the Phoenix Suns, saying that the Suns are playing their best basketball of the season.

On Friday, Jackson retreated from praise and started posturing when asked if it was difficult to simulate the Suns and their star point guard Steve Nash in practice during the long layoff before Game 1.

"Yeah, because you can't carry the ball like he does in practice," Jackson said, smiling as he moved his arm and turned over his palm, the symbol for an illegal carry in the unofficial sign language of basketball. "You can't pick that ball up and run with it."

The 36-year-old Nash is averaging 17.8 points and 9.0 assists per game in the postseason after averaging 13.8 points and 9.0 assists in four regular-season games against L.A.

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Steve Nash’s Last Shot
Thursday , May , 13 , 2010 J.N.

Steve Nash’s Last Shot

A young kid entered war full of determination, grit, and gung ho. He doesn’t know much about anything since he sports the usual traits of youth – ignorance, naïveté, and innocence. Once this kid endures battle after battle, the fighting spirit gets worn down somewhere. The kid loses yet gets wiser with each step. He makes many mistakes. Some soldiers leave and disappear. The squadron is rebuilt with new warriors who mirror the kid before war. Some of them might be better and some will not.

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