The Lakers finally allowed Kobe’s greatness to win a road game in the Western Conference Finals at U.S. Airways Arena. They certainly didn’t spare us any heart palpitations in doing so, that’s for sure.
The Phoenix Suns’ second unit nearly pulled off another Houdini act by roaring back to within three after heading into the fourth quarter down by 17. The near-haymaker 16-4 run by the Suns set the stage for the best closer in the game to kill the lights, and the series.
Each and every time Phoenix got to within a possession of the Lakers, Kobe promptly drilled the kind of jumpers that no video game could ever duplicate. Jared Dudley, Channing Frye, and Grant Hill all felt the fiery venom of the Black Mamba slowly arresting the pulse of the Suns’ postseason.
As my friend said after the game, “Kobe spoils us with his greatness,” a sentiment that I’m sure we all could not agree with more. Even so, no matter how much I watch Kobe “embrace the moment,” as Lamar said following the win, his ability to lock into his mechanics and silence 20,000 opposing fans in a heartbeat, leaves me melting into my seat every time.
The court is his canvas and he only knows how to paint a masterpiece.
Kobe’s incredible heroics in Game 6 however, may have been irrelevant if not for Game 5’s hero, Ron Artest, stepping into his own circle of playoff greatness with 25 points (4-7 from deep). The play of the first half was when Ron pick-pocketed Channing Frye on an inbounds pass and easily turned it into a quick layup to extend the Lakers’ lead to 56-47.
If you want to gauge how significant Artest’s offensive contribution was, consider the fact that Pau Gasol was only able to scrape together 9 points on 2 of 9 shooting as he was yet again, hampered by the collapsing defense of the Suns. Hardly anyone would have believed that the Lakers could walk away victorious with Gasol having such an anemic outing in the season’s biggest game thus far.
While Kobe and Ron featured as the headliners last night, this game was a masterful example of Phil Jackson’s ability to make adjustments.