As the expression goes, all good things must come to an end. Even impressive playoff winning streaks.
The Lakers, looking for their ninth straight postseason victory Sunday night in Game 3, instead absorbed a 118-109 loss. It was a ragged and jagged affair in which the Lakers found themselves in early foul trouble and (no surprise) couldn't keep Phoenix off the line. But among the things generating conversation this morning around the water cooler was Phoenix's reliance on a 2-3 zone for the final three quarters.
It was effective, but as we note in our postgame breakdown, the Lakers, thanks to impatience and carelessness (17 turnovers), were complicit in their own zone-related demise Sunday. More from ESPNLA.com on Game 3...
"...They zoned out, making lazy passes to the tune of 17 turnovers, many of which were unforced, instead of penetrating the seams. "It was just … we made bad passes," Pau Gasol said, who made only 14 field goal attempts and two foul shots after 19 and 10, respectively, in Game 2. "We weren't sharp with our execution against the zone." No, instead of sharp they were soft, bombing away from the outside rather than making their way to the middle, attempting a postseason franchise-record 32 3-pointers and connecting on only nine, putting the Lakers 0-4 all-time in the playoffs when they shoot 30 or more triples. "Thirty-two 3-point shots," coach Phil Jackson said. "That's not really what you want to do as a basketball team..."
On a night where Amare Stoudemire answered his critics with 42 points and 11 boards, it was a 20-point night from Robin Lopez, the squad's biggest fan of Screech Powers, helping to carry the day for Phoenix, writes Ramona Shelburne.
The loss may be exactly what the Lakers need, writes Arash Markazi:
"...Despite what's going on in the Eastern Conference finals right now, the playoffs aren't supposed to be easy. You're supposed to be tested and challenged. You're supposed to face some adversity and get hit in the mouth a couple of times and fight back. The Lakers never experienced that before facing the Celtics two years ago when they came in as heavy favorites and eventually paid the price. While the Suns aren't likely to take the Lakers the distance, back-to-back sweeps would have been the worst possible fate for the Lakers heading into a Finals rematch with the Celtics..."
Click below for other reactions from around the Interweb...
NEWS AND NOTEBOOKS
-After a seven minute, foul-laden effort, Phil Jackson says he's considering sitting Andrew Bynum: ESPNLA.com
-Kobe Bryant was again strong, flirting with a triple-double despite the loss: LA Times
-Alvin Gentry was reluctant to go zone in Game 3: Arizona Republic
COLUMNS AND BLOGS
J.A. Adande, ESPN: Suns go zone to get into the zone
Vincent Bonsignore, LA Daily News: For the Lakers to win Game 4, they'll need to adjust their attack
Chris Ballard, SI.com: Lopez was Sunday's unsung hero
Bill Plaschke, LA Times: Bynum needs to sit until the Finals
Kevin Ding, OC Register: Rest won't help Bynum, who is starting to understand how Phil Jackson operates
C.A. Clark, SilverScreenandRoll.com: Bynum's ineffectiveness is putting the Lakers in a bind
DexterFishmore, SilverScreenandRoll.com: Bad bench, bad D hurt L.A. Sunday night
Fran Blinebury, NBA.com: Stoudemire answers his critics in a big way
Paola Boivin, Arizona Republic: How did Stoudemire go from dud to Superman?
Sam Amick, AOL Fanhouse: Suns get scrappy in Game 3, and it pushes them to a victory
Seth Pollack, Bright Side of the Sun: Recaps what went right for Phoenix in handy bullet point style
Philip Barnett, Forum Blue and Gold: A look at the literal and metaphorical zones entered by the Suns and Stoudemire.
Greg Boeck, Fox Sports: Why Phoenix was the tougher team in game three.
Kelly Dwyer, Ball Don't Lie: More about Phoenix's successful zone D.