When The Going Gets Tough, The Tough Pick and Roll

Now that’s what I’m talking about. Now that’s a REAL series.

steve nash amare stoudamireOk fine it’s only Phoenix’s first win against the Lakers, and the Lakers are still ahead by 1. But I’m just saying, that was a good game. A damn good, fine example of playoff basketball the way I remember it. Where guys where throwing themselves and each other all over the place, getting injured not just because of the game but from hitting each other.

And with time running out, Phoenix ahead but LA breathing down its’ neck, the game’s biggest unraveled their strongest games like they were supposed to.

Nash and Stoudemire unleashed their indefensible pick and roll like it is the most potent offense in the sport of basketball with the same effect as a Mack truck slamming onto a wall at a hundred miles per hour. Stunning LA with it’s effectiveness, shaking the Suns fans alive, and causing me and other believers of the old – school game to believe again.

When the times are tough, when you need to score and score badly, when the enemy awaits with guns drawn, desperate to pounce at your every mistake to gain a lead, you execute. You focus on your goal, you erase all memory of errors committed in the past, you carefully prepare to play the plays you practiced over and over, and you execute. That’s what the Suns did, and now they’ve made it into a series.

Before I finish this though (and get back to work), a mention of the one player I thought made a terrific difference is in order.

robin lopezRobin Lopez is the 22 year old (yes, only 22) forward – center for the Suns, and by golly this boy / man has been impressing the hell out of me.

First I gotta admit. Having not been catching a lot of Suns games, my first impression was limited to how ridiculous his hair was, and how he should take notes from his equally competent twin brother Brook in the trimming department.

It was inevitable however, that you start to pay more attention when he starts to play, because he plays like a big man should, which is like – a – big – man. And when I say that, I mean you play tough, you play mean and you take up as much space in your opponent’s face as often and as much as you can. If some guy gets a better position than you, smaller or bigger you take it away from him, you reach out for every rebound and you block every attempt. In other words, you just play big.

When I first saw him play, I thought it reminded me of an earlier Verajao (which sad to say, doesn’t seem to play with the same aggressiveness as before). After today though, when he took down a hard driving Artest sometime in the 3rd via a playoff – level foul, I paid him one of the highest compliments I could by thinking that he reminded me of a 90’s Charles Oakley.

Believe you me I don’t throw around the names of any of my beloved Knickerbockers easily. In fact as I’m writing this I’m wondering as to the wisdom of what I just said. It’s probably best to watch a few more games before bestowing such an honor, but still, I liked that take – down. It sends a message, and if it weren’t Artest on the receiving end I doubt anyone else could’ve walked away with that easily.