You gotta love it when, in the post game interviews Phil Jackson admits how he would’ve probably done a better job coaching if he pulled out Ron Artest after a bonehead play with .56 left in the 4th. They were ahead by 3 but had a fresh shotclock after Gasol rebounded Artest’s miss, and could’ve wasted time or set up a play to increase the lead.
Later on however, after Jason Richardson sank a miracle 3 from near center court to tie it 101 all, Bryant hoisted up a 3 but missed, and the player that should’ve been sitting on the bench had the ball fall into his hands for an easy putback off the glass, winning it for LA as the clock hits 0.
I gotta admit I know a little bit about that feeling. I coached a 17 and under team in Cainta a few years back, and in the endgame there was this kid I brought in from the cold who had been sitting on the bench all day. I felt sorry for him and since we looked like we were headed towards a sure win (we were 10-11 pts. ahead), I gave him some playing time.
Later the other team went on a 9-0 run and before I knew it we had a game on our hands in the dying seconds. I totally forgot to take him out in the confusion, and when I realized my mistake I stood there quietly trying to pretend I knew what I was doing. Lo and behold the kid then made a crucial rebound, was fouled, and won the game for us via two freethrows. Sadly there are no post game interviews in Village basketball games in Cainta, so I didn’t have the chance to admit I’m just as surprised as everyone. Instead, the whole village goes away convinced I’m some sort of basketball genius, who can foresee things others cannot. The only thing I can do about that is smile.
Ok back to the game. The pic above of course has nothing to do with the exciting endgame to this Game 6 of the Western Conference Finals, but it is however a pic of the most spectacular player off the Suns bench today, which I kept my eye on most of the game.
Steve Nash finished with a scintillating MVP like 29pts., 11 assists. Even Amar’e only had 19. Bryant also had an MVP like 30pts., 9 assists and 11 rebounds, but Nash.
Shooting it twice, one on one over Gasol (similar to how he schooled good friend Nowitzki in the Suns – Mavericks wars of several years ago), criss crossing the ball like he’s out of control then dumping it to a streaking Amar’e, Hill, Richardson or Barbosa who are usually just set to jump into the hoop resulting either in 2 points, or usually 2 points plus freethrow opportunities. He is just amazing.
Regardless, I’m leaning towards LA to win this primarily because of the Coaching. Just when the Suns looked invincible, Phil Jackson (who is underrated this year imho), literally pulls rabbits out his hat. First via the inclusion of Vujacic who apparently has a grudge against the Slovenian cutting him and is taking it out on fellow Slovenian Dragic. Second via producing some D, the first time I think I’ve seen it in this series.
And that’s why I’m saying Jackson is underrated. Even if it involves playing guys nicknamed ‘the machine’ (for whatever dubious reason) loose so they can work on a grudge, or keeping Ron Ron on the court after wasting away a possession, if it wins games Phil Jackson isn’t above doing it.
And as proven after today, occasionally he gets lucky. And as everyone in sports knows, you can beat talent and skill, but you can’t beat lucky.