Home > Uncategorized > The Perception of the Suns’ Zone runs rampant over the Lakers…

The Perception of the Suns’ Zone runs rampant over the Lakers…

Perception is a funny thing. The Lakers won two games, scoring a combined 252 points, and in the third game the Suns implemented a zone defense. The Lakers proceeded to lose the next two games, only scoring 215 combined points. So the zone worked right?

Well, sure, of course it did, but… Here’s the thing, as good as the Lakers’ offense looked in games 1 and 2, there was no way they weren’t going to cool off. The Suns gave up 105 points a game this year, the Lakers scored 101, what about those numbers made people believe that the Lakers were going to average 126 for the series? Offensively the Lakers aren’t the early eighties Nuggets, scoring 120+ a game, every game. And defensively, the Suns aren’t the early eighties Nuggets giving up 120+ a game, every game.

In the first two games, the Lakers shot 58%, the law of averages dictated that even had the Suns kept to their man to man D, the Lakers’ shots would eventually start missing. At this level a team just doesn’t shoot that well night after night. The league is just too hard, the defense – even the “bad” defense – just too good. Yes Kobe and Pau had scored largely at will, which you would expect to continue, because that’s what they do against everyone, but guys like Ron Artest, Lamar Odom, and Jordan Farmar also had big games. That you can’t expect to continue.

I’m sorry, but Artest is no longer the player who once averaged 20 a game. Now he’s a chucker who’s hit 19 of 75 threes throughout these playoffs. Odom is a phenomenal talent and part of me wishes he played for the Suns, but he’s never been a consistent playoff performer. Even in last year’s championship run, Odom averaged 17.8 in the first round, 9.8 in the second, and 13.4 in the third. Consistency, thy name is not Odom. And Farmar? Really? Him? Come on, the Shrek look-alike scored 21 points in those first two games after averaging 4.9 a game through the first 10 games of the playoffs.

It was inevitable that these guys and the one legged Bynum would start to miss shots. Plus, the Lakers had been at home and were going on the road, which instantly is cause to expect a dip. Sometimes it is too easy to grab onto a result, or two, and ignore how the league works and the evidence provided by the previous 82 games. We all watched the Lakers blitz the Suns and assumed that it would continue, then when the Suns changed their D and the Laker shots started to miss the easy perception became that the Suns’ zone was the reason.

What really happened, is that the Lakers offense returned to their norm. They still shot a very good 48.8% and they still averaged 107.5 points across the two games. On most nights, against most teams, 106 points are going to win you the game. Of course, Phoenix isn’t most teams. What the zone really did, was disrupt the momentum of the game. It gave the Suns themselves the perception that they were playing better on their end, which propeleld them to attack more on offense. They ran, they pushed the rock, they shot threes, they chased after loose balls, and they fought for the wins. They didn’t play perfect games and they didn’t win because their zone defense shut down the Lakers, but they did what they needed to do to win two tight, hard fought playoff games.

Now of course all the hyperbole will swing back the other way. For two days the stories will all be about how the zone has stopped the Lakers and what can LA do to break it apart. Of course what the Lakers really need to conquer the zone isn’t any particular tactic, but rather a return to LA. A place where maybe the Suns’ fourth quarter run tonight doesn’t occur. A place where perhaps a few more balls bounce their way. A place where maybe, but hopefully not, the shots of their role players fall a little more frequently. That’s what a return home can do for a team. The Suns did what they needed to do to change perception, now the pressure is on the Lakers to do the same.

  1. bobby martins
    May 26, 2010 at 4:20 am

    Gotta agree wit u on ur views. To be honest I was surprised with the shooting of farmar and especially artest. Artest can still score em but never from distance consistently in his career. Also Stoudmire deciding to attack inside rather than settle for jumpers has added a new dimension for the Suns has its put the Lakers D under pressure and opened up the perimeter for their shooters specially in game 4 considering the lakers are known defenders for the 3 point shot.

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