I have to go to the dictionary for a moment just to explain this one. I know it starts with “a”, or “ab” or something like that. Oh yeah, here it is: “Aberration.”
The Suns were on their heels most of the night but Joe Giilmartin says this is an aberration. (NBAE Photos)
How else can you explain a team some don’t even expect to make the playoffs running up a 33-point lead on a team many expect to win it all? Or how Kobe Bryant winds up with 10 more rebounds than Amare Stoudemire and one more assist than Steve Nash?
One thing about being a fan of a mercurial team like the Suns is that you have to be able to take a joke now and then. And with the exception of a tiny smattering of boos in the second period the crowd took this one with remarkably good grace. I suspect there were two reasons for this good humor. One, this isn’t Philadelphia. And two, the fans recognized this exactly for what it was.
The game was so far out of hand by the end of the third period that Laker coach Phil Jackson basically sat all of his starters the entire fourth period and Coach Mike sat three of his, including Nash.
It doesn’t figure to happen again this millennium, but for this night at least the Lakers were poetry in motion and the Suns were still life. The lightly regarded visitors shot the lights out, moved the ball well, and totally dominated the boards. Of course, the Suns didn’t take all this sitting down. They took a lot of it standing still. And once the Lakers realized they weren’t being guarded they all turned into sharpshooters, most notably Derek Fisher, who hit seven of nine from mid-range.
Kobe scored only 16 points, 29 down from his last outing, but was a model team man who helped run the offense and launched only 15 shots.
If you’re looking for a mitigating circumstance, the Suns didn’t get back from Seattle until three a.m., and at times it looked as though they had walked most of the way. And indeed, Jackson himself suggested the Suns had fallen victim to what he called “attrition in scheduling at the beginning of every season”.
In any case, the two active ingredients in defense are energy and heart, and alas, as Coach Mike noted succinctly, the Suns, for whatever reason, had neither of the above.
Speaking of attrition, Jackson probably set himself up for a little himself down the road by calling a time out on top of a Suns’ timeout late in the game. “He took eight minutes over there to explain one play he probably didn’t even run,” said Coach D’Antoni. “Yes I was pretty upset. I though he disrespected our players, but he likes to play mind games, and that’s fine. He might want to try it in the playoffs when we bust them every time.”
The bottom line: Don’t worry. Just as lightning never strikes twice in the same place, aberrations never strike twice in the same season. And I’m with Coach Mike when he says the Suns are still a great team and will be just fine.