Hard to single out any one player, or even one phase for the coveted GGBA (Gilmartin Game Ball Award)!
For one thing, if ever there was a “team” victory, this was it. And as individuals go, you have to consider Amar’e’s 26 points, or Steve Nash’s 13 assists and second half recovery of his shooting eye, or Jared Dudley’s timely threes, or the entire bench for outscoring its Laker counterpart 52-31, and out-rebounding it 15-8, or maybe even Robin Lopez, who provided so much needed muscle in his most productive outing of the season.
And I haven’t even mentioned the best defense the Suns have played this year; this after Coach Alvin called them out publicly for malfeasance and even more damning, nonfeasance. With successful attitude treatments like this, Coach could moonlight as a $300-an-hour shrink.
However, upon further review, I have decided to go with none of the above and go with Channing Frye, who not only scored 10 of his 14 points in the third period with the game still very much in doubt, but more surprisingly (okay, astonishingly) hauled down 11 rebounds and turned in the single most pivotal defensive play of the game.
The Lakers had just whittled a 19-point lead down to 12 and Kobe Bryant was flying to the hoop for a breakaway that would cut it to ten or even nine just as the period ended, only to have Frye deliver a sensational block.
The Lakers would never get that close again. In fact, by the middle of the fourth period the lead was back to 19 again and the Suns were coasting to a victory that, for the nonce at least, restored some of the early-season swagger that had turned to stagger this month.
If there was a message here for the Suns, and I’m not sure you can deliver messages even to yourself in December, it is that they team has to play this hard to succeed, no matter who the opponent. And when it doesn’t it’s a middle of the pack team.
So maybe there was a double bonus here, a victory over the mighty Lakers and a wakeup call that may keep them from lapsing into prolonged snoozes on defense.
And while it may not mean too much down the road, it’s worth noting that the Lakers’ cloak of invincibility needs a little mending. They were thrashed at home by the Cavs on Christmas Day, needed double overtime and a little luck to beat the Kings, and frankly looked very ordinary indeed here Monday night. Granted, they were without Ron Artest, and they are still clearly the class of the West, but I’m just sayin’ …
The bottom line: At the very least this victory should quiet growing fears the Suns’ 14-3 sprint out of the gate was totally misleading, and re-establish the reality it was only a tad misleading.