(Christian Petersen/NBAE/Getty Images)

The cognoscenti almost unanimously said it couldn’t be done, and in the end the Suns didn’t do it.

But to their considerable credit they kept the issue in doubt right down to the 53-second mark in the fourth period of Game Six when Kobe Bryant sealed their doom with a shot only he would think of taking, let alone make.

I would say it was miraculous, except that he had hit another one much like it a minute earlier to push the lead back up to five. He scored 9 of his 37 points in the last two minutes. Before he heated back up the Lakers were pretty much in collapse mode, managing only four points in the first six minutes of that fourth period and looking downright Clipperish.

And to paraphrase one of the late Dizzy Dean’s oft-quoted lines, “If Kobe isn’t the best player in the game today he’s certainly amongst ‘em, Peewee.”

Although the Suns came within a nanosecond of perhaps taking control of the series in Game Five in Los Angeles, and appeared to have the champs on the ropes late in this one, the bottom line is the Suns were thoroughly outplayed for long stretches in both of the last two games.

Translation: In spite of the fact they twice stormed back to make the Lakers squirm at the finish, there can be no doubt the best team won. (So okay, everybody else knew that way before I did. So sue me).

I know I picked the Suns in Six and cited their superior depth and much improved defense, and edge in weapons of mass destruction. But alas, the only part I got right was the six.

I obviously underestimated the Lakers as a team and overestimated Kobe’s health problems, for which I offer a large mea culpa (something I have had years of practiced doing). But these Suns don’t have to apologize to anybody for anything. Their whole exceeded the sum of their parts, and their can be no more proud epitaph for any team.

I blogged back in December that they had a chance to become a very special group, and that part I got right.

Coach Alvin, as gracious in defeat as he has been in victory, nailed it when he said, “There have been no negatives to anything that’s happed to us in the last month. Tonight we just happened to play a team that was a little bit better.”

The bottom line: Although Steve Nash isn’t getting any younger, and Amare’s future is uncertain, there’s no reason to believe the Suns are going straight downhill from here. The development of some of their younger players, most notably Goran Dragic, offers much hope for the future.

Bottom Line Deux: So the cognoscenti are right after all. But lest they get too carried away, these are the same guys who back in October said the Suns wouldn’t even make the playoff. (That part MOI got right, too).

  • Steven Reiley

    Suns were great. Amare did not show up for the last two games. I think the Suns could have done it if Amare had showed up and played with heart.

  • Mark Kassir

    Congradulations to the whole Phoenix Suns organization on a great season. Enjoy your summer, stay in shape and stay healthy. Thanks for playing hard all season. I can’t wait till next season.

  • Tom Burroughs

    As a 13 year fan of the Suns I saw something special after only two preseason games, I told family members & friends we were going to win it all. With a little luck here & there it would have happened. Robert Sarver & Steve Kerr you have the most highly respected organization & best group of young men in all of sports. If it is at all possible please give this group one more shot next season I know we can win it all. I am feeling some dissapointment this morning for a group that gave it their all, but I am feeling optomisium more than anything else for the 2010/2011 season. Thanks for my greatest year ever as a Suns fan.
    Tom Burroughs
    Prescott AZ

  • Carla

    Hello Joe, Well, I have to disagree with you. I do NOT believe that the Lakers are a better team, I believe that the Suns could have won game 5 if Jason had blocked out like he should have. I agree with Nash, the Suns held their own against this team, came back from 18 point deficit and had it in reach. How many other teams in the NBA would or could have done that? No, I believe the Suns were and are the Lakers equals it just that Kobe hit shots that only he could make in those last seconds of game 6. I think Amare still has lots of learning to do, I agree with Charles(gag I can’t believe I said that!) that Amare has to learn that he has to take it to the other team, not take what the other team brings to him. I pray that this group is kept together, how can a team continue to grow if you keep tearing them apart? This was a group of guys that this was the first time they played together and look what they did! Yeah, I believe that the Suns have a team that CAN go ALL THE WAY!

  • vm

    goran dragic will get a ring with the suns. i’m sensing it

  • Kevin

    I want to send a congrats to all the phoenix suns for the hard work and despite losing to the lakers, the suns overall did a great job on trying to stop the lakers. lakers are a hard team to beat and we did everything. I hope all the regulars stay with the phoenix suns and i know and believe this team that they will get to the finals and win. have a great summer and comeback with the honor and play with your heart and mind.

  • kristel

    Miss Carla. i agree with you.. “how can a team continue to grow of you keep on tearing them apart”
    This year was maybe really not for suns.
    look.. it’s only the first season suns got up together with this right group of people.. having channing frye’s presence, goran’s 2nd season in nba, richardson and jared’s adjustment, robin lopez fist season..Gentry as a HEADCOACH not as an assistant at all..
    all i want to say.. there’s still next year, and if these guys work out and stick together better than this season having Nash and Amare. aww.. suns will be on the finals.
    don’t lose hope. there’s always a right time :)

  • Del L Swafford

    As a fan of 17 years,there is something very special here. E-go’s left at the door. Five starters and a bench that no one has in pro basketball. Amare needs to stay for his 17 mil. There is no gaurantee he will get the ring elsewhere. The Suns have it figured out. Sarver and Kerr need to “KEEP” this team intact for one more year. Steve Nash needs to utilize Jason Richardson who can get his own shot, when Amare is being doubled and tripled teamed. The Suns gave us a GREAT year. The Suns are going to the finals next year, “GAURANTEED” Thank you for a great season !!

  • Rob

    The Suns will be back hopefully all together.

    BUT let us not forget the highlight of thie season:
    Spurs Sweep.

    Need I say more?

  • JOHN SERPE

    You were not alone Joe, Suns in 6 was pretty popular. Sorry, but as much as keeping everyone together sounds great, WERE NOT BEATING LA IN SEVEN GAMES STANDING PAT. Let Amare go, bring in Dirk. Suns have to be better with that move. See you next year.

  • juneking

    to gentry, why is it that you pull out dragic in last minute of game six, he has the momentum to beat LA, he played with his full heart, i think you win game six if nash and dragic played together, you also pull out dudely were in he has done a good job to defense kobe, kobe can not take good shot, his hard to take good shots. and why is it that frye dont have the ball at the last minute of action, he has good shot also. in game 5 if and only if Jrich screened ron, suns would won the game in OT.

  • Sneha

    I’m from L.A. but am a DIE-HARD ardent Suns fan, and I had the chance of going to my very first Suns home game for Game 6!!! And despite the crushing, heart-breaking loss, I have to say I AM SOOOOOOOO PROUD OF THE SUNS! This season has been absolutely AMAZING! I loved every minute of it, and I just LOVE LOVE LOVE this team! Second to God and my family,they are seriously MY LIFE! I want to thank the Suns for the incredible season. The lakers are NOT better, just bigger and luckier. To me, the Suns were the true champions this year, to take what they had, not many big names, to come together and work as a TRUE team, getting along so well, playing with all the right values and what not, and got SO FAR, they’re the true champions. They truly embodied what basketball and sports are TRULY all about, and that’s why I love this team so. I was seriously hoping that the Suns would the championship so that we have a tangible representation of such true champions, but unfortunately in the world of pro commercialized sports, i guess the good guys don’t succeed, too bad. But the SUNS are the best! and I can’t wait for next season! GO SUNS! I LOVE YOU!

  • ric jonathan de leon

    i am an avid fan of PHX SUNS, for me, here in a Philippines, we love amar’e and steve tandem… if lebron or bosh add in this team… this team will be probably can shock the NBA World… for me, lack of size is the biggest factor in Conf. Finals… but it’s a great job, as an underdog… dont put ur heads down, PHOENIX SUNS RULES!!!!

  • Jonathan Erell

    Steve Kerr you should bring a new players to the team if you want the champ!! I think the Suns need to bring back Shawn Marion hes huge with Steve Nash!!

  • kristel

    to mr juneking, yeah! i agree with you also that “dragic has the momentum to beat LA, he played with his full heart, i think you win game six if nash and dragic played together, you also pull out dudely were in he has done a good job to defense kobe, kobe can not take good shot, his hard to take good shots. and why is it that frye dont have the ball at the last minute of action”
    - super right. well.. Gentry is the coach he got the decisions. anyway! we’ll have a better next year!:)

  • mike

    i have been a suns fan since 1968 when they came into the league. i saw the suns lose to the 76 celtics and the 93 bulls. I really thought they would pull out the lakers series,and have home court in the finals! a few breaks, bounces, a little luck it could have been! I do believe amare was the key! games 1 and 2 he was missing in action, games 3 and 4 he was awesome! game 5 he was back, game 6 again mising in action, only 4 boards! even nash had 5 rebounds! yes he had 27 points, but half of those came on free throws. Not sure if keeping amare is the best thing now, good luck next year SUNS! :-)