Uh, before critics denounce the NBA postseason as boring, might they consider that the defending champions are two losses from elimination? And before Phil Jackson is mentioned for every job vacancy but the California governor's seat, shouldn't he ask himself a question: If he's so great, why is his team still riddled by the 2-3 matchup zone defense of the Phoenix Suns, the one derided as "girlie" and soft? And before the ever-opinionated President of the United States hands another championship trophy to the Los Angeles Lakers, shouldn't he acknowledge the existence of a hot team in the desert?
"BEAT L.A.! BEAT L.A.!" they chanted Tuesday night outside U.S. Airways Arena, loud enough to drown out the "WE WANT BOSTON! WE WANT BOSTON!" chants in Staples Center last week. Before the Lakers can think about a potential rematch with the Celtics in the Finals, they'd better address quickly why they were embarrassed by the Suns' second unit and why they've fallen out of sync against the zone of Suns coach Alvin Gentry, who doesn't even like using it but knows it's the best way to discombobulate the high-potency Lakers. Before Game 4 of these Western Conference finals, Jackson pointed out that the zone rarely has been used in the NBA since it was adopted as legal in 2001 -- "and never in a playoff game." It was his way of chiding the strategy as desperate, and his thoughts were echoed by Kobe Bryant, who turned to sarcasm when asked if the zone could be deciphered, saying, "No, we're doomed."