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Hoop it up all week with SI.com's writers in the NBA Playoffs Blog, a daily journal of NBA commentary, on-site reporting and reader-driven discussions.
2:32 PM ET, 4/20/06

Game 7 was inevitable

Posted by Arash Markazi
LOS ANGELES -- This series had to go seven. There was no way it couldn't. There were too many storylines, too many subplots, too many last-second heroics not to take this one the distance. Even the staunchest Lakers fan had to wonder what would happen if Kobe Bryant got to face Raja Bell one more time in Phoenix after their verbal warfare through the press on Wednesday after it was announced Bell would be suspended one game for his flagrant foul on Bryant in Game 5.

"I have no respect for him," said Bell. "I think he's a pompous, arrogant individual." To which Bryant responded. "Maybe he wasn"t hugged enough as a kid."

While there will be more drama surrounding Game 7 than an O.C. episode, a trip to Phoenix was the last thing on the Lakers' minds as they held a 105-102 lead with seven seconds left and a foul to give in Game 6. But as he has done this whole series, Tim Thomas came up big by draining a huge, game-tying 3-pointer. And even though Bryant had 6.3 seconds to hit a game-winning shot, his attempt fell short. In the overtime period, the Lakers' dreadful defense gave up 21 points in five minutes as Bryant scored 12 of the team's 13 points to finish with a career playoff-high 50 points. It was one-man performances like that which got the Lakers beat by the Suns seven straight times before the Lakers -- as a team -- broke through and beat the Suns at the end of the season and held a 3-1 series edge after four games. Analyzing the game despite his stellar night, Bryant said, "After you went to the bathroom you don’t look at what you just dropped in there all night long. At some point you have to flush it."

Fair enough. With that, here are some post-game sights and sounds from the Suns' 126-118 win over the Lakers in Game 6.

• Jack Nicholson looked like he was trying to put a hex on the Suns, waving his fingers at them like the boogey man as they were on offense late in regulation. The sight of Nicholson, with his wide smile, slicked back hair and signature sunglasses, trying to hex the Suns brought a smile to the face of Thomas, who no doubt broke Nicholson's heart when he tied the game with his 3-pointer and helped clinch the win by scoring five more points in the extra period. After the game, Thomas slammed the ball down at center court and before he went back to the locker room, waved his fingers at Nicholson and gave him a hug. "I told Jack that after they got the last game on a buzzer-beater it was our turn," said Thomas. "I looked at him at the end of that game and he gave me one of those watcha gonna do looks, and then this game was tight in the forth and I ended up jinxing him. I told him we were going to get it. But Jack is a lovable guy; you can't go wrong with having conversation with Jack."

Thomas also wasn't worried about possibly being on vacation today if he didn't send the game into overtime. "I've been on vacation all year with Chicago," said Thomas, who was waived by the Bulls on March 1. "I was on vacation so I wasn't thinking about vacation at that particular time."

• After the game Nash, dressed in a very trendy T-shirt, blazer and jeans combo, was carrying around his game shorts and jersey and asked Boris Diaw where his friend was because he wanted to meet him and give him his used attire. When I asked Diaw who his friend was, he said it was Didier Drogba, one of the top strikers for Chelsea, which just won the English Premier League title in soccer. Apparently he and Ronny Turiaf hooked Drogba up with tickets before the game and Nash, a big soccer fan, wanted to meet up with him and give him his sweaty uni as a gift.

• The area were most of the visiting players go to greet family, friends and guests after games at Staples Center is in section 106, and while Eddie House was telling friends he would be back to Los Angeles soon enough for the Clippers series, Amaré Stoudemire was sitting down and talking hoops with actors Jim Caviezel and Morris Chestnut. "It"s so much fun to play with Nash," he said. "I wish I was out there right now."

After Nash greeted some friends and signed some autographs, he walked out of the arena with House, who was doing his best Leandro Barbosa impersonation as the humble Brazilian guard kept saying he wasn't as fast as Raja or experienced as Raja, but was doing his best. On their way out, they gave some grief to my good friend Paul Coro of the Arizona Republic. "Way to work Coro," said Nash. "I've been noticing you've been overusing the commas lately."

Comments:

Posted: 3:24 PM   by maribel
As a Lakers fan, I was hoping for a close out at Staples Center but if we have to go the distance, so be it. An appropriate end indeed.
Posted: 4:03 PM   by The Cavalier
I love butter.
Posted: 5:38 PM   by Anonymous
Excellent game last night with the Suns & Lakers. It's nice to see that the refs didn't throw out Koby for the high elbows. Otherwise Koby would probably get thrown out of most of his games considering he uses the high elbow as the staple of his offensive game
Posted: 8:02 PM   by Anonymous
Mr. Arash Markazi,

Just want to let you know that I enjoy reading your blog. Your's a real blog, your companions at SI's playoff blog are more of a article than a blog. And getting tired of reading their so called "blog". Keep up the good work!
Posted: 8:33 PM   by Anonymous
Inevitable? That's not what anyone outside of Arizona was saying yesterday. Inevitable was the LA vs LA series. So wishy-washy...
Posted: 9:32 PM   by maribel
To Mr. Wishy-Washy, Arash said "inevitable", not "expected." So yes, if you think about it, it was inevitable (considering all the drama the series has had so far).
Posted: 11:50 PM   by MMM
Yeah, Game 7.

It's the most fun in any sport. All evens, one game for the whole ball of wax.

Game 7 quote (winner) "I'm better than you."
Game 7 quote (loser) "yeah, you are, for now."

Hopefully once Game 7 has been played, the two teams involved will congratulate each other on pushing the limits so far. The rest of us in fandom will shake our heads in admiration.

And then hope for another Game 7.
Posted: 12:56 AM   by Anonymous
Anyone who complains about Kobe giving
elbows...quit whining. It's the playoffs. Bell flops alot...how can Kobe knock him down with such little space between them...please! Bell should stop playing defense with his face! He truly deserves the elbow, like Phil said.
Posted: 9:19 AM   by Anonymous
I think it's just great the Lakers players are allowed out of jail on that work release program. Attention detention officers they're going home soon
Posted: 1:05 PM   by Junior
Anonymous: "It's the playoffs." If elbows to the face of Raja Bell & Leandro Barbosa (4 stitches - was that flopping?) are okay, then what's wrong with a friendly clothesline to Kobe? Come on, it's the playoffs!
Posted: 2:37 PM   by Vince
It's the playoffs, so get used to the elbows. I like the way the Suns sent different defenders at Kobe. Marion's length was the key to stopping that last shot in regulation.

I suspect the Zen Master will make some adjustments of his own for Game 7. Maybe run Kobe on Nash, just like he sent Pippen at Mark Jackson in the Indiana series in 98?
Posted: 5:06 PM   by Anonymous
Arash, I am enjoying your blog. Your "Insider" take is interesting.

That said, I now believe you and Lang to be the same person. If not, how can you explain the name, Didier Drogba, coming up on two separate basketball websites, within hours of one another. If we were talking about soccer, I could understand it, but we are talking basketball.
Posted: 10:06 PM   by Anonymous
Arash used to write for SLAM with Lang and like Lang is a soccer fan, but the only reason Drogba's name came up was because Boris Diaw brought it up so I don't see the correlation.
Posted: 9:49 PM   by peter michael
There's too much pride for Steve Nash not to comeback. After making huge mistakes down the stretch in Game 4, the reiging MVP struck back and performed better in the next three games. The great stars always comeback from a humiliating defeat. Nash is not an MVP for nothing.
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