Thanks to Hugh Hefner, the sign lives on.  But how many Pine Trees have given their lives for Hef’s sap-draining mag?

L.A. Stars out-performed by Phoenix Extras:  The Suns’ Stand-Ins score 54 off the Pine to steal the scene from Kobe & Co., 115-106, as the Phoenix producers once again pre-empt the long-awaited Series Finale

There was no Hollywood ending scripted for the Celebrity-backed Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday Night.  Despite 38 Points from Kobe Bryant, the Phoenix Suns were able to Beat L.A. 115-106, evening up the Best-of-7 Western Conference Finals at 2-2.  Phoenix had the lead for most of the game, but the Lakers kept it pretty close, even taking the lead early in the 4th on a Jordan Farmar 3-pointer, 87-85.  But then the Suns exploded, led by their Reserves.  Phoenix went on an 18-3 run, giving them a 13-point lead with 4 minutes to play.  The Phoenix spurt was highlighted by an 80-second span where they hit three consecutive Three’s, all by Reserves.  Channing Frye (who had missed 17 straight shots in the Series until getting hot in the 2nd quarter) started the lethal Threepeat, and was followed by Leandro Barbosa and Jared Dudley.

The Lakers came back with 7 straight Points to make it a two-possession game, but that was as close as they got.  The Phoenix Zone Defense was still keeping the Lakers out of the Paint, and down the stretch when the Lakers NEEDED to score, the Zone concentrated on Kobe and Pau Gasol, forcing Ron Artest and Lamar Odom to shoot.  The Defensive strategy worked, as Artest and Odom missed four shots in the final minutes, keeping the Lakers from being able to catch up.

Kobe was the only Laker that played up to his potential in Game 4.  Kobe tried to get everyone else involved at first, taking only 1 shot in the 1st quarter (and missing it).  But then he took over, scoring 31 in the 2nd and 3rd quarters.  He brought the Lakers all the way back, making a career playoff high SIX Three’s.  He also tallied 7 Rebounds and 10 Assists, again JUST MISSING his first career playoff Triple-Double.  So of course you can’t blame Kobe for the loss.  Or Andrew Bynum.  “Drew” was more effective than in the last game, although still visibly hampered by his injury, AND by his knee brace. 

The Suns played well in front of their maniacal (in a good way) Home crowd, but the Lakers did not play with intensity.  The Suns outhustled the Lakers all night, and they fought a lot harder for position on the glass.  Phoenix won the Rebounding battle, 51-36, and that 51 included EIGHTEEN Offfensive Boards.  The Suns were clearly the aggressors, earning 32 trips to the Free Throw Line, compared to only 13 charity tosses for L.A.

But the biggest discrepancy was the Bench Scoring, which Phoenix won, 54-20.  They had 3 Reserves in Double-figures, and 15 more (combined) Points from two others.  Meanwhile, Odom had 15, Farmar had 3, and Shannon Brown got 2, and that was it for L.A.  Take out Odom’s 6-13, and Farmar, Brown, and Luke Walton (who finally got in the Series, but for only 2 minutes) combined to go 2-13.

About right now, the Lakers should be very happy that they have Home Court Advantage in this Series, which could EASILY go 7 Games.  Because on a night where Steve Nash was an ice-cold 3-for-11 and Amar’e Stoudemire scored HALF as many as he did the game before, the Suns still were able to shut down Gasol, and make someone else besides Kobe try to beat them, which they couldn’t.


For those of you Bruin Basketball Fans who don’t follow too closely in the Off-season:  Ben Howland just signed Travis and David Wear, the Twin big men who have tranferred out of North Carolina.  They will have to sit out this coming year, but will have 3 years of eligibility left, each.  There are rumblings of them being soft, but by the time Howland unleashes them in 2011, neither Wear will wear that label.