Amare’ Answers

After a combined 41 points and 9 rebounds in the first two games of the Western Conference Finals, Amare’ Stoudemire responded to his critics with a 42 point and 11 rebound performance as the Suns win game 3 at home.

Stoudemire was too much for Bynum and the rest of the Lakers

Despite another 30+ performance by Kobe, the Suns now look to tie the series Tuesday night in Phoenix. Steve Nash had solid game, controlling the tempo while dishing out 15 assists while only turning the ball over once, as well as adding 17 points. Robin Lopez played a surprising game, playing in his 3rd playoff game in his young career, adding in 20 points and playing solid defense.

Part of the Suns success can be attributed by the switch to a 2-3 defense, allowing defenders to hand off Kobe and not allowing him to totally take over the game. The Lakers didn’t shoot the 3 well either, going 9 of 32 behind the arc. The Suns attacked early and got Andrew Bynum into foul trouble, as well as fouling out Lamar Odom midway through the 4th quarter. Lopez, who missed 20+ games at the end of the season with a bulging disk in his back, took some minutes from struggling backup center Channing Frye, who has missed all 18 threes he’s shot this series, after shooting close to 44% during the regular season, while keeping the defense honest to allow Stoudemire to operate.

With Bynum and Odom in foul trouble most of the game, Pau Gasol could not contain the quicker and more athletic Stoudemire, who scored inside on drives as well as making a few 12 to 15 footers. He also got to the line 18 times.

Set to become a free agent in the summer and having subpar performances in the previous two games, Stoudemire showed why he is one of the most skilled and dominant post players in the game today. He is going to have to continue playing at a high level in order for the Suns to upset the defending world champs and get to the finals for the first time since 1993 with Charles Barkley and co.

Although the Suns played primarily zone defense in the win, it is almost certain that mastermind Phil Jackson will devise a plan to exploit the holes needed to breakdown a zone. That being said, the Suns are not going to be able to win a series against the bigger Lakers sitting in a zone. It’s just not going to happen. Championship level teams have to prove that you can defend one on one and play good man defense with rotations and rebounding.

I predict Stoudemire comes out with the energy and will to win in game 4 and Kobe has another 30+ point game, but the Suns find a way to pull it out. Lopez stepped in tonight, as well as Jason Richardson contributing good three-point shooting and 19 points. The Suns have to have Nash and Stoudemire play the way they did tonight, as well as Richardson and someone else step up and contribute.

Whoever it is, if Amare’ plays at the level he did tonight, the Suns are going to be tough to beat.

It’s heating up in Phoenix.



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