No disrespect to Grant Hill, Jared Dudley and Jason Richardson, but we figured Kobe Bryant‘s toughest matchup last night would be against his own pride. Going into Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals, Kobe was facing the team (Phoenix) that represented his last really bad playoff fail (2006, 2007), so there was a real chance of him going out with Lookin At Lucky blinders and trying to overkill eviscerate the Suns instead of playing team basketball. But on his way to 40 points (13-23 FG, 11-12 FT), five rebounds and five assists, Kobe was like an artist in the way he picked his spots to take over in between letting the game come to him. His performance paved the way for a Lakers blowout that snuffed any momentum Phoenix may have had coming from the San Antonio series … Kobe had 14 in the first half, one behind team leader Lamar Odom, as the Lakers were ahead seven at the break. Then right after TNT’s analysts agreed the Suns were in pretty good shape with such a manageable deficit, Kobe emerged for the second half sporting a chef’s hat and serving blood pudding to everybody in purple. Sticking fadeaways, pull-ups, turnarounds, drives and threes, Kobe was vicious, dropping 21 in the third quarter alone and frustrating Hill into a rare technical as L.A. pulled away. The decisive stretch saw Pau Gasol (21 pts, 10-13 FG) hit a falling-down baseline turnaround, Gasol find Kobe with a beautiful no-look for a backdoor-cutting finger roll and-one, Kobe get a breakaway dunk, and Gasol add a jumper to put L.A. up 19 late in the quarter. The fourth was just practice, and by the time DJ Mbenga was icing jumpers in garbage time, Marv Albert and Doug Collins were looking for ways to convince us to keep watching the rest of the series … Odom finished with 19 points and 19 boards. Kobe deflected Craig Sager’s question about L.O. after the game, but yes, the Lakers are pretty much unbeatable if Odom plays that well every night … Shannon Brown had the almost-highlight of the year when he flew into the lane and nearly hurdled J-Rich going for a dunk. Shannon’s miss was right up there with Greg Oden‘s assassination attempt on Jeff Green in the ’07 Final Four … The Suns actually got off to a good start, scoring the game’s first seven points and leading midway through the first quarter as J-Rich (15 pts) and Amar’e Stoudemire (23 pts) both had their outside stroke going. But J-Rich faded into mere background filler for Kobe’s highlight reel, while Amar’e had just four points in that crucial third quarter … Dudley’s biggest impact in this series will be if he turns into Raja Bell 2K10 and gets into Kobe’s head. Talk smack, play dirty, maybe deliver a clothesline or two — sometimes the best method with Kobe is to poke the Mamba with a sharp stick and make him make it personal … And you know who theoretically could be huge for Phoenix right now? Earl Clark. Remember him? Lottery pick, Louisville star, riding severe pine all season. On paper (6-10, 225, athletic) Clark could guard anybody from Kobe to Odom to Andrew Bynum, but he hasn’t been able to crack Alvin Gentry‘s rotation. Not saying Gentry should panic in Game 2 and roll the rookie out there cold, but seeing him sit there useless on the bench makes you wonder … Steve Nash‘s eye doesn’t look so bad anymore. Now he looks like he only called Paulie Malignaggi out of his name, rather than dissing the Klitschko brothers … What da fock was Craig Sager wearing? Blake Griffin (@blakegriffin) wrote on Twitter during the game, “I got dizzy after looking at craig sager’s suit. Missed part of the game.” … At the end of the first half, Kobe dropped Hill to the deck with a crossover and missed a shot at the rim that Josh Powell dunked on the follow. Hill got right up, ran to the other end and got himself fouled taking a three. Veterans like Hill and Derek Fisher are like the old people in your college class; they don’t care about looking silly or embarrassing themselves, so they’ll ask the “stupid” question without hesitation. They’re in there to take care of business, screw their image … Now that Michael Jackson isn’t with us, Jessica Alba‘s boyfriend (Cash Warren) is by far the Whitest looking Black man in the world, right? Is anybody even up on the podium with him? … John Wall was also in the crowd, waiting to see where he’s headed when the Lottery drawing goes down today. Every time we’ve seen Wall out in public lately he’s buried in his phone … This is just ridiculous. And Dime reader datdood summed up our feelings exactly: “People always complain that LeBron is too cocky and arrogant. Can you blame him!!! He has an entire city treating him as if he is the single greatest person on the planet. Shyyyt, I’d be cocky as hell if everyone in an entire city was swinging from my nutsack. Cleveland is acting like the loyal citizens of Zamunda!!” … We’re out like Sager’s suit …
Smack / May 18, 2010 / 1:42 am
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