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Old 04-25-2007, 10:15 AM   #1
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Default Article: LA Times - Jackson's master plan seems obvious

Jackson's master plan seems obvious

Lakers coach has the Suns right where he wants them -- overconfident and so full of themselves that they're ripe for the picking. Right?
T.J. Simers

April 25, 2007

PHOENIX P</I>HOENIX IT'S hard to challenge the brilliance of Phil Jackson, who was wearing one of his nine NBA championship rings Tuesday night to remind everyone that he really does know what he's doing.

So when he had Kobe Bryant on the court in the second quarter along with the "Stiffs 'R Us" unit of Brian Cook, Andrew Bynum, Smush Parker and Maurice Evans, the Lakers trailing by only six, you knew he was clearly up to something.

Then when he sent Bryant and Bynum to the bench, the Lakers losing by only 10, calling on Lamar Odom and Sasha in over his head to join Parker, Cook and Evans, surely it was the chess master at work thinking four or five games ahead of the rest of us.

"This is a very interesting team Phil Jackson has on the floor right now down 12 [points to the Suns]," said Doug Collins on TV, and then a minute later he was telling everyone that Phil will do that putting unusual lineups on the floor because he knows what he's doing.

Oh, he knows what he's doing, all right, the Lakers falling behind by 14 and then 21, and now Jackson has the Suns right where he wants them overconfident and so full of themselves after mauling the Lakers' scrubs, they're ripe now to be had. Brilliant, just brilliant.

Just imagine Phoenix Coach Mike D'Antonio trying to pump up his team now, telling his guys these are the NBA playoffs with each one of them giggling, knowing no matter what their coach says, they're still going to line up against the likes of Shammond Williams and Kwame Brown.

The Suns continued to demolish the Lakers scrubs, leaving open the question now whether they will leave Steve Nash behind when they come to L.A. so he can begin studying film of San Antonio and Denver.

Phoenix couldn't feel any better about itself right now, with everyone around here already talking about the team's chances of winning the NBA title. Remember when everyone in L.A. used to talk like that?

I wouldn't be surprised if we learn later that Jackson put former L.A. Daily News columnist Michael Ventre up to trashing the Lakers in his latest epistle with the express purpose of feeding the Suns' overconfidence.

Before Game 2, Ventre wrote, "Every year there is at least one team that doesn't really belong in the NBA playoffs. It's the kind of club that seems to be one hair away from the draft lottery this year, that team seems to be surprise! the Los Angeles Lakers. They're the worst team in these NBA playoffs."

If you're the Suns, how are you going to take the Lakers seriously from this point on?

PHOENIX PLAYED poorly on offense in the first game, giving the Lakers a chance to steal a win, but the Lakers passed, obviously preferring to make it more dramatic down the road. Maybe the plan is to wear down the Suns because it's got to get tiring scoring all those points.

The Suns had lost five consecutive Game 2s, including four on their home court, but with 8:40 to go in the third period in this Game 2, the Suns had a 27-point lead. They must now think they are invincible.

Jackson had to know the Suns would go all out in Game 2, giving them that, while plotting now to catch the Suns napping in Game 5 or 7 at the same time holding serve in the games scheduled to be played in Staples Center. The Jackson master plan.

Jackson now has Bryant resting, pulling him with 2:33 remaining in the third quarter, so he'll be ready to help the Lakers win four of the next five games. That's all they have to do, and doubled over in laughter like the Suns must be thinking about the odds of that happening, Phoenix doesn't have a chance.

But wait. Jackson has just brought Bryant back into the game, the Lakers down by something like 174 points, and now he's on the floor clutching his ankle. What was Jackson thinking? The old coach is brilliant, isn't he?

Bryant is limping, but he's still in the game, and the Suns are on the bench laughing. Yeah, the genius has them right where he wants them.

JUST THINK how badly things might've gone for the Lakers had they not been inspired by all the nasty things the Suns had to say in the book, ":07 Seconds or Less."

I ASKED someone with the Suns before Game 2 to make it a quick one because of newspaper deadlines, and I was told, "then tell the Lakers to put Smush into the game earlier."

I had no idea Jackson would oblige.

THE FORMER championship tandem of Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal lost by a combined total of 46 points each separately trying to lead their teams to Game 2 wins.

WHAT DOES it say when 128 writers and broadcasters make their selections, and 12 coaches receive votes, including Isiah Thomas, for NBA Coach of the Year and none of them are named Jackson or Mike Dunleavy?

TODAY'S LAST word comes in e-mail from Bryant Edwards:

"I recently read your columns detailing Kings' season ticket holders' complaints regarding an autographed puck that was sent to them as a gesture of appreciation it saddens me that you, Mr. Simers, chose to dignify this complaint without diligently researching more thoroughly the backdrop of this story The pucks that were sent to the ticket holders were originally intended as a charitable donation for Kings Care Foundation, aimed at improving the lives of disadvantaged children and children with life-threatening illnesses. Those Kings alumni that signed the various memorabilia were doing so with the intention of helping others, so it is unfortunate that you chose to use your column as a forum to degrade them."

So let me get this straight, the disadvantaged kids didn't want the pucks signed by nobodies, so the Kings unloaded them on their season ticket holders? Thanks for pointing that out.


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