Howard Betts, my step-grandfather, married my dad's mom (Irene Violet Bendure Van Liew Betts) back in 1993 or 4. Howard had a series of strokes over the last 5 to 10 years. He went to spend the rest of eternity with his Heavenly Father last night in Phoenix, AZ. More information to come on his life, funeral, etc.
The Suns came out blazin', winning the first quarter 31 - 17. They were up by as many as 17 points, but the lost their spark from there on. The Lakers got 31 to the Suns' 20 in the second, closing the lead to only 3 points at the half. The Suns lost the third by 7, down by four. The fourth quarter had times that the Suns could have come back and passed the Lakers, so that's good news, but the Suns didn't cash in but rather turned the ball over numerous times and gave way too many offensive rebounds (19). The Suns would have done better with better fast break opportunities and points in the paint, but the Lakers' defense did a great job against those two Suns' categories. Nash and Stat had double doubles: Nash with 10 points, 13 assists, and Stat with 24 points, 10 rebounds. The Suns lost 95 - 89. Game 4 is Sunday in LA on ABC at 12:30pm AZ time.
As Barbosa receives the 6th Man Award, the Suns take a crushing 2 - 0 lead in the series with the Lakers. Now we just wait to see if Nash is the MV3, as he should be. The votes are all in, so we're just waiting. The Suns came out to play, and the Lakers tried to keep to their original game plan, but it failed them. The Suns won every quarter, posting three 30+ quarters. At the half, the Suns were up by 21, and they never let it go. The Lakers worked their way below the 20-point deficit mark, but the Suns brought it back. The Suns won 126 - 98, a dominating 28 point victory. Nash only played 25 minutes, but he still got 16 points and 14 assists for his double double. Marion earned his own double double with 18 points and 10 rebounds. Stat was one rebound shy of a double double, with 20 points and 9 rebounds. Every player on the Suns' 12-person roster played and scored. Two Suns were 20+ in points (Barbosa had 26 again), two were 15+, and two more were 10+ (Jones, 12, and Bell, 11). Every starter was in double figures. The Suns' defense and incredible offense kept Bryant to only 34 minutes with only 15 points. All but one of the Lakers on their roster scored, as well, but they couldn't handle the Suns offense.
This year's NBA 6th man award goes to...Leandro Barbosa! Barbosa came off the bench in 62 of the 80 games that he played this season. He had career high averages in points, rebounds, assists, and steals. Barbosa is referred to as a "really good guy" by his teammates, and they are happy for his success. Barbosa is my age, 24, and make just a couple million more than me per year. It's okay, I've got a salary ladder to climb...oh, wait, they got rid of that, too. Schucks. Anyway, here are a few pics in honor of Barbosa's award.
The Suns went down by 9 at the half. Kobe Bryant scored 28 points in the first half, and it seemed the Suns had no answer. That is, until the second half. Barbosa scored 26 points, exploding off the bench. Nash, Marion, and Stoudemire all got double doubles. Nash had 20 points and 10 assists. Marion had 16 points and 16 rebounds. Stoudemire had 23 points and 12 rebounds. We didn't get killed on the boards, and we didn't give up a ton of offensive rebounds. The Suns won the first game of this best of seven series, 95 - 87. The next game is Tuesday night, still in Phoenix, at 7:30pm AZ time. GO SUNS!