PHOENIX, May 6 (Ticker) -- After Leandro Barbosa helped the Phoenix
Suns to a big lead, Kobe Bryant decided to do nothing about it.
Barbosa scored a playoff career-high 26 points as the balanced
Suns completed their comeback with a 121-90 rout of the Los
Angeles Lakers in the decisive seventh game of their Western
Conference first-round series.
NBA TV highlights from Lakers-Suns:
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Boris Diaw added 21 points and Shawn Marion had 14 and 10
rebounds for the second-seeded Suns, who became just the eighth
team in NBA history to rally from a 3-1 series deficit.
Following a 114-97 win in Game 5 that prolonged the series,
the Suns gained even more momentum in a 126-118 overtime triumph
in Game 6. Tim Thomas hit a 3-pointer with 6.2 seconds left
in regulation to send the sixth game into overtime.
Back in front of their home fans, the Suns overwhelmed the
seventh-seeded Lakers in the decisive game, never trailing and
leading by as many as 33 points.
"It was the heart and perseverance of our guys to overcome Game
Four," Suns coach Mike D'Antoni said. "Thinking that we were
slighted. We tried to do the right thing, we kept getting hit,
and they had enough. Whether they turned it on or thought about
it subconsciously I don't know but from that moment we played
the way we played all year."
Barbosa, who scored 22 points while getting the start in place
of the suspended Raja Bell in Game 6, again was a major factor
in this one.
Coming off the bench, Barbosa scored 15 points in the first half
as the Suns shot 60 percent (25-of-42) and opened a 60-45
advantage. They led by at least 14 points the entire second
Barbosa made 10-of-12 shots overall in 30 minutes.
"I think I figured out my game," Barbosa said. "At the beginning
everybody knew they had to do more. Right now I have a lot of
confidence. Maybe it is concentration and focus. I wasn't
worried about points. I was trying to be aggressive. That is
the way I like to play."
"It does help that he is one of the fastest guys on earth and
one of the best shooters from three," D'Antoni said. "It was
amazing what he and Boris Diaw did in the first half."
Bryant tried to keep the Lakers in it in the first half by
scoring 23 points on 8-of-13 shooting. The league's leading
scorer, Bryant netted 50 points in Game 6.
But in a puzzling disappearing act, Bryant deferred to his
teammates in the second half Saturday, taking just three shots
and scoring one point on a technical free throw.
"If we were going to get back in this type of game we had to
have everybody contributing," Bryant said. "In the first half I
started to pick it up offensively just to keep us in the hunt.
If we were going to get back into the game in the second half
everybody has to get into a rhythm and that didn't happen."
Through the first four games of the series, Bryant had been
giving more responsibility to his teammates. The superstar
attempted 35 shots in Game Six, but faded in the second half in his
team's biggest game of the season.
"We wanted to get back in the game so we were running things
through other guys," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Nash was a
little bit banged up and we were trying to use out inside out
game. Kobe just sat on that game plan and let the other things
When Bryant decided to stop shooting, the Suns decided to run
the Lakers off the court. A pair of free throws by Marion with
4:31 remaining in the third quarter gave Phoenix an 80-56
bulge. Phoenix held a 90-65 bulge entering the final period.
Steve Nash contributed 13 points and nine assists and Bell
scored 13 for Phoenix, which will meet the sixth-seeded Los
Angeles Clippers in the conference semifinals. Game 1 is here
Bell had battled Bryant all series and was ejected during Game
5 when he clotheslined Bryant and then threw him to the
"I can't really give you an answer why he didn't shoot in the
second half," Bell said. "Whatever happened we've got bigger
fish to fry now."
"I really don't think about him defensively," Bryant said. "It
is not like when I go up against a Bruce Bowen or a Ron Artest.
They make you think about what you do out there. It's not like
Possibly the only bad news for the Suns is that Nash - the
reigning MVP who reportedly will win the award for a second
straight season - appeared a bit slow after tweaking his ankle
in the first half.
"It will be fine after the next day and a half," Nash said.
The Suns had seven players reach double figures and shot 61
percent (47-of-77), including 10-of-21 from 3-point range.
Jackson, who has won nine NBA titles, had been 44-0 when leading
in a series.
"It is a shame we couldn't give them a better game today,"
Jackson said. "You could see early on that things were going to
be a little strained for us. The first five minutes on it
seemed like they were a step quicker and a step better
offensively and we had jitters today."