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Steve Nash and the Suns took a 2-0 lead in their opening round playoff series against the Lakers on Tuesday night.
(NBAE Photos)
Mercy Rule Needed

By Scott Bordow,
April 25, 2007

Do we have to go to Los Angeles? I mean, what’s the point? The series is over. The Lakers are finished.

What the NBA needs is a mercy rule so it can call off this mismatch.

Phoenix didn’t just beat L.A. Tuesday. It bludgeoned L.A. The Lakers are so far out of it now, not even referee Bennett Salvatore can save them.

So much for worrying that the Suns might get complacent after their Game 1 win and let the Lakers back into the series, as they did last year.

So much, too, for the notion that the Suns don’t have a killer instinct.

Phoenix 126, Los Angeles 98.

Now that’s a knockout blow.

“We know what people say about us, that we slack off in the second game of a series,” Kurt Thomas said. “We wanted to change their minds.”

Mission accomplished.

Sometimes it’s impossible to explain a rout of this magnitude in one sentence. But this might suffice: Steve Nash played just 24 minutes and nearly had as many assists (14) as the entire Lakers team (16).

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“I think we made a statement tonight,” James Jones said.

So did the Lakers. The only thing missing was Phil Jackson waving a white flag.

Phoenix played arguably its finest 24 minutes of basketball this season in the first half. It was a wonder to watch, and even Charles Barkley had to be impressed.

Amaré Stoudemire was the ignition switch. Too often, Stoudemire is a spectator on defense. But on Tuesday, he morphed into Bill Russell, blocking four shots, including a spectacular stuff of a Lamar Odom dunk attempt.

“When he plays defense like that, it really energizes us,” Nash said.

Stoudemire was still rejecting the Lakers after the game. Asked if he thought Phoenix had demoralized L.A., he smiled and said, “I think so. We didn’t want to see any signs of life.”

Jackson certainly seemed like a beaten man. He was so resigned to his team’s fate he didn’t even bother to call a timeout when Leandro Barbosa hit a 3-pointer in the second quarter that gave Phoenix a 55-34 lead and brought the Phoenix crowd to its feat.

“It was a clinic,” Suns CEO Jerry Colangelo said.

Coach Mike D’Antoni was so impressed he didn’t know where to start in his postgame press conference.

“It’s hard to single things out,” he said. “Our defense was really good, our rebounding was really good, we ran really well. I don’t know if you can play any better than that.”

You can’t.

It was a performance that will crank up the championship talk, and why not?

The Suns are healthy in the postseason for the first time in three years. They may not be as explosive as they were in the past, as Jackson asserts — although he might want to keep quiet about that after being busted for 126 points — but they’re better suited for playoff basketball with Stoudemire wreaking havoc inside.

“I definitely feel like that,” Jalen Rose said. Now, all Phoenix has done is win on its home court against a Lakers team that has more quit in it than it does life. Either the San Antonio Spurs or Denver Nuggets will present a much tougher challenge in the Western Conference semifinals. But as you watched the Suns humiliate the Lakers — and that’s the proper word, humiliate — you couldn’t help but think that the next two months may be the stuff dreams are made of.

COPYRIGHT 2007, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.

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