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Picture Adds to Suns’ Frustrations
By Jerry Brown
East Valley Tribune
May 3, 2006
Suns coach and general manager Mike D’Antoni said he called the NBA office on Monday to protest the jumpball call against Steve Nash in the final seconds of overtime in Game 4.
“We talked and they offered a sounding board, but not much else,” he said
D’Antoni said he was just starting to get it all out of his system when he got a look at a photo circulating the Internet Monday that showed Luke Walton’s left foot was out of bounds — with referees Bennett Salvatore and Ken Mauer both staring at the play — when he tied up Nash on the play.
Already arguing that (1) the Suns were trying to call timeout and (2) Nash was fouled on the play, Nash said, “So now there are three things wrong with the play.”
D’Antoni joked, “I’m in the ‘It’s a foul/it’s a timeout/it’s out of bounds camp.’ ”
But Nash admitted there were other factors that were in the Suns’ control that also played a role.
“First, I dribbled into a sticky situation,” he said. “Then, just by chance, one of my teammates (Tim Thomas) turned his back to me just at the split second I was going to pass to him. It just wasn’t meant to be. Even if they got out of that, somehow we would have lost.”
NBA commissioner David Stern told The Associated Press he’s happy with the officiating in the playoffs, but admitted the referees are missing about five percent of the calls.
“Do I think the officials miss a play? Absolutely!” Stern said in New Jersey before the Nets-Pacers Game 5. “Our goal is to make the officiating perfect, at 100 percent. We have not and we never will achieve that result. But I think we have the best officials, the best-monitored officials, the best-developed officials in all of sports.”
The Suns bench, a huge advantage much of the season, has been nonexistent during this series. Overall, the Lakers bench has outscored Phoenix 78-60 and there is no better barometer than looking at the second periods of the first four games.
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“Leandro (Barbosa) is not playing real well and he’s important because he’s one of the few people we have who can break people down (defensively),” D’Antoni said. “And they’re not letting Eddie (House) shoot. We just haven’t scored a lot of points, that’s for sure.”
Barbosa and House continued to struggle early in Game 5, so D’Antoni went back to the starters quickly and they responded with a series-high 29-point second quarter — including 11 straight from Boris Diaw.
ANOTHER NASH HONOR
Expected to be officially crowned the NBA’s MVP for a second straight season, Nash was honored again this week by Time magazine as one of their 100 most influential people in the world.
Nash was selected in the Heroes and Pioneers category and lauded as one of the global icons who use the influence they have achieved through stardom to good use. Ex-Sun Charles Barkley wrote an essay that accompanied the selection and praised Nash for his off-thecourt efforts, including the use of his endorsement money as well as the proceeds from events to pay for a new pediatric cardiology ward in a Paraguayan hospital.
“Over the past few years, (Nash’s) popularity has exploded,” Barkley wrote. “His ego could have swelled — everyone else’s does. But he still just wants to pass the ball.”
Others honored in the same category as Nash included former presidents Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush.
COPYRIGHT 2006, EAST VALLEY TRIBUNE. Used with permission.