Posted: May 19, 2010
By: Daniel Banks, Suns.com
Jared Dudley was a media darling heading into this series. With the week off he appeared on several shows including Pardon the Interruption and First Take. He's affable, honest, and always ready to talk. Indeed, he was the voice of the Suns new-found defense.
The day after Kobe's 40 point explosion in Game 1, however, Dudley sat alone before practice while the media hounded teammates like Steve Nash and Amar'e Stoudemire for answers. "This is what happens when you lose by 20," quipped Dudley. He knew the score, literally and figuratively.
He knew that all the hype and the expectations were meaningless and the only thing that mattered was what happened on the court.
In Game 2 Dudley showed us what he was made of and its not just talk.
The 2010 Majerle Hustle Award winner went to work against the Lakers making them pay every time they left him open on the perimeter. He hit all five of his three pointers on a night when his teammates couldn't buy a long range bucket. He was vital for the big third-quarter comeback that tied the game.
Jared earned 30 minutes of playing time before fouling out with a respectable 15 points off the bench to go along with five rebounds and four assists. His claim to fame, however, is one of the three steals he recorded in Game 2. Just watch...
The superstar Kobe Bryant was dancing, dazzling, ready to show up the young defender for daring to stand in his way. This play seems to sum up the Lakers team attitude - how dare the Suns take on the mighty champions? Jared wouldn't budge and looked for his moment to strike. But it wasn't just instinct.
After the game the Suns immediately boarded a flight back to friendly territory. Before takeoff, owner Robert Sarver called out for Dudley to join him in the back of the plane and asked him to walk the assembled staff through that play. Jared smiled and said that he'd seen Bryant pull that move already before on Grant Hill and had learned from studying that play how to react. He knew Bryant was trying to embarrass him, but he wasn't going to be intimidated.
Plays like that have the power to turn a series. Despite his heroics, the Suns weren't able to steal a game on the Lakers court but they should not be embarrassed or intimidated. Like Dudley they can study, learn tendencies, and wait for their moment to strike.
The good news is, that moment will come on Sunday night in their house. Dudley said it best in his postgame tweet:
"Down 0-2 but don't count us out.. Now it's our turn to go home...our fans will be crazy in US Airways Center come Sunday..I can't wait."
After such a gritty performance, making Sunday the loudest game the Lakers have endured all year is the least we can do for him.