Dragic, Bench Fuels Suns' Game Four Win Over Lakers
The Phoenix Suns defeated the Los Angeles Lakers 115-106 on Thursday night to even the Western Conference Finals at two games apiece. Kobe Bryant was brilliant for the Lakers, scoring 38 points while notching 10 assists, but the excellent second-half play of the Suns’ deep bench proved to be the difference. The backups simply caught fire, going 20 of 32 from the field while hitting nine three pointers.
One of the key reserves to contribute was 24-year-old Phoenix guard Goran Dravic, who more than capably filled in for star Steve Nash in the fourth quarter. Given the damage Nash's body has sustained these playoffs, from his Nashclops eye to his busted nose, allowing the perennial MVP candidate to rest alone added value to the team. But Dravic did a whole lot more, finishing with eight points, eight rebounds and four assists in 18 minutes. Even still, his ultimate impact was greater than the stat sheet indicates. He was the driver of the Suns’ 18-3 run to close the win in the fourth quarter, driving to the lane reminiscent of San Antonio Spurs star Manu Ginobli.
See for yourself:
As Harvey Araton of the New York Times writes, the emergence of Dragic means Phoenix doesn’t have to “merely survive anymore when Nash rests early in the second and fourth quarters.”
In 17 minutes 45 seconds over all, Dragic had eight assists –- as many as Nash had in 30:15. Dragic also had 8 points and 4 rebounds in what wasn’t even close to being his best fourth quarter of the playoffs. In the conference semifinals against the Spurs, he scored 23 points in the fourth quarter of Game 3.
Dragic struggled as a rookie but said Suns Coach Alvin Gentry assured him he was going to get minutes this season because Nash, at 36, must have his rest. Dragic responded by averaging almost 8 points and 3 assists and playing with aggression not often seen in a foreign-born player not named Ginobili.
The Dragon, if you will, awoke from a slumber to slay the Lakers in Game 4, playing beautifully into the hands of the man, the legend, Fred McGiff.
See previous tauntr .gif images from tauntr's in-house gif expert, Fred McGif: Ryan Howard, Dez Bryant, Trevor Hoffman, Tasered Phillies Fan, Kobe Bryant, Ben Roethlisberger, Dustin Pedroia Laser Show, Jeff Baker, Dustin Pedroia Laser Show, Take Two, Stick It, A-Rod, Sleeping Griffey, Trey Hillman, Sosa Is Back In Black, Roy Williams, Barry Zito Unicorn, Floyd Landis doping, New Jersey Nets name change, Duncan Keith Loses Seven Teeth, Glen Big Baby Davis' Weird Tongue Dance.
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