2010 NBA Playoffs: Phoenix Suns Deny Los Angeles Lakers a 3-0 Lead

Sometimes in sports, one team does not win; instead, the other team simply loses, perhaps by beating itself.

For instance, in football, one team may give its opponent great field position throughout most of the game, either via turnovers, failure to consistently convert on offense, or botched special teams assignments.

In baseball, one team may commit one too many errors on defense, or a pitcher may issue one too many base-on-balls.

And in basketball, one team may commit too many unforced errors and compound that problem by playing poor transition defense, thus allowing easy and often-times uncontested shots.

In Game 3 of the Western Conference Finals on Sunday night, however, the Los Angeles Lakers did not proverbially hand the Phoenix Suns the win, as if to say: "Here you go, take it."

Rather, the Suns defeated the Lakers in "we are going to snatch it from you right out of mid-air" fashion.

L.A. kept peeping into the room of victory, but when it came time to seal the deal and secure win number one of these conference finals, Phoenix slammed the door on the Purple and Gold for good.  This was thanks in large part to a 17-6 late-fourth quarter run and a series-breakout performance by Amare Stoudemire, who tied a career playoff best with 42 points to go along with 11 rebounds.

All things considered—playing on the road in a hostile environment, battling a team with its season essentially on the line, and getting bare contributions from Andrew Bynum, Lamar Odom, and Ron Artest, notably—the Lakers gave themselves an opportunity to extend their postseason winning streak to nine games and more importantly, to take a commanding 3-0 series lead.

But it was Phoenix that dominated down the stretch by capitalizing on coach Alvin Gentry's in-game adjustments and making all the timely plays.

Early in the affair, the Suns implemented a zone defense&mda...

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