Lakers-Suns: The Real Victory in Game 5 Was Jackson’s Gamble Paying Off

Lost amidst Ron Artest’s thrilling last second put back of Kobe Bryant’s three point miss to win Game Five of the Western Conference Finals was the coaching decision made by the Lakers’ Phil Jackson.

When Kobe Bryant picked up two quick fouls in the early minutes of the first quarter, Jackson did what every coach must do: sit the player. 


But most coaches would wait until late into the second quarter, or even possibly not bring the player back until after halftime at the risk of the such a key component picking up a third foul so early in the first half.


But not the Zen Master. Jackson went all in, risking everything, by sending Kobe back into the game with under ten minutes still left in the first quarter. It was a calculated gamble but a necessary one.


Phoenix started Game Five on fire, breaking out to a near 10 point led in the early going. Nothing the Lakers seemed to do could stem the tide. With the best player on the planet sitting on his bench, and the Suns racking up more and more points, Jackson knew he had to do something and do it fast.  


Game Fives aren’t called the pivotal game for nothing. With a series tied two to two, it really is a best of three battle at this point. And, the winner of Game Five holds all the cards.


In this series, whoever won this pivotal game would hold a major dominant hand. A Lakers win would send them to Phoenix with the knowledge that a game seven, if necessary, would be back in LA.  


If the Suns took this vital game, they would have a closeout game on their homecourt in Phoenix for Game Six.


No, last night’s game was do or die for both teams. And, Jackson...

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