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NBA PLAYOFFS / GAME 4, PHOENIX 117, LAKERS 98 | SUNS
NOTES

Aggressive Attack Hampers O'Neal

May 15, 2000|MARK HEISLER

PHOENIX — Maybe they should have thought of this sooner?

After watching Shaquille O'Neal score 37, 38 and 37 points against them against single coverage and soft double-teams in Games 1-3, and losing all three, the Suns ganged up on him in the paint Sunday.

O'Neal still made two-thirds of his shots, but this time he only attempted 15 and settled for 24 points.

"That's always our plan," Phoenix Coach Scott Skiles said. "It's just that the guys were a little more aggressive at it, played with a little more desperation and that's the way that we need to play to even have a chance against this team.

"We did get down there a little bit quicker. We closed out a little bit better, didn't allow the guys on the perimeter to beat us off the dribble, after the collapse onto Shaq . . .

"Shaq is such a great player. He goes 10 for 15. I feel like we did an unbelievable job on him and he can get 24 [points] and nine [rebounds] just by his sheer presence on the court . . . "

*

The return of Rodney Rogers: After missing his first 12 three-point tries, the Phoenix forward made one in the first period en route to scoring 17 points off the bench.

*

Plot thickens: Turns out the Suns did more than talk about the referees before Game 4. Team President Bryan Colangelo called the league office to note the disparity in free throws.

The Lakers, however, still made more free throws (28) than the Suns attempted (27). The Lakers made 28 of 45, the Suns 17 of 27.

*

The Suns acted as if they always believed. Saturday, the day before Game 4, the Suns put an itinerary on the board in their dressing room for today: "Monday--practice. 10:00 a.m. taped. Bus to airport 1:30 p.m."

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