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When fouls just don't add up

Page 2 of 4 -- June 5, 1993: Suns-Sonics Game 7 of the Western Conference finals in Phoenix. Everyone wanted a Phoenix-Chicago Final for obvious reasons: A Charles Barkley-Michael Jordan matchup. In the series' first six games, Phoenix shot 15 more free throws than Seattle, a testament to the Suns' scrambling, clawing style of play. Game 7 was a lot different: According to a wire report, it was "a record free throw bonanza" for the Suns. The Suns attempted 64 free throws in the game, making 57 (still an NBA playoff record). Seattle shot 36 free throws -- only 10 more than Phoenix had in the third quarter alone. The big complaint afterward: The game was not refereed the same way the first six games were refereed, which penalized the Sonics. The headline on columnist Art Thiel's piece the next day in the Seattle Post-Intelligencer raised the issue: "Was the Fix In?" The Suns won, 123-110, but lost to the Bulls in six games.

May 31, 2002: Kings-Lakers Game 6 of the Western Conference finals in Los Angeles: I was there for this one and I agree wholeheartedly with Michael Wilbon's assessment of the game. "If you care about basketball," Wilbon wrote in the Washington Post, "Game 6 was a rip-off. The Kings and Lakers didn't decide this series would be extended. Three referees did." The Lakers averaged 22 free throws over the first five games and trailed in the series, 3-2. Another Kings win meant a Sacramento-New Jersey match in the Finals. Need I say more? So, in Game 6, the Lakers attempted 40 free throws, nearly double the average. They had 27 in the fourth quarter alone to nine for the Kings. Two Kings centers, Vlade Divac and Scot Pollard, fouled out on very debatable calls while Kobe Bryant drew blood from Mike Bibby on an elbow and no call was made. Said Divac after the 106-102 loss, "Why don't they just tell us in advance so we'll know to stay in Sacramento?" The Lakers went on to win Game 7 in Arco Arena and then swept the Nets in the NBA Finals.

Despite Suns' warmth, McCarty misses old friends

Old friend Walter McCarty checked in from Phoenix Friday to re-report that all was well and that he has a new daughter, Sasha, born on April Fool's Day.

"I'm very happy here," McCarty said, adding that he still checks in with Mark Blount four to five times a week. "It's a great team. It's a great bunch of guys. A lot of these guys are really mature."

Hmm. Wonder what prompted that description? Yes, McCarty said, he watched Paul Pierce's infantile display in the closing seconds of Game 6 in Indianapolis. What did he think? "The same thing as most everyone," McCarty said. "Paul is still young, not in terms of league young, but in age, and has to be able to learn from this. He has to know that people are going to take shots at him and that the most important thing he can do is kick the other team's butt and then walk out of the building with a win. Guys like Paul have to learn to keep their cool."   Continued...

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