Phoenix Suns Bench Shows Why It May Be More Important Than Starters

Tom PhillipsCorrespondent IMay 26, 2010

PHOENIX - MAY 25:  Jared Dudley #3 and Louis Amundson #17 of the Phoenix Suns celebrate after Dudley hit a 3 point shot against the Los Angeles Lakers in the fourth quarter of Game Four of the Western Conference finals of the 2010 NBA Playoffs at US Airways Center on May 25, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Suns defeated the Lakers 115-106.  NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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The Suns bench once again was able to step up and shut down the Lakers to even the series at two Tuesday night.

This begs the question of whether the bench is more important to the Suns in this postseason than the starters.

Twice in this series runs have been sparked by the Suns bench. In both the second quarter in Game Three and the fourth quarter in Game Four, the Suns were able to pull ahead and put the game out of the reach of the Lakers.

Need more proof? In the second quarter, where the Suns bench play a majority of their time, they have outscored the Lakers 98-76 over the past three games.

In the final quarter of Game Four the Suns bench was doing so well that when it came time to put Steve Nash and Amare Stoudemire back in the game, Suns coach Alvin Gentry instead called them back from the scorers table. They didn't reenter the game until three minutes were left, meaning the Suns bench played nine of the twelve minutes in the final period.

How many teams can say that that their bench will actually be able to hold arguably the best player and most talented team in the league not only in check, but beat them in every aspect of the game.

The Suns bench was able to bring an energy and hustle that the Lakers could not match, and when it finally became time for the starters to come back in, the energy had become too infectious for the Lakers to overcome.

The bench put up 54 of the 115 points the Suns scored in the win for the underdogs. Channing Frye was able to break his slump in a big fashion, hitting three straight 3's for the Suns, triggering their 10 point lead in the second quarter.

The best part about this is that the Suns starters are happy for the bench. Starters want to see the bench succeed because they know that they are a better team when the bench is performing.

Nash and, surprisingly, Stoudemire could not care less about their stats, they just want to win. If they have to sit on the bench to do that, so be it.

Frye's regained touch seemed to ignite the Suns second unit when they made their repeat performance in the fourth quarter where their defense and shooting was too much for the Lakers to handle.

Any one of the players off the bench can make a major impact on the game, whether it be Jared Dudley with his defense and 3-point shooting, Frye's outside range, Leandro Barbosa's speed, Lou Amundson's defense and non-stop motor, or Goran Dragic's emergence as a legitimate point guard threat. There are many ways that the Suns can beat you.

While the starters may be the more talented of the bunch, there may not be a group left in the playoffs that is better at playing together than the Suns bench.