The Suns played well enough to beat 28 other teams but unfortunately that wasn't enough to win tonight against Kobe and the Pinkies.
First, let's just get this out of the way. Shaq played well. Better then I would have expected. He certainly played hard and got better as the game went on. He had a few nice passes and was solid on the boards. Clearly there's a new plan when Steve is resting. Give the ball to Shaq and wait. Fun stuff. Not to be negative but I didn't see a single spin move or any other low post stuff and he clearly was a liability on D away from the paint.
And speaking of D, I can live with Kobe playing awesome and hitting those amazing pull up J's and even getting to the rim a few times. Pau hitting hook shots over Diaw you can also live with. And Odom is going to take Amare off the dribble a few times. But the rotations on the screens has got to improve and the Suns really need to spend some time figuring out how they are going to play team D with and without Shaq on the floor.
The offense will be the easy part and if the rebounding trend continues then we can even survive a little drop off there. But good teams - and there are many - are going to tear us up if we can figure out the rotations and close out on shooters. Its really frustrating b/c it seemed that the Suns had finally figured some of this out right before the trade. I hope it won't take two more months to sort out again.
Then again, the Lakers are clearly playing the best ball in the league right now.
I think its time us Suns fans prepare ourselves being in the chase for the division lead for the rest of the season. One thing for sure. Its not going to be boring.
Player of the Game:
As much as it pains me it has to be Kobe. He played a near perfect game shooting effeciently and passing well. He had a few nice blocks and at the end took over. So much for his poor little pinkie booboo.
This was a very strange game to watch. After seeing the Suns play pretty much every game in the Nash era this was as if some other group of fella's came in and stole their uniforms. Its going to take time for them to figure out and its going to take time for fans like me to adjust as well.
And its really a shame that Shaq's first game and all the hype around that had to be against the Lakers. He really should have at least played a few minutes against the lowly Mavs last week. Early in the game the entire team really looked clueless at times and it took some solid shooting from Nash and Hill in the first half to even stay in it.
And now as a special treat to you, enjoy a few minutes of 1:1 time w/ the MVP himself as he drives home in his Prius and talks Suns and politics.