Remember what your mom told you about being angry: Always count to 10 before lashing out? Well, that's probably what I should have done last night. That was a game that really needed to be slept on in order to be rationally dissected. It isn't like there wasn't anything nice to say. Just that in the fury of the moment, those things were a little hard to remember. So, here are a few of the positives that were lurking beneath the surface of that otherwise unsightly debacle. In no particular order:
- Linton Johnson got a nice long look. Over 24 minutes, in fact. On a night when Mike D'Antoni could have just stuck with the tried and true, he opted to give the 10-day guy a fair shake.
- Amare hit a three! Not only did he hit it, he looked absolutely comfortable shooting it. I'm going to retract my comments from earlier in the season that I never wanted to see Amare shooting behind the arc. That was BS--as in "before Shaq". Now, I think it would be nice if he would take (and preferably make) one of those ever so often just to let the defense know he can. Just don't fall in love with it.
- The offense with Shaq actually looked a lot smoother last night than it did in the previous four games. He seemed to be more a part of it rather than just someone the other guys had to play around to keep from getting in the way.
- Steve Nash shoots 1-of-6 from the field about as often as he stopped Jannero Pargo last night. He doesn't usually miss two free throws in a game either. A normal shooting night from Nash would have made that final score look a lot more respectable.
- Amare continues to be on a tear offensively. 32 points, 14 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks is nothing to sneeze at.
- Leandro Barbosa quietly had a nice night when he wasn't fouling people. He was especially efficient from behind the three-point line. His 5-of-6 was a big part of the reason the Suns shot 50% as a team from behind the arc.
- We stayed even on the boards, even with the Hornets shooting lights out.
- As others have pointed out, we did not lose this game because of Shaq. It was more the lack of Shawn Marion's defense that hurt us. That's not really a good thing except to say there are 28 other teams in the league besides the Suns that don't benefit from Marion's defense, and they all get by somehow (some better than others, obviously). He's not coming back, so the Suns will have to adjust, either by other guys stepping up to get stops, or just by managing to score 130 points every night so it won't matter if the other team gets 120. But regardless we're trying to stay positive here: Shaq wasn't the problem last night. His plus/minus was right in the middle of the pack with everyone else's.