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Shaq Clears the Bench, Suns Clear the Grizzlies (132-111)

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I could probably forgo the recap altogether tonight and just post this YouTube by srp. It pretty much says it all if you let Shaq represent the Suns, and the Suns bench represent the Grizzlies:

That's kind of how this game went. The Suns came charging through the gate, and the Grizzlies for the most part just got the heck out of the way! This was that four quarters of beat-down I wrongly predicted the last time the Suns played the Grizzlies. We even got to see Kwame this time! So, I guess I was a few games early with the prediction, but whatever. It's just great to see the Suns looking like they're having fun again, and more importantly, looking like contenders again.

That's right, I said it!

I don't care if it came against the Grizzlies who looked every bit like the already-eliminated from the playoffs team that they are. When you score as many points in the first quarter (41) as your opponent scores in an entire half, that's pretty darn impressive. When you out-assist, out-rebound, out-shoot, out-block, and outplay your opponent in just about every way possible, that's impressive too. So, while I'm not sitting down to that Shaq-sized plate of crow just yet, if the Suns continue to play like they did tonight and Sunday, I'll have to start looking for a chef real soon.

A few random thoughts:

  • It's pretty fitting on a day that started with me grudgingly putting up a post honoring my least favorite player in the league, that it would be a guy I haven't exactly welcomed with open arms who really set the tone tonight. Shaq wrapped up Player of the Game honors by the time he took the bench in the first quarter. The Suns ran the offense through him from the get-go, and he had four assists right away. He basically filled the role Nash usually does in getting everybody involved early.
  • Nash deserves some kudos too for recognizing that it was Shaq's night to shine and letting the big guy run things when the two of them were on the floor. I still think both of them together makes for too many chiefs sometimes, but there were also long periods where one was on the floor while the other rested, and that kept the offense humming the whole way through. Oh, and despite it appearing that Nash was making a concerted effort to let other guys make plays, he still ended up leading everyone in assists, notching eight in just 25 minutes.
  • I barely noticed Amare's 29 points and 13 boards. He also had four assists of his own. That's not a knock. It just means that he blended in pretty well with the flow of the game as he quietly led both teams in scoring and rebounds.
  • How badly do Grizzly fans hate Raja Bell right now? After torching the Griz in the fourth quarter last time, Bell had a string of three straight threes in the third quarter of this game, plus another three points the old-fashioned way. He ended up with 20 points total, all but two coming in the third quarter.
  • Gordan Giricek finally found his shot from everywhere but behind the arc (and he only attempted one of those). He went 9-of-14 for 18 points.
Player of the Game: Shaquille O'Neal. Yep, two points on a single shot gets the POG when you also have six assists, eight rebounds, three blocks, and you dominated the game from the opening tip.

Runner-Up: I'm going with the game's plus/minus leader Grant Hill, who I purposefully left out of the bullet items above so I could mention him here. He went 7-of-10 from the field, and ended up with a Marion-lite line of 17 points, 7 rebounds, 4 assists, and a block. Then, there was that whole plus/minus thing (+25).

Did You Know?: A few drops of knowledge from the Suns broadcast tonight regarding Al McCoy's "Shazam!" and where it came from. They said he got it from the comic book character Captain Marvel, a radio reporter in his "day job" who used "Shazam!" to summon his powers. Shazam stands for: (S)oloman (wisdom), (H)ercules (strength), (A)tlas (stamina), (Z)eus (power), (A)chilles (courage), (M)ercury (speed). Wikipedia has way more than you'd ever want to know about Al McCoy's superhero muse.

Update [2008-3-12 10:19:51 by srp]:

If Los Suns beat the Grizz its kind of meaningless...

If Los Suns lose to the Grizz its a disaster...

But when Los Suns blowout the Grizz and use defense to ignite the run and tear out the bear's heart then that's a great thing...

This win provides momentum and returns the fun to the team and gives a big confidence boost....There could not have been a better outcome for Los Suns and their fanaticos.

Don't get me wrong. Its still the Grizz and they pretty much rolled over. And can Mark Ivaroni explain why he kept going to Darko in the post against Shaq? Was he trying to embarass the big Slav into retirement so he could save cap space? Was he trying to help his old team by providing a big practice player for the Diesel to abuse?

Now lets see it continue. Especially Thursday against the Warriors b/c I will be at that game and the last game I went to was Detroit. I deserve a great game! DO IT FOR ME!

BTW: I am not dropping "Los" until they Lose

Boxscore Recap     Arizona Republic     3 Shades of Blue

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