Doing things a little differently with the recap tonight. Since I wasn't able to live blog during the game, I've decided to do so after the fact while watching the game on DVR. So jump right in for some time-delayed commentary.
4:55: Picking up the action midway through the first quarter, thanks to a malfunctioning DVR that didn't record the first few minutes. Nets lead 19-15, and the bench has begun to enter the fray with Gordan Giricek and Boris Diaw in for Leandro Barbosa and Shaq. As speculated in the game thread, Grant Hill is sitting this one out. A bit surprising to see Barbosa starting in his place, though. Would have expected Diaw, coming off that nice effort last night, to get the call, or maybe even Giricek, but regardless, both of them are in there now.
3:56: Nash makes a nice pass to Amare, but the Nets are quick with the double-team and Amare picks up the offensive foul.
3:48: Very strange call on Nash for (phantomly?) fouling Devin Harris. It must have been a very delayed whistle, because at the time it was blown, Nash couldn't possibly have even reached Harris, let alone fouled him. This puts Nash in rare foul trouble with his second foul. D'Antoni decides to leave him in anyway.
3:28: Nice hustle by Josh Boone on both ends of the floor, first with the rebound, and now with the jumper. Meanwhile, Nash and Diaw hook up for the alley oop, and the Nets now lead 23-17.
1:39: We have our first highlight of the night as Sean Williams skies to the moon to swat LB's shot. Suns fan or not, that was just awesome. But it's ultimately meaningless, as the Suns keep possession and Giricek ends up with the jumper.
00:23 After getting burned by Josh Boone and Sean Williams on consecutive possessions, Shaq apparently decides he's had enough and levels Williams. Suns end the first quarter down by 10 (31-21).
11:02: Shaq hits the floor with a thud loud enough to draw "oohs" from the crowd.
10:42: Shaq makes a nice outlet pass to Giricek who in turn gets it to LB for the beautiful fast-break easy one to cut the deficit back to eight.
10:10: Nice steal by LB gives him another easy layup, and cuts the Nets lead to 6 (33-27).
9:11: Shaq rips the net -- literally. Game delayed while a new net is installed. Too bad the Suns aren't ripping the Nets like this.
The Nets broadcast on NBA League Pass just replayed that famous clip of Shaq destroying the basket way back when he played for Orlando. I never realized how close he came to pulling the entire contraption down on his head!
7:12: Amare bricks two free throws, making him 0-3 for the night.
6:17: Amare goes back to the line with better results this time, hitting both. Nets lead has been cut to five (37-32).
5:43: I spoke too soon, apparently. Amare is way off from the line so far tonight. Misses both again, with the first one clanking off the front iron.
4:35: Nice sequence of ball movement ends up in a wide-open Barbosa three. Nets get two of them back, though, to make it a 43-39 Nets lead.
2:39: Too many offensive rebounds allowed on that possession eventually burns the Suns on a Raja Bell foul of Vince Carter. Meanwhile, Nash's recent string of technicals continue as he picks up another one.
2:20: Raja gets called for another foul, and says "What!?" loud enough to be heard on the broadcast. Suns get it back on the Vince Carter
make-up call foul on the other end.
1:05: That was too easy as Nachbar ends up with a wide-open three-pointer after the Suns had cut it to one. LB gets it back, though, with the three-point play on the other side, and the Nets lead 49-48.
0.0: Amare's buzzer-beater, three-point play off the Shaq pass, and the technical free throw by Nash gives the Suns a 52-51 lead at the half. Nothing like waiting until the last minute I guess!
11:45: Suns waste no time getting on the board, with Amare getting a quick one off of Shaq's pass.
10:33: Suns expand the gap to 8 after Amare wisely passes out to LB for the open three-pointer. We're now at 59-51.
10:23: LB is racking up the fouls. Already with four, which means Giricek gets an early call from the bench. Meanwhile, Raja Bell hits a long two and the Suns have a 10-point lead (61-51).
8:56: 6-0 run by the Nets, and all the sudden it's a four-point game (61-57). Meanwhile, Nash's shot is off again tonight. I guess it's understandable, given that he was triple-jinxed this week. First by Paul Coro, then by me, and finally by John Hollinger. We were all kidding, Mr. Jinx Man. Nash stinks from the field. It's Kobe who never misses.
6:58: This is getting too close for comfort as Vince Carter's three makes it 63-61.
5:40: It's hard to feel much sympathy after a couple of calls that went against the Suns earlier in the game (most notably that "air foul" by Nash), but the Suns really dodged one that time. Not only did Shaq get away with the shiver to the gut on Vince Carter, the replay shows Raja had a fist full of jersey just prior to that. But Vince gets called for the offensive foul, negating the basket, and the Suns keep a 6-point lead (67-61).
5:10: Double-digit lead is restored after the back-to-back makes by Amare. First with the spin and the stuff, and now with the lay-in. Meanwhile, Shaq annihilates Jefferson, and the Suns are looking really fired up now. 73-71 after yet another Amare stuff that has him beaming like a little kid.
4:46: This is getting technical. Two quick ones called on the Nets send Nash to the line twice. You know it's a bad shooting night for him when he misses one.
1:42: Amare can't be stopped, working his way to his 29th point to restore the double-digit lead (77-66).
1:13: Amare does it again, this time with the "great extension" (announcer's words) on the dunk over Nachbar. Vince Carter answers with a three, making it an 8-point lead.
00:16: Diaw delivers a three-point play with the up and under. 82-71, Suns. Making our French readers proud with that one.
0.0: LB barrels into Nachbar to pick up his 5th, so the Suns lead will stay at 82-71 heading into the fourth.
11:48: Mike D'Antoni's taking no chances, bringing Nash in to start the fourth.
11:30: Diaw has quietly put together a 10-point, 5-rebound night after that putback.
10:31: Loud scream emanating from my living room as Diaw passes up a shot under the basket to pass it out to Giricek for the (missed) three. Speaking of missed shots, Nash is having one of his ugly shooting nights ever, now at 0-6. That last one drew so much air I felt it from here!
9:45: Sweet pass by Raja to Shaq for the emphatic dunk. Jefferson answers with a dunk of his own.
8:18: Lucky break for the Nets as Boone saves the missed shot right to Sean Williams who finds himself open for the easy one.
7:14: Tough possession for Diaw, first bumbling the pass to Amare, then to Shaq. Nets take advantage and close it to six (88-82).
6:22: Nash finally hits (from three) after going 0-6. Saving his best for last I guess.
5:31: Devin Harris pulls a "Nash" of his own with the long, gutsy fourth quarter three-pointer in transition, and now it's a 4-point game, 91-87.
4:58: Harris and Carter team up, and the result is a circus shot with the foul. The made free throw makes it a one-possession game, 93-90.
4:42: Shaq stops the bleeding with an and-1 play of his own. Misses the free throw, but the double-lane violation makes it a jump ball, which Shaq easily wins. Extra possession for the Suns ends in a layup for Barbosa.
3:56: Shaq picks up foul #5 for pushing off on Boone going for the rebound, then picks up a technical to boot. Luckily, neither Vince Carter nor Boone has much luck at the line, and the Nets come up empty...
...but the possession that won't die continues as now Amare gets called for a foul. Carter makes good this time, so the lead is now five (97-92). Whew.
3:34: Diaw makes the jumper for a much-needed bucket. Meanwhile, Nash is lucky he didn't get a technical, demonstrably swinging his arm after the foul called on Amare.
3:14: Evidently, the free throw woes that plagued Amare in the second quarter have now infected the Nets. They are killing themselves from the line right now. Carter misses a pair, and the lead stays at seven. Meanwhile, Diaw apparently thought Raja was about 10 feet tall, launching a pass way over his head and into the stands.
2:06: Nice defense by the Nets on Shaq gives them the opportunity to cut it back to three, but they blow a couple of chances at "bunnies" on the other end.
1:29: Well, Nash's shot has been mostly MIA for this one, but he nails a huge dagger three now to give the Suns the 8-point lead, and possibly put this pesky Nets team away for good. Nash and Shaq share a smile and a hug afterwards. Awww...
1:25: Suns forget to play defense, and Richard Jefferson sneaks in the back door for a layup. Meanwhile, Nash misses a three, but grabs his own rebound and ends up at the free throw line. A rare one-of-two from Nash makes it a 7-point game.
00:48: Interesting choice by the Suns to give Shaq the ball during "desperation foul" time. Predictably, the Nets waste no time fouling him, but it backfires. Shaq sinks 'em both!
00:38: This time the Suns play the averages (on the season, not for the night), and get the ball to Nash. He misses one. Guess they should have stuck with giving it to Shaq.
0.0: Well, just about everyone on the Suns got a chance for the "desperation foul shots", first Shaq, then Nash, then LB, then Bell. But it was just delaying the inevitable for the Nets, who finally let it go. Final score 110-104. Not the prettiest game ever, but we'll certainly take the "W".
Player of the Game: Amare Stoudemire with another monster double-double of 33 points and 15 rebounds. His 12-of-15 from the field more than made up for those early misses from the free throw line.
Runner-Up: Most curious stat of the night: Leandro Barbosa led the Suns in the +/- category, and it wasn't even close. 21 points, six assists, and the Suns were a +21 when he was on the floor. The only blight on his night was the five fouls, but I didn't hold that against Amare either.
Late-breaking Update: Turns out there was a reason why Nash went 2-of-9 from the field, and missed three of his seven free throws. Paul Coro reports that he was having shoulder spasms. Ouch!