Last Night's Phoenix Suns Game Almost Made Us Miss Mike D'Antoni

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Earth to Suns Coach Terry Porter: Shaq's an old man. You can't play down to his level.

After last night's drubbing by the Los Angeles Lakers, we almost missed departed (for the New York Knicks) Coach Mike D'Antoni. Hey, we said almost.

The jury's still out on whether Porter's a legitimate NBA coach, so we won't completely turn on him. Yet. But something's got to change.

It's not that O'Neal's playing badly — for a 36-year-old. You couldn't ask him to play better, given his advanced years (15 points and nine rebounds against his old team). But Suns point guard Steve Nash and power forward Amare Stoudemire need to run and gun. Playing the half-court game required with the presence of big hunk of aged beef in the middle is ruining their game.

We've never seen so many turnovers by the Suns over the course of a short season (15 in this game alone). Part of the problem is that Nash ain't no spring chicken either, but most of the blame goes to Porter's siphoning the Suns offense through a guy who was long past his prime before he ever arrived here.

Shaq ain't exactly an AARP member at 36, but we have to wonder if Porter's suffering from early senility for setting his offense up to fail. (Let's not even get into the Suns' defense, which was supposed to get hugely better, but is mediocre, at best).

There's always much made about any meeting of Shaq and Kobe Bryant, and the two made nice before the opening tipoff. But Kobe and his Lakers humiliated the Suns in this first of four meetings between the two teams this season. Nash was flummoxed from the start, and the turgid offense kept Stoudemire from his typical slashing style. With his new haircut, he looked like a Mohawk in headlights.

Pitiful is the only word we can come up with to describe the sorry showing by a Suns team that continues to blather about championship aspirations.

As we said earlier in this blog, the Lakers are the team to beat this year. They have talent to burn. Bryant is the best player in the NBA (he had 24 points last night in an average showing for him), and the team is so good that power forward Lamar Odom has to come off the bench. The Lakers have the new Shaq of the league in Andrew Bynum, and they also have 7-footer Pao Gasol. That's two giants in the back court.

Hey, Shaq, how does Bynum's ass taste?

The capper of the night was news that O'Neal says he wants to finish his career with the Lakers , once he completes his two-year contract with the Suns. He's got to be kidding. What career's he gonna have left by then? If not for the Suns' charity, he wouldn't have one now.

Besides, Shaq, shut the fuck up. — Rick Barrs


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