Tag Archives: Robin Lopez

Western Conference Finals: Standing Tall and Talented vs. Amar’e, Steve and a Bench

Kobe and Nash

It seems kind of unfair that after finally beating the team they could never go by, the Phoenix Suns still have such a long, long way to go.

And because they’re up against the Lakers, we should probably add the word long one more time, just for good measure.

Long.

Yes, the stories about how long, and tall, and big the Lakers are keep flowing in — and for good reason. They just are. Starting two 7-footers isn’t something you see from every team, especially not from a team whose first guy off the bench is 6’11”. And it’s not the kind of moot length you get from players like Yi Jianlin or Spencer Hawes; no, this is the length that dominates opposing frontcourts, knocking them out of the playoffs, leaving behind a path of broken hearts and failed attempts at defensive rebounds.

That length should be a problem. The Suns have always had problems with it. These same Lakers took the Suns to 7 games in 2006, only it wasn’t the length of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum that they were utilizing, it was that of Odom and Kwame Brown. And while these Suns are nothing like those Suns – they didn’t even have Amar’e that year – Pau and Bynum are quite an upgrade over Kwame Brown.

Then again … these aren’t the same Suns. Wait, did I already say that?

Yes, these Suns are different than any Suns team we’ve seen in the past. These Suns defend. These Suns are deep. These Suns do all that other stuff that we said before the San Antonio series and have said even louder ever since. These Suns do stuff that makes you say, “you know what, I think the Suns can do it.” And it’s the same stuff that makes other people reply, “you know what, you could be right.”

Because once you look past that length, these Suns have everything – everything – a team needs to beat these Lakers.

Speedy point guards who can torch Derek Fisher? Steve Nash is one of the best in the game, and he is spelled by a player so fast he was nicknamed “The Brazillian Blur” and by the newly crowned Goran “The Dragon” Dragic Jordan. Shooters who can spread the floor? The aforementioned Nash/Barbosa/Dragic trifecta, Jason Richardson, Jared Dudley and Channing Frye. Strong, long defensive swingmen, who can at the very least stay with Kobe and contest his mid-range game? Grant Hill and Dudley. A dominant offensive big man who can draw fouls on the Bynums and the Gasols? We give you the post-trade deadline Amar’e Stoudemire. An offense that should be able to score against that suffocating, LA defense? If they can’t, nobody can. Not to mention that other-worldly chemistry, that always prevails over groups who aren’t as tightly knit (or so we’re told).

On paper, they should have a shot. Except for that length. Can they handle it?

The truth is, at this point, we just don’t know. Because – and I hate coming back to these same two points – we have yet to see what this version of Phoenix basketball is capable of.

Will they have Robin Lopez back? Will Amar’e continue to give a crap on defense? Will Channing Frye draw the LA big men out to the three-point line, opening the paint? Will the Suns just go small and blow LA out of the water? More importantly, can the Suns just go small and blow LA out of the water?

Conventional wisdom answers none of those questions, except perhaps the first one, which gets a “but Lopez will be rusty” asterik at the end. Conventional wisdom also says that the Suns don’t sweep the Spurs and don’t win 22 of their last 26 games, so you could see how hesitant I am to listen to it.

While getting caught up in Sunsarebackmania, however, it’s important that we don’t take the Lakers for granted. Because these Lakers are perfectly capable of playing both much better and much worse than they’ve played so far in this postseason. They’ve already done both – dominating four games against the Jazz (all games were fairly close, but apart from Game 3, was the result ever in doubt?) and Game 5 against the Thunder, but seeming very vulnerable for the other five OKC games.

Which Lakers show up this time? Who knows. They could go down low to Bynum and Gasol, exploiting the Phoenix frontline, playing their offense, moving the ball in that sort of way that makes spectators drool and coaches jealous of the talent Phil Jackson gets to work with. Or, Kobe could try to single-handedly avenge his two previous playoff losses to the Suns and play the hero. That might work in and of itself, with how he stepped up his game against Utah. Though it should be mentioned that the Jazz had bad matchups for him without Kirilenko. While, of course, considering that even good matchups for Kobe are matchups that you’re going to lose.

And if that last paragraph seemed to involve way too many conditionals and side-notes, that’s because it did. These are your 2009-2010 Los Angeles Lakers: the team that can but, on any given night, might spontaneously decide not to.

Of course, conventional wisdom might once again try and force itself into the conversation and remind us that the Lakers tend to get better as the playoffs go on. At which point we smack it in the head and tell it to stop ruining our premise.

All jokes aside – yes, last season’s Lakers got better the higher the stakes, with this year’s version seemingly following in their footsteps. And yet, the question must be asked: did they really face a team that was both talented enough and had the mental state needed to knock this team down?

These Lakers are so, so good that on most nights they win games on talent alone. And to take down that massive chunk of talent, a team has to have both a level of talent that, at the very least, approaches that of LA, and the mindset to utilize it. Last year, the only team facing the Lakers that came close to having both of these requirements were the Denver Nuggets, who — as we’ve seen this season — aren’t stable enough to maintain any mental state, let alone a positive one. And indeed, those Nuggets just lost it after four games.

This will probably be percieved as a shot at the Lakers, as an attempt to de-legitimize their title. Please understand that it isn’t. If anything, this is a compliment to LA – yes, in my opinion, they won the title last year without meeting a worthy adversary, but that’s only because they were so, so good that no adversary could possibly be worthy. And they won that title with me feeling that they could have played better. This year could be the same scenario: they could blow everybody out on talent alone. They could also run into that worthy adversary and blow them out of the water as well. All I’m saying is that it needs to happen before I’m absolutely sure that it will.

And I feel like these Suns could be that worthy adversary. There are a lot of ifs involved – if they don’t feel content with just being here (unlikely, with Steve Nash running the show); if they continue playing defense, specifically Amar’e and Frye; if Lopez returns and Amundson plays bigger than he is to round out that front court; if Jason Richardson doesn’t re-gain conciousness; if Steve Nash really is as great as we all know he is; if the Suns mental state isn’t diminshed by their lack of success against LA in the regular season (which really isn’t indicative of these two teams, since only one of those meetings came with Phoenix at their recent form and even then they were without Frye).

Really, anything could happen. Though the way some of these series have ended won’t show it, this Western Conference was extremely close from the get-go, and the matchups working in their favor had just as much to do with these two teams reaching the Conference Finals as them being the two best teams (again, not a knock – they are clearly the two best teams in the conference). That’s Playoff basketball for you: you never know how things will turn out until you have witnessed the match-ups.

And the match-up here is still inconclusive. While the Lakers have the far superior frontcourt – Bynum, Gasol and Odom should all be near-impossible for the Suns to stop if used correctly – the Suns have the far superior back court even though LA has Kobe. Fisher is that bad. And unlike against OKC, when Kobe took on the challenge of guarding Russell Westbrook, the Lakers won’t be able to guard those guards with Kobe, because (a) you can hide Fisher on Thabo Sefolosha, not on Jason Richardson/Grant Hill, and (b) Kobe’s defense on Westbrook consisted of giving him room and stopping his drives, but Nash has arguably the best pull-up jumper in the game. And while the Suns have such a deep bench that their Los Angeles counterparts seem even worse than usual in comparison, the Lakers have the better starting five and – more importantly – the best player.

So please take this prediction with a grain of salt. I’m picking the Lakers here because I think home court wins them Game 7 in an otherwise too-close-to-call afair, but anything can happen. Just like two of the four series in the previous round went against all bets. Just like series always have in years past.

Lakers in 7

NBA Postcard Preview ’09: The Atlantic

Unfortunately, I’m not a professional NBA blogger yet. No, no. This nonsense is pure amateur hour. In my actual career, I’m a mailman. A letter carrier. A master of the postal arts. Il postino.

It’s not the best job, but I make it much better. I steal. A lot. I’d say that out of any given ten letters I pick up, I thieve seven or eight. And ya know who writes a ton of letters? NBA players. I was shocked too. But I’m talking, like, a ton. In fact, the only thing they mail more than letters are postcards. Yup. Postcards. They send em to everyone. They send them to each other. They send them to their coaches. People send postcards to them. And sometimes they even send postcards to themselves.

These are the ones I stole last week. (See also: The Central)

Boston Celtics

Celtics_Postcard_Front

Celtics_Postcard_Back

New Jersey Nets

Nets_Postcard_Front

Nets_Postcard_Back

New York Knicks

Knicks_Postcard_Front

Knicks_Postcard_back

Philadelphia 76ers

Sixers_Postcard_Front

Sixers_Postcard_Back

Toronto Raptors

Toronto_Postcard_front

Toronto_Postcard_Back

10 NBA People Who Need To Get on Twitter

As everybody knows by now, Shaq is on Twitter. And he loves it. The dude updates constantly, even dropping this tweet just a few hours before last week’s game against the Lakers:

THE_REAL_SHAQ Sittin next to steve nash, tryna get him to join twitter

Unfortunately, despite the novelty of Diesel putting an end to the “impostor Shaq” who had been duping some gullible people for weeks by pretending to be the big fella on the social networking site, the actual content of his “tweets” hasn’t been nearly as amazing as one would expect. There are a few nuggets of greatness here and there, but mostly it’s just meh.

But it’s his desire to bring Steve Nash on-board that got my attention. Nash, of course, would likely be incredibly boring to follow and constantly be saying things like “CANADIAN_BACON Remember to recycle” or “CANADIAN_BACON Terry Porter and I have philosophical differences about basketball but he’s a swell fellow.”

But there are a whole host of other NBA folk who could be simply spectacular.

These are my top ten.

Let’s get after it.

Shaq loves his Twitter and here he is with his Twitter BFF PhoenixSunsGirl. (Photo: PhoenixSunsGirl)
Shaq loves his Twitter and here he is with his Twitter BFF PhoenixSunsGirl. (Photo: PhoenixSunsGirl)

10. Marco Jaric

Untethered and constant communication from Marco could serve as an inspiration to millions and reinforce the fading global concept of the American Dream.

MJ2 On yacht with Adriana

MJ2 Game against Kobe then drinks at SkyBar with A, Heidi, Marisa and Double R-Stamos

MJ2 Vlady borrowed the Bentley so I’m driving A to her photo shoot in the Lambo

MJ2 Headed to PHX for a game and then Vegas with Leaaaaaaandro

MJ2 @VladRad You meeting us in LV? Got my whip?

MJ2 Judging a Vicki Secret pillow fight at Heff’s

MJ2 All-Star Weekend!!! PHX for them — St. Tropez for me
.

9. Donald Sterling

I need to know what this guy is up to at all times.

8. The Van Gundies & El Lopezi (four-way tie)

All @replies, all day, every day.

BLo @RLo ur hare iz retrdad

RLo @BLo nuh uh

SVG @JVG I’ve never seen Rashard block a shot. Not in practice. Not at the NBA Cares elementary school game he played in

BLo @RLo is to, lulz

RLo @BLo is not

JVG @SVG Please. Compared to Allan Houston, Rashard is Scottie Pippen

BLo @RLo yessirz

THE_REAL_SHAQ @BLo Lay off mi amigo or The Big Assassin will kil ur girlfriend. lol. serious though, ill strangle her with a XBox controller cord

BLo @THE_REAL_SHAQ U better not . Minny Mouse is my everyting

SVG @JVG Dwight is RFLAO about Allan Houston

JVG @SVG I have no idea what that means but Mom says you look like an asshole in that mockneck/Abboud outfit. Grow up and put on a shirt and tie.

RLo @THE_REAL_SHAQ YEA SHAQ. Me, you, raja and biggity barnes should chalenge Brook, J boone, e & vince to a Survivor Series tag team match. that would be awesome we wood totaly win

THE_REAL_SHAQ @RLo calm down young’n

7. Vince Carter

This one comes with the caveat that that he doesn’t tell us what he’s doing, but only posts ten-times daily links to his favorite websites, LOLCATS and I Can Has Cheezburger.

6. Masha Lopatova (Andrei Kirilenko’s wife)

Given her “you can bang some other chick once a year” policy, I imagine she’s got a fairly single-track agenda.

AK47_BOO @AK47 u comin home tonite?

AK47_BOO @AK47 u comin home tonite?

AK47_BOO @AK47 u comin home tonite?

AK47_BOO @AK47 u comin home tonite?

AK47_BOO @AK47 u comin home tonite?

AK47_BOO @AK47 u comin home tonite?

5. Kevin Durant

Presumably, no one reading this has ever been to Oklahoma City. And since Kevin is one of twelve black people who have ever lived there according to census data I just made up, it would be an interesting sociological experiment to see what kinds of things he’s up to — especially when you factor in the mounting frustrations of a potential Hall of Famer whose talent is being squandered by the worst team in the League.

Durantula35 Won our home opener. Big start in OKC. Go Thunder.

Durantula35 Taking a date to Cheesecake Factory. Love that place! That Chicken Marsala is off the hook.

Durantula35 Tough loss. Russell and Jeff are playing better though. We’re coming together.

Durantula35 Wanted to go to Champs to buy a GP throwback tonight. But it closed at 7:30.

Durantula35 I’m still playing SG.

Durantula35 Cheesecake Factory.

Durantula35 Another home loss. Ugly game. We got booed.

THE_CHOSEN_ONE @Durantula35 Keep ya head up, Young Money

Durantula35 Chicken Marsala again.

Durantula35 Just heard back from Josh Childress. Says Greece is nice.

Durantula35 Ten-game skid. Urgh

Durantula35 cheesecake factory to celebrate PJ getting fired. nice.

Oden3000 @Durantula35 was hoping to see you in PHX for ASG. Maybe next year, homie.

Durantula35 new coach…still playing SG

Durantula35 lost to sacto at home…again

Durantula35 got dropped from nike. 🙁

Durantula35 chicken marsala

Durantula35 new coach is a dick…choked him during shootaround. whoops

Durantula35 just heard from Stern. one-year suspension.

Durantula35 bored. broke. robbed a liquor store. shot a korean.

Durantula35 final sentencing: attempt murder, 62 months minus time served

Durantula35 tossed some Colombian dude’s salad for a length of rope 🙁

Durantula35 Brooks Was Here. So Was Redd. Durantula Too. Bye World.

(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Image

4. Etan Thomas

I don’t know what a slam-haiku sounds like but I want to. Sixteen times a day.

(Photo: Politics and Prose Bookstore)

3. Susha Vujacic

We could pretty much bank on a more sophisticated display of his normal 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0, 1, 0 programming syntax.

The_Machine Camp

The_Machine Shoot

The_Machine Camp

The_Machine Shoot

The_Machine Camp

The_Machine Shoot

The_Machine Camp

The_Machine Shoot

2. Latrell Sprewell

Latrell joining Twitter would allow the world precious daily reminders such as:

Spree8 Only 37 hours left on that 56″ Plasma eBay auction. Never Watched! Don’t SLEEP!! http://tinyurl/635vc8

Spree8 Northfaces, son. NORTHFACES. Black, blue, cream, puffy, goretex, I got it all. Check the Craigslist http://tinyurl/65t9g7

Spree8 I’ll wax your car. Holla.

1. Ron Artest

What? Did you actually expect someone else?

Game Blogging…Pacers vs. Suns

The Suns and Pacers are both hoping that addition by subtraction will equal success. The Suns solidified the strategic shift that began with the Matrix for Shaq by bringing in Terry Porter after Mike D’Antoni opted to coach one of the worst teams in the League for more money, and the Pacers finalized the great Brawl-era purge by shipping JO to Toronto (for TJ Ford, Rasho Nesterovic and 17th pick Roy Hibbert) and telling their starting point guard of the past six years, Jamaal Tinsley, to stay home indefinitely.

So as two of the most-rebooted teams of the off-season butt heads in Indiana’s Conseco Fieldhouse, it seemed an apt time for the first game-blog of the season.

Let’s get after it.

First Quarter

11:45 – Diesel wins the tip and makes a sweet interior bounce pass to Amare for a dunk on the first play. Looks like he will be playing in back-to-backs after all. Terry Porter is a liar. Then again, I’m not sure if playing New Jersey actually counts as a game.

10:30 – Marquis Daniels hits a trey. Really?

10:04 – Shaq airballs a 7-foot jump hook. That was great. Maybe he should be sitting.

9:40 – After a Pacers miss, the Suns turn it over. That was their third of the evening. This, following up on the 24 TOs by Boston against Indy on Saturday, bodes well for coach Jim O’Brien’s directive to be active and get deflections.

9:25 – Shaq picks up his second foul. Looks like Terry’s plan of Shaq not playing will work out after all.

8:22 – After back-to-back threes by the oh-so-toothless Danny Granger and the oh-so-dopey Troy Murphy, Terry Porter has to call a time-out. That’s ten unanswered points for the Pacers.

8:10 – Amare gets to the line. He flips his protective Rec Specs up while shooting. Ya know, he really should just keep these even after his eye is fully healed. It’s worked for Rip with the mask, and they give him a nice throwback James Worthy dimension to his demeanor.

7:15 – Danny swats the living shit out of a Grant Hill layup into the backboard. Then Amare gets a block of his own on the next time down. Pacers vs. Suns: Feel the defensive intensity.

6:22 – Troy hits another straight-away three. In Hollinger’s player page for him I believe it said he lead the League in straight-away threes (those shot from the top of the key) last season by a rather large margin. Apparently, few players even take that many of them as that spot on the floor isn’t really a spot-up location in many offenses and Murphy hit like 120 or something. (I might be making up that number, but it was a lot more than anyone else.)

5:00 – After Murphy steals a nice post entry adroitly, TJ runs a one-man fast-break in transition and breaks some ankles in the paint before hitting a nice little pull-back 12-footer. Pacers up 21-10.

4:20 – Amare hits a nice J and now has 10 of the Suns 12 points.

3:47 – STAT makes his presence known again by slashing to the hole. Pacers foul him to avert the dunk, but he hits both throws. He’s up to 12 of Phoenix’s 14. It’s gotta be the goggles, money. It’s GOTTA be the goggles. (Either that or the embarrassingly porous interior defense of Indy.)

3:04 – Sweet pass from 7’2 rookie Dr. Roy Hibbert to a cutting TJ for a nice power lay-up.

2:33 – Other Pacers rookie Brandon Rush drives to the hoop for a nice little lay-in. These youngn’s look good. Pacers up 9.

2:12 – More Amare. He might score 50.

2:08 – FSN Indiana is running a gimick where you can text in to vote on which dunk by a Pacer rookie in the last game against Boston was better (Dr. Hibbert or Rush). And, shockingly to a Pacer fan, we have two rookies who can even dunk — let alone dunk well.

1:57 – STAT with two more. Plus a foul shot. That makes 17, I believe.

0:58 – Granger three followed by an Amare 18-footer. He has 19. Did I say 50? I meant 75. Granger follows it with another three. Pacers still up 9.

0:19 – Jesus. Amare with an easy-as-shit lay-up, plus he got fouled but they didn’t call it. He has 21 in the First Quarter.

0:05 – The prepubescent, 14-year-old ball-boy with a uniform, Travis Diener, is in the game for the first time this season…and he breaks someone off the dribble for a lay-in. Then back-up Pacer PG Jarrett Jack steals the inbounds pass and hits a 10-footer. Pacers end the quarter with 38 points and up by 11.

This guy is seriously 26-years-old.
This guy is seriously 26-years-old.

2nd Quarter: Pacers 38 – Suns 27

10:05 – A bunch of boring play is high-lighted by a few boring jumpers. Yay.

9:34 – Granger misses a three. He was penetrating more than I had ever seen him do in the Pacers first two games against Boston and Detroit. Not tonight. If he can consistently attack the hoop — something he’s never done thus far in his career — he will make the leap to Caron Butler-level. Until then, he’s Rashard Lewis plus a little D.

9:05 – Brandon Rush hits a three. He’s looked impressively NBA-ready through three games. Pacers up 43-35.

8:40 – On the ensuing possession after some discoteque-frequenter named Dragic blows a lay-up after a great pass out of the post by Diesel, he picks up his third foul while trying to stop the always-lethal Jeff Foster.

8:09 – Amare picks up a charge in transition. That’s his 2nd…and the only way he will possibly be stopped tonight.

7:50 – TJ quicks his way through the lane and hits a slick reverse-layup plus the foul. Hoosiers are going to absolutely fall in love with this kid. Then on the next offensive trip he gets pushed while dribbling at half-court and sorta little-man-flails backwards. Yup, he’s adorable.

7:11 – TJ jumper. Pacers back up 48-37.

6:23 – After Raja Bell gets to the line following a dunk-attempt-foul by Granger after a steal, Nash checks back in after like eight minutes on the bench. Not sure why that is.

5:44 – Granger drills another triple. Being another Rashard has it’s upside for sure. Murphy hits another one on Indy’s next trip down. Indy up 54-43.

4:40 – Amare scores. He’s 9-9 from the field and 5-5 from the line. Nash, meanwhile, hasn’t scored. I don’t believe Diesel has either.

3:45 – TJ walks by Nash and makes a nice double clutch lay-in. Nash hits a three for Phoenix. Then Troy hits his 4th three — again from straight-away. Looks like someone is gonna lead the League in that category again.

3:45 – Stacy Paetz interviews Maceo Baston in some canned, pre-recorded and awkward segment. She might be the hottest NBA sideline reporter/hoops-chick.

2:45 – STAT dunks. Yawn. He has 25 and the Pacers lead has been cut to 59 – 53.

2:05 – Amare follows this up with a missed three that he had to pop as the shot-clock was running out, so he’s no longer perfect. Ha. He gets to the line and hits two more freebies on the next possession though. Boo.

1:14 – After the Suns cut it to 62-57, Murphy airballs a straight-away three. Nice one, League-leader.

0:28 – TJ drops a physics-defying, 18-feet-in-the-air tear-drop off the glass. What? Hard to believe that happened.

0:10 – After Indy gets a stop, TJ drills an uncontested pull-up from the free-throw line. He finishes the half with 18. The Pacers finish the half up 66-59. That’s easily the most points this team has scored in a half this season. They are gonna LOVE this kid in Indiana.

The specs give him his strength. He had 27 in the first half tonight. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)
The specs give him his strength. He had 27 in the first half tonight. (Photo by Nathaniel S. Butler/NBAE via Getty Images)

Third Quarter: Pacers 66 – Suns 59

12:00 – So Amare has 27, TJ has 18, Danny has 15, Murphy has 12, Raja has 10, Nash has 3 and Diesel has a sweet little goose egg in six minutes. Why Nash isn’t carving up the Pacers, I have no idea. He’s obviously running the offense fine and certainly the main guy setting up Amare for dunks on his slashes, but he’s inexplicably only taken two shots. The worst part of the first half, however: No Robin Lopez sightings. Honestly, he was the whole reason I was doing this tonight. Get it together, Terry Porter.

11:20 – Jesus Christ. STAT just ripped the damn rim off out the glass on a dunk after driving from the top of the key by three Pacers for the first points of the half. Shaq gets his first points on a baseline post-move the next trip down.

10:01 – Amare his a 20-footer with the shot-clock expiring. Of course he does. Pacers up 68-65.

9:37 – Jeff Foster picks up his 4th foul guarding Shaq. Oh boy. He’s the only even semi-capable defender Indy has for Amare.

8:58 – In trying to keep up here, I’m not hearing much of the commentary really, but it’s worth mentioning that the Quinn Buckner is one of the best color commentators in the NBA. Plus, Indy’s play-by-play guy looks and sounds like Michael Scott from The Office. Between him and Troy’s uncanny resemblance to Jim Halpert, they must have had quite the Halloween party.

7:53 – With Indy now missing their jumpers instead of making everything and Shaq starting to impose his girth, this is more of a Suns-style half thus far. That fact, while accurate, is insanely depressing considering this is a franchise that had five 15+ ppg scorers on its roster just three short years ago and let Q Rich take literally 8 three pointers per game. [fist bumps my head in memorial.] Meanwhile, the Suns have cut the lead to 73-70 on after several nondescript plays.

7:11 – Much to everyone’s surprise, Amare blows by a white guy off the dribble and gets to the line. He makes em both. I don’t think he’s missed a FT tonight. It’s 75-71.

6:50 – Quis makes a sweet up and under lay-up. Am I really gonna hafta stop hating this guy? But it’s so much fun. Dr. Hibbert draws a charge on Barbosa next time down. That’s all well and good…but really? You’re 7’2″.

5:13 – Amare hits a foul-line jumper. He has 39. Pacers only up two. 78-76.

4:30 – The pussification of the NBA reaches new heights as Raja Bell gets a flagrant foul for hitting Jarrett Jack’s arm as he flies towards the hoop. Him falling awkwardly from 35 inches in the air means Bell did something untoward? Rich Mahorn is rolling in his grave.

2:57 – STAT dunks on two guys from behind the hoop — one of which was 7’2″. Wow. That’s what? 41? Blur hits a three next time down. Suns have cut it to 84-81.

2:14 – Amare leads the break with his dribble after a steal and dishes to known-surrender-aficionado Boris Diaw. He makes a lay-up plus the harm. If he hits the free-throw, we’ll have our first tie of the night. He misses. Pacers up one.

1:36 – Someone finally stops an Amare drive (Jeff Foster), but he catches rookie Brandon Rush in poor rotation and hits Barbosa in the corner for a wide-open three that he knocks down. Phoenix takes its first lead at 86-84.

1:17 – Amare somehow leads another fast break and makes a slick pass to Grant Hill for a lay-in. That’s three straight assists for the 6’11” uber-stud.

0:00 – Ford airballs a buzzer-three to cap off a 14-0 Phoenix run. Phoenix is up six going into the fourth.

Dr. Hibbert has a surprise for you. He's pretty good.
Dr. Hibbert has a surprise for you. He's not a complete stiff.

Fourth Quarter: Sun 90 – Pacers 84

9:49 – After mucho slop and boring action, Jeff Foster makes two from the line. Pacers cut the Suns lead to 92-88.

9:26 – An Amare lay-in gives him 43. He’s looking surlier on the defensive boards too as he grabs another after a Pacer miss on the next possession. STAT now has 8 boards, plus 6 assists to go along with his 43 points on 16/18 from the field and 11/11 from the line. Just incredible.

8:28 – Stacy Paetz continues to look good while sideline reporting. I have no idea what race she is. I think she’s Brazilian or Chinese or something weird.

7:48 – Granger abuses Grant Hill on a little dribble step-back pull-up. Welcome back to the game, broseph. I forgot you were even on the team. Suns up 98-90.

7:16 – Thunder Dan is an assistant coach for the Suns now. Good for him. I really liked him in the booth though, so sorta unfortunate for me. Last season, Granger’s offense really reminded me of Marjele’s game. He’s proving a more capable penetrator this year so far, however. Also, less “Thunderous” in his finishes.

5:55 – Speaking of…STAT just destroyed the rim again. Then, after he got bumped by the 87-pound Travis Diener and went cascading into the front row. Diener got a technical. Lovely.

5:33 – TJ Ford misses a jumper. Good to know he’s still in the building at least, I guess. Diaw shoots a fadeaway airball from the elbow on the ensuing play. That’s at least the third airball this game. So much for pre-season.

4:40 – Granger scores, cutting it to 101-95. Then he gets his transition lay-up swatted by Diaw the next trip down.

4:22 – A loose ball is scooped up by Nash, who lobs it to Diaw, who finishes it with an impressive reverse dunk. Wait…what? Really?

3:12 – After some frighteningly frantic Pacer offense pays no dividends, Granger blocks an awkward Amare lay-up attempt. Good to know he’s at least human. Danny follows that up with a step-back midrange jumper for his 23rd point. Just as quickly, Nash flies to the hoop and converts on one of his inimitable, patented right-handed scoop layups from the left side. Suns up 105-97.

2:25 – Marquis scores on a second chance opportunity plus the harm. He hits the free-throw to cut it to 105-100.

2:00 – Dubious foul call on what appeared to be a Barbosa self-trip/travel leads to a Suns bucket by guess who? Yeah, it was Amare. He has 45 and this isn’t looking good. 107-100.

1:30 – STAT gets to the line and makes both after TJ hits one of two from the line. He has 47.

1:08 – Amare back at the line. Of course makes both. That’s 49 points on a ridiculous 17/21 from the field and 15/15 from the line. Oh yeah, also 11 boards, 6 assists, 5 steals and 2 blocks. Decent game, I’d say.

0:00 – Some other shit happens, the game ends. Amare takes off his jersey and tries to throw it to someone specific in the front row. Some douchebag intercepts. Phoenix wins 113-103. Boo.