Seven Personalities or Less

03.02.09 10 years ago 36 Comments
Shaquille O’Neal (photo. Chenoa Maxwell)

The Suns are doing a more believable job of displaying multiple personalities than the chick from “United States of Tara.” Three days after getting cracked by the Lakers (sans Steve Nash and Amar’e), Phoenix shows up yesterday (still sans Nash and STAT) looking like a legit championship contender while withstanding one of Kobe‘s best performances of the season … Protecting the ball and executing their stuff this time around, the Suns were up 10 at halftime, but then Kobe went off. He scored 17 points in the first six minutes of the third, roasting everybody from Matt Barnes to Jason Richardson to Grant Hill in the process. When the Lakers took the lead, J-Rich was complaining to the ref mid-play while Kobe (49 pts, 18-38 FG, 11 rebs) waited for him to finish, sized him up, then knifed past him and got an and-one over Shaq. After Kobe drained a three on L.A.’s next possession, Mark Jackson spoke on Mamba’s behalf: “You’re gonna dare me to be a shooter? Don’t you know my name? You know my work.” … You’d expect the Suns to fall apart at that moment, but Leandro Barbosa (22 pts) led them on a 21-6 run to get the lead right back and, by the end of the third, the Lakers were right back where they started with a double-digit deficit … Did Alvin Gentry really say “Gee whiz” in his mid-game interview? … The fourth quarter started out looking like a summer league game: Sasha Vujacic, Jared Dudley, Trevor Ariza, Louis Amundson and Josh Powell trading buckets back and fourth while the stars took a breather. The Lakers got back within two, but Shaq (33 pts, 7 rebs) and Barnes (26 pts, 5 threes) helped extend the lead and hold off the rally. The Suns had some late-game issues with getting the ball across halfcourt that gave the Lakers some hope, but then Kobe had some crucial misses and turnovers in the end … Ugliest play of the game: Pau Gasol (30 pts, 7 rebs) taking a five-foot jumper that traveled three feet, automatically looking toward the ref to complain, but when he realized no defender was within arm’s reach to even claim he was fouled, started wiping his hands like he’d accidentally palmed Michael Cage‘s Jheri curl … Stephon Marbury‘s second game as a Celtic didn’t go nearly as well as his first. In a home loss to a Pistons squad that is obviously more happy than they were a few days ago but none of them can publicly admit why—even though we all know The Answer—Steph played 12 minutes, missed all three of his shots, committed four fouls (tired legs make for more grabbing and reaching on D), and got ripped in the open court twice by Will BynumRip Hamilton (25 pts, 9 asts) said this much in the post-game: “We played our type of basketball. That’s the thing for me with Tayshaun, Rasheed and McDyess; I always know where they’re going to be at all times.” Translation: He’s still bitter about the trade and knows the Pistons’ best chance of winning was to keep the band together with Chauncey

LaMarcus Aldridge (photo. Aaron Hewitt)

When you consider things like athleticism and vertical and the fact that he’s playing close to the basket, Matt Bonner should expect to get dunked on every now and then. He took a couple nasty ones last night as the Spurs got blown out in Portland; LaMarcus Aldridge punched one on Bonner’s head on a putback in the first half, then Nic Batum went baseline and got Bonner in the second half. Batum was cool about it—if anything, LaMarcus overreacted on his dunk with the mean-mug glaring. He should be cramming on Bonner on the regular … E-mail from Dime’s Andrew Katz, who was in Jersey for Nets/Hornets: “How’s this for the greatest entertainment during a timeout? Like 10 mascots came out and were chucking burritos wrapped in aluminum foil all over the stadium—and people were going bananas trying to get their hands on some chicken with beans. One burrito banked off the scaffolding and people ran after it like it was a foul ball. Do you really want a chicken burrito that’s been on the ground? Are the burritos even warm?” … As for the game itself, Devin Harris (26 pts, 14 asts) outplayed Chris Paul (14 pts, 9 asts) for the most part, but CP made the big plays at the end that resulted in a road win. With the Nets up one in the final minute, Paul stole the ball from Harris and drained the go-ahead jumper on the other end. On the Nets’ next possession, CP stepped in front of a pass intended for Devin, leading to a couple free throws to stretch the lead. The Nets had a couple more chances in the final seconds, but Devin didn’t have another miracle shot in him … Other big stat lines from Sunday: Deron Williams racked up 20 assists in a win at Golden State; Dirk put up 24 points and 10 boards in a win over Toronto; Troy Murphy posted 22 points and 18 boards to beat the Nuggets; and Aaron Brooks went for 22 points and 10 assists in a win over Minnesota … If you only watched the first half of Hawks/Cavs, you still had all you needed for your Josh Smith Starter Kit: one catch-from-behind block (spiking Mo Williams‘ layup off the glass); one follow dunk with two hands; and a driving lefty tomahawk where Smith took off from the dotted line and crammed on at least two people (Varejao and J.J. Hickson). Highlights aside, though, Smith didn’t have a good game with just eight points and three boards. And down the stretch, he was on the bench while Mike Woodson went with Zaza Pachulia alongside Al Horford up front … Late in the fourth, Mo hit the game-tying three right in front of Atlanta’s bench, then turned and stared at the Hawks while none of them seemed to react. With the score still tied a couple plays later, LeBron (26 pts, 11 asts) drove past Joe Johnson and went up against Horford, drawing a foul on a questionable call with 1.6 seconds left. LBJ missed the first, but stuck the second FT for the game-winner … Spike Lee and Bill Murray were at the game in Atlanta sitting next to each other. It seemed every time we saw them on-camera, Spike was talking and Murray looked like he wanted to get the hell out of there … We’re out like Jheri curls …

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