The Lakers went into their Pacific Division game against the Suns last night winners of five straight, winning 9 of their last 10 games. After the game, they were winners of six straight and upped their mark to 10 of the last 11.

It’s well documented by every fan, pundit, Troy Sparks or anyone out there, that the Suns can’t play defense for 48 minutes enough to stop the other team from getting a distinct advantage over them. It’s also well documented by most that Kobe Bryant has to be a disaster to guard. He gave Raja Bell — one of the league’s toughest players — fits last night, scoring 41 points. He’s the reason the Lakers knocked the hype surrounding Shaquille O’Neal off the Laud-This-Guy pyramid.

Nobody can put forth the argument that Shaq (15 points/9 boards) or the Suns played truly awful. This was their first game together as a team, and Shaq has never played with any of them before. Though, Bill Walton made an idiotic argument at halftime by saying that Shaq should have been playing better if all the hype from the Suns practices were true, that he was beating guys up the court. Hell, Bill, thanks for reminding everyone that you don’t know all the facets of basketball like you are supposed to.

During the first quarter, it was pretty noticeable that Shaq was playing too hard to show people that he could move. He was running with extreme exertion and bumping the hell out of Pau Gasol in the post, demanding the basketball. He racked up a few fouls during the first two quarters from doing this, but calmed down as the game went on, scoring his last nine points in the fourth quarter.

The story of the night for Phoenix should be Amare Stoudemire’s 37 points. He played a tremendous game, hitting various mid-range shots the whole night Overall, the game was enjoyable to watch and was what I expected. (Except the prediction I made by calling a Phoenix win — I stand corrected.) Like I said last night in another TSTOS post about the game where I mentioned Shaq playing rejuvenated a few weeks before coming back to earth, and like I said in the last paragraph, he exerted effort and played to a point where he was looking out where the ball was. In the third quarter, Shaq dived out of bounds for a ball, taking down a ref with him. It reminded me of all the times he did that back when he was with the Lakers years ago.

The next two Suns contests are going to be gripping and stirring as they take on the Boston Celtics tomorrow night and the Detroit Pistons on Sunday afternoon.

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