Shaq Debuts, Suns Lose
But, you can’t really blame that on the Shaq-fu. Instead, blame Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom (and the Phoenix defense). The Lakers trio combined for 92 points while the Suns defense played like an absolute sieve. I’m not sure what Shaq could’ve done to stop the Lakers’ perimeter players, but he certainly didn’t hurt his new team’s offensive output, like so many speculated he would.
O’Neal finished with 15 points, 9 rebounds, 3 assists and 2 blocks; a stat-line any coach would welcome from a third option.
The Suns scored 124 points, plenty enough to beat just about anybody… provided you can stop them from scoring 130. As indicated, Shaq’s debut was successful. He ran the floor well and showed more agility than many thought possible. His first points as a Sun, a rousing two-handed slam over DJ Mbenga, showed he can still contribute and that he’s still a load in the paint.
The key is, can Shaq stay healthy. For the Lakers, how good will they be when Bynum returns? It certainly does appear like the Lakers are going to make a deep run in the NBA Playoffs. But are they good enough to topple the Spurs?