Who says basketball isn’t a contact sport? Don’t tell that to Gerald Wallace of the Charlotte Bobcats. While driving to the bucket against the Lakers, Wallace’s chest ran into Andrew Bynum’s elbow. The resulting collision put Wallace in the hospital with a potentially collapsed lung and a cracked rib. Surprisingly, the Bobcats still won the game. In Los Angeles. This morning, the discussion is focusing on whether or not Bynum’s elbow was a dirty play or just a tough foul.
I’m not sure if the play was dirty in the sense I don’t think Bynum was trying to injure Wallace. It looks like Bynum was late on defense and decided he’d throw a “no layups allowed” foul on Charlotte’s swing man. I kinda doubt Bynum went in the air with the intentions of cracking Wallace’s rib.
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?