1. Suns drop it like its hot
Perhaps we misheard, but we could have sworn that the Phoenix Suns were going to use their embarrassing loss to the Timberwolves as motivation for the remainder of the season. Well, between Saturday and Monday, that plan flew out the window because in their very next game, the Suns got beat at home…by the Heat! We know that any team can beat any other team on any given night in the Association, but the Suns, who many consider to be the best in the West, just lost consecutive games to teams that are now a combined 9-30 on the season. Does the 117-113 loss spell the end of all hope for Phoenix fans? Of course not, but they are allowing the Lakers to creep back into the division race and the Suns’ schedule isn’t (and virtually can’t) get any easier. Here’s what’s on tap for Phoenix: vs. Utah, @ New Orleans, @ San Antonio, @ Dallas, vs. Toronto, @ Lakers.
2. The sleeping giant finally awakes
You might not know it by looking at the stoic, solemn expressions that almost never leave his gigantic face, but Yao Ming is a serious competitor. Labeled as a soft stick figure for the first few years of his career in Houston, Yao pretty much dispelled the myth that he’s got no heart on Monday when he called his club “soft” after losing to Philadelphia, their second consecutive defeat.
When you are soft yourself, everything will feel tough,” Yao said. “It’s not because they are so tough. It’s because of how soft we are.
“It’s weird that we changed that quick. I never had that feeling. I feel like they traded me to another team, a new team I’ve never been on before.
Finally! The Rockets have been waiting for over five years for you to step up and take control of this squad. Now Houston is, at last, ready to start winning. At least Yao is and that’s more than we knew before.
3. Another angry giant
We told you how Shaquille O’Neal is more than a little pissed about not touching the ball enough. Shaq is averaging career-lows across the board, but it’s not his age that is getting the best of him. Nope, as always, with Shaq it has to be someone else’s fault.
If I’m taking 20 shots a game and I’m only making two, then you can say my production is going down,” O’Neal told the Miami Herald on Friday.
“But I’m still shooting 60 or 65 percent from the field. So they’ve got to find better ways to get me the ball. It should be simple.”
Shaq was asked whether he had voiced his concerns inside the Heat organization.
“I shouldn’t have to [expletive] communicate that.
Monday’s Player of the Day: Josh Smith @ Orlando 45 min, 25 pts (FG: 7-20, 3FG: 2-4, FT: 9-13), 16 reb, 5 ast, 4 stl, 4 blk
Tuesday’s Game to Watch: San Antonio (17-3) @ Golden State (11-9)
Since Tim Duncan came to the Spurs, San Antonio is 42-5 against the Warriors, undefeated through 19 games at home and sporting a 33-5 mark in Oakland. Luckily for Golden State, the Spurs could be playing for the third consecutive game without the former two-time MVP who is still nursing a sprained knee and ankle. The bad news for the Warriors is that, even without their man in the middle, San Antonio has beaten Dallas and Utah to extend their current winning streak to five games. Golden State has slowed down a bit in the win column after going on a tear when Stephen Jackson returned to the lineup, but they are still racking up the points and have the ability to run anyone right out of the gym. This should be a great matchup regardless of Duncan’s availability.
Buzzer Beater: Heeee’s baaaack! LeBron James was cleared for the Cavaliers game against the Pacers on Tuesday and the move couldn’t have come at a better time. The Cavs have lost every contest that James missed – five consecutive – and now sit 5 ½ games behind the division leading Pistons. Before the injury, LeBron owned the entire NBA, racking up four triple-doubles while leading the league in scoring with 30.7 points per game. At least James got to show off his impressive wardrobe during the sick leave.