I'd like to introduce a new feature tonight from a loyal reader. Mike is a season ticket holder who volunteered his services to us. When he gets home from the games, Mike is going to write up his impressions of the crowd, the game and most importantly the stuff that happens in the arena that we, watching at home, are not privy to. Below, you'll find the first installment of what I hope is a long-running column here on Depressed Fan. Welcome aboard, Mike.
- Shaq & Sammy joined for a warm embrace at halfcourt. The two spoke like they were old friends for a few moments. After Shaq walked away Barbosa approached Dalembert and they also seemed to share some sort of kinship. I have absolutely no idea how Sammy knows these guys. Matt Barnes & Amundson exchanged brief pleasantries with a few former teammates, but other no one else seemed to be buddies.
- Shaq takes warm-up foul shots from the dotted arc in the lane a couple feet underneath the actual foul line. I've never seen anyone do this before, and it looked even funnier than it sounds (We'll get to his in-game foul shots in a moment).
- With all the trade rumors swirling around Stoudemire, I paid him extra attention during warm-ups. I noticed veterans like Nash & Hill made their rounds, chatting it up with several teammates during the shootaround. Shaq is Shaq. He talks to everybody. This includes dudes wearing red feathered hats with accompanying bling who probably rented their outfits over the weekend when they heard Shaq would be spending Monday night in Philly. Then, there's Stoudemire, who spends the majority of warm-ups by himself stationed about 2 feet inside the 3pt line closest to the Suns' bench shooting jumpers. You can't help but notice every single player on Phoenix is wearing the full orange warm-up suit, except for Stoudemire. He wears a grey t-shirt over long sleeved under armour. I could be oversensitive to all the negative press he's been receiving lately, but the guy does not look happy. On a team with such rich personalities, his brooding scowl stands in stark contrast. To me, he just doesn't look like a guy who is too happy to be on that team.
- One more thing I noticed before the game began. Little white girls love Steve Nash. At least in Philly. The only orange jerseys I see in the stadium are Nash's #13 worn by teenage girls. It was kind of weird.
ONTO THE GAME:
- Thad gets off to a great start. He looks energized and aggressive. Great to see. Iguodala's shot doesn't look like it's falling early on. We'll see if that changes.
- In case anyone was wondering, Shaq is a lot bigger than Sammy. I'm immediately reminded of the '01 Finals when Shaq would pound the ball into Mutombo's helpless frame. There's just nothing you can do except foul the guy. Which brings us to....
- Shaq's foul shots are so much fun to witness live. It's only the 1st Quarter, but the entire crowd builds to a swell as the ball rests on his fingertips right before he shoots. Of course everyone loves it when he misses.
- Im really sick of Lou's jump shots at the end of quarters. I'm sure I'm not alone here.
- We have a first for the Kiss Cam this season: 2 chicks!! The crowd was very pleased. They remained pleased when the Kiss Cam fixated on Robin Lopez and Goran Dragic. Lopez finally looked up to the Jumbotron, laughed, and then moved down 1 seat away from Dragic. (In case you were wondering, during Saturday night's game, the Kiss Cam spotted Dwayne Wade sitting next to Shawn Marion. Wade, always the good sport, put his arm around Marion's neck and kiss him on the back of the head. Marion looked up, like "What the..?" as Wade pointed him in the direction of their image on the Jumbotron. Laughs all around.
- Dalembert checked in for Evans after a foul on Shaq in the 2nd Quarter, and Evans did not seem like he wanted to come out at all. He stood at the foul line until Sammy patted him on the back, then walked slowly back to the bench. Evans seems like the last guy who would show up a coach, and I don't necessarily think that's what happened. It was just one of those odd moments during a game I thought was interesting.
- It was a dunk party during the first half. Multiple alley-oops, capped off with Miller finding Speights for what was one of the most exciting plays at the Wachovia Center all year. As I sit here typing this now, I still don't know how Speights elevated to catch that pass and throw it down with 1 hand. Phoenix looked slow all game, and Philly looked like they just wanted it more.
- The 2nd half was actually pretty boring. The Suns were only down 11 at halftime, but they seemed resigned to take the L on the back end of their 2nd game in as many nights. They came out of halftime with no energy, and the game was pretty much over halfway thru the 3rd.
- It was clear to everyone in attendance that Speights had outplayed his counterpart in Stoudemire. Stoudemire's lack of effort on defense was really glaring, first when he was guarding Thad, and then Speights. I know that was a matchup that everyone wanted to see, and Speights really couldn't have played better.
- Lou went to the line in the 4th to shoot a technical foul shot. As the ball rattled around the rim, he immediately put his hands on hips and scoffed as if to say, "You gotta be kidding me. Can I get anything tonight?" Then the ball rolled in, and he kind of laughed. A few moments later he hit a 3, and raised his arms in the air, again as if to say, "FINALLY." We're all frustrated with Lou, so it's good to see he shares our disappointment. He knows he's not playing well. I'm hoping it's just a matter of time before more of those jumpers start falling.