Two of Shaquille O'Neal's old teams on the road in two nights. Two losses.
Tuesday night, it was to the Orlando Magic, and Wednesday it was to Dwayne Wade, Shaq's brother in arms in the 2006 NBA championship, and the Miami Heat.
It wasn't Shaq's fault that the Phoenix Suns lost to the Heat by 6 points, dropping even deeper into ninth place in the Western Conference playoff race. He had 22 points and 8 rebounds in 30 minutes.
It was that his former teammate, Wade, had his usual spectacular night, 35 points, 16 assists, and 6 rebounds. The NBA scoring leader simply took over the game.
Off the bench, Michael Beasley had 28 points and 9 rebounds, and Daequan Cook had 27 points to finish off the Suns.
After falling behind by 11 points in the first quarter, the Suns came back to keep it close until the final buzzer. Like the game against Orlando, they could've won. Like the game against the Magic, their opponent just out-played them when it counted in the fourth quarter.
Steve Nash played well, with 29 points and 10 assists, as did Matt Barnes and Jason Richardson, who had 22 each. Grant hill had 13 points, but played his usual solid defense.
Interim head coach Alvin Gentry's Suns were simply out-classed by the only team on the current four-game road trip with a worse record. We'd hoped the 34-27 Suns would at least beat the 32-28 Heat.
Because it doesn't get any easier anytime soon.
Next up are the 39-23 Houston Rockets Friday night and the hated 40-20 San Antonio Spurs Sunday afternoon. After that, the Suns return home to play the 37-24 Dallas Mavericks, who're clinging to that eighth and final playoff spot in the West ahead of the Suns, and the Eastern Conference-leading 48-12 Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday, March 12.
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Do the names Yao, Duncan, Ginobli, Dirk, and LeBron strike fear in anyone's heart?
If the Suns don't win at least half the games in this killer stretch, they can kiss the playoffs goodby. And based on their 0-2 start, there's no reason to believe they can beat any of these teams.
It's time for Gentry to work a miracle, or his honeymoon's over.