It was only a matter of time.
Yeah, the Phoenix Suns were 4-0 going into last night's game with Superman and the Orlando Magic -- the man of steel being everybody's favorite basketball star nowadays, Dwight Howard.
And Howard & Co. didn't disappoint their legion of fans, who believe their team has the deepest roster in the NBA this year and will win it all, though they certainly bummed us out.
See, we knew the Suns weren't that good this season, but we didn't think they were that bad -- 122-100 bad (and it could've been worse).
It was so awful that Phoenix threw up the white flag in the middle of the third quarter (the Magic were up by 28 at one point), taking out all the starters except Amar'e Stoudemire, who was having a teriffic game before his hometown Orlando crowd. But by early in the fourth quarter, STAT was on the bench, too.
Okay, you could blame it on the Suns playing a hard-fought game against Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat the night before, which they won, but the Magic played and lost to the Detroit Pistons in Motown Monday night and still came home to Amway Arena to shame the Suns.
This was a game in which ousted Suns forward Matt Barnes, who's starting for the Magic because recently acquired star Vince Carter's out injured, looked like a great player. The tatted-up guy who spent most of last season in Phoenix sulking and sucking had 13 points, 11 rebounds, and five asissts to complement his teammates Howard's 25 points and eight rebounds and Ryan Anderson's 20 points and 10 rebounds.
And, who the fuck's Ryan Anderson?
Turns out he's the Magic forward who beat down the Suns for two and a half quarters Wednesday night, making hustle play after hustle play.
Did we mention that Stoudemire had a great game? He kept his stupid mistakes to a minimum, scoring 25 points and grabbing 14 rebounds. The next highest scorers were subs Jared Dudley, with 16 points, and Goran Dragic, with 15 points and six assists.
In fact, besides Stoudemire's heroics, the only other bright spot was bench play. The Suns got huge hustle out of subs like Lou Amundson -- whose contribution to the team can't be measured in his eight points and five rebounds in 22 minutes -- and Maddog Dudley. The Phoenix bench combined for 58 points to the Magic bench's 39.
Steve Nash was a virtual no-show against Orlando, with 12 points and four assists in 22 minutes. The old man of 35 seemed worn out after scoring 30 in a spectacular performance against the Heat a day earlier. Let's hope his time on the bench in this blowout rested him up for his team's next opponent:
That's the super-talented Boston Celtics, who (unlike the penny-pinching Suns) actually made trades in the off-season that made them better than the elite team they already were. To complement Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, and Ray Allen (the fabled "Big Three"), the team now boasts Rasheed Wallace -- the former Detroit Piston who's among the most dominant power forwards in the league. This, of course, is not to menton Rajon Rondo, who runs rings around Nash defensively at the point guard position (what starting point doesn't anymore?).
The Celtics will be challenging the Magic for Eastern Conference supremacy this year, with LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers possibly in the mix of elites (the jury's still out on whether Shaquille O'Neal will help or hurt the Cavs, who, like the Suns before them, appear baffled as to how the "Big Shaquisition" can best be employed).
Tip-off between the Suns and the Celtics is 5:30 p.m. Friday in Beantown. TV: My45 HD. Radio: KTAR-AM 620. More info: www.nba.com/suns.
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