PHOENIX - Mmmm. So tasty, that crow.
"How the West won't be won." That's how I dubbed it just eight days ago when I was ready to bury Shaq and the Suns. Now granted, winning four straight doesn't mean they're title-bound, but they certainly have played well of late.
The Kings' blowout began with a tinge of desperation, with Kings coach Reggie Theus barking at officials far more than the norm and earning his second technical of the season just a few minutes into play. There was, however, one saving grace at least as far as Theus was concerned: Shaq is apparently an advocate of the Kings coach.
As Theus was riding official John Goble about O'Neal's tactics in the paint, someone on the Kings bench appeared to prompt O'Neal as to whether he was going to chime in on Theus' rant. For a moment, it seemed like he would, as O'Neal watched Theus intently as he yelled but ultimately stayed quiet.
"That's my guy," he said of Theus as the coach kept on Goble. "I ain't saying nothing."
Otherwise, the Suns didn't shovel out much love for the Kings. Brad Miller and Spencer Hawes bounced off Shaq all night, with Hawes having as rough a night as he's had since his playing time increased recently (four points on 2 of 9 shooting, eight rebounds and five turnovers in 25 minutes).
Kevin Martin saw just six shots (hitting four) while Ron Artest took 22 (hitting 10) while partaking in some hollow trash talk with Amare Stoudemire in the second half when the frustration continued to build.
"I’m going to live and die with my teammates and myself," Artest said. "We’re going to live and die with ourselves. And when we live, (opponents are) going to hear it even more. Right now (the Suns) are living and we’re dying. One day, somebody’s going to breath some life into this team and we’re going to have our chance to swag a little bit."
The good news for Theus? Artest remains on board with the youth movement.
"I told the young guys, keep getting that experience because next year we’re going to need it," he said. "Get better while these other teams are getting older, and let’s shock the world next year."
Artest, who was yapping with Stoudemire from the free throw line early in the third quarter while the Suns big man had all but clocked out for the night and was on the Suns bench, had little to talk about.
"It was a little friendly trash talk," Stoudemire said afterward. "He was just trying to get himself going. But you're down 30 (points). Just read the stat sheet, bro."
Stoudemire added that he is friendly with Artest off the floor. This, however, was no way to treat your friends.
* Quick note that was omitted from print: swingman John Salmons left late in the fourth quarter limping with a sprained ankle and his status is not known for today's game against Toronto. - Sam Amick