Suns 97, Kings 95 OT – Amare turns it on in OT

Amare did what superstars do in the final seconds. (AP/Rich Pedroncelli)

Amare did what superstars do in the final seconds. (AP/Rich Pedroncelli)

If I had known entering the game Amare Stoudemire would score six points in regulation although the Suns were missing three rotation guys, I’m not sure if I would have wanted to even watch the contest.

But with a few gallons of Diesel power and a Detroit Pistons-esque night from Grant Hill, the Suns did just enough in regulation for Amare to lead the way in overtime of a 97-95 win.

Amare did everything the Suns needed not to happen from him in regulation, getting into foul trouble, scoring only one basket on a breakaway dunk, missing crucial late free throws, turning the ball over and grabbing about as many rebounds as Sean Singletary.

But when overtime came around, Amare was there for a pair of swished jumpers in Spencer Hawes’ face to get the Suns out to a good start. Then with the score tied and the seconds ticking down he isolated Hawes a la Barkley on the Admiral in ’93 and splashed the game-winner in his face from 17 feet out with 4.5 seconds left.

But Amare wasn’t done, as he blocked John Salmons’ potential-tying drive and then recovered to emphatically stuff Hawes to end the game.

After a nothing regulation, Amare became Superman to win it in overtime.

“I saw Salmons driving to the basket with a wide open layup,” Amare told the Associated Press, “and I moved toward him and he went reverse and I got a piece of it and deflected it to Spencer. I was able to block his shot as well.”

But for most of the game, Superman was, well, Superman.

I know I used the whole “Shaq looked like the Shaq of old, not the old Shaq” phrase after his dominant Milwaukee performance, and AP used a similar sentiment in its game story from this contest.

But after Shaq exploded for 29 points on 10-for-15 shooting, 13 boards and six assists, I’m starting to think that while the 36-year-old version of Shaq may not be as utterly dominant as he was in his younger days, we can’t keep referring to these stellar outings as Shaq being the Shaq of old. He’s just being Shaq.

The Daddy had not put up a 25-10-5 line since March 2007, but he did so with ease in this one. The Kings simply could not stop him, and they aren’t the only team in that boat.

Believe it or not, Shaq is averaging 17.4 points and 8.9 boards per contest, and I see no reason why he can’t put up a line like that for the entire season if he stays healthy. By the way, the last time Shaq put up those kinds of numbers, the Heat won the 2006 NBA Championship. I’m just saying.

It will be really interesting to see if Shaq sits out either Sunday’s game against Detroit or Monday’s in Utah. With Barnes still out I doubt he rests against the Pistons, and you hate to see him miss a showdown against the Jazz, but it may just be a game where the Suns have to swallow hard to keep Shaq conditioned for performances like Friday’s.

Hill also “turned back the clock,” you could say, with a vintage 22-point, nine-board, four-assist and four-steal game, although he also contributed seven turnovers.

To put it bluntly, the Suns absolutely needed that with playmakers in Nash, Barnes and Barbosa all gone, and it was far from expected considering Hill had not scored in his past two games despite logging a combined 36 minutes.

Odd to see Robin Lopez not get off the bench at first glance, but with the way the Suns needed their offense to run through Shaq much of the game and since their short-handedness only related to guards and wings, it makes a little more sense.

Being an overtime game where you’re basically going with seven guys you know the minutes will be ridiculous, so Bell played 49, Hill 45, Shaq 43 and Amare just 38 because of early foul trouble.

You hate to see those guys log so many minutes, but it’s just one game and what else are you going to do?

Who was KJ rooting for?

Sacramento mayor-elect and former Suns star Kevin Johnson spent half the second quarter on the Suns’ broadcast, where he was asked about his goals as mayor, campaigning with the help of players like Shaq and tutoring a young Steve Nash, but Tom Leander and Scott Williams never broached the question on my mind: Who’s KJ rooting for?

I can only assume because the question wasn’t asked, it would not have been the answer Suns fans wanted to hear.

Come on KJ, you won the election, you don’t have to be political anymore.

Tags: Amar'e Stoudemire

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