Monday , Mar , 10 , 2008 C.Y. Ellis

Phoenix Ramping Up for West Showdown with San Antonio


The Phoenix Suns  picked a nice afternoon and the perfect opponent to show why they felt they needed Shaquille O’Neal. Three days past his 36th birthday, in his 10th game with Phoenix, O’Neal scored 14 points and grabbed 16 rebounds to help the Suns beat their nemesis, the San Antonio Spurs , 94-87 on Sunday. The ever-hustling, 7-foot-1, 325-pound center provided the toughness, not to mention girth, the Suns felt they needed inside to finally get past the Spurs in the West. He even dived into the third row of seats for a loose ball, catching an unfortunate fan with an elbow to the lip. ‘I think I hit one guy,’ he said. ‘I tried to miss the kids.’ Grant Hill scored 18, including a crucial baseline 20-footer with 1:15 to go, as the Suns showed why they thought they needed O’Neal to compete with the rugged Spurs and the other big teams in the West. ‘There’s a lot of teams with size in the West,’ Nash said. ‘We added size, let alone a guy with championship experience. One win isn’t going to say we’re a finished product, but we’re on our way, I think, to improving and getting to a place where we’re going to feel confident once the playoffs come around.’ Click here for more from Sportsillustrated.cnn.com.