Shaq Dominates His First Matchup With Oden
With Shaq in the starting lineup and Oden coming off the bench, there was a question of just how much time the two would actually spend on the floor together. At about the eight minute mark of the first quarter, Oden reported to the scorer's table to check in, but Shaq ended up subbing out at the same time, so it was unclear if we'd see more than a minute or two of the matchup. But in the second quarter, Shaq came in and didn't hesitate to go at Oden the very first trip down the floor.
O'Neal posted up Oden, and went to his patented quick-baseline-spin move, the one that usually leaves young defenders standing there wondering what just happened as Shaq gets an uncontested dunk. The move worked on Oden just as it had on Andrew Bynum two nights earlier, but this time the refs whistled Shaq for a travel before he got the chance to throw it down. Shaq would get another chance to dunk on Oden in the third quarter, and this time, he would not be denied.
Matt Barnes drove the lane and Oden came over to help, so Barnes got it to Shaq along the baseline. Oden tried to rotate back over, but was too late, and Shaq went up and dunked on him. Technically Oden was to Shaq's left and not directly in front of him, but hey, if Oden says that counts as being dunked on, then that must be the case.
Shaq finished with 19 points and 17 rebounds, going 8-for-12 from the field while playing a strong 36 minutes. Oden, on the other hand, basically did nothing. The rookie finished with just five points, one rebound, and five personal fouls in 14 minutes of action.
After the game, Shaq was asked how he thought Oden did, and if he had any advice for the kid who everyone seems to believe is loaded with potential.
"I don't give up the secrets," Shaq said. "He just has to get comfortable in his own niche, develop his own style, and just master that. Once he does that, he'll be fine."
And was Shaq even thinking about facing Oden heading into the game? He says it wasn't exactly something that was on his mind.
"It never is, because I'm the Shogun. And before you get to the Shogun, you gotta go through a lot of ninjas. He has to go through Dwight Howard and Yao Ming, and you know, by that time I'll be outta here."
Oden was basically a no-show against Shaq and the Suns, and there were a lot more things he did wrong than he did right. He's still got a long way to go before he's even an average NBA big man, and at this rate, Shaq is correct in his assertion that he probably won't still be playing if and when Oden does begin to come around.