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A solid first outing

Shaquille O'NealBasketballPhoenix SunsGrant HillRaja BellLamar Odom

Shaq on the clock (Mountain Standard Time):

10:10 p.m. – Shaquille O'Neal, who has been know to be moody after losses in the past, is all smiles as he meets with the media. "I want to show what a hard worker I am," he says of his numerous trips to the floor in Wednesday's game. "If I have to dive for a ball, I will dive." "Don't worry about me," he says he told his teammates of his role in the offense. "I'll get mine. Don't build the offense around me." Of his new teammate, dominating forward/center Amare Stoudemire, Shaq says, "I have to accept his role. I have lived in both worlds, the regular world and the superhero world."

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9:50 p.m. – While Shaq's ability to fit in with the free-flowing, fastbreak offense of the Phoenix Suns remains a question to be answered over the next few weeks, none can question his enthusiasm with his new club. He may have picked up more floor burns in his first game than he had in some seasons, diving all over the court, sliding into the crowd, doing a somersault, crashing into bodies all over the place. Shaq's numbers were respectable (15 points on six of nine from the floor and three of eight from the free-throw line, nine rebounds, three assists and a blocked shot), but nothing that Shawn Marion, one of the players he was traded for, couldn't have equaled or surpassed.Final score: Lakers, 130, Suns 124

9:25 p.m. – Shaq accounts for six consecutive points, scoring on two shots and getting credit for a third basket on a goaltending call to pull his team within one point.Lakers 115, Suns 114, 4:17 remaining in the game.

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9:15 p.m. – Shaq and Steve Nash combine on their first alley-oop play, Nash dishing the ball up for Shaq to slam home to give him eight points in the game. Lakers 109, Suns 108, 6:23 remaining in the game.

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9:04 p.m. – Shaq has an active few minutes at the end of the third quarter. He scores on a hook over Pau Gasol to tie the game at 87-87, slips a nice pass to Boris Diaw inside for an easy layup and shows his hip is no longer an hindrance, sliding across the floor and out of bounds in pursuit of a loose ball, moving with such force that he inadvertently sweeps a referee along with him into the crowd.End of the third quarter, Lakers 95, Phoenix 91.

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8:45 p.m. – Through the first seven minutes of the third quarter, Shaq was little more than a quiet presence. He had zero points and one rebound in five minutes. Lakers 83, Phoenix 79.

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8:18 p.m. -- Shaq finishes the first half with 12 minutes played, four points (1-for-3 from the field, 2-for-6 from the free-throw line), five rebounds, two assists, one blocked shot and three fouls. Lakers lead 65-57.

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8:04 p.m. – Shaq and Kobe Bryant lock arms . . . in battle, not affection. Kobe fouls Shaq. Same old Shaq. He has missed four of six free throws. Shaq then picks up his third foul.Lakers 55, Phoenix 52, 2:14 remaining in the half.

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7:55 p.m. – Shaquille O'Neal returns after sitting out the first 5:27 of the second quarter. Without him, the Suns go on a 10-0 run after falling behind by 13. Lakers 45, Suns 42, 6:33 remaining in the half.

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7:40 p.m. – End of the first quarter, Lakers 32, Phoenix 29; Shaq – 3 points, 2 rebounds, 2 assists.

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7:33 p.m. – On an in-bounds pass from Raja Bell, Shaq O'Neal slam dunks from under the basket, his first Phoenix points resulting in a standing ovation from the crowd. Shaq is also fouled on the play by D.J. Mbenga, but misses the free throw. A lane violation by the Lakers give him a second chance. He misses that one as well. Lakers 26, Phoenix 23, 2:01 remaining in the first quarter.

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7:27 p.m. – Back on the court, Shaq O'Neal attempts a shot against a triple team and misses, leaving him zero for two in shot attempts. But he is moving well, running the court, keeping up with the Suns' vaunted fastbreak. He runs so well on one play that he receives a charging call for running into the Lakers' Paul Gasol. Lakers 22, Suns 19 with 3:08 remaining in the first quarter.

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7:15 p.m. – With 8:58 to play in the first quarter, Shaq comes out, having played three minutes. Coach Mike D'Antoni had said before the game that he would use Shaq in three- to five-minute bursts

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7:14 p.m. – Shaq makes his first contributions to the Suns, assisting on a Grant Hill basket and blocking a Lamar Odom shot. The crowd roars.

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7:07 p.m. – Shaq O'Neal shoots a couple of free throws at the end of practice and makes both of them, a good omen. In the pregame introduction, he receives an ovation from the US Airways Arewa crowd. As he walks onto the court for the tipoff, he and Kobe touch fists, barely acknowledging each other.

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5:30 p.m. – The doors of the Phoenix Suns locker room open to the media. Grant Hill is at his locker stall. Raja Bell is at his stall. O'Neal's stall contains only a brown vest, a yellow tie with green stripes and a pair of gunboat loafers.

That doesn't change over the ensuing 45 minutes until the locker room is closed. Shaq is a no-show. Early arriving fans are also not afforded a glimpse at the central figure of the night as other players warm up. Shaq will wait for prime time to make his entrance.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
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Shaquille O'NealBasketballPhoenix SunsGrant HillRaja BellLamar Odom
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