by Toney Blare

Pre-game

— In the parking lot, dudes are handing out fliers for…well, what do we have here? Another Hornets247 party with DJ Toney Blare? Omigod. A morning Holiday Party at Handsome Willy’s Shaq likes it.on Sunday, Dec. 14, 10:30 a.m.? And who’s that wearing a Photoshopped Santa hat? Why, if it isn’t Ryan Bowen…

— Shaq. At this point, sitting next to Shaq isn’t just an exercise in, “Wow, is dude ever big,” but, “Wow, that’s Big.” As in the icon, someone who’s lived the American legend—on his own terms, demolishing all comers, doing it in style and with humor, larger-than-life, my generation’s NBA Babe Ruth. Or maybe Clint Eastwood, someone essentially distinctive, who directs and plays piano like Shaq makes bank and plays sheriff. You can really only compare Diesel to other incomparable-s.

— And a real cool dude, too. I ask him about the demise of LSU football, and the local idea that Miles f*cked up by not recruiting a blue-chip safety plan for the infamous Ryan Perrilloux. Shaq likes the new kid, “The young guy, the black kid” Jordan Jefferson, who finished the Arkansas game…

Are the Suns leaving town after the game?

“Yeah.”

You know tonight’s the 75th anniversary party for Pat O’s, the legendary Quarter drinking establishment, right?

“F********ck! Really?” He yells the news over to a big scout with a red face.

“That’s why you and Nash aren’t playing,” someone says. Damn.

“They’re blockin’ the whole street off,” I say.

“I could get in.”

Yeah, no sh*t.

Then some more talk about how the red faced scout better be wearing socks tonight, and how said feet ain’t really that smelly. Shaq sniffed ‘em–not like his own smell, which like Doritos.

Yep, words from a legend.

— In the press room we get fried chicken, greens, and mac-n-cheese. Wow. Wow. NBATV shows a spot on the Hornets helping the storm recovery, and someone remarks that CP3 is lucky he’s a ballplayer, cause he sure ain’t a carpenter. CP3 is on the screen displaying a very inexperienced hammer stroke, like he’s putting a Jordan poster up in his room, not a 2×4 in a new house.

— No Greytone. Not getting into it, but it sure is some bitter irony that the Obama era begins and the Greytone era is cut short. Have no fear, we’ll reunite like Voltron next Sunday for that party.

First quarter

— So we have no Nash and no Shaq. Instead, it’s Amare and Barbosa vs. CP3. Are we about to have a FreeDarko moment in here?

— Chris can lose Barbosa with a sneeze, and the Bees jump out to 21-13. The jumbotron shows a group of kids from the Housing Authority in the upper deck. Weird, cause HUD knocked No defense. Mo offense.all but one of the projects down, meaning these kids are the end of the line that started 60 some years ago.

— If Amare wants his own team, he better buy his own defense. And make smarter plays. Chris rips him, the 100th consecutive game he’s had a steal. Alvin Robertson—Alvin, not Oscar—has the record with 105.

— Diaw drops a soufflé jumper. I tell you what, if I was coming up all over again in these times, I’d probably be D.J. Sarkozy. That dude is up to something, I’m telling you. And his wife is well fit.

— Sean Singletary is in at the point for the Suns and in serious trouble. Chris hits a sick turnaround at the buzzer, 33-21 Hornets.

Second quarter

— Sean Marks is in for the Hornets. I think I saw him give the hang loose sign during warmups. I’m serious. He pushes one off the back of the rim, is joined by Mo-Pete, Posey, Dev Brown and Hilton. Who exactly is the scorer there, and why is his name not Julian Wright?

— Lot of ugly sh*t goin on. Mo-hawk-Pete picks up a flagrant on Grant Hill. Bad shots everywhere.

— Barbosa tries to get things going. His game hasn’t gone very far in the last two years, though. Whatever you think about the Suns direction, they haven’t done much of a job developing Diaw or Barbosa to take the reins after Nash/Shaq/the departed Matrix.

— Barnes hits a three to close it to 42-41, then Peja returns the favor. Rasual Butler is the most graceful shot-misser in the L.

— Phoenix ball movement without Nash sucks. Guys run around waving their arms. Again, what system was there that left such a hole when a guy has the flu that no one can put together a coherent play? I think Grant Hill just hogged the ball, ferchrissakes.

— Man, there is some heavy flirting going on next to me in press row. To the point that dude is actually telling her about how he flirts, his game, etc. Then when she splits, my man pulls out the binoculars to watch some Honeybees up close. All the playas came from far and wide…

— Tonight’s starting Suns center Robin Lopez does a good impression of the stunned Tim Duncan after a foul.

Halftime

— I come back from my coffee break to find dudes riding BMXs in the tunnel and Suns commentator and ex-Bull/Sun Scott Williams laughing his ass off. There’s a ramp at center court and these guys are riding from the tunnel, launching into flips and landing on the court. Needless to say, the two paramedics I stand next to are nervous as hell.

— Hey, that’s a former Honeybee in the stands. One of the best from last year’s squad. Sniffle. I pour a little coffee on the ground for old times and my missing Greytone homey. He always loved visions like these.

Third quarter

— Phoenix has no plan. I guess Grant is playing point. I guess.

— Lopez has a nice block on Rasual, who then tears the ball from Amare on the other end, comes back down and gets blocked again by Hill, who’s called for a questionable foul. These are Contenders?

— Nobody asked me, but I’ve always found it remarkable that there are dudes out there who actually think, “Tonight, I’d like to look like Nick Lachey. Yeah, that’s my sh*t.” I see you, knucklehead with the sideways Reds cap.

— Peja buries a three. The next time down, he fakes out Barnes, who flies by and musses Peja’s hair, no whistle. Peja buries the three, then picks up a tech, a rare feat. 68-64 N.O.

— CP3 loses Barbosa so bad that the Brazilian tumbles into the lane and finds himself posted up then dunked on by Hilton.

— Quarter ends with Barnes fouling Hilton, who hits both, 82-69.

Fourth quarter

— Up 13 points, recent Olympian and active charity organizer and carpenter Chris Paul stays in the game to start the quarter, with Dev Brown, Sean Marks, Pose and Hilton. This pisses me off for the remainder of the game.

— During a replay of a shot-clock violation, the PA plays “Patience.” “Sometimes, I get so pissed, cause I can’t speed up the time/you know love there’s one more thing to consider.”
Future
— You know why Amare needs to insert himself into the 2010 debate? Because the drop off from LBJ to him is huge. Seriously, without Nash, what does Amare do? He finishes this game with 26, but he never took it over, and never shows why you’d build a team around him without a HOF point guard to get him the ball. You can’t exactly “pound the ball” to Amare. The Hornets frontline isn’t exactly rugged, either. I actually thought this would be a good game for him to take out his recent rage, but yawn.

— Melvin Ely’s suit has the biggest windowpanes you ever saw.

— They show a video with Peja thanking the fans for voting for him for the ASG. Yeshamesh! Sexy time basketball! Press row is a cruel place sometimes.

— Sean Marks gets an off rebound and seems to want a hi-five. The Hornets are up 21 with 7 minutes to go. Chris Paul is still in there, and so might as well knife into the lane. He’s got 20 and 14 and a lot of miles on him.

— Amare gives DWest a good poke in the eye with 20 seconds left, and we’re done. 104-91 Hornets win, but prove very little.

Post-game

— I didn’t mention this, but Damon Jones is in the house. No, I have no idea, either, and to tell you the truth, Damon Jones kinda turns my stomach. He was on the baseline and now he’s waiting in the hall for Shaq. Is Damon Jones still trying to be the Lil Cease? Will he beg Shaq to take him to Pat O’s?

— Terry Porter is soft-spoken and doesn’t seem all that upset, like tonight was a gimme loss with out the two former MVPs. I don’t know, you don’t have a back-up point guard for an aging star, and your rising star got no satisfaction and your offense is formless. I wouldn’t be smiling.

— Ryan Bowen digs the flier.

— Nash is on the loading dock, looking pale and flu-like.

— On the sidewalk outside the arena, there’s now a routine where guys set up with coolers and sell bottles of beer after the game, in case you haven’t had enough tonight. New Orleans. You know, I put on for my city…