Brace yourself. It is another extreme opinion emanating from the Suns locker room, except this one's positive for a change.
"Because we have a lot of high-profile, big-personality players on this team, anytime we lose, burp or mess up, it's all over the place," forward Grant Hill said. "I think we've made drastic improvement. We're hungry. We're focused. We're not there yet, but we're close."
Hill was on a crew Tuesday that held Memphis to one made field goal in the final nine
minutes and 11 fourth-quarter points.
"It's good to know when you need to play defense, you're capable," Hill said.
Hill went from nearly being the hero at both ends in the final seconds on Christmas to showing that he, even at 36, is the Suns' best defender.
Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant, 20, went 5 of 17 on Monday against Hill. Memphis' Rudy Gay, 22, went 6 of 15 against him on Tuesday.
Hill said he is learning young players' tendencies, something he had pegged when he once drew the likes of Glenn Robinson and Scottie Pippen. He first met Gay back then.
Hill's father, NFL great Calvin Hill, was having the courtyard of his childhood Baltimore housing project named after him in 1999, and Gay was living there.
"I remember meeting him and giving him my autograph because everybody was saying he was going to be in the NBA someday," Hill said. "When I saw him drafted, I knew he was the same guy."
On his ejection Tuesday, Amaré Stoudemire said he should have leeway to argue a foul call and reacted hastily to the first technical foul for not having that chance.
"It's my seventh year in the NBA," he said. "I feel I have the availability to talk to him (official Bill Kennedy) a little bit about the call. For him to quick-whistle me without the chance to talk to him about the call, I felt uncomfortable with that."
Coach Terry Porter said Stoudemire has "to be more mature in that situation."
Forward Jared Dudley did not play until the second halves Monday and Tuesday and barely made a dent in the box score. Yet, he was a game-changer, coming up with big plays like a forced backcourt turnover Monday, then setting the tone Tuesday with a steal on the first play of the fourth quarter and post defense that prompted a later turnover.
"He does all the intangibles," Porter said. "You look at a stat sheet and think he didn't affect the game, but he did."
Shaquille O'Neal's 26, 715 points puts him eighth on the career scoring list after passing Dominique Wilkins on Monday and Oscar Robertson on Tuesday. He is 232 away from taking seventh from Hakeem Olajuwon.
"My idol?" O'Neal said. "Oooo, I'm about to pass up my idol."
O'Neal sped up his ascension with his best free-throw-shooting month since 2002, hitting 65.9 percent in December. He's had only two better months in 17 years: February 2002 (67.9) and April 2002 (70.1).