Grant Hill has to be the least appreciated player in the universe, even on his own planet (i.e., Orange). And last night was a perfect example.
Hill wasn’t the biggest reason the Suns stormed from 19-points ahead to beat the Hawks in the final two minutes. Shaq will be the biggest ANYTHING for these Suns until further notice, as his 26 points, 10 rebounds and three blocked shots, not to mention the free throw that finally put them ahead to stay with 1:49 to play demonstrated yet again. And given where he was career-wise at this point a year ago, the astonishing thing is that he is the player the Suns could least afford to lose to injury.
And the headlines that don’t go to Shaq will likely go to Leandro Barbosa, who delivered 22 points in lethal bursts off the bench in less than 24 minutes, or Steve Nash, who had 23 points and hit 4 of 7 threes.
As for Hill, his line was easy to overlook. In fact, given he was one for six and scored six points, overlooking it would be the polite thing to do. But while his line wasn’t much, his game was. He did a great job of hounding Atlanta star Joe Johnson into 4 for 21 shooting. And while he only had three assists, he as usual played a prominent role in keeping the offense running smoothly (when it was running smoothly, that is).
And this is this is the kind of thing he’s been doing all year as he has taken over the stopper role of Shawn Marion, who left, and Raja Bell (whose role left him). And he has done it the same way he does everything – quietly.
In some ways Grant is as much a reclamation “miracle” as Shaq, the thinking once having been that a series of injuries and advancing years made him a doubtful investment at worst and a part-time contributor at best.
But that was then and this is now. And now his health is fine, and so his game. And the most significant thing about his game is that there are no holes in it. He gives you shooting, passing, ball handling, court sense, and, as we are somewhat belatedly coming to realize, defense. He’s not the best in the NBA at any one of those things, but he’s the pretty darn good at all of them.The bottom line: For you old timers out there, he plays hoops like Joe DiMaggio played center field – very smoothly.