Is it impressive or irritating that the Mavericks require the threat of their demise to play their best? Whatever the case, they swarmed the Suns defensively, enjoyed an appearance from their Superstar, had a big performance from their big man and rolled to a Game 4 victory to reset this series at 2-2.
Dirk was fabulous, which shows that you must watch a game, not read a boxscore, to know how good a player played. If you saw Dirk's confidence and his results, then you know there is reason to believe that our big German has come back to us. That is very bad for Phoenix, if he is back for good.
Meanwhile, there is no doubt that the best Mavericks performance last night was turned in by Josh Howard. What a find he has been, a guy who hustles like Najera, but has talent far greater than Eddie could ever hope to have. The way he dominates the offensive glass, and the way he fears no man (Amare) makes you think that he is the biggest energy guy who is on this roster. Take a look at Josh's numbers at Home versus on the road.
Josh Howard Home Stats - '05 Playoffs
Hou Game 1 - 17 points - 10 rebounds - 43 minutes
Hou Game 2 - 17 points - 8 rebounds - 35 minutes
Hou Game 5 - 17 points - 8 rebounds - 31 minutes
Hou Game 7 - 21 points - 11 rebounds - 38 minutes
Pho Game 3 - 15 points - 6 rebounds - 27 minutes
Pho Game 4 - 29 points - 10 rebounds - 40 minutes
Totals = 6 games - 116 points - 53 rebounds - 214 minutes
Home Averages = 19.3 points - 8.8 rebounds - 35.6 minutes
Josh Howard Road Stats - '05 Playoffs
Hou Game 3 - 7 points - 3 rebounds - 17 minutes
Hou Game 4 - 8 points - 3 rebounds - 30 minutes
Hou Game 6 - 8 points - 3 rebounds - 22 minutes
Pho Game 1 - 12 points - 8 rebounds - 28 minutes
Pho Game 2 - 10 points - 2 rebounds - 35 minutes
Totals = 5 games - 45 points - 19 rebounds - 132 minutes
Road Averages = 9 points - 3.8 rebounds - 26.4 minutes
Of course, the minutes drop-off on the road is not due to Avery not using him, but rather Josh's ability to get in foul trouble so frequently.
Other sports-snorts from Game 4:
- Darrell Armstrong has not played many minutes, but has anyone made their chances count more than DA? If you only look at Game 7 versus Houston, and last night, he has given them huge boosts of energy that not only get the team going, but also get the AAC Crowd going. Love that guy and his ability to stay ready.
- Steve Nash's performance was one of those rare times when you look at the guys next to you (Ben and Skin, in my case) and say, "we are watching a moment that will be referenced for a long time around here".
- I don't care how much he scores, Jerry Stackhouse is good for this team. No one bullies a Jerry Stackhouse team.
- It is obviously Bennett Salvatore's world. We just live in it.
- One thing that became very clear last night was this: when they really need it, Phoenix cannot get a stop. They basically traded baskets the entire second half.
- I will be shocked if this series doesn't go 7 games. These two teams are just trading punches at the center of the ring. But the longer it goes, the more fatigue is going to hit the thin Suns.
Galloway on the Game 4 win ...
Suns don't bother with defense ...
Nash goes off, Suns go down ...
Dirk plays like a star ...
Why Dirk waited until a critical Game 4 on Sunday at American Airlines Center to do what everyone, including the opposition, knows he can do is anyone's guess.
Maybe that bout with some flu-like symptoms was more serious than it was made out to be. Or maybe Erick Dampier called him out in some team meeting.
Whatever the case, Dirk's performance was as emphatic as it was efficient, certainly more so than anything we've seen from him in this series. And the impact it had on the rest of his team, which put together a 119-109 win over the Suns to even this best-of-7 set, was obvious.
It's always said that great players make everyone else around them better. That shouldn't be taken literally.
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