Time to head back to the drawing board, here in Dallas. After game 57, the script has not changed. Yesterday, on the show, I mentioned how much Spurs-Mavericks remind me of Cowboys-Packers in the 1990’s. The Packers knew the Cowboys owned them, and no matter how long and hard they tried to change that, it never happened. They would try new approaches and new players, but at the end of every trip to Texas Stadium, they still knew they had a ways to go.
Well, the Mavericks look like they still have a ways to go. There were some good things. I was encouraged with the defensive presence of Diop, and maybe even to a lesser extent with Dampier (nice rejection on Van Exel) although Damp’s hands still nullify any good he does. I also continue to enjoy the intestinal fortitude and all-around ability of Jerry Stackhouse. He is a guy you want on your side in a dark alley.
But, of course, there was a lot not to like. Dirk. Buddy, I am not sure there has been anyone that I was so sure was great, but yet had so many poor nights at just the wrong time to make everyone question you since the early days of Brett Favre. Maybe, you, like Favre will eventually win your title and the world’s respect, but for now, there are still many that question the big German.
He just can’t allow Bruce Bowen to be his demise. He just can’t. I wonder why he didn’t try to post him up, but I have to believe that Avery did not order it. And then you can surmise he did not order it, because he knows Dirk can’t do it.
But perhaps you are justifying in your head the same thing I was doing last night; perhaps, you say, well, Dirk was not a huge factor, but neither was Duncan or Ginobli. Well, that should scare you. They dominated Dallas in the 4th Quarter without their two biggest offensive weapons giving them much.
Look, I am not saying that they cannot compete with San Antonio, but that giant step forward that I was ready to enjoy last night did not occur.
And while I am at it, let me tell you something: The Spurs fans have passed the Utah Jazz fans as the most annoying in the NBA. Their booing every time a foul happens is comical as they all agree with each other about how a league-wide conspiracy is under way to keep the Spurs down. Of course, they get more calls than anyone, but their fans think the refs are trying to screw them. It also helps that Tim Duncan has never, ever committed a foul. Just ask him. He stands, holds the ball, failed-smiles at the refs, and shows relative disbelief that he could possibly be guilty of an infraction. All this as he has just shoved Josh Howard out of his way to get a rebound.
Clutch and Grab NHL? What do you call what Bruce Bowen is allowed to do in the NBA? What happened to hand checking being illegal?
And, finally, nice bite, Bob. Ok, I am done.
Eddie Sefko’s report from the scene of the crime …
In a game that lived up to the buildup, the Mavericks fought San Antonio on equal terms for three quarters Thursday night. Then their old friend-turned-enemy followed the lead of Tony Parker and Tim Duncan and the Spurs did what they always seem to do, lighting up the Mavericks in the second half and snuffing them out defensively for a convincing 98-89 victory at AT&T Center.
"We didn't come here for any moral victories," coach Avery Johnson said. "We're very, very disappointed that we lost this game."
Meanwhile, the San Antonio paper covers the other side …
Finley, who signed with the Spurs after Dallas cut him, scored 11 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter. Horry, who hadn't played in nearly three weeks, showed, again, why he lives for such moments, scoring 12 points and claiming four rebounds.
The Spurs won despite Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili making only 6 of 17 shots. They won by shooting 61.8 percent in the second half and holding Dallas to 40.5percent for the game.
"We got off to a shaky start," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who won the 500th game of his career. "We probably played a little too fast.
"But I thought we came back and hung in the game."
After trailing by 12 early in the second quarter, the Spurs closed within 38-36 by halftime. With Duncan and Ginobili combining to miss seven of their nine shots in the first half, the Spurs rallied behind Horry, Brent Barry and Parker, who overcame his own slow start.
And as much trouble as Duncan and Ginobili had finding their rhythm, Nowitzki had his own concerns, namely Bowen.
Bowen fronted Nowitzki. He attached himself to Nowitzki's hip. He did everything he could to deny him the ball. When Nowitzki did catch it, the Spurs double- and triple-teamed him.
Nowitzki had four points in the first half while making 2 of 7 shots. He finished with 23 points on 6-of-15 shooting.
"He had to work for them," Popovich said. "Bruce is special that way. It really set the tone for our team."
NFL gives another deadline …and America gasps…
it was the show of solidarity, in part, that played some role in the late afternoon announcement that the league and its players had delayed the start of free agency for three days, in the hopes that negotiations can be resumed. The question is begged: Who blinked first? And in the first few hours after the league's statement that an agreement had been reached to push back free agency, there was no definitive answer.
But this much we know: It was NFLPA executive director Gene Upshaw, not Tagliabue, who said on at least four occasions in the last few weeks that "under no circumstances" would free agency be delayed. Given his laser-repaired eyesight, it should be noted, Tagliabue doesn't blink quite as much as he once did, now that he has abandoned those lawyerly-looking spectacles he once wore. The union agreed to the delay, sources said, when the league apprised them a new proposal was forthcoming. But they didn't have to stop the clock on free agency and, rest assured, one reason they did was because veteran players had begun to phone the NFLPA offices to question what was going on.
Don't ever call it a groundswell because NFL players, who for years have never held their association accountable for anything, remain too passive for that description to apply. But enough players seemed to summon sufficient gumption to make a difference. And, truth be told, the NFL was under pressure from some cap-bloated teams who were having problems getting under the spending limit.
Glover says goodbye …
In Dallas, six-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle La'Roi Glover was the biggest salary cap casualty among a number of cuts, roster moves and potential salary adjustments that could provide between $10 million and $15 million below the 2006 cap of $94.5 million, a source said.
Other Cowboys released were safety Derek Pagel, kicker Brett Visintainer and defensive tackle Willie Blade.
The Cowboys also moved linebacker Dat Nguyen to the reserve/retired list.
Glover, who was due a $1.5 million roster bonus, was told of the move early Thursday morning. He also said he was not asked to restructure a contract that would have counted $7.2 million against the NFL's salary cap.
"It's not always a negative," Glover said in a phone interview from California. "I still feel like have a lot of good years left."
The Cowboys saved $6 million by releasing Glover -- $4.5 million in base salary and the $1.5 million roster bonus. He will still count $1.2 million against the Cowboys' cap next season.
Ouch! Stars pounded in Phoenix …Just in time for our road trip…
We finally get to use the Mercy Rule in “grown-up” baseball: Japan 18, China 2 …but China asks for a basketball game for revenge…
Are Jedi Knights all frauds? …
Find out how old you are …
What is gayer than the small-of-the-back tattoo?
OK, besides Johnny Weir …