Sunday, May 14, 2006
"And A Child Shall Lead Them"...
I cannot think of any more electric feeling as a sports fan as what I experienced at Game 3. The American Airline Center was bonkers, and it was one of those rare sports nights where you are just happy you were an eye witness.
In the end, the Mavericks stole it. That isn’t to say they weren’t the better team in Game 3 or in the series, because honestly, through 12 quarters of basketball I think anyone in their right minds would admit that it is Tim Duncan playing the role of William Barret Travis (edited after Sam Houston debacle) as he and his merry band try to stay alive and protect their Alamo, despite odds that suggest it is a matter of “when” and not “if” the Alamo falls.
But, despite the Mavericks demonstrating their superiority through 3 games, in the 4th Quarter of Game 3, I believe most of us who like to see the Dallas boys do well would have likely reveal that we felt an ill wind blowing through the city. It appeared the Spurs were throwing every thing they had left, and finding a new level of excellence that their opponent could not match. They had weathered the Mavericks best punch, and now would take a hard fought battle like they had so many times before.
So when the Mavericks proved victorious, to win one of the biggest games in the history of the franchise, and will play on Monday for a chance to grab the series by the proverbial throat, you can understand why coaches through the years ask us all to “enjoy the journey”. Playoff runs that require 16 wins for the ultimate champion are about unforgettable nights along the way. There is certainly no reason to suggest that we should prepare for a championship parade around here yet, but Saturday night in Dallas was part of the 2006 playoff journey that I will never forget.
Bob’s Blog exclusive Sports Quick Hits from Game 3:
• Clearly, the biggest play of the game seemed to be the 6th foul on Tim Duncan when Dirk stepped on his foot, sprained his ankle (for the 86th time of his career), drew a foul, and in doing so disqualified the most unstoppable player in this series. There is much complaining about the call, but I must mention that this is pretty normal protocol for referees all season long. If you trip a player, you committed a foul. There is not question of intent, or what part of your body. Is it fair that Duncan was banished from the game for a play in which he did not commit any level of physical contact aside from being stepped on? No. But welcome to basketball. Now, Tony Parker should have likely been given a call when he was tripped on the other end moments earlier, but the Dirk call seemed correct based on precedents set hundreds of times.
• Devin Harris is amazing. Still wonder about his judgment, and I still wonder about his perimeter shot, but I do not wonder about his cajones and his talent. What a player. This was in the post game notes: “Devin Harris scored a career-high (regular season or playoffs) 24 points tonight after scoring 20 points in Game 2. Harris has now scored 20+ points five times in his career (regular season and playoffs). Three of those games have come against the Spurs.”. Nice!
• Jerry Stackhouse, on the other hand, seems to be a meltdown waiting to happen in the most crucial moments of a key game. Let’s consider the evidence: Game 1 of this series and his multi-faceted meltdown in San Antonio (or the Mavericks could have a 3-0 lead in this series), the end of Game 6 in the Phoenix game last year (I was reminded by P1 Jared) when he ignored pleas for a timeout and took a shot at the end of regulation, and of course last night, when he took a very ill-advised shot with 13 seconds left, then botched the free throw in a way that would have been embarrassing for a high school kid, let alone a 10 year NBA veteran. For a guy who is supposed to be “nails”, I am not feeling it right now.
• There is no question that the Spurs enter Game 4 with confidence. They scored 23 points in the final 7 minutes of the Game 3, when Dallas was doing everything they could to get stops. Ginobili proved unguardable on his way to the basket, and the Mavs have not come close to limiting Duncan at all. The Spurs know that if they get Monday, then it is a best-of-3 series with the first and last contest at their barn. If anyone thinks for a second that this series is close to in the bag, please seek professional help.
• Wherever this run takes us, let’s not forget the key moments from Erick Dampier. His follow-up dunk in the 4th quarter is another case of the big fella showing up at the key moments in this series. Keep it up. Diop, too.
• And now, my review of Dirk’s game: Very solid, and very patient. I need to see more offense run through him down the stretch of the 4th quarter, but let’s not lose sight of 27 points and 15 rebounds. Also, let’s not lose sight of that great assist to Stackhouse with 30 seconds to play. Nice pass by a guy who can’t pass. I still think he is going to have to take over a game on offense at crunch time (like Duncan does) before this series is over, but they are up 2-1 without that happening, so what do I know?
• Tim Duncan whines.
• Joey Crawford thinks people pay to watch him.
• Marquis Daniels should call timeout every time he has the urge to jack up a jump shot from over 10 feet.
• Jason Terry was very good for most of the time. When his shot is falling, nobody can guard him. I think we are all starting to see how Harris and Terry will both have a future with this team for a long, long time. Harris will never go back to the bench, but most nights, you can win with both of them in your backcourt.
• Michael Finley drives the basket now? And he guards Dirk? I guess you can do more when they cut your minutes.
• Beat SA…Beat SA…Beat SA…
"Foul? You must be joking!"