Intensity has everyone impressed …
The Spurs and Mavericks brought a collective 131 victories, as well as the league's second- and third-best records into Sunday, and the finish did nothing to dispel the hype surrounding the long-anticipated series. Dallas led by six at halftime and by as many as eight in the third quarter, before the Spurs steadied themselves.
"I think," Bowen said, "this has the feel of the NBA Finals."
If nothing else, Duncan looked as strong as he did in last season's playoffs. With the Mavericks electing to stay on the Spurs' 3-point shooters in the first half, Duncan took advantage of the single coverage, scoring 20 points while single-handedly putting all three of Dallas' centers in foul trouble.
Duncan admittedly has performed poorly in early starts. But after rising at 6a.m. on Sunday, he appeared to have found his rhythm by the time he stepped onto the court. Late in the third quarter, he dribbled between his legs, then drove through the lane to bank in a left-handed layup.
"It was like when I was a rookie," Tony Parker said, "and we were just going to him all the time."
In San Antonio, Buck Harvey notices Spurs always figure out a way against the Mavericks …
Still, something has stayed around for years between these two teams, and the opener reinforced it. The same Spurs who always seem to be a game ahead in the standings are the same Spurs who always seem to find a way.
After the Mavericks botched the final play and were unable to score a basket in the final four minutes Sunday, do they believe the same?
Avery Johnson will do everything to reverse that thinking, and he started Sunday afternoon. After saying, "We make no excuses," he made some.
Asked about Bowen's defense on Nowitzki, AJ said: "It's what you call 'bearhug defense.' That's the new NBA rule: Bearhug Defense. That's pretty much what's going on. I've got to formulate, or simulate, a drill to help (Nowitzki)."
Someone began to ask, "By bearhug, do you mean ..."
Johnson jumped back in.
"You know what a bearhug is?" he asked. "If a bear comes up to you and hugs you, what is he going to do? It's a bearhug defense. I don't even have to use my New Orleans slang for that description."
Blackistone points out the missed opportunity …
"It is [a missed opportunity]," admitted Dirk Nowitzki, who once again struggled against the half-a-foot shorter but pesky Bruce Bowen, missing eight of 11 shots in the second half and being unable to get off a game-tying attempt on the last possession. (And Dirk had led us to believe that this season, he had finally mastered the art of rendering smaller defenders defenseless.)
Unfortunately for the Mavericks, it was more of the same cooking against the Spurs, especially in the Spurs' house. It was their seventh loss in the teams' last 10 meetings. It was their fifth loss in San Antonio in their last six visits.
"We ain't the only ones," said Jason Terry, who made just a third of his 18 shots and suffered a critical unforced turnover midway through the fourth quarter.
But there are few teams for whom having the door slammed in their faces by the Spurs may be so painful at this time of year.
After all, the Mavericks arrived here Saturday well rested after sweeping the Grizzlies in four games that didn't appear taxing. And the Spurs were just returning to town from California after a surprisingly grueling series with Ron Artest's Kings, who battled San Antonio for six games.
It made for a perfect chance for the Mavericks to get a jump on the defending champions, to put the pressure squarely on their opponent's shoulders rather than have to bear the weight of expectations again themselves.
No, it didn't get any better than this.
"We had some advantages coming in where rest was concerned," admitted Jerry Stackhouse, who paced the Mavericks all game with 10-of-21 shooting for 24 points off the bench. "But this is playoff basketball, and they are a championship team."
Meanwhile, Baseball still exists; The Rangers take the broom at the hands of the Yankees …Ouch.
The Rangers had rattled off six straight wins -- against the Indians, Devil Rays and Orioles -- before dropping three in a row to the Yankees. Their starters were out of whack, giving up five or more runs each night. The only good news for the Rangers is they remained in first place in the American League West, thanks to the Athletics' 3-2 loss to the Devil Rays.
Yankees starters Mike Mussina, Shawn Chacon and Chien-Ming Wang were much more effective, allowing six runs among them in the series.
"Their starting pitchers pitched real well all three games," said Rangers manager Buck Showalter. "We had some real deep holes to dig out of."
The Rangers did not score more than one run in the first five innings in any game of the series. They had few chances Sunday. Wang went three-up, three-down in the first two innings, then allowed Brad Wilkerson to score after a leadoff double in the third.
On Friday, I guess I took the controversial stance that I was beaten down by the looming Parcells press conference. Perhaps I wasn’t clear as to why. I love hearing Parcells talk X’s and O’s. I love football theory explained by a guy who knows more football than most. And I got a little of that in the 49 minute press conference. But, mostly, here is what we did get from the media; the tired, baseless claims that Jerry and Bill hate each other, and that surely, Parcells does not support the signing of Terrell Owens. The Media was going to prove that on Friday, and to do so, they would be more than happy to ignore actual football issues. So be it. Here are the questions that were asked on Friday until Brad Sham stepped in 30 minutes into it and asked his media brethren if it was ok if they talked about the draft. I took the opportunity to put the “Non-Owens” questions in bold.
What did you see in TO?
Did the other issues bother you?
How big of a gamble is bringing this guy into your lockerroom?
What makes you think you can control him?
Who did you talk to about Terrell?
Bill you said you don't like to deal with problem children, what made you change your mind?
Drew didn't scare you off?
You don't take what has happened into his career into consideration?
Was this your decision?
Did you seek input from Drew Bledsoe on this?
What makes you think you won't have problems?
What will you do if there is a problem?
What have your initial conversations been with TO?
Are you OK with him not being here for workouts?
Did you talk to him before you signed him?
What were you trying to feel him out for there?
Did you approach this idea first or did Jerry?
Did you tell him what you expect of him?
What about with teammates?
From your research, is he not as bad as he is made out to be?
Is there any reason you did not do this in the last 6 weeks?
Someone joked it was groundhog day?
You know, if you saw your shadow, you might talk to the media?
Back to Terrell, did you know about the book deal and the tv show?
Would that change your opinion about him?
Does that concern you that the book will be hitting as camp starts?
The way the contract is structured, does that work in your favor?
Bill, Normally you address the media after the draft, any reason you didn't?
You disappointed in it?
What does TO bring to the offense that Keyshawn doesn't?
Will he be here before June minicamp?
Are you giving him special leeway?
does he have to get his 40 in like everyone else?
how did you get comfortable with the decision to bring him here?
From a football perspective, how does he improve this team?
Do you think he has learned from his mistakes in the past?
If he has learned, why is he writing a book about last year?
Did you call Andy Reid at all?
What did he say?
You didn't discuss TO?
Is this the biggest risk of your career on a player?
How concerned are you that you will be spending an inordinate amount of time on him?
You mention he has been in a different offense, are you changing things for him?**
Do you see yourself as a year to year thing?
Why the mystery, why not tell Jerry you will be here for 2 years?
At the end of last year, it wasn't a mystery to you that you were coming back?
Sham: Is it ok if we talk about the draft yet?
Is talking about TO that hard?
Surely, the media accomplished his mission as Parcells confessed he was suicidal about his current lot in life. Oh wait. He didn’t say anything that was slightly enlightening about Owens, but we all got to hear great questions. Thanks.
Deadspin’s Kentucky Derby Diary …
• Before the race started, I think I heard someone say something about horses “retiring with dignity.”
• Bell rings; horses run fast.
• Horses continue to run fast. Man, look at those horses go.
• For some reason, I’m really craving Chinese food.
• Horses all make NASCAR-esque left turn.
• Horses appear to be picking up speed. These are some fast freakin’ horses.
• You know, none of these horses are talking. Therefore, none of these horses have a damn thing on Mr. Ed.
• Some horses running faster than others.
• Man, the little guys in silk are whipping the horses awfully hard. That looks like it hurts.
• Hey, if I had a horse, you know what I’d name him? Steve. Everyone else’s horse would be named something weird like “The Firm Calves On Betsy Sue,” or, “Anti-Microbial Goat Shampoo,” and my horse would just be named Steve. And he would make fun of the other horses for their dumb names.
• Some horse finished first. And rich white people rejoice.
CBS’s The Unit is doing well …Not a bad show…
Nine episodes into its debut 12-episode season, it is the most-watched new drama on television, pulling in nearly 14 million viewers a week, according to Nielsen Media Research.
"The Unit" has developed a following of its own and the sparks are flying even more as it heads into May sweeps, including a two-hour season finale May 16.
Less refined than "24" and less technical than any of the forensics dramas, "The Unit" is the kind of TV show that makes you want to scratch yourself and spit on the sidewalk.
It's a tribute to men.
Or the male fantasy.
This show is so testosterone-driven that you start to wonder which "unit" the title is actually talking about.
Get your Billy Bats Shirt here …
Here is an email:
I agree totally with what you said on the program on Thursday. Who cares what Bill has to say? As a fan, I don't care if the Coach of the Cowboys speaks one bit about the T.O. situation. Bottom-line, he is here. If Bill didn't want him here, he would not be here. As for your friends on the other station, "Not the Norm", Dennis was ragging on you guys this morning. He sat on his Journalism high horse saying that you aren't a true journalists unless you truly cover the Cowboys. He kept going on about how it is the responsibility of a journalist to acquire information from Bill Parcells for the fans of the Cowboys. I chalk this up to petty jealousy and I hope that you guys try to do a radio prank on their show in the near future!!!! Next time say hi to Dennis and Engel during the 1pm hour, because they obviously listen to BaD Radio! On another note, I appreciate the Cowbell video. That still makes for many laughs around the office. (Isn't it fun to laugh a little bit)
Hit the Theme Expo,
Well, if Steve Dennis is calling me out, I guess my life is complete. Too bad very few people heard it , evidently...