Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Steve Nash is Good

You want William Wallace? You might want Steve Nash.

I am not saying I have changed my mind about the Mavericks decision to let him walk, because I still believe it was the wise decision knowing what you knew at the time. If you would have told me he would go on to be arguably the best player in the sport the next 3 seasons, I likely would have changed my mind.

Anyway, in this series, he has been relentless. He has been courageous. And he has been pushing the Suns into a street fight with the Spurs. A fight they don’t enjoy, but one they need to endure to finally get to the next level.

And last night, Nash took another beating in the name of getting the win.

And now, it appears we have a series.

Sun down 7 with 4 minutes to play win in San Antonio

The locker-room message called for the Suns to play like five hungry dogs.

Put in a situation of desperation, even dogs can implausibly jump over walls.

In Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal series with the Spurs on Monday night, the Suns trailed by 11 with 10:56 to go, by seven with 3:58 to go and by five with 2:22 to go. The had not won in San Antonio since the 2005 postseason. And then the team that coach Mike D'Antoni said is better in desperation came back fighting, quite literally.

After three quarters of making San Antonio appear more versatile, the Suns gutted out a 16-3 closing rally to win 104-98 and send home-court advantage and a 2-2 series back to Phoenix.

"We played with a lot of heart and courage," D'Antoni said.

The Spurs led 95-88 with 3:58 remaining when Stoudemire returned after sitting out because of foul trouble to lead Phoenix - after he came back, the Suns missed only one shot, and San Antonio made only one. The Suns worked their way back with a Raja Bell assist - after faking a three-point attempt - that led to a Shawn Marion dunk, then two Steve Nash assists to Stoudemire inside put Phoenix ahead.

The only point the Spurs could muster in the final two minutes came because Bell was assessed a technical foul for going after Spurs forward Robert Horry after he threw a hockey shoulder check into Nash that sent him into the scorer's table and to the floor.

"You can't let a guy check your best player who's a little guy, no disrespect to Steve," Bell said. "Nobody wants to fight, but you have to take offense to that.

"You match their physicality and energy."

Even D'Antoni looked like he wanted a piece of Horry, who was ejected.

"Dir-ty, dir-ty, dir-ty!" Stoudemire yelled to the AT&T Center crowd after he stayed in the game for the final 3:58 despite five fouls and finished with 26 points. "Can I get a dirty now? Now, was I out of line?"

But the worry now is if the Suns will pay for the scrum. Both Stoudemire and Boris Diaw ran onto the floor after Horry's hit. That has drawn a one-game suspension from the NBA in the past. Suns Chairman Jerry Colangelo, an NBA rules aficionado, said he hoped any penalty would be directed at the instigator, Horry.

"Guess I'll have to say my prayers," Stoudemire said.

Buck Harvey calls for no suspensions, please

I don't know what Robert Horry was thinking. He came in for the final 32 seconds and hadn't had time to get mad about anything.

And I know what Amare Stoudemire and Boris Diaw were thinking. Nothing. They left their bench out of reaction, because Horry took out Steve Nash the way a linebacker takes out a quarterback on the sideline.

My punishment?

I'd fine Horry and nothing more. And I wouldn't care exactly how many feet and inches Stoudemire and Diaw strayed from their bench.

I'd make them all come back.

Because I want to see what happens next.

Gregg Popovich likely wants the same. He's rubbing his eyes today, because the last five minutes of this game reversed all roles. Then the Suns made a series of stops in the fourth quarter and got a couple of big baskets from their big man in the final minute.

You know — the way the Spurs, not the Suns, usually play.

Another Rangers loss; and hope has switched to hopeless

They can change the name to Rangers Ballpark in Arlington, and they can change the skipper's nickname from Buck to Wash, and they can bring back Sammy Sosa for a victory lap to close his career, but it's all the same.

The Rangers are hopeless.

Ceded the rare opportunity to enjoy a three-month rule of the area's sports pages and airwaves when the Mavericks collapsed on May 3, the Rangers couldn't hold our interest for two weeks.

Monday's loss gave the Angels three wins in four games over the Mother's Day weekend. That dropped the last-place Rangers 6 ½ games behind the Angels, which is a lot only if your team isn't good.

Unfortunately, these are your father's Rangers.

"When it rains, it pours," Washington said. "We just got Millwood back, and he tweaked his hamstring."

Millwood said he felt the tweak while pitching to the first batter, but he stayed around for about 40 more pitches. The team's No. 1 starter is a likely candidate for a return to the DL.

That's not good when you're going like this team is going.

The Rangers' starting pitching has an ERA over 6.00, the highest in baseball.
Brandon McCarthy, brought in from the White Sox because he was "more major league ready" than John Danks, the player he was traded for, has had two decent starts to get his ERA down to 6.89.

Of the six Rangers to start games, none owns an ERA below 4.75.

Danks' ERA in Chicago is 4.33.

Other off-season roster changes are turning out almost as badly as they did in Jon Daniels' first year. The Angels' Gary Matthews now smacks this team around almost the way his new teammate Vladimir Guerrero has done for three seasons.

Meanwhile, Kenny Lofton and Frank Catalanotto, imported to ignite the lineup from the 1-2 spots, own a combined on-base percentage below .300. Catalanotto is mostly responsible for that.

The things that were supposed to receive instant upgrades under Washington – situational hitting and defense – have not. In fact, the Rangers are the worst fielding team in the American League.

Only two teams in the majors have more errors than double plays. You can watch one play in the Rangers' former D.C. home; the other is right here.

Under Showalter, the Rangers played tight and beneath their potential.

Under Washington, they play tight and beneath their potential.

That's not to say this is a 90-win team disguised as a loser. But the mental mistakes, the balls that scoot under gloves or between legs, the wild pitches followed by wild throws into center field – these are the hallmarks of the 2007 Rangers.

The team's best hitter has been Sammy Sosa. That's great news for Sosa. For the Rangers, not so much.

Stat of the Day from the Newberg Report

First two innings this season: Opponents 70, Rangers 20.

Oops. Tom Hicks said something “not smart” again …Check out the bold…

Sports team ownership is no longer just a rich man's hobby, sports magnate Thomas Hicks said Friday.

The chairman and CEO of Hicks Holdings LLC, whose sports-related holdings include the Texas Rangers Baseball Club, the Dallas Stars Hockey Club and 50 percent interests in American Airlines Center and Liverpool FC, made his comments to Fort Worth Chamber of Commerce members.

"All of these teams have become businesses in the past 20 years," Hicks said. " ... This business has to do with fan affinity and brand devotion. It doesn't necessarily have to do with winning."

Roy Williams practices at LB in the Nickel ….Well….

When the Cowboys went to their nickel defense in Sunday's practice, safety Roy Williams teamed with Burnett as the inside linebackers in the 4-2-5 package.

The idea is to get Williams closer to the line of scrimmage, where he is more effective, and out of coverage. Williams had trouble at times last season covering tight ends and receivers down the middle as a safety.

Ken Hamlin and second-year safety Pat Watkins manned the two safety spots in the package, while the corners remained unchanged from last season, with Glenn and Anthony Henry covering the outside receivers and Terence Newman jumping into the slot.

Up front it was DeMarcus Ware at right end and Anthony Spencer at left end, with Chris Canty and Jay Ratliff inside at the tackle positions. Ellis, though, said new head coach Wade Phillips has talked to him about rushing from an inside spot once he's healthy.

This might be the type of player Phillips wants at one of the nickel linebacker spots since Keith Davis was manning the same spot on the seconnd-team defense.

Email of the Day:


I want Golden State to lose the Utah series for three reasons:

Number one: How can you like a team featuring Steven Jackson, Baron Davis and Jason Richardson? These are thuggish head cases who cannot handle adversity without melting down.

Number two: I don’t like gimmicky, no-defense systems like Phoenix and Golden State. There’s a reason that no team featuring such a system has ever won an NBA championship, and I’d like that lesson once again taught to the Mike D’Antonis and Don Nelsons of the world.

Number three: If Golden State goes on to great success in this playoffs, then Cuban/Avery/Donnie/Dirk will just excuse their collective first round embarrassment to merely having run into a team of destiny. I can hear them now: “well, geez, there’s no shame in getting skunked by the Warriors; everyone got skunked by the Warriors.” I’d much rather that they feel the shame of this early exit and, hopefully, be motivated to do something about it. Otherwise, the Mavs and its players will stand pat.

Dave in Tulsa

Baron’s Dunk of the year entry

Tony Parker Raps

Road to Athens – Combine Al Pacino with Liverpool and add water to create…The European Champions! If this doesn’t make you sports cry, you don’t love LFC…


Andy D. said...

Lets hit some sports...

Rangers: Cowlishaw put it right on the money with this: "Ceded the rare opportunity to enjoy a three-month rule of the area's sports pages and airwaves when the Mavericks collapsed on May 3, the Rangers couldn't hold our interest for two weeks."
Couldn't have said it better myself.

Bob, your boy Favre is becoming the NFL's version of Curt Schilling. His ranting and bitching on and off for the past 2 years is now old and annoying. Green Bay has done a bad thing by keeping him around when they should have said bye bye to him 2 seasons ago and started over. Another 8-8 record staring you in the face man. I love Favre because he is a badass on the field, but now I'm tired of him.

Love ya Dirk. Have fun today man.

dingus mcdouchey said...

a very "john starks-like" dunk from davis, no?

arthur said...

Where was "Braveheart Nash" a couple of years ago when Mike Bibby was making him look like a fool? What a sports disaster.

Speaking of sports disasters, if Hicks keeps the team, I vote for contraction.

eff me.


Jay, Christi and Andrew said...

Bob, seriously, my heart-felt condolences to you for now having Hicks own 3 teams you have a rooting interest in. It's shameful that people think Cuban is what's wrong with sports. He maybe totally insane, but he's a crazy person that wants to win. Ditto Jerry. Why can't we have a way to oust these guys? Like, why can't fans be stockholders? We love our teams so it's hard to just not go and support anymore. But this guy needs a beating. I wish he'd sell the Rangers and Stars and move to England.

I will find it VERY interesting if any suspensions come down in the Spurs/Suns thing. How many "incidents" can the Warriors get away with this post-season and have no suspensions while any other team get anyone suspended. Hopefully it's precedence being set for leniency and not NBA conspiracy. But those are fun to talk about, no?

Joe said...

"Hopefully it's precedence being set for leniency and not NBA conspiracy. But those are fun to talk about, no?"

Yea, I'd like to argue the latter.
Seriously, this is one of the reasons why I half-heartedly followed the Mavs this year. I'm sick of this biased garbage.
If we are gonna go by the suspensions that were handed to the Mavs in last year's playoffs, during CRUCIAL games no less, than Jason Richardson, Baron Davis, Bowen, Robert Horry, Stoudemire, and Diaw should all be suspended one game.
Stackhouse's body check on Shaq in the Finals had him sitting for an important Game 5. Terry's nutshot got him one for a crucial Game 6 against the Spurs, a series just as good as the Spurs/Suns. Also Mbenga for leaving the bench and going into the crowd.

If Stern lets these things go, I can easily see Cuban say, "Eff this" and sell the Mavs. Something that would be unfortunate, regardess of what a few misguided fans and sports reporters think with their short term memory loss of the the Mavs before Cuban was here.

MK said...

yeah Rangers!

1. Whenever I watch the Rangers I'm left with the same feeling, Wash may be a great guy but he looks a little overmatched.

2. So Tom Hicks doesn't care about winning, I guess his number crunchers have determined being lovable losers is more profitable, only problem, he doesn't have Wrigley field. This business model has been perfected by the Cubs. If the big boss doesn't care about winning, doesn't that trickle down to the players eventually? Any owner who says that winning isn't important, should have their franchise(s) taken away from them, and has clearly never been a fan of anything other than the greenback. Doesn't he understand that there are people who have followed a team since they were a child, and want nothing more than to be a part of something special?

dingus mcdouchey said...

anyone know a good place to watch the fa cup final on saturday? so far i have the londoner in addison. anywhere else?

andrew said...

Rangers = late 90's Cowboys.

Always think you're just a couple pieces and a smidge of luck away, and you'll never get there.

When will they finally tear this crap down and rebuild it? Or is that what their doing now?

Might as well try Guzman in center. Maybe he's got nothing, but it's not like Lofton is a future cornerstone, and people the Rangers thought had a bag sometimes turn out OK (Young, Gonzalez, Hafner).

Might as well try Botts, too, for that matter.

Trade your one year douches. Lofton, Sosa, Gagne will all get you SOMETHING, which is better that watching them help the Rangers crutch to another mediocre season. Is Wilkerson a one year dude too? Might as well keep him, because you probably couldn't get a bag of balls for him right now.

Trade Tex. Please. Sweet baby Santa, trade him. Especially now that he's hot. See if you can convince BALT to part with Bedard. Probably not, but you never know. Get something good.

andrew said...

By the way, the SF Giants DFA'd Todd Linden.

Go get him rangers.

Big Anthony said...


Sorry to see this Bob

Jonathan said...

I feel sorry for you Bob. If Liverpool doesn't win the Champions League this year, you can say hello to Premiership mediocrity for the next decade. Tom Hicks has already done it to two teams I love. Hope he can hold on to Benitez.

BTW, you are all invited to my FA Cup party on Saturday.