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.
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…