Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Game 4: Suns 106, Mavs 86 (2-2)

Not so Fast...

The Game that was played last night almost serves everyone (including me) right. How dare anyone think a series is wrapped up after 3 games, and a mere 2-1 series lead? This is the Western Conference Finals, folks. It is not the first team to 2. And after last night’s big win by Phoenix in which the Mavericks DID go quietly into the night, this series is easily just as loseable as it is winnable.

The one simple question that we have not been able to answer yet is, “Are the Mavericks a good favorite?” They have never been the underdog for so long that when they suddenly become the team that everyone is picking to win the whole thing before this round began, it put them in a very odd spot. They would now have to be the ruthless killer that shows no mercy. Could they? Well, if Game 5 and Game 6 of the San Antonio series are any indication, no. If last night is any indication, not even close. You cannot let your opponent back up off the mat when you are the ruthless killer, and for now, the Mavericks do not know how to deal with being the favorite.

It seemed obvious early when suddenly the loose balls all landed in the arms of the Suns. Many long rebounds went right to the Suns. Did the Suns want the balls more? Yes. Therefore they got them all. If the Mavericks aren’t comfortable being ruthless, then we should all gear up for a Game 7. I still feel good about moving on to the NBA Finals, but since the Mavericks appear very impressed with themselves when they get ahead in a series and let their guard down, we should not be shocked that the Mavs lose a game like last night.

Game Notes:

• Raja Bell is a guy I have genuinely liked. He has worked hard and basically be a self-made man in this league where most players are handed everything. But, c’mon, TNT. Let’s not get too carried away about his contribution to mankind. Do we really have to reference Willis Reed every time any player shakes off a nosebleed and plays? He played well last night, but I thought the lovefest was a bit much. Further, if you know he is trying to sell flops everytime down the floor, how do the refs fall for it so often? It almost seems to encourage that behaviour. That last charge call on Stackhouse before Bell left the game for the night was a joke.

• Will Jason Terry please, please, please resemble the player he was in the last series? He shot 44% in that series, including 39% from 3 point range. Through 4 games in this series, he is at 39% from the field, and 23% from behind the arc. I thought the defense in that last series was so awesome and the Suns don’t defend, but it sure looks like Terry is not half as impressive as he was in that round. His assists are also way down and so is his overall impact on the game. He needs to get involved or this could get away from the Mavs.

• D’Antoni: “If they (Dallas) shoot 41%, they ain’t beating us”. Uh, coach, the Mavs shot 41% in Game 3 and won.

• I think the only Mavericks player who was able to do anything on offense was Josh Howard. Not the most impressive night for him, but he aggressive nature was in stark contrast to his teammates. Except maybe Adrian Griffin. Wow.

• By the way, to this issue that Phoenix plays no defense, let’s discuss that. It sure looked to me like they were playing some pretty decent defense last night. Running double teams at anyone who got the ball on the baseline, forcing passes that were difficult and forcing the Mavericks into shots that were low percentage constitutes defense to me. The Mavs settled for some pretty poor shots, and that conviction to make sure they get to the rim was lost. It was jump shot city for the Mavs last night, which once again points to this idea that the Mavs got a little too impressed with themselves. It doesn’t take long, evidently, to get a big head in this league.

• Leo Barbosa has a weird shot. But, boy, what a player when you can bring him off the bench. He is a good example of a fine bench player that when he starts he gets a bit ineffective if over-exposed with big minutes. If he is going to drain 3’s like that, the Suns are going to keep winning.

• I don’t know who Pat Burke is, but when he entered the game it took him exactly 4 seconds to complain to the refs that he thought he was fouled. What a shock. A player thinks he was fouled.

• Avery’s wife got into a fight? Sometimes you cannot write fiction this good.

• I am still waiting for Keith Van Horn to make any play of substance in any game of the Western Finals. I know he is coming off an injury, but isn’t this his 7th game back? At what point should he start resembling a player who is familiar with the NBA?

• I have avoided the Dirk topic for long enough. It does go without saying that he is entitled to a night that is not “all world” somewhere along the way. But, bro, do you need a sign in front of you that says “do not settle for fadeaways” if they are not falling? What happened to New Dirk? What happened to the German realizing that he can score any way he wants? I really think he needs to force the issue into the paint and score and when he doesn’t he reverts to the guy who was taken out of a tough series like this. There are nights when you will not shoot well, but you can still score the ball if you take it to the rim.

• Boris Diaw is no Amare, but when he finishes around the rim it is pretty darn impressive. This kid is 23 years old, and points to a pretty nice future in Phoenix if the can keep Nash from old age.

• Well, shake it off. 2 of 3 wins the series, and 2 of 3 are in Dallas. Game 5 is tomorrow, and this series is still in a good spot. But let’s not make the mistake again of thinking this series is in the bag before they get to 4 wins. That letdown last night was a reality check of the highest order.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Cowboys? Bob is leading with the Cowboys?

Several different directions we can go in today, but I had no idea 24 hours ago that I would lead with the Cowboys this morning. But, here we go Peter King says the Cowboys win the Super Bowl this winter!

I like Dallas because it has answered every question I have for them but two: Is the offensive line good enough and will the secondary have any more meltdowns like the one it had in the last two minutes of the Washington game last year? We'll see. And I like the Cowboys even though they may have to win a road game or two in the playoffs to get to Miami because they just might go 3-3 in the toughest division in football right now.

There's some risk, to be sure, because Owens is a living, breathing incendiary device. But all kinds of silly chemistry things can happen once the year begins. What I like about this team is it addressed almost every one of its major needs entering the off-season. The Cowboys got a kicker with some clutch misses on his resume, Mike Vanderjagt, but he's better than any guy they've had in years. They got the best player in free-agency in Owens, who's also one of the five best offensive forces in football when he's mentally right.

They got a second blocking/catching tight end in the second round in Notre Dame's Anthony Fasano. They got the kind of stonewallish strongside linebacker in the draft -- Bobby Carpenter -- Parcells must have to play the 3-4 the way he wants. That's a really good 3-4 right now, and it could be superb if DeMarcus Ware provides the kind of pass-rush his potential says he can.

Wow. Just when you thought the Mavericks were closing in on a once-in-a-lifetime chance at a title, The Cowboys go and steal the spotlight again…

Now, on to the lead story that was bumped to 2nd: The Suns try to get back to being the Suns in a “must win” game

Should they fail to find that in Game 4 tonight at US Airways Center against Dallas, the Suns would fall into a 3-1 series hole that no team has escaped in Western Conference finals history.

These Mavericks are not the Lakers, whose inferiority was exposed with time. Faced with Dallas' dominant Dirk Nowitzki and dollar-driven depth, Phoenix coach Mike D'Antoni proclaimed tonight to be a "must-win game."

"We're kind of in the doldrums, which is impossible to be that way in the Western Conference finals," Suns co-captain Steve Nash said. "We've got to get our spirit picked up. We've got to be a lot more enthusiastic and have a lot more belief in ourselves."

They can't look over their shoulders for Raja Bell, who will not play tonight but has been targeted for a Game 5 return. They are 1-4 without Bell.

The pile of excuses grows. Fatigued? The only thing they are tired of is hearing that they are tired.

"We don't believe in that," D'Antoni said, although Shawn Marion acknowledged being "mind tired."

"It's more of an 'Oh, man, here we go again,' " said D'Antoni, whose team is 9-8 in five weeks of playoffs. "It's more of a thinking that maybe we can't get it done. It's a mental thing that we'll change. . . . We won't fold. We will be back."

Long rebounds and deflections spur the Suns. Phoenix's conservative, packed-in defense held Dallas to 41 percent shooting Sunday, but the Suns did not get a steal all night. They gave up 19 pace-killing offensive rebounds despite Dallas dropping three to four men back on defense after Mavericks shots.

The Suns, who posted 12 fast-break points in Game 1's first four minutes, had two fast-break buckets in Game 3 - both in the second quarter.

Meanwhile, this would be the lead story if the Cowboys and Mavericks did not exist (thankfully, they do): The great John Rheinecker (and his beard) are fabulous last night in win

Rheinecker needed only 110 pitches to get through 8 1/3 innings against the Mariners, who came in batting .225 against lefties. He began the ninth, but Rangers manager Buck Showalter pulled him after he hit a batter and, one out later, allowed a single. Rick Bauer recorded the final two outs.

"John was outstanding, obviously," Showalter said. "He was down in the zone, used four pitches....He has the right kind of chip on his shoulder."

Rheinecker had hoped to pitch Sunday against the A's, who traded him to Texas just before Opening Day. He wanted to show them they had made a mistake.

In that three-team trade, the Rangers dealt Juan Dominguez to the A's and wound up with Rheinecker and ex-Cub John Koronka, who is 4-2 with a 4.06 ERA.

Rheinecker's performance Monday had a few teammates saying, "What a trade" and "Where's Mingy now?" Dominguez is 4-5 with a 6.22 ERA for Triple A Sacramento.

So far, Jon Daniels appears to have a win in that trade….

Check out these sweet quick hits on the Rangers, including a mind blowing stat from Mike Young

• John Rheinecker earned a victory in his second major league start in the Rangers' 2-0 win over the Mariners. Rheinecker came within two outs of pitching a shutout, before Rick Bauer notched the save. Four current pitchers (active or disabled) threw a shutout in their first start in the majors (Pedro Astacio, Jason Jennings, Mike Remlinger and Doug Waechter); two others did it in their second start (Ervin Santana and Scott Schoeneweis).

• Michael Young snapped a 0-for-14 streak with a first-inning single for Texas; he hasn't had a longer streak of consecutive at-bats without a hit since May 2002 (0-for-19). Young has a total of 2,655 at-bats since then, the third-most for any current player since last suffering through a hitless streak of at least 15 at-bats. Mike Sweeney has accumulated 4,196 at-bats since last going 0-for-15 (in 1996); Placido Polanco has 3,169 at-bats since his last "0-for-15" (in 1999).

Eric Nadel locked up for life

Nadel's extension means he'll go over the 30-year mark with the club. Nadel, who turned 55 earlier this month, is in his 28th year with the club. He declined to reveal the exact length of the contract but did acknowledge it takes him to an "age at which many people retire."

It also will put him alongside his boyhood heroes – Mel Allen and Red Barber – in longevity. Both Hall of Famers broadcast more than 30 years each, though neither did it exclusively with one team.

"To me, this means that I've developed a relationship with the fans," Nadel said. "As a young fan, that's something that really appealed to me about this business. We always felt Mel Allen was part of our family at home.

"I feel like I've been able to have something like that with the fans here. That's the most satisfying part of this job. Because regardless of who pays my checks, whether it's the Rangers or a radio station, I've always felt like, in essence, I'm working for the fans."

Meanwhile, since we have ignored it altogether, Here is some Barry Bonds stuff since he passed 715. By the way, I was hoping for a bit of a break from Bonds now that he passed 714, but nope. Now, ESPN insists on the chase for Aaron news despite the fact that he needs a mere 40.

I am pretty sure this guy is not pleased with Bonds getting any love

Barry Bonds hit his 715th home run Sunday. But every overblown ESPN news break-in couldn’t drown out the sad reality of the moment. It was as awkward as it was historical. Some wanted to watch. Most wanted to cover their eyes.

This wasn’t a player punctuating greatness. This was the most vilified sports star we’ve ever seen affirming his place among the five darkest moments in baseball history.

Count them. Like plagues:

1. Eight members of the Chicago White Sox are banned for conspiring to throw the 1919 World Series.

2. Pete Rose, the game’s greatest hitter, agrees to a lifetime ban for betting — on baseball.

3. Baseball cancels the 1994 World Series, not because of natural disaster but rather mutant labor negotiators.

4. Congress holds steroid hearings. Among the Murderers Row giving testimony: Mark McGwire, Sammy Sosa, Rafael Palmeiro and Jose Canseco — who ironically turns out to be baseball’s shining light.

5. Bonds passes the great Ruth and closes in on the great Hank Aaron. But he’s the poster child of the steroid era, and his baggage and personality have led him to become the sport’s greatest pox instead of ambassador.

Meanwhile, In what is almost fitting, the KNBR mic stopped working for the home run

It was not the moment for posterity that KNBR had in mind, but it was unforgettable nonetheless.

KNBR broadcaster Dave Flemming was making the call on Barry Bonds' historic 715th home run Sunday when his microphone went dead, leaving the radio audience with crowd noise for more than 10 seconds until fellow broadcaster Greg Papa rushed on the air to pick up the proceedings and describe the achievement.

"If you'd only heard the rest of it, it was an unbelievable call,'' said Flemming, who was initially unaware that he wasn't being heard over the air. "It's too bad we don't have proof. I have to joke about it because it's too painful to think about."
KNBR program director Lee Hammer, also serving as the game's engineer, was equally tortured by the technical glitch that denies the team's longtime flagship station one of the most significant calls in the history of the franchise and the game.

With the Pistons, one game from elimination, Don’t bank on Ben Wallace being a given to resign in Detroit

For most of the season it has been assumed that Ben Wallace, a free agent this summer, will re-sign with Detroit. The Pistons have said all along that they want to keep their 6-foot-9 center, and Big Ben has said he is happy in Motown. Given that the Pistons can offer Wallace more money than any other team, it seems like a no-brainer.

But money often complicates simple matters. And the Big Ben situation is going to involve a lot of money. Perhaps as much as $100 million over six years.

Are the Pistons really willing to shell out that much for a soon-to-be 32-year-old whose game is so dependent on athleticism and energy? Won't GM Joe Dumars at least have to wonder if an aging Wallace can play at such a high level three or four years down the road? Keep in mind, any new deal for Big Ben might push Detroit over the luxury tax next season, and almost certainly will in 2008 or '09.

Throw in a possible early Pistons' flameout in this year's playoffs, and it could get even more interesting.

Streaker fun

Greatest Wedding Cake EVER!

More on the Dateline Series “To Catch a Predator “ ….

Remember the ABA

Here is the Cleveland Library story we referenced on the show yesterday …I am sure we will do it on the show soon, so act like you didn’t know about it then…

Monday, May 29, 2006

Photoshop is Fun

Game 3: Mavs 95, Suns 88 (2-1 Mavs)

After Game 2, I was describing the current status of this series to a fisherman trying to pick up a fish in his boat: The fish almost stood no chance of getting back in the water, but he wasn’t going to be easy to get a handle on until he was utterly exhausted.

It is quite possible the fish ran out of gas last night.

The Mavericks played one of their most impressive games of the postseason with a demoralizing pounding of the Suns in Phoenix. And now, they are on the brink of turning the screws Tuesday night.

This team is a championship capable team that now sits 6 games from that title that most Mavericks fans never believed possible.

Game Notes from me:

• That 2nd half was amazing, and I submit to you that the most impressive effort was put in by Gana Diop. What a difference he makes to this team. He competes at the rim. He changes shots. He pulls rebounds. And, you know what? He can even finish off plays on offense when they find him near the goal. Diop played 25 huge minutes last night and while people may point to Josh Howard’s return or Raja Bell’s injury as reasons this series turned so quickly, I happen to believe Diop’s ability to take the paint away from Steve Nash is as big a factor as any.

• This from Elias Sports Bureau: The Mavericks played the final 17:01 of their Game 3 win in Phoenix without a turnover -- the second-longest stretch without a turnover to close a game during the 2006 NBA playoffs. Back on April 26, Phoenix played turnover-free ball over the last 18:52 in a loss to the Lakers.

• I hate to agree with Barry Horn on anything, but geez, TNT, don’t be afraid to show us the game. I cannot think of anything I care less about than what Cheryl Miller, Craig Sager, or Tony Parker have to say about the game. If you can work that nonsense into a timeout, I don’t care. But, when you shrink the game to about 25% of your screen, so that you can interview a French guy about another French guy then watch the blood pressure of your viewers rise.

• Did Tim Thomas barging into the Mavericks impromptu huddle after the flagrant foul turn the entire game? From those free throws until the game ended, the final score was Mavericks 53, Suns 36. That dude is a spare. Sorry, but I don’t care what he does, no one has stolen more money in their career than he has. Do you realize since 2001 he has made more than $70 million? Makes Finley look properly compensated.

• Things are just different when you watch this team. At no point of last night’s game did it look bad for the Mavericks in my opinion. Sure, when the Suns get hot, they will go on a run. But, they could not play better and Dallas could not play worst in that first half. Yet, the Suns clung to a 5 point lead at home.

• Dirk since Game 3 of the San Antonio series has put up some pretty fair points/rebounds: 27/15, 28/9, 31/10, 26/21, 37/15, 25/19, 30/14, and 28/17 last night. I think he may be a star in this league.

• It is highly possible that Dirk’s desperation 3 did not hit the rim. I am not sure video evidence was conclusive either way. But, don’t be afraid to get a rebound, Phoenix. Jerry Stackhouse is taking on your entire team on the glass in the final few minutes and beating you. Jerry Stackhouse; hardly Barkley in his prime on the glass.

• This is only 2 wins. The game Tuesday is pivotal. But let’s not count chickens yet. I agree it surely looks great, and to hear Phoenix talk fatigue is wonderful given that there shall be no extra off days. But, do not let them breath on Tuesday.

• Marquis Daniels and Erick Dampier have wonderful seats for this series. So much for my theory that the style of this series suits Daniels. I think a trade this summer most likely suits Daniels.

• We would like to thank Jason Terry for joining the party in the 2nd half. If he is going to start playing like he did against the Spurs, then this thing looks even better.

• Remember when Shawn Marion looked like he rolled his ankle in Game 1? That was the last time he looked like anything more than a defensive rebounder. I have always feared the Matrix, so I am relieved that he has been a non-factor in these last two games. He just doesn’t look right.

• How did I get this far down the list without a Josh Howard paragraph? What a player. And what a steal to lock the game up with help from Dirk as they took the ball from Tim Thomas. And poor Nash, thought about trying to catch Josh Howard and then realized he has nothing left in the tank.

• It is Memorial Day, and not only do the Mavericks still have games left, but they actually look great in their series. Things have changed around here.

• 6 More.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

Defense Wins Championships or Game 3's

That, kids, is a playoff road win. At times, it felt like the 1991 Chicago Bulls. Or am I drinking the koolaid.

6 More to Go.

Sorry for the Beat-down, Old Man.

As expected here, Matt Hughes pounds Royce Gracie at UFC 60. I am no MMA expert, but it sure seems like old guys are no good. Shamrock, Gracie, Couture. Stop fighting when you get past 36 or so. Or take a beating at the hands of greatness.

Matt Hughes is a bad man.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Game 2: Mavs 105, Suns 98 (1-1)

A solid enough 4th Quarter helped the Mavericks do something in Game 2 that they let get away in Game 1. Their MVP was the best player on the floor, and if you don’t think the big German is a million miles from where he was just 1 year ago, then you aren’t watching very carefully.

The rhetoric from each side is pretty interesting at this point of the series. You hear the Phoenix guys talk with confidence and with real strong chin that this series is going perfectly and they consider their trip in here a success, and are already talking about winning at home and sealing the series.. Meanwhile, The Dallas side seems real confident, too, and after their win last night they will suggest to you that they have figured out what they need to figure out and this series is going in just the right direction.

I think they are both full of it. I don’t think either team would pass a lie detector right now if they were to be tested on if they really believe what they are saying.

Let’s focus on the Mavericks here: I think they are just a bit shocked that they have played 2 home games against this team and only seemed to have the game in their control for very small doses of each game. Sure, in Game 2, they controlled the pace, but can you imagine how freaked out they were to do that and still be down 5 at the half? I know I was frustrated, and I don’t play.

But, the bottom line is that we have solved nothing through 2 games. Phoenix will have more jump at their place, and they will also have the crowd. They cannot be allowed to sweep those 2 or the Mavericks will be in a real mess.

Here are some various Game 2 Quick Hits:

• We never know just how bad injuries really are. Many times, players act really hurt and then are not, or it looks like nothing but ends up being something huge. But, in the case of Josh Howard, it sure looks like everyone was fooled. His teammates had no idea he was playing until 7:00 Friday night, and he wasn’t around for practice on Thursday. When he was seen between Games 1 and 2 he was on crutches, but Friday night he was awesome. We will never know what might have happened had he not played, but for that guy to be doing what he did on Friday bought him a ton of credibility with anyone following this thing. I have been saying that he is the 2nd best player on this team for a long time, and that is the type of performance that will get other people realizing that.

• The story in the press room appeared to be Steve Nash attempting his only shot of the 2nd half with 3 seconds left in the game. What was he doing? He says he was making the right play and not forcing a shot. Did the Mavericks do something different? After 2 years of allowing Nash to shoot and score anytime he wants, have the Mavericks decided to make him pass? This is a radical departure to Avery’s philosophy, but it makes sense when Leo Barbosa is 3-15 and Shawn Marion is 9-20. Make them beat you. They don’t have Amare this year. Take your chances on them, not Nash. But still, 1 shot?

• Speaking of radical departures from Avery: Dampier DNP. Diop 32 minutes? I love it and all, as Diop really deserves credit for changing this game, but where did this come from? Diop got the DNP in Game 1 and Dampier played plenty. Also, Marquis went from big minutes to 1 minute in Game 2. We know Josh’s return made that happen to some extent, but I would suggest Avery still doesn’t care for Daniels’ playoff composure.

• David Hasselhoff – Drunk? Not sure, but he had his routine memorized for Craig Sager, eh?

• If Jerry Stackhouse is going to make bad decisions and not score, what purpose does he serve? Also, If Keith Van Horn is going to make bad decisions and not score, what purpose does he serve?

• To win last night without Jason Terry’s shot falling is pretty impressive. This team usually wins when he plays well and loses when he does not. He did make a few huge baskets in the 4th, but we may have to investigate how the Suns defend him because I don’t think he shot real well last year, either against them. Actually, I think they just leave him wide open.

• You want to say Shawn Marion had a bag in game 2, but he did have 19 points and 19 rebounds.

• Mike D’Antoni is weird. He reminds me of Nellie quite a bit, as he never seems to change his mood in a press conference. You can’t tell if he won or lost, and when he lost he just explains to you that if they would have hit more shots they would have won. Never refers to defense for a second. Doesn’t care at all. I realize the Mavericks are not that far removed from that style of basketball, but there is no way someone can win a title with such indifference to one end of the court, right?

• How is Boris Diaw doing this? And who is Boris Diaw? A throw-in to the Joe Johnson trade? And Tim Thomas was a waiver pick up? Tell me players don’t like playing in a system that asks them to launch shots until their arms hurt.

• I still don’t feel good about things. I assume the Mavericks find another gear in this series as Phoenix should continue to wear down, but those guys do hit enough shots just to hang around when it appears they have no business doing so.

• During a commercial, I flipped over to the Rangers game. Rangers up 3-2 going to the 8th. Coco time. He walks the lead off man (I kid you not), gives up the lead (blown save) and then gets the win when the Rangers score in the bottom of the 8th. Worst rule in baseball that you can enter a game, spare everyone to death, hurt your team and still get a win for doing nothing positive. I don’t care what his numbers are, I wouldn’t let him near the closer role again.

• Does Humble Billy ever look in the mirror and start crying at what he has become? Just curious. Also, curious if TNT has to pay him to be the 4th man in their booth or if he does it for free. I love you, Billy, but, c'mon.

• Is Diop the key to this whole series? Did the Mavericks find the way to stop Nash? Will Van Horn see the court again? Tune in Sunday as the plot thickens, and the gorilla finally has a chance to make an impact.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Friday Quickie

Overslept today. Oops. This is going to be more of the scribes than it will be of me: Happy Friday. By the way, what a week for this blog. We had a career high on Tuesday of 6,331 hits on the site. Way to go.

Avery looks to counter in Game 2

"Transition defense," Johnson said.

"Transition defense. Transition defense. Transition defense.

"Made or missed [shots], transition defense. We looked like a team without a system. And that's my fault."

He was not smiling, not trying to be funny. He was genuinely ticked off, as were his players.

The Mavericks were blitzed for 32 fast-break points and 72 points in the paint. Although the Mavericks got 74 points in the paint, they still were blistered by Steve Nash and the Suns' incessant running game.

"Obviously, we can't have guys standing in the corner ... admiring their shots," Dirk Nowitzki said. "This is not the series to do it. We got to sprint back and pick up whoever guy's in your area, even if it's not the matchup you want.

"It [Game 1] wasn't really a defensive effort. They got whatever they wanted. They got, like, 100 points in transition. They got whatever they wanted. So defense was very nonexistent."

Nowitzki, by the way, was asked whether Game 2 ranks as a must-win situation.

"Obviously," he said.

Oddly, Kevin Blackistone is ready to count on Marquis Daniels …Wow.

For a spell, Daniels became somewhat of an afterthought. In his third year, he had to prove himself all over again.

What better proving ground for Daniels, however, than right now, especially with Howard hobbled Wednesday in the Mavericks' stunning loss to the Suns in the Western Conference finals' opener at American Airlines Center? If he does shine, the likelihood that the Mavericks advance to the NBA Finals will grow exponentially.

But Daniels' final attempt to make a play Wednesday – lobbing the basketball beyond anyone's reach, including 7-foot Dirk Nowitzki – was not a great last impression.
"That was kinda strange," Daniels said of his incompletion.

It should be pointed out, however, that there was only a prayer of a chance for the Mavericks to save the game. Just half a second was left. If only Daniels could've been more like a faith healer than, unfairly, some sort of goat.

In Phoenix, They circle the wagons around Raja

The Suns are using all of this as reference points and general reassurance.

"You know what? I haven't heard anybody say a word or feel bad for the team because of what happened to Raja," D'Antoni said. "I guarantee you that James (Jones), Leandro (Barbosa) and Eddie (House) are not over there saying, 'Oh, shoot.' They're saying, 'Oh, good. Now I can go bust somebody.' "

That's nice, but what really helps is the skill and brainpower of Nash. He will recalculate the team's options, recalibrate the attack and make it possible for the replacement parts to succeed. Besides, at their core, the Suns are visionary and lethal because of a simple combination: They are a great shooting team with a great deal of intelligence. They know how to get open. They know how to space the floor. They know how to beat stupid teams that possess more talent.

"We started dealing with this in training camp when we lost Amaré (Stoudemire), when the naysayers came out and said we weren't going to be a playoff team," Bell said. "Then we lost Kurt (Thomas). We lost Brian Grant. LB (Barbosa) was missing for four weeks or so. Go down the list, and when guys go out, we just don't hang our heads. . . . We just go out and play."

It's not going to be easy. It may be that the titillating triumph in Game 1 is as good as it gets in the 2006 postseason. Except these Suns don't blow away in a windstorm and don't run away from shadows.

At a time like this, those traits come in handy.

Nevin breaks out and saves the day ….

Phil Nevin could not remember another moment in his career as exciting.

A walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth.

His entire team waiting at home plate to swarm him with excited congratulations.
An 8-7 Rangers victory over the division rival Oakland A's, delivered with his bat by a home run off A's closer Huston Street, to put the Rangers up two games in the American League West. The A's have now lost six straight games.

"To be honest with you, I don't get that emotional," Nevin said. "On the positive side anyway, I don't think I've ever been that emotional on a baseball field....For this team, it was a heck of a moment."

The moment was made that much more thrilling for Nevin because the month has been a nightmare.

He spent the first few weeks in a deep offensive slump, then showed up at the ballpark Tuesday to learn he would no longer be the Rangers' everyday DH and would cede at-bats to rookie Jason Botts. He got another look in the lineup Thursday, with Oakland lefty Brad Halsey on the mound, but began the game 0-for-4.

Nevin, who is in the final year of a four-year, $34 million contract, had to wonder what his future was with Texas. How could he show he should be in the lineup in limited opportunities?

To get the team a win, in a game they had trailed 7-0 midway through the sixth inning, was huge.

Matt Hughes to destroy Royce Gracie on PPV Saturday Night

UFC continues to grow

The UFC, which is now owned and operated by Zuffa, LLC, has witnessed tremendous growth over the past year, mainly due to its popularity among young male adults and the success of their reality television series, "The Ultimate Fighter" on SpikeTV.
"We can't be denied anymore … we are a real sport," said White on a recent conference call.

Since Zuffa, LLC and White took over, UFC has seen its popularity reach new heights. The reality television show has received higher ratings than both NBA and NHL playoff games when aired up against one another. More importantly the Internet and mainstream media are helping it grow.

"We are pulling in the numbers," White said. "The male 18-34 demographic that all newspapers are trying to get to read their papers. Our Web site is a real machine for us. We get a lot of hits. They can't go anywhere else to read it. So they come to us. More mainstream newspapers are coming to us to cover us like they would do boxing. They are noticing a difference in readership because of the UFC."

By popular demand, here is the Any Given Sunday Speech

Facts about Jack Bauer

Nash and Dirk’s duet

Not excited enough for the Western Conference Finals tonight? Well, if this video doesn’t pump you up, nothing will.

Apparently, it’s Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki, back in their teammate days, singing a song to their friend Simon, whoever the heck that is. It just hasn’t been the same since these guys were dorking it out together.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Game 1: Suns 121, Mavs 118 (1-0)

Game 1 is very similar to Game 1 of the San Antonio series: The Mavericks let one get away. Except this was way worse because when you are ahead 114-105 with less than 4 minutes to play and you can not bring it home, that, kids, is a full fledged choke job. There is no nice way to say that. You can’t get a stop, as Phoenix goes scores on 6 of their 8 trips down the court, and you can’t get a hoop: The Mavericks over that same stretch get 2 scores in 8 trips. So, when you can’t stop them and you can’t score when the game is on the line, you lose. Don’t know if they all started congratulated themselves too early or it they just got ambushed at the finish line by Steve Nash, but either way, the Suns have to feel they stole one, and the Mavs have to feel like they gift-wrapped one.

Bob’s Blog exclusive Quick Hits:

• Last two seasons, the Mavericks have played 5 series, and in the last two seasons, the Mavericks have won game 1 just once. Against Memphis. Otherwise, when there is a Game 1 to be played, the Mavericks are losing it.

• Before we get into what the Mavs did and didn’t do, we should probably recognize an absolutely superb performance by Nash. Wow. You almost forget how he can dominate a game when you don’t play him for a while. I assume he ramps it up in Dallas to his top effort, but whatever the circumstances, that was awesome. What he does on offense is just amazing. Whether it is the momentum killer pass down court to get Marion a free hoop with the shot clock at 21 right after the Mavs score, or whether it is him deciding to will his team to a win in the final minutes with 3’s, he is just amazing. Is he the MVP? I may argue that, but there is no doubt he is the most unique point guard in the sport right now. And there is also no doubt that he wasn’t anything close to this in Dallas. This is absurd.

• For the Mavericks to win this series, they will need to do plenty of what they did last night; offensive rebound, take the ball to the rim, and stop the 3. They did all of those pretty well, so there is no confidence shaken here. But, you have to play 48 minutes. The Mavericks played about 30.

• Josh Howard = out. Raja Bell = out. That is a pretty close trade, really. If they both miss extended games in this series, the Mavs depth should be the winner again.

• Why do people wear sunglasses inside? I counted at least 3 fans last night with them on. My sunglasses exemption is this: If you have ever played Col. Nathan R. Jessep in a movie, you are allowed to wear (edit 9:38am) sunglasses at an NBA game. If you have not played Col Jessep, then you look like someone who is the president of your own fan club.

• With Josh Howard on the bench, more Marquis Daniels. This series should play into his strengths, but to me, his basketball judgment is just so suspect that I think I likely would have had someone else inbounding the ball with .5 seconds left in the game. Dude was nowhere close in his pass to Dirk, and had 4 very confused teammates looking at him when the play and the game were over.

• I know Skin told me that Dirk is far better against Shawn Marion than he has been in the past, but I still saw Shawn block and change many Dirk chances last night. Dirk told us himself that nobody guards him better than Marion. The man is so freakish athletically that Dirk isn’t comfortable against him. Dirk had nice numbers, but he got almost every point from 3 feet and in.

• The Mavericks also got sucked into the “hurry and hoist” offense of the Suns. Stackhouse and Terry especially have to control themselves from being lured into that run and gun game that suites the Suns so well. Play your game and you will be fine. Play their game and this is going to be a bear.

• Doesn’t it make you nervous when everyone is picking Dallas?

• When is Devin Harris going to start getting calls? For the third consecutive game, he gets called for an offensive foul that almost nobody in the league would get called for. The wipe away on Bowen in Game 6, the dead ball foul in OT of Game 7, and now I have no idea the call inside a minute of Game 1 on the pick and roll last night. But that call was huge. All the Mavericks needed was a hoop, but they gave it all back.

• Of course, Devin Harris made huge shots down the stretch all last night, and continued to dazzle all who watch. I cannot believe that the Mavericks really look like they have found their Tony Parker. Nash is one of a kind, but he also could not stick with Mike Bibby or Tony Parker in the playoffs over two weeks. I am banking that Devin Harris will do the same thing to him now.

• It is going to be almost impossible to get DeSagana Diop on the floor in this series. Darn shame, since he has a new face mask to show off for us all.

• How can I go this far into the notes without a Boris Diaw mention? No idea. Talk about a quiet 34 for most of the night. But, I must hand it to him. I expected him to front rim his shot at the buzzer last night, and he buried it. He may be the man the Mavs choose not to guard as tightly, and that may be a bad choice.

• Hey, you didn’t think this was going to be easy, did you? This is the Western Conference Finals. If you thought you scaled your toughest mountain, you were wrong. Prepare for 7 games of tense playoff basketball in this round, too. And, by the way, Game 2 moves up the list to a “must win” game. Ouch. That was quick.

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Enter the Matrix

Round 3: Mavericks – Suns
No rest for the weary, as we crank up a brand new series tonight. Let’s get it on.
Time to enjoy the greasy hair of Nash and the goofy shooting motion in the NBA of Marion. But do not underestimate them.

Sports Guy with another must read product …here are some isolated quick hits…

I don't care if Dallas ended up winning -- that was still one of the defining Dick Bavetta Games of all time. Hold your head up high, Dick. Hold your head up high. Duncan shot about 75 free throws and was allowed to jump over everyone's back on every rebound. You did your job. You still have the touch.

Did we ever figure out why Dallas fans were booing Michael Finley all series? "You jerk! ... We cut you to save $55 million on the luxury tax even though you wanted to stay here. ... You ... you jerk! You go to hell!" Let's just let Texas secede from the United States and get it over with.

I can't believe Tim Duncan has made it through nine years in the league without committing a foul.

Lebreton reminds us on why Nash deserves boos far more than Finley

Two summers ago, the evidence spoke for itself. Nash's scoring average had dipped. The Mavericks had been cleanly spanked out of the playoffs by the Sacramento Kings, a series in which Nash had been badly outplayed by Mike Bibby.

At age 30, however, Nash was given a six-year, $63 million free agent contract by the Suns. Cuban's best offer was four years at $9 million per season, with a possible guaranteed fifth season based upon minutes played.

Nash took the money. Mavs fans got out the Kleenex tissues. The Lakers traded Shaquille O'Neal to Miami.

And, in a fortnight, the Mavericks became Dirk Nowitzki's team.

One of the sillier dispatches of the playoffs came from a Phoenix area newspaper this week. It said, paraphrasing, that since the Suns beat the Mavericks last year in the playoffs, there's no reason that they can't do it again.

Ah, the Groundhog Day movie theory.

Funny, but I thought last year's Phoenix team had Amare Stoudemire, now injured.

That Phoenix team also went on to lose to San Antonio. This Mavericks team just beat the Spurs.

More than that, though, Nash and his balky back are one year older. Meanwhile, Nowitzki and head coach Avery Johnson have just spent their first full season together, and the Mavericks are 12 months tougher and wiser.

Dan Bickley, the top Phoenix scribe, prepares the Suns fans

By avoiding the defending NBA champion Spurs, Marion will not have to deal with defensive specialist Bruce Bowen, who is flypaper sticky and turned the Matrix into the No Trix in last year's Western Conference final.

In drawing the speedier Mavericks as an opponent, Marion has a much better chance to display his open-court talents. His defense of Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki could turn the series in the Suns' favor.

And best of all, Marion will get the national platform he so often craves.

Play well now, be the man here, and no one will ever call him underrated again.

"It's going to be up and down," Marion said. "It's going to be some nice basketball."

As for Nowitzki?

"Make it hard for him," he said. "Crowd him. Make him take tough shots. Keep him from getting easy baskets. Keep him off the free-throw line. It's easier said than done. You've got to make him play some defense, too."

Translation: Marion feels good about how his talents will translate against the Mavericks, and how his place in the series is up high on a pedestal. That was not the case last year against the plodding, physical Spurs.

"We feel great. We're confident," coach Mike D'Antoni said. "We have a great sense of accomplishment and a great sense that we're not done yet."

A Great Game 3 in Edmonton last night puts the Oilers on the brink of the Stanley Cup Finals …And as the picture shows, can we please stop saying there is no fighting in the playoffs?

Leading 4-0 on goals by Toby Petersen, Michael Peca, Steve Staios and Chris Pronger - the last three coming in a span of 2:21 in the third period - the Oilers looked like they'd move to within one win of their first Stanley Cup berth since 1990 in a lopsided laugher, but the determined Mighty Ducks made this anything but.

Anaheim roared back on goals by Sean O'Donnell, Teemu Selanne and Chris Kunitz in a furious four minutes to cut the margin to 4-3 before Pisani stripped Francois Beauchemin of the puck on a faceoff and sifted it past Ilya Bryzgalov to make it 5-3 at 14:14.

"We knew they were going to come out hard," said Georges Laraque, who dropped the gloves with Todd Fedoruk three minutes into the game. "They started really physical to maybe intimidate us in our building and try to change momentum around, but we have the kind of guys in the dressing room who respond to that."

Pisani's ninth of the post-season sends the Oilers to Game 4 tomorrow on a seven-game post-season winning streak and with a chance to close out the Mighty Ducks in four straight.

GameDay in Austin for Buckeyes …get your signs ready….again…

Interesting read here: As Ricky Williams looks for a place to play, The NY Times examines the Canadian Football League …where drugs are cool…

Viewed from the prism of the N.F.L., the Canadian league is a quirky cousin, a pass-happy place with three downs instead of four, and an odd rush of receivers sprinting toward the line of scrimmage before the snap. It has long been a sort of island of misfit toys, filled largely with players who do not conform to N.F.L. standards and players hoping to use it as a steppingstone to the N.F.L.

Without mandatory drug testing, and with no move to start it, the C.F.L. is increasingly a place for those who are not welcome in the N.F.L., even if they possess the talent to play there.

"I'd probably be working a warehouse job, or trying to go back to school to get my degree, or trying to do some real estate, or hustling, scamming, something illegal," Soward said of what he would do without the C.F.L. "Probably just throwing away my life."

The Jacksonville Jaguars drafted him with their first pick in 2000. He signed a five-year, $5.5 million contract, caught 14 passes as a rookie, failed several drug tests and was banished from the N.F.L. The league does not disclose what substance is found, but it does test for performance-enhancing and recreational drugs.

After being suspended from the game, Soward drank away the next few years. An admitted alcoholic, Soward now makes $50,000 a year for the Argonauts, has five children and is thankful for the chance to rebuild some semblance of what he lost.

Comedy Here: awesome human beatbox "Lasse Gjertsen"

More Comedy: But beware of BS, Yankee broadcaster Michael Kay farts on the air?

Finally, an update on the George DeJohn Detox since I have received at least 50 emails from people who want an honest assessment of the program. Most want to know what I think about it, how I feel, and is it worth $250?

Well, let me explain a few quick things. I have no idea how it compares to other programs because I have never tried anything else. This is Day 10. Tomorrow, I can bring fish and chicken back into my life. For now, I have spent the last 10 days on nothing but fruit and vegetables. Not a huge veggie fan, but I have survived on salads for lunch (with organic dressing), and sweet potatoes or squash for dinner. (No corn, white potato, and bananas allowed). You can use organic butter on your squash or yam and it isn’t bad at all. Otherwise, it is mostly apples, pears, grapes, and watermelon throughout the day, with plenty of water. 3 Shakes a day of the supplement, George gives you when you start.

I feel great. I am down to 219 from 231. I was hoping for 215 when I was done, and since this goes another 11 days, I am pretty confident I will get there. I sleep like a baby, which is one of the many benefits of this program, but like I said, I am doing this for 2 reasons: lose weight and lose body fat percentage.

Is it worth it? I guess that is for everyone to decide on your own. I went for it, because I go to the gym 3 times a week and feel I am pretty active but have not been able to get my weight down since I stopped marathon training 2 years ago. I still ran plenty, but my weight would not budge off of 230, and my body fat was way too puffy for my liking. So, my strategy is to lose this weight, and in doing so ultimately improve what I eat so I can stay down there.

Anyway, as gay as this little update seems as I type it, I know many of you are curious, and I cannot answer each email during this busy playoff time.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Watch the Groin!!!

Game 7: Dallas 119, San Antonio 111 (OT)

You are going to have people remind you today that this is only a chance to advance to the Western Conference Finals. You are going to have people (especially Spurs fans) remind you that you haven’t won anything yet. This is only the Final 4, and only 1 of these 4 teams is going to end the season with a smile and celebration.

They are right. But ignore them for today.

That win was not for a championship. I contend that it may be for something more valuable than that in many respects. This win was for anyone who has called the Mavericks soft. This win was for anyone that said to wait for the playoffs and we will see the Mavericks exposed yet again. This win was for anyone who said that Mavericks would have to beat the Spurs in the playoffs. This win was for those who thought that Dirk was never going to be able to rise up and be the superstar that they needed. This win was for Jason Terry’s career. This win was for all those who wish failure on Mark Cuban. This win was for those who hung in there.

Now, there is still 2 rounds to go. And there is still a very realistic chance at a NBA Title hanging out there for the Mavericks to win. But that is something to worry about tomorrow. Today, is a day to finally enjoy the toppling of a very worthy champ. You have sent the Spurs fishing. Very few teams ever have the chance to say that. In fact, aside from Kobe and Shaq, nobody in the West can say they have taken down the mighty Spurs. And you can not undersell that.

Phoenix awaits, and you wonder if by 7:30 tomorrow night the Mavericks could be focused on a dramatically different opponent so that they do not squander away home court advantage in the first game. But that can wait. Soak in the journey today. Soak in what you just saw for the past 16 days.

Magical basketball. Amazingly close. If only it was the NBA Finals.

Exclusive Bob’s Blog Game 7 Quickhits:

• Dirk Nowitzki had two moments last night that seemed to demonstrate his growth in the NBA. One was in the first half when everything was going great and the Mavericks were already ahead by an absurd 55-38 margin. Dirk took the ball right in front of the Mavs bench, and after the ball started squirting away and the play looked like complete chaos, Dirk did what few of us have grown to expect. He put his head down and headed for the hoop. He then exploded to the rim and got the dunk and the foul. That was a strong move that he has added as he has grown. And of course, that set up the play you see at the top of this page. Perhaps the strongest, most important basket ever scored in Dallas: down 104-101, Dirk does not settle for a weak 3 pointer. He decides to not fade away. He drives the lane, gets to the rim, and of course, the basket and the foul. He made two incredibly strong moves to the goal that punctuated two distinct halves of basketball. This, friends, is a superstar. 37 points, 15 rebounds at San Antonio in Game 7.

• Now, speaking of performances that were worthy of mention, I do not wish to go further than here to address the life and times of Jason Terry. On Saturday morning, I wrote the following:
…But for getting yourself suspended, everyone can keep as brave a face as they want. The fact is that Jason Terry may have cost his team a chance of a lifetime based on 1 moment of losing his head.

But, redemption has a funny way of offering itself to those who need it most.

Game 7 Monday is Jason’s chance. To save his reputation around these parts, I suggest he play pretty well.

Well, Terry did what he had to do. Be awesome in the most important game he had ever played. In the first half, the dude could not miss. What a clutch performance for a guy who was the target of the crowd. And then in the second half, after he cooled off, he still hit a few monster shots down the stretch. His career could have gone one of two ways last night, and he showed that he is one of the more underrated players in the league.

• The Mavericks are the 2nd team in the history of the NBA to win a Game 7 in overtime on the road. Let that soak in.

• Tell me that you planned to see Desagana Diop as a key player in overtime last night. Key stops on Tim Duncan and what an offensive rebound.

• In the end, how do you not respect the San Antonio Spurs players? I find it absolutely laughable that the guys on NBA TV were trying to convince me that the Spurs may be facing the end of an era. Let me tell you something: Next season, Duncan will be 30. Ginobili will be 29. And Parker will be 24. That is not old, kids. I get that they were saying their bench needs to be overhauled, but that will be easy when they you have those 3 guys in their primes. San Antonio will likely be the favorite in the West next season regardless of what happens the rest of the way this season.

• The focus on the Dirk drive that tied the game up was the Manu decision to foul. In the post game press conference, it was clear that his coach and his teammates wondered why he did not listen in the huddle and DO NOT FOUL. But, live by the Manu and die by the Manu. He is a great player, who made a poor decision. But, no player gained status in my sports brain like he did in this series.

• Let’s be honest for a moment: I felt horrible when the Mavericks weren’t missing in the first half. At first, it seemed great. But then, I started to wonder if we were all being pranked. Was it another Roadrunner-Coyote episode, where this time the Coyote gets a 20 point lead and a 3 games to 1 lead only to have the biggest meltdown ever to end it with the Roadrunner winning yet again? Nope. This time, the coyote was victorious. But, in the first half, we all knew that the Spurs were coming back, right?

• On the other hand, there was no doubt in my mind when they got the stop to end regulation that the Mavericks were going to win in overtime. Sure, they almost had no players left, but it just appeared that they got their confidence back on the Dirk drive and were not going to be denied.

• Newsflash: Mike Modano appears to be able to pick up hot blondes.

• Bill Russell was 10-0 in Game 7’s through his career. That is pretty tough to nitpick.

• Jerry Stackhouse has taken his share of abuse throughout this series, but his tough hoops in overtime gave him a strong feeling of contribution as well. Make no mistake, I believe everyone who wore the uniform and got in the game played an important role. Look no further than Keith Van Horn’s back to back 3’s to prove that.

• Was anyone else wondering what Josh Howard was thinking when Cuban would not let go of him with that warm embrace from behind? Seemed like a nice moment that quickly turned uncomfortable.

• Enjoy this. You finally Beat SA.

Monday, May 22, 2006

All Growns Up.

I am not sure about you, but I am pretty proud of these boys right about now.

No fishing here.

Words are Words. Wins are Wins.

“It's win or go home. I don't think we're ready to go home.” - Dirk

"Fear going to play a seventh game? That is what we signed on the dotted line for. You just don't sign when you make every shot. You sign up for adversity too, and that's why we are all here." – Avery

Well, what is left to say? Game 7 tonight brings us the finality of an epic. It will end tonight. It will send someone home. So Who will it be?

Spurs fans think it will be the Spurs. Just ask them. Just read my email.

Mavs fans think it will be the Spurs. It is kind of interesting how most Mavs fans have talked a good game, but when they lost Game 6, 90% of my feedback from that side of the fence began to get their post-series analysis ready. Blame or off-season discussion.

And honestly, you could tell in Game 6 that the crowd didn’t quite believe it. It was a good crowd, but when momentum swung to San Antonio, there seemed to be about 20,000 fans trying to convince themselves that the Mavericks could win. Everyone may concede that the Mavs have grown up, they still aren’t convinced that they are “all growns up”.

Fret not. This game is quite winnable.

Sure, the odds say the Spurs should close in Game 7 at home. But, if that is the case, why should we even play the game?

The Mavericks are better than they have ever been. They play better Defense than they ever have. They show more mental toughness. They show more resolve. They are not babies. They are not soft.

These are not the 2003 Mavericks.

We find out tonight. We find out if I have given them too much credit. But, I really think they have a better team than San Antonio does right now. It is by a close margin, obviously, because everything in this series has demonstrated that while one side has 3 rings, in this moment, both teams are incredibly close.

16 Days ago, I thought the Mavericks would win in 7 because they were slightly better. 16 Days later, I feel the same way.

Am I sure? Nope. The Mavericks must now show it. So far, they have only demonstrated to be close. Not better.

But, if it is going to happen, it will happen in hours.

Jason Terry, are you listening?

Sefko looks at recent NBA History

Game 7 tonight at AT&T Center makes this a super series. The competitive nature of the teams makes it even better. These kind only come around once every decade or so.
By at least one barometer, you have to go back to the NBA Finals of 1998 to find a more competitive series.

The Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs have played five games decided by five points or fewer. The last time that happened, the Chicago Bulls and Utah Jazz were playing for the NBA title, with the Bulls winning 4-2. The margins in those games: 3 in overtime, 5, 42, 4, 2 and 1.

In this series: 2, 22, 1, 5 in overtime, 1 and 5.

Yes, there have been other hotly contested series since '98. Sacramento and the Los Angeles Lakers had a blood-boiler in 2002 that featured six games decided by seven points or fewer. And in 2000, New York and Miami decided all seven of their games by no more than eight points.

But if your criteria for a classic NBA series are ultra-close games and that it goes the distance, this is your brand of ball.

"It's a huge game," said Dirk Nowitzki, who has averaged 25.5 points and 13 rebounds in the series. "It's win or go home. I don't think we're ready to go home.

San Antonio Paper looks at the numbers, too

Throw out Dallas' Game 2 rout, and the score differential for the rest of the series is 497-495 in favor of the Spurs.

"It's that close," Popovich said. "That makes the most important thing playing well (tonight). Because after that, it doesn't really matter."

Popovich even called the Spurs' home-court advantage "fool's gold." The Mavericks have won twice at the AT&T Center this season, including the 22-point pounding in Game2.

Not since Charles Barkley closed HemisFair Arena in 1993 with a late jumper over David Robinson have the Spurs been eliminated on their own floor. The home team has won 81 percent of Game 7s, including both this season.

Of course, if the Spurs paid close attention to the odds, they probably wouldn't have dug themselves out of a 3-1 hole.

"It might be in (the Mavericks') heads a little bit because of the fact we were 3-1 down, and it's not easy to come back from that," Manu Ginobili said. "But now it gets to a point where it's one single game."

The Mavericks acknowledged they treated Friday's loss as if it were a Game 7. But they also have had two days to recover, as well as the emotional — and offensive — boost Jason Terry should provide when he returns from his one-game suspension.

You think you are watching a match-up of two classic heavyweights tied together in basketball immortality for 15 days. You think you are watching Dallas v. San Antonio. But are we really watching Coyote v. Roadrunner? Is this just an elaborate plot to get the Coyote fans all excited that maybe, just maybe, this time their hero will finally win? Then, at the last second, with defeat seemingly imminent, here comes victory again for the Roadrunner. Just like every time.

I really hope I am wrong, but I must concede that has been in my head all weekend.

It is up to this guy.

Dirk pics from the good ol days in the Fatherland

Game 7 in Detroit shows that defense wins

The Cavs led 3-2 in the second-round series and had a chance to eliminate the Pistons at home in Game 6 largely because James, who didn't live up to the hype -- he surpassed it. But what the Pistons can do on defense -- when they choose to play with intensity, like in a closeout game -- probably is just as frightening for opponents.

Detroit held Cleveland to the lowest point total in any Game 7 in NBA history; the third-lowest total in any playoff game since 1955; and 23 points in the second half, which tied the fewest scored in a postseason half since the shot clock was introduced a half-century ago.

The Cavs made just 31 percent of their shots and scored fewer points than any other team has this postseason.

Meanwhile, in Ice Hockey, Oilers win both games in Anaheim

On a night the desperate Ducks deserved a saw-off in the series on the balance of play, the Oilers prevailed thanks to 33 saves by Roloson and goals by Pronger and Pisani, whose eighth red-light celebration of this post-season was the difference.
When Peca hit an empty net with 18 ticks remaining, the Mighty Ducks knew they will be facing 16,839 crazed fans and have history against them in the bedlam of Rexall Place when the series resumes.

"It's nice to get some bounces and breaks when you maybe don't play your best game," said captain Jason Smith, who played despite a flu bug that's hit the team hard.
"That's the way the ups and downs go throughout the season and in the playoffs. You've got to grind through them."

Dismiss the history book stuff if you want, but the Oilers are heading home on a six-game winning streak - their longest in the post-season since 1990 - and they're 5-1 in their own rink in these playoffs.

The doctor said Barbaro "practically jogged" to his stall, but cautioned that his chances of survival were only 50-50.

WARNING: While I endorse this as the video of the day, and while this may partially demonstrate why I love hockey I must caution you to only listen to this if you are not easily offended by incredibly shocking language…

Danny Almonte is married…to a 30 year old ….

Confusing, funny, shocking, and amusing: Japanese TV comedy

Beat SA. (said in feeble, meek voice)...

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Game 6: Spurs 91, Mavs 86 (3-3)

In the words of the Musers drop: I'm so scared, baby.

Let’s play a quick game of connect the dots as we look back at another memorable contest in the series that we shall not soon forget:

- The Mavericks had major trouble scoring last night at very crucial moments.
- Jason Terry, one of the best scorers on the team got himself suspended.
- The Mavericks lost.
- Jason Terry is to blame more than any member of that team (Even Devin).

Sorry, but that is the way I see it. I know you are supposed to be able to go on without a player, and for purposes of injury, I agree. Even for wrongful prosecution, I agree. But for getting yourself suspended, everyone can keep as brave a face as they want. The fact is that Jason Terry may have cost his team a chance of a lifetime based on 1 moment of losing his head.

But, redemption has a funny way of offering itself to those who need it most.

Game 7 Monday is Jason’s chance. To save his reputation around these parts, I suggest he play pretty well. I am sure he knows this. I would imagine it was tough to be him on his couch as Devin Harris played like he was scared out of his mind.

The game itself had many talking points. But to cut to the chase, the Spurs responded as you would expect a champion to respond. That “other level” that they have been talking about finally made an appearance when the Mavericks needed to find a hoop. Dallas took poor shots and had no chance at the glass. The Spurs are feeling great right now because they have pulled even in a race that ends on Monday night.

And now, exclusive Bob’s Blog Quick Hits from Game 6:

• Who thought that you could hold Tony Parker to 3-15 and Tim Duncan would finally play a reasonably average game (8-21 from the field) and you would not beat them on your home court? Well, the unstoppable offenses on both sides through 5 games were not unstoppable in Game 6. With the exception of Dirk on one end and Manu on the other, this game featured a lot of offense that did not look very pretty. This is the kind of game that everyone expected before the series started and neither team would be able to stop the other.

• Since we mentioned Dirk, I really believe he has found a new level. He is on a mission. His emotions have never been higher as a leader and he is trying to pull everyone with him. I cannot believe how good he was last night, and if you want to rip him for a bad shot at the end, I can agree with you until you stop for a second and ask who he was going to go to Not saying it was a good choice, but if ever a dude seemed like he was out there by himself, it was in the final minutes of last night as Stackhouse has missed everything he has shot since the first quarter, Devin Harris needs to see Dr Melfi, and Jason Terry was on his couch. Sue him for taking one bad shot In a monster performance.

• I believe this is where generic sports commentator says this: “You know, as close and competitive as this series has been, there is no other way it should end than in a Game 7”. Phooey. But, get ready to embrace that idea.

• 85-84, Spurs. 2:00 to play, and the Mavericks get another key stop. Devin Harris takes the ball in front of Avery Johnson and hits the gas down the sideline. By the time he gets past mid-court, Bennett Salvatore decides that this is a good time for him to take the game over and call Harris for a mysterious offensive foul on Bruce Bowen. Bowen sold it well, and Salvatore bit, so as the Mavericks are going for the lead, they get stopped. And not by the Spurs. So much for the home cooking that the first 5 games seemed to offer.

• Earlier in the series I wondered what planet Manu Ginobili was on and why he wasn’t a factor in the series. I would like to take that back. You might be able to start making cases for him for series MVP if there was such an award. That dude has likely silenced me for the rest of his career. What an awesome player. But, seriously; where was he in Game 1 and Game 2?

• You might have expected Marquis Daniels and Devin Harris to play like spares last night. We have all rushed Devin to superstar status in about 10 days, so you had to see one of these games coming. But Jerry Stackhouse? He starts 3-3 and finishes 1-12. Ouch. C’mon, brother. You aren’t helping that reputation of yours that says you are better when the game is not on the line.

• Greg Popovich is a genius. I am amazed at how good a coach he is.

• Don’t tell me that Michael Finley didn’t win that battle last night. I wanted to see him fail, too, but if ever a guy stuck it up the rear end of 20,000 people, Ol’ Fin-dog did just that last night. I am pretty sure he dedicated that to Mark Cuban.

• 84% of home teams win Game 7. The Spurs are home Monday.

• 16% of road teams win Game 7. The Mavericks are on the road Monday.

• Mavericks are 2-1 in Game 7’s all-time. Lost to the Lakers in ’88 on the road, beat Portland and Sacramento at home in ’03.

• If you thought Spurs fans were insufferable before this series, just wait until they get done with this comeback. If they are successful, you may not want to see your Spurs buddy on Tuesday. This is where rivalries are made.

• Can you imagine the pressure on Jason Terry? I have called him “nails” in this series. I guess we are about to find out.

• Beat SA, please?

Friday, May 19, 2006

Game 6 Thread

If you have a pulse, you may enjoy this before the game tonight. It is from today's show (Dan took a dump on it) and it is from the movie "On Any Given Sunday". The audio is at the link, the words are below:

I don’t know what to say, really. Three minutes till the biggest battle of our professional lives all comes down to today. Now either we heal as a team or we’re gonna crumble, inch by inch, play by play, 'til we’re finished.

We’re in hell right now, gentlemen, believe me. And, we can stay here -- get the shit kicked out of us -- or we can fight our way back into the light. We can climb outta hell one inch at a time.

Now, I can’t do it for you. I’m too old. I look around. I see these young faces, and I think -- I mean -- I made every wrong choice a middle-aged man can make. I, uh, I pissed away all my money, believe it or not. I chased off anyone who’s ever loved me. And lately, I can’t even stand the face I see in the mirror.

You know, when you get old in life things get taken from you. I mean that's...part of life. But, you only learn that when you start losing stuff. You find out life’s this game of inches. So is football. Because in either game, life or football, the margin for error is so small -- I mean one-half a step too late, or too early, and you don’t quite make it. One-half second too slow, too fast, you don’t quite catch it.

The inches we need are everywhere around us.

They’re in every break of the game, every minute, every second.

On this team, we fight for that inch. On this team, we tear ourselves and everyone else around us to pieces for that inch. We claw with our fingernails for that inch, because we know when we add up all those inches that’s gonna make the fuckin' difference between winning and losing! Between livin' and dyin'!

I’ll tell you this: In any fight, it’s the guy who’s willing to die who’s gonna win that inch. And I know if I’m gonna have any life anymore, it’s because I’m still willin' to fight and die for that inch. Because that’s what livin' is! The six inches in front of your face!!

Now I can’t make you do it. You got to look at the guy next to you. Look into his eyes! Now I think you’re gonna see a guy who will go that inch with you. You're gonna see a guy who will sacrifice himself for this team because he knows, when it comes down to it, you’re gonna do the same for him!

That’s a team, gentleman!

And, either we heal, now, as a team, or we will die as individuals.

That’s football guys.

That's all it is.

Now, what are you gonna do?

Make them go Fish. Beat SA.

Punch To The Nuts

Well, well, well…The plot, which I didn’t think could be more thick than it already was, has thickened. The series that I am pretty sure nobody in Texas will soon forget has just taken the wildest turn yet, right?

Jason Terry has been bounced for Game 6. Here is Channel 4’s video which might be the best

He made a mistake, and now he will pay. Do I think it was that big a deal? Of course, not. But let’s not forget a few things here:

The NBA has a very clear rule on punching


Violent acts of any nature on the court will not be tolerated. Players involved in altercations will be ejected, fined and/or suspended. Officials have been instructed to eject a player who throws a punch, whether or not it connects, or an elbow which makes contact above shoulder level. If elbow contact is shoulder level or below, it shall be left to the discretion of the official as to whether the player is ejected. Even if a punch or an elbow goes undetected by the officials during the game, but is detected during a review of a videotape, that player will be penalized. There is absolutely no justification for fighting in an NBA game. The fact that a player may feel provoked by another player is not an acceptable excuse. If a player takes it upon himself to retaliate, he can expect to be subject to appropriate penalties.

And. Jason Terry has a “repeat offender” track record

The NBA suspended Jason Terry (Atl) for 1 game for the elbow he threw at Anthony Johnson (Ind) during Saturday's Atl-Ind game.

The NBA fined Jason Terry (Atl) $10,000 and suspended him for 1 game and fined Don Reid (Orl) $7,500 and suspended him for 1 game for their fight during Monday's Atl-Orl game.

The NBA fined Kenny Thomas (Hou) $15,000 and suspended him for 3 games and fined Shareef Abdur-Rahim (Atl) $15,000 and suspended him for 3 games for their fight in Monday's Hou-Atl game. Jason Terry (Atl) was also fined $7,500 and suspended for 1 game for throwing a punch during the altercation.

Put that together, and he has to take the blame here. I don’t like it. I would like to think the NBA would exercise some judgment about severity of the punch and that they would consider what that could do to the outcome of the series, but the bottom line is that YOU CANNOT THROW A PUNCH. Cannot. Under any circumstance. They had the right to suspend him. And Terry is to blame for giving them that right by throwing a punch.

Terry’s taking the blame partially because he has no other choice …

Terry's close-fisted jab into the groin area of former teammate Michael Finley late in Game 5 may or may not have been a letter-of-the-law punch. The NBA said it was, and Terry will be a fan tonight as the riveting series continues.

There is no doubt Terry's action was the sort of mistake that can make a difference in the outcome of a tight series. And Terry was quick to admit his error. He said he felt responsible for not being able to help his teammates and coach Avery Johnson in one of the biggest games in Mavericks history.

"I do, just for putting myself in this position," Terry said on his radio show on ESPN-FM (103.3) Thursday. Johnson "is real disappointed about the whole situation. We talked about it before the game, that whatever happens, don't let yourself get in a position like that."

Heat-of-the-moment situations are something all NBA players must deal with. Terry's suspension is proof that a lapse of control – however momentary it may be – can lead to a serious situation.

Johnson tells his players they must maintain a cool head at all times during games. When they don't, Johnson wastes no time letting them know about it. Johnson did not return telephone calls Thursday seeking comment.

Most coaches demand that players keep their composure. Yet mistakes like this still happen.

Blackistone says Cuban has earned this treatment

The chicken came home to roost Thursday.

How else to explain the sudden unexpected suspension of starting guard Jason Terry for tonight's Game 6? The league announced late Thursday afternoon that it was benching Terry for punching Michael Finley during a scrum with seconds left in Game 5.

Finley was unusually agitated after the grappling. Terry wasn't assessed a foul on the play. No one seemed to see anything unseemly happen. A jump ball was called.
But the Spurs went Cuban on the Mavericks sometime after the game. They sent a tape to the league office that showed Terry landing a punch to Finley's groin.

It was an easy decision for league disciplinarian Stu Jackson, who earlier in this postseason tossed Miami's Udonis Haslem for a game for angrily throwing his mouthpiece in the direction of an official.

Cuban, not surprisingly, disagreed with Jackson's penalty. A fine was due, he said, but not a suspension.

Oh, well. Live by Netflix, die by Netflix.

Cuban isn't the only NBA team boss who sends the league office tape. He's just made his team one of the biggest exercisers of the practice.

David Moore on the scene

What Terry did has nothing to do with his basketball IQ. It has everything to do with losing his cool. He can only hope the Mavericks bail him out the way the Suns did Raja Bell in the first round.

Bell clotheslined Kobe Bryant and threw him to the floor during the team's first-round series with the Los Angeles Lakers. Bell was suspended for Game 6. The Suns responded by winning that game and the next to win the series.

The difference here: The Spurs are a lot better than the Lakers.

The speed of point guard Devin Harris has tipped the scales in the Mavericks favor so far this series. But the Mavericks need Terry's presence to maximize that advantage.

San Antonio entered this series with its defensive sights set on Nowitzki and Terry. It was that focus on Terry that gave Harris the room to score 20 and 24 points in his first two games as a starter. When Harris forced the Spurs to adjust, Terry responded with 32 points in Game 4.

The Mavericks have three options: put Adrian Griffin back in the starting lineup, slip Marquis Daniels into the starting five or go with Jerry Stackhouse. None of those options are as attractive, or effective, as a backcourt of Terry and Harris.
Terry's absence doesn't mean the Mavericks will lose tonight's game. His team can still deliver a knockout punch to the defending world champions.

But they'd better aim higher than Terry did in Game 5 to get it done.

Buck Harvey in San Antonio

Going by the video, Terry threw the punch with a closed fist, too. And everyone in the league knows the rules. It's part of the code of conduct, and the guidelines are clear. Suspension follows.

Terry lost his senses, and he did a year ago in a simple basketball play in the Phoenix series. Then, he left Steve Nash open for a 3. This time, instead of going under a screen as he did then, Terry went under to hit Finley in a vital spot.
Terry, on his radio show Thursday night in Dallas, used words that would confuse a veteran politician. "That's totally unsportsmanlike," he said, "and something I wouldn't have done intentionally, if it did happen. For (Finley) to say I intentionally punched him in the groin or stomach, I don't think it happened that way."

Cuban believes this kind of dream-sequence explanation. "Jason didn't even know he did it," Cuban said.

I e-mailed Cuban with another question: No matter the details, isn't a punch with a closed fist always a suspension?

To his credit, Cuban got back to me in minutes. He asked me if I had seen the video, which I had, and he ended the e-mail with: "Throwing a punch is different than reacting with a closed fist when you are the bottom of a pileup. (Terry) couldn't rip a piece of paper from that situation with a fist."

The Mavericks have their work cut out for them. The Mavericks have to play without one of their best players. Deal with it. Circle the Wagons. Win one for Terry. Or don’t. Just win one.

For inspirational purposes, and with a small amount of poetic license, here is Braveheart:

Wallace: Sons of Scotland (Dallas), I am William Wallace (Dirk Nowitzki).

Young soldier: William Wallace (Dirk Nowitzki) is 7 feet tall.

Wallace: Yes, I've heard. Kills men by the hundreds, and if he were here he'd consume the English (Spurs) with fireballs from his eyes and bolts of lightning from his arse. I am William Wallace (Dirk Nowitzki). And I see a whole army of my countrymen here in defiance of tyranny. You have come to fight as free men, and free men you are. What would you do without freedom? Will you fight?

Veteran soldier: Fight? Against that? No, we will run; and we will live.

Wallace: Aye, fight and you may die. Run and you'll live -- at least a while. And dying in your beds many years from now, would you be willing to trade all the days from this day to that for one chance, just one chance to come back here and tell our enemies that they may take our lives, but they'll never take our freedom (Series)!!!

Wallace and Soldiers: Alba gu bra! (Scotland (Mavericks) forever!)

I know there is plenty more to write about: The Champions League Final, The Rangers, Amazing Race, The Clippers, The NHL Final 4, and everything else. Sorry. I am too focused. Game 6 tonight.

Beat SA. And Feel Free to Boo them all.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Game 5: Spurs 98, Mavs 97 (Mavs 3-2)

I hate to say, “what are you going to do?”. But, “what are you going to do?” Think about it. You have a night to eliminate the World Champions on their home court. They throw everything at you. Everything. Even Spurs fans were admitting that they cannot play much better than they did in Game 5. You are at their place. With their fans. And their stars playing like stars.

And you still have a shot to win it. A good one. And a rebound.

Sure, it doesn’t fall, but did we learn something in Game 5 that these two teams have been trying to explain for the last week and a half? That the Dallas Mavericks are now a good enough team that they can take the best punch the San Antonio Spurs have to offer over and over again and can still shrug it off and win? Time will tell. But, honestly, with both teams doing everything they can to beat the other, I am amazed at how good the Mavericks have become. And despite the fact that San Antonio stayed alive by the skin of their teeth, the Mavs should not fear what lies ahead.

They have every chance to win this series on Friday. And, based on the first 3 games in the Alamo city, they will have every chance to win in Game 7 on Monday if it is necessary.

All credit is due to the Spurs for gutting out a win, but I think the Mavericks earned a lot of credit from those Spurs last night, too. The Mavericks and Spurs both showed immense resolve last night. What else is new? Both of these teams have played 3 classics in a row and someone is a few days from their offseason. Nice job of seeding, David Stern.

And now, exclusive Bob’s Blog Observations for Game 5:

• It is almost impossible to explain the performances of Tim Duncan. He has always been great, but I wonder if he has ever been this good. It is almost comical, as Diop, Dampier, and Dirk do everything they can to try to complicate matters for Duncan, but he still shrugs it off and scores again. For a guy coming off a pretty poor season, he is amazing.

• Dirk was everything you want your superstar to be last night. I wonder about the tip in at the end of the game, but for 48 minutes, Dirk wanted the ball and knew what to do with it. Give credit to the Spurs and Bruce Bowen for surviving those last 10 seconds, but Dirk had to make a Mavericks fan proud last night with his two large cajones.

• How about that zone? The Spurs took an 81-71 lead late in the 3rd, and Avery called a timeout and applied a zone defense for the first time in the series. All that did is get about 4 stops in a row, and allowed the Mavericks to cut the deficit prior to the 4th Quarter. I don’t know if you were unaware of this, but Avery Johnson is a basketball genius.

• I enjoyed driving back to the hotel last night and hearing generic Spurs announcer tell me in the post game show, “finally the refs got it right”. Kinda weird, the refs are good when the Spurs win, and the refs suck when the Spurs lose.

• I do have to hand it to Spurs fan. Wow. That is a crowd that is absurd. My ears still hurt. They cheer a basket in the 1st Quarter like it is the game winner. I have no idea how they keep it up for 3 hours, but they really do. That place is loud, and those fans are as advertised. Nuts.

• Manu Ginobili is really clutch on defense. So is Bruce Bowen, obviously, but in the last three games, there have been numerous occasions when Manu sticks his hands in a play and screws up a Mavericks possession. Very underrated on defense, I think.

• The Spurs have dude cheerleaders. I am not kidding. Discuss.

• I am not positive, but I am doubting last night was one of those nights where Keith Van Horn felt he was in the zone. 4 fouls in 3 minutes is a tough way to return to action. Just a reminder to anyone who forgot: The 1997 NBA Draft’s top 3 picks was #1 Tim Duncan, #2 Keith Van Horn, and #3 Chauncey Billups. Rank them.

• I have said it before and I will say it again: I don’t think the winner of this series will have a whole lot left in the tank. Do not underestimate the meat grinder that this series has become.

• You didn’t think that this was going to be easy, did you? Those Spurs were not going quietly. Now, the Mavericks need to hit the accelerator. Game 6 will be the 4th game in 7 days, which has to benefit the Mavericks younger legs. Game 6 will be in Dallas which has to benefit the Mavericks. This is an opportunity that you really don’t want to let pass by.

• Tony Parker has got to be one of the 3 best point guards in the NBA. There is really no way you can convince me he is not.

• Barkley took a shot at the Mavericks for celebrating too much after Game 4. I did not see the Game 5 comments, but let me tell you, the Spurs were pretty freaking happy after Dirk missed that shot. I am sure he let them have it, right.

• Mavericks offensive game plan: Find Finley, Van Exel, or Barry, and whoever they are guarding gets the ball. Repeat until they are taken out of the game. Then, find Finley, Van Exel, or Barry, and whoever they are guarding gets the ball. Repeat.

• Spurs offensive game plan: Post up Duncan. Repeat.

• I cannot wait for Friday night. This should be great.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Wednesday - Game 5

Shortest Blog in sometime as I have to get to Love Field immediately. Game 5 tonight should be excellent. I look forward to the anti-Mavs, anti-Refs atmosphere. I must also concede my confidence level is reasonably low for success tonight for the Mavericks, but let’s all remember their road performance is awesome. A win tonight is advisable given the consequences of a loss. No one should take the urgency of closing these guys out lightly.

As for the Rangers, 3 Blown Saves in 1 night. Nice.

Noted Spurs Homer Buck Harvey pulls out the “I believe” column

I believe bad calls happen to good people.

I believe Mark Cuban had nothing to do with either game in Dallas. He doesn't intimidate refs; he irritates them. If anything, the officials should want to make sure they don't have to see Cuban in another round.

I believe conspiracy talk is both fun and fiction. David Stern will celebrate the elimination of the small market that has eroded his TV ratings over the last number of years, but the sentiment doesn't seep to the game itself.

And I believe something else. I believe the Spurs, right or wrong, are seething. They think they should be coming home with the series tied, at worst, and they think others have stopped this from happening.

Unlike other teams who have faced historic deficits in the playoffs, the Spurs don't feel beaten as much as they feel abused.


But can the Spurs win a home game tonight? Can they then go back to Dallas, where they were within two plays of winning two games, and steal one? If that happens, how will the Mavericks feel about coming back to San Antonio for a Game 7?
I believe it can happen.

Because I've seen it before.

Chuck Carlton, who I don’t believe lived here before 2000, rates the top 10 playoff moments in Mavericks history …as a fellow transplant, I think I might have tried to find someone who was here for the 80’s runs, but that is just me….

Ramonce Taylor on my space

And now, an email:

To the guy in the next cubicle over,

You continuously seem to mention that Tim Duncan whines about fouls and the like, but you always fail to mention that Dirk is just as bad. I know you are just being a homer, but please recognize that Duncan isn’t the only one on the court whining.
I am the rare Mavs and Spurs fan, I grew up going to Mavs games all the time and am a huge fan ever since the days of Tony Dumas, Doug Smith, and Donald Hodge, but I also grew up admiring the player and person that David Robinson was and is. So, I appreciate both teams and what their players can do, and my feelings on this series are pretty much a wash since I am ok with either team winning, but you have to admit that as bad as Duncan is about fouls, Dirk can be just as whiny and act just as surprised as well.

Just my thoughts.

Later, P1,

First off, nobody should be allowed to claim that they like both teams. Pick one. Second, the difference between Tim Duncan and Dirk Nowitzki is that one has been thought of as a soft whiner his whole career and one is thought of as possibly the finest player of this generation. I am simply making sure people are aware of Duncan’s annoying habit that he has developed more and more since David Robinson has retired.

Got a plane to catch.

Beat SA. Party on, Garth.