Facing elimination, Dirk Nowitzki played like Video Game Dirk last night. And not just because his numbers were ridiculous (44 pts, 13 rebs), but because video games can’t account for things like heart and nerves and a conscience, there was no trace of the big-game/crunch-time meltdown Dirk critics had come to expect. He was closer to a machine in the fourth quarter, scoring 19 in the quarter including the go-ahead bucket on a pretty fadeaway over K-Mart. Dirk added a couple free throws later to stretch the lead to four, but Carmelo hit a three with 3.1 seconds left to bring Denver within one. The Nuggets sent Jason Terry to the line, and after he missed the second freebie, ‘Melo didn’t even have enough time to get off his hopeless 90-foot prayer … If it wasn’t for Dirk, we’d all be talking about how Carmelo became a certified postseason beast in this series. ‘Melo dropped 41 points (15-29 FG) to go with 11 boards and five steals, and generally caused Antoine Wright to bleed from his eyes. But now the talk will be more about ‘Melo perhaps getting himself suspended for Game 5. In the second quarter, ‘Melo got tangled up with Wright and gave him a kind of slap/shove aimed at the face. The refs determined the contact was on the shoulder, which really just seemed like an excuse to keep ‘Melo in the game. From our view, it looked like he popped him on the cheek … In all there were seven technicals in the game: Terry, Wright, Dampier, Brandon Bass, Carmelo, Chauncey and Linas Kleiza … Loved Jason Kidd (13 pts, 10 rebs, 6 asts) and Chauncey (24 pts, 7 asts) going at each other like the two vets at the playground. One time Kidd burned Chauncey when he crossed him over and not only made him touch the floor, CB just froze altogether like he didn’t want to move and possibly break an ankle … For about five minutes, we could’ve bought C-Webb and Barkley‘s suggestion that the Hawks secretly wanted to just get things over with and get swept by the Cavs. After all, a loss last night meant the Hawks wouldn’t have to put off their inevitable summer break any longer, nor would they have to travel to “go home” since they were already in Atlanta. (We can’t confirm or deny the rumors that over the weekend Acie Law scheduled a “Season’s Over!” party for Tuesday night at ATL’s Dreamz nightclub.) … After keeping it close in the first half, the Hawks went scoreless for the first five minutes of the second, falling behind double-digits and looking ripe for the blowout everyone expected. Only ATL didn’t go away. Flip Murray started getting buckets, including a buzzer-beating runner at the end of the third, and the Hawks were right there at the start of the fourth quarter before the Cavs started slinging threes: LeBron, Delonte and Mo Williams were hitting ‘em down the stretch, while ATL couldn’t throw one in … Marvin Williams‘ least favorite sequence when he watches this game again on film: Early in the fourth when he got snuffed at the rim by Joe Smith, then got crammed on by Delonte (21 pts, 6 asts), sending the Cleveland bench into seizures … Mike Brown said in an interview aired during the game that LeBron reminds him of Tim Duncan with his basketball IQ. As if on cue, right after that Mo Williams tried to morph into Sik Wid It and turned the ball over on a botched spin move … Kenny Smith‘s new nickname for LeBron (27 pts, 8 rebs, 8 asts): “The Most Dangerous Man in the World.” How’s he just gonna jack DMX‘s handle like that? … Aside from the usual “rusty” versus “rested” stories we’re going to get as the Cavs wait for their conference finals matchup, here’s one potential red flag to think about: 14-for-26 at the line in Game Four. That’s 53 percent. And that’s with Ben Wallace only playing like 10 minutes a night … Another interesting point brought up by the TNT crew: Which direction should the Hawks go from here? Do they need to look at Joe Johnson (18 pts, 7 asts) and Josh Smith (26 pts, 8 rebs), decide to build around one, and trade the other? If that’s the case, we’d have to go with Joe even though he struggled throughout the playoffs. Josh is as much of a #1 Alpha Dog as Shawn Marion was in his prime. Which is to say, he isn’t … A couple coaching updates from around the League: The Suns removed Alvin Gentry‘s interim title and made him the official head coach (good move), while the Raptors did the same for Jay Triano (um…). And in what should come as a surprise to no one, the Warriors announced they’re done with Chris Mullin. If you’re St. John’s, don’t you have to at least explore the possibility of just letting Mullin run the show in some kind of director role and see if he can bring your program back to life? … We’re out like Joe and Josh …
Smack / May 12, 2009 / 6:05 am
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