If all it takes to earn a reputation for toughness is a couple of confirmed badass stories that can morph into tall tales in due time, Dirk Nowitzki might be on his way to shedding that “soft” label he’s had hung on him for years by his harshest critics. In the second quarter of Mavs/Rockets, Dirk was driving the lane when his elbow caught Carl Landry in the mouth — or more accurately, his elbow caught some of Carl Landry’s mouth — while drawing a foul. Multiple teeth were lost in the collision, one of them, amazingly, wound up embedded in Dirk’s elbow flesh. Gross. Dirk gets tough-guy points for shooting the ensuing free throws with his left hand and even making one, but he also might lose some points with some people because he left the game after that and didn’t return. Landry also had to leave and didn’t come back. Now if only this were the era before everybody could get it on camera, the story would have blown up into Dirk dunking on Landry with his head above the rim and coming down with Landry’s entire lower row of teeth lodged in his armpit … After things returned to basketball from the UFC interruption, the playoff intensity jacked up a notch. Jason Kidd (8 pts, 11 rebs, 10 asts, 4 stls) and David Andersen got into a fourth-quarter spat when Kidd doled out a shoulder-check that gave poor Luis Scola a Derek Fisher flashback, then a few minutes later, Erick Dampier got a tech following an Aaron Brooks flagrant foul. (6-11, 270-pound Damp squaring up on Brooks, who looks like a middle schooler, was hilarious.) … The Rockets led by 10 with four and a half minutes to go, but J-Kidd and Shawn Marion sparked a quick comeback, and Tim Thomas forced overtime when he buried a corner three with 10 seconds left. In OT, though, Brooks scored nine of his 25 points as the Rockets pulled away. Kyle Lowry added 26 points, 10 dimes and five steals in the win … Just last week we debated whether Gilbert Arenas or Monta Ellis is the better player right now. And apparently Gilbert didn’t think we argued his side hard enough. Hibachi dumped 45 points (15-25 FG, 11-16 FT) on the Warriors on national TV, and before you could say he was just gunning, he threw in 13 assists to boot. By far his best performance of the season, Arenas was sharp on his cuts and drives to the lane, his jumper was feathery, and he expertly danced the fine line between forcing it and being aggressive … And it’s not even like G-State defended Arenas like they did Brandon Jennings when he gave them 55. The Warriors were going over screens instead of under them, and they weren’t just letting Arenas shoot, but he still ate them up … So Allen Iverson sat out Philly’s game at Boston, and of course the Sixers — who’d been 0-12 against teams with winning records and 1-4 overall with Iverson in the lineup — pulled off the upset without him. And now Lou Williams is reportedly coming back from his broken jaw sooner than expected, Jrue Holiday has been improving, and we smell a PG PT controversy brewing … The Sixers were down one with 23 ticks left after KG hit go-ahead free throws, and went to Marreese Speights to win it. He missed a short jumper, but Elton Brand sealed off Paul Pierce and got a tip-in for the game-winner … What was Mike Fratello talking about by calling Pierce “small” when he was breaking down Brand’s play on NBA TV? The Czar did it multiple times, too. Which Paul Pierce has he been watching? … As Chris Paul was completely dominating Hornets/Nuggets (FYI, Chauncey Billups was out), we wondered if anybody had ever put up 30 points and 20 assists in one game. It turns out, according to basketball-reference.com, it’s been done five times since the ’86-87 season: Magic, Fat Lever and Mahmoud Abdul-Rauf did it, and Kevin Johnson did it TWICE. Paul finished with 30 and 19. He also had nine boards, so we had to see if anybody had ever done a 30-10-20 triple-double, and found out Magic and Lever were the only ones. Insanity … Other big stat lines from Friday: LeBron had 26 points, 10 boards and eight dimes to beat the Bucks; Kevin Durant scored 27 as OKC knocked off Detroit; Josh Smith had 16 points, five steals, and like 46 dunks as the Hawks routed the Jazz; Kevin Love put up 20 points and 16 boards in a rare Wolves win over Sacramento; Amir Johnson‘s 18 points led seven Raptors who scored in double-figures to beat the Nets; and David Lee posted 25 and 11 boards as New York edged the Clippers … That low rumbling you heard in the middle of the night was every basketball purist on the planet turning over in their graves at what happened during Pacers/Grizzlies. Tyler Hansbrough, Everybody’s All-American and the purist’s idol, went up against the (allegedly) lazy, undisciplined slacker that is Zach Randolph — and Tyler got DONE UP. In one fourth-quarter sequence, Z-Bo took Hansbrough down low for an and-one, then blocked Psycho T’s shot twice on the same possession on the other end, then iced a jumper in his grill that was essentially the dagger. Zach finished with 26 points, 16 boards and three blocks, and we heard he made Dick Vitale cry … We’re out like Landry’s teeth …
Smack / Dec 19, 2009 / 7:09 am
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