All at once, it seemed every allegation of being soft, of having no heart, of choking under the bright lights was coming true for Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks. When the Spurs scored the first seven points of last night’s do-or-die (for Dallas) Game 6, then went ahead 22-8 to end the first quarter, then pushed the lead by 21 in the second quarter while Dirk had four first-half fouls hanging over his head, it looked like it would go down as Dallas’ worst bed-wetting since the ’06 NBA Finals … It was easy to see why the Mavs were getting smoked: Almost every shot they took was a long jumper or a fadeaway, and the few times Caron Butler or Jason Terry actually went to the rack, they either got blocked at the rim or clobbered with no foul call … But then the second half was an entirely different story. Dirk (33 pts) kept his hands to himself and started dropping savage buckets, Caron (25 pts) got on a roll, and Rodrigue Beaubois (16 pts) came off the bench going at Tim Duncan‘s neck like it was personal … Multiple times down the stretch the Mavs got within one bucket — they even took the lead for about five seconds in the third quarter — but Duncan or Manu Ginobili (26 pts, 10-12 FT) always had a response when the Spurs seemed to be losing momentum. Duncan (17 pts, 10 rebs, 3 blks, 3 stls) put it into “domination” mode defensively, and Manu hit the free throws in the final seconds to officially close it out … And then there was George Hill. Seeing as he destroyed the Mavs in Game 4, they already know what he’s capable of, but there was still no answer for him. Some of Dirk’s more silly fouls happened because Hill (21 pts) baited him, and in the second half Hill knocked down some huge threes and one finger roll right in Dirk’s face … Who was the guy sitting in front of Eva Longoria with the bright pink shirt? That’s just not acceptable. And yes, the shirt was loud enough to draw eyes away from Eva Longoria … According to Reggie Miller, Eduardo Najera took a cab to the arena and was on the court three and a half hours before tip-off “to work on his game.” What exactly does that mean for Najera? Was he doling out flagrant fouls to the clean-up crew and security guards? Practicing diving on the floor for loose balls? … Suns/Blazers was also close down the stretch, though the outcome wasn’t the least bit surprising. Jason Richardson got off to a hot start, and we’ve told you enough times by now what that means: J-Rich scored 14 points in the game’s first seven minutes and finished with 28 and five treys. Phoenix was up by a dozen at halftime, but Portland rallied back behind the shooting of Martell Webster (19 pts, 3 threes) and Rudy Fernandez (16 pts, 5 threes) to make it a ballgame … Tied up with about eight minutes remaining in the fourth, J-Rich ran off three straight buckets as part of an 11-2 Phoenix run to help put it away and finish the series. Honestly, this just was not the Blazers’ year. Nate McMillan may have deserved Coach of the Year for squeezing 50 wins out of such an injury-riddled roster, and Brandon Roy showed warrior heart by coming back to play like a week after knee surgery, but this was as far as Portland could go … Maybe it’s just us, but it seems Amar’e has been getting a lot more layups lately. He had no problem taking LaMarcus Aldridge, Marcus Camby and Juwan Howard to the basket, when he got there he had more finger rolls than poster dunks. Maybe he’s saving all the fire and brimstone for Duncan in the next round … Speaking of, how great are things working out for the Spurs as a 7-seed? Beating the 2-seed Mavs isn’t even an upset given the history of the rivalry, and now San Antonio gets Phoenix, who might as well be paying them rent for the last five years. Steve Nash has enough problems trying to dig Tony Parker‘s foot from his ass; George Hill is longer and stronger than TP and could do some real mean things to Nash … Two pieces of history last night: Dallas became the first franchise to lose to an 8-seed and a 7-seed in a seven-game series, and Grant Hill made it out of the first round for the first time in his career. How long had this road been for Hill? In his playoff debut he started alongside Joe Dumars for the Pistons … We’re out like Dirk …
Smack / Apr 30, 2010 / 4:28 am
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