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Game 3: Nuggets 106 - Mavs 105

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Mr. Clutch is born

 

"I have hit a lot of big shots in my short career, but never in a situation like this," (Carmelo) Anthony said. "It was a thin line between 2-1 and 3-0."

"I think this is about as tough a loss as I've been a part of in my 11 years in the league," (Dirk) Nowitzki said.

Those two quotes sum up the game. Those two quotes are the story of the game. But I think we all know what the louder voices are … the voices that want to detract from a great shot. Rick Carlisle, Antonie Wright, and Mark Cuban made their voices heard after the game. But Dallas player, teammate, and employee Jason Kidd said it best:

"The game didn't come down to that last play," Dallas guard Jason Kidd said. "You've got to make plays down the stretch, and we just didn't do that."

When Jason Terry hit that three-point with just 00:31 left in the game he put the Mavs up 105-101 and that should have been the dagger. But the Mavs once again failed to play defense and allowed Melo to get free for a pretty dunk just three seconds later to cut the lead to 105-103.

With just 00:28 ticks left I think the whole building knew that Dirk would be taking the final Dallas shot. Dirk took the ball to the free throw line and took his famous fall away shot that he’s made consistently in the series and in his career, but when it counted he clanked it right off the front of the rim.

Just like J.R. Smith did the game before right before the half … Dirk took the shot with just a little too much time left on the shot clock. His fall away left his hands with 6 seconds remaining on the shot clock and 10 remaining on the game clock. Understandably you want to take that shot when you're open and not be rushed, but had the German held the ball for just a few more seconds then Denver may have never had an opportunity to get off the game winner.

Here is the NBA's statement:  "At the end of the Dallas-Denver game this evening, the officials missed an intentional foul committed by Antoine Wright on Carmelo Anthony, just prior to Anthony's three-point basket," Joel Litvin, NBA president of league and basketball operations, said in a statement issued by the league about two hours after the game.

And here is what was said in some ESPN stories this morning. (Full articles here and here)

"Unfortunately, in a game where there were 61 fouls called, an official decides not to call a foul when we were trying to give one," Carlisle said. "It's just a shame, because Mark's a good official, an experienced official. I assume they know we have a foul to give and we would take it in that situation. I'm yelling at Antoine: 'Get him, get him, take it.' And no whistle blows. It's just extremely disappointing.

"I'm almost as disappointed for Mark as I am for us. That's a call he makes 100 percent of the time."

Said Cuban: "I'm not saying anything. You saw it all."

"Antoine was so sure he fouled him," Carlisle said, "he stopped."

"What do you want me to do?" Wright asked. "Do you want me to Derek Fisher him, just take him out and then I get a flagrant foul late in the game?"

Am I going to disagree with the NBA and the Dallas coach, owner, and player? You better believe it.

Carlisle said he wanted Wright to “Get him, get him, take it.” Well, Wright did not follow suit. Would a “Derek Fisher” be warranted on that final play? Of course not, but a simple bear hug would have been suffice. Wright, instead, attempted to steal the ball and came up empty with just a slight bump and then threw his hands into the air as if to say, “I didn’t touch him!” We’ve all seen that 1,000 times. And Melo did his part.

Melo took the ball across the court and buried his three-pointer from the elbow right in front of the Dallas bench. George Karl is all too familiar with missed calls on Melo.

Back on March 21st Karl had this to say after a Denver win against Washington:

“Melo gets beat up more than any player in the NBA without getting a whistle,’’ Karl said. “I watch game after game after game and Melo gets smacked. Smacked, and doesn’t get a whistle.’’

So, for Denver it was just more of the same.

I wonder what would have been said if Melo would have missed that shot? Fortunately—Melo and the Nuggets don’t have to worry about it as Denver was on the right side of that thin line and took a commanding 3-0 lead in the series.

Player Notes:

Dallas:

  • Dirk had a nice game. I would say he had a fantastic game if he would have been able to seal the win on his fall away from the foul line. Dirk came out after all the spotlight on his private life and put up 33 points on 9-19 shooting, including 13-15 from the foul line and 16 rebounds. Unfortunately, the whispers or roars about his clutchness (made up word) remain.

  • Brandon Bass was a factor off the bench. He was active and provided a spark for the Mavs. I didn’t realize it until looking at the final numbers, but Bass was 12-14 from the foul line and scored 16 points. Dallas will need his performance again in Game 4.

  • Josh Howard was a factor yesterday. I questioned if he’d be able to be a factor and he proved he could be. Howard scored 14 points on 5-15 shooting and corralled 7 rebounds. His toughness cannot be questioned as he put on an inspiring performance.

 

Denver:

  • Melo! He played 41 minutes, shot 9-24 from the field (yuck) … including 2-2 from deep (guess which 3 was more important??) and 11-14 from the foul line for 31 huge points. He added 8 rebounds, 2 assists, and 2 steals to his totals. Billups is calling Melo “Mr. Clutch” and I think I’ll follow suit. And think about this … Melo finished with 5 fouls … that’s how close that shot was to never happening.

  • Billups … Mr. Big Shot played 41 minutes and went 9-16 from the field (3-7 from deep and 11-12 from the charity stripe) for 32 points. CB7 only turned in 3 assists, but he probably could have had more if the Nuggets shoot better than their miserable 42% for the game.

  • Nene … where’d the aggression go? The Predator (hair makes him look like the Predator) got in foul trouble (like everyone on the floor) and played only 30 minutes. He shot 2-10 from the field (1-2 F.T.) for 5 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. He had opportunities to slam the ball down and instead took the layup and missed a few easy shots. He’d better get back to his game one and two form because without his aggression Denver loses that inside presence he provides.

  • KMart … he had a quiet, but nice night. He went 5-6 from the field (2-2 F.T.) for 12 points and grabbed 4 rebounds. I liked his effort on the offensive glass with 3 boards. When he’s attacking the rim when his teammates are shooting you’ll see those highlight reel put-backs like he had last night.

  • Dahntay Jones … played 14 minutes going 3-4 from the field (2-2 F.T.) for 8 points. And his Sportscenter Top 10 highlight posterization of Erick Dampier was just NASTAY as runningdonut said in the game thread.

  • The bench scored just 18 points last night … 10 from J.R. and 5 from Bird. They’ll have to play much better in Game 4. Andersen found himself in foul trouble and even got vocal with the refs last night … Bird doesn’t argue a lot of calls as he knows he wont get them, so to see him argue told me something.

 

Views you can use:

  • Denver grabbed 13 offensive rebounds yesterday. Second chance points kept Denver in the game early. It was mind boggling that Denver wasn’t down 15 or 20 after how poorly they opened the game.

  • Dallas out-rebounded Denver 46-41.

  • Denver lost the personal foul war 34-27 … what a sloppy and poorly officiated game from both sides. I think the phrase; “let them play” was probably muttered over 15 million times yesterday from all fans.

  • Dallas went 40-49 from the foul line / Denver was 32-40. 72 points from the charity stripe accounted for 34.1% of the scoring.

  • Denver improved on their three-point shooting in the series going 6-15 from deep (40%) … they previously were shooting just 30% from deep, but 37% in the regular season (law of averages.)

 

Final thought:

From the Denver Post:

After the game, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban was volcanic, screaming obscenities near press row, even getting into a yelling match with Kenyon Martin's mom, who happened to be sitting nearby. Cuban was also seen shoving a cameraman.

Sometimes, Stan Kroenke’s silence is golden.

 

 

ntimmons73@yahoo.com