Dallas Mavericks 119, Denver Nuggets 117

Posted by Rob Mahoney on May 12, 2009 under Recaps | 18 Comments to Read

Photo by AP Photo/Matt Slocum.

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Little strokes fell great oaks.
-Benjamin Franklin

Our man Dirk sure knows how to put on a show.

In a game where the anarchy of flagrant and technical fouls ruled, Dirk was able to make order out of chaos.  He was never involved in the game’s numerous entanglements, not once caught fuming with uncontrollable anger or demonstrating anything but the desperation and calculated resolve that makes him such a force.  The result?  Dirk poured in for 19 in the fourth quarter, the importance of which is amplified by the Mavs’ narrow margin of victory.  The Mavs needed every single point to reel in a victory that desperately tried to escape their grasp.  Though this time, no near-foul, heart-breaking shot, or referee could stand in their way.

Plus, how’s this for irony: the Mavs were feeding off of the energy of Antoine Wright wrapping up Carmelo Anthony in the way that he was ‘supposed to’ at the end of Game 3.  After Anthony grabbed an offensive rebound early in the second quarter with the Nuggets nursing a 14-point lead, Antoine Wright wrapped up his arms to foul him on the floor.  For seconds after the whistle blew, Wright refused to let go of Anthony’s arm.  Carmelo wasn’t all too pleased about that, and responded by trying to push AW off, only to maybe possibly kind of catch a bit of Wright’s cheek.  The implications of which were much more significant than a simple technical foul; the Mavs and the crowd were awakened to fight off the surging Nuggs, and a game that seemed destined for a blowout was suddenly altered into a competitive affair.

The Dirk takeover had commenced, and it was really one of those nights.  One of those nights where Dirk’s greatness can hardly be quantified, but also one of those nights where the numbers (44 points on 25 shots, 13 rebounds, 3 assists, 16-17 FT) turn out quite beautifully.  Dirk’s attack was as captivating as it was methodical, as he used every trick in his book and then some to lure the Nuggets’ defenders into fouls, including an insatiable desire to score at the rim.  K-Mart, Nene, Melo, whatever; Dirk took advantage of whoever was guarding him, turning every matchup into a problem with his footwork, balance, and silky smooth jumper.  More coming on Dirk in a later post.

Carmelo Anthony (41 points on 29 shots, 11 rebounds, 5 steals) provided the perfect foil for Dirk.  Whereas Dirk’s moves were calm, planned, and deliberate, Melo’s game represented the brash improvisation and spontaneity that makes him such an effective scorer.  His pull-up jumpers were exclamation points, and each steal and subsequent fast break dunk a flurry of its own.  Melo’s night was exemplified by his clutch, hard-hitting three pointer with just seconds remaining, a chilling reenactment of his Game 3 shot that pulled a seeminglysafe four-point lead into an ever-vulnerable two-point one.  I’m just glad that this time around, that shot was dangerous and not deadly.  It’s also certainly worth noting that J.R. Smith went absolutely hog wild on huge, game-changing jumpers.  Some of his attempts deserved to go in and other’s didn’t (a certain straight-on bank shot, perhaps?), but Smith bailed the Nuggs out of many a shot clock violation by hitting important shot after important shot.

Though Dirk was undoubtedly the shining star (and the Gold Star, hint-hint), he couldn’t have done it without some help from his friends.  Josh Howard gimped his way to 21 points and 11 rebounds, and though his shot selection in the fourth very nearly cost the Mavs the game, they couldn’t have even been in this game without him.  J.J. Barea (10 points, 5-8 FG) and Brandon Bass (11 points, 4-6 FG) were able to get easy baskets at difficult times, and Jason Terry (12 points, 3 rebounds, 3 assists) made his presence felt in spite of foul trouble.  Roll all of that up into a ball with superior team defense (though you’d never guess it based on Carmelo’s totals), a much more dependable Jason Kidd, and world’s finest Dirk Nowitzki, and you’ve got yourself a win.

Sad team defense is often tough to point out in the box score, but it was clear that in these last two games, the Mavs were much more willing to prevent Denver’s transition attack and contest many (notably not all) of the Nuggets’ attempts in the paint.  Of course that starts with the perimeter guys — Kidd, Howard, Wright, Terry, Barea — but relies on the rotation of bigs like Dampier, Bass, and Dirk to make things work.  This is one area in particular where I thought Dirk Nowitzki excelled, and though his individual defense may not have received any of the spotlight, his effectiveness on that end should not go unnoticed.  He and Bass proved that they can work together as a defensive tandem and still be effective, which means quite a bit for the team’s most efficient offensive frontcourt.

Closing thoughts:

  • Please, please, please, NBA, have some consistency with the flagrant calls.  The Mavs were called for two very iffy flagrants to finish the 2nd quarter, one of which, combined with a technical arguing the play and a Melo bucket, turned a 5-point deficit into a 10-point one at the buzzer.  I remain convinced the fouls on Kleiza and J.R. Smith were just that, fouls.
  • The Birdman didn’t suit up for this one due to some severe stomach cramps.
  • I’d feel bad if I didn’t single out Brandon Bass by name for praise for his defense.  Erick Dampier racked up six fouls in just 23 minutes, so Bass played a huge role in keeping Nene to a very mortal 9 points and 8 rebounds.  Essentially, Nene has been the difference between a nail-biter and a blowout for the Nuggets.  When he’s on his A-game, they can just roll over teams.  But when a physical defender really digs in and gives him trouble, their offense can really struggle.
  • The Mavs won the battle of the offensive boards 9-6 and got the win.  That’s no coincidence.

GOLD STAR OF THE NIGHT: Come on.  Seriously?  Do you have to ask?  Dirk Nowitzki.  No-brainer.

  • Brandon

    George Karl: “I would probably use an uglier word than hostile, but I’m not going to do that right now. I don’t think it was very classy. I’ve been in hostile buildings, but you can do it in a classy way.”

    Pardon me? Did the head coach of the Denver Nuggets just use the word “classy”? Twice??? The Denver Nuggets? Are we talking about class now all of a sudden, George? Well, I’m so glad things will be different back in Denver. We’ll see.

  • Chaz

    Great win. Dirk was a beast and every free throw helped.
    And did Denver not expect a hostile environment in an elimination game against a team that just got hosed over two days earlier? You’d think the team up 3-1, and especially their coach, would shrug it off their back and simply state they won’t be returning to Dallas.

  • Dennis

    You have no right talking about class with an owner like Cuban. I wouldnt support the Mavs if they paid me. Cuban is a racists bigot. I know when he was pointing and yelling at K-Marts mom he wanted to call him and her the N BOMB. Instead he holds back and says thug and punk. There is a special place in hell for people like him and all the fans who support him. I kinda glad Denver lost game 4 it give them a chance to practice at home before the real series starts.

  • Shutupbron

    Pardon me? Did the head coach of the Denver Nuggets just use the word “classy”? Twice??? The Denver Nuggets? Are we talking about class now all of a sudden, George? Well, I’m so glad things will be different back in Denver. We’ll see.

    He was talking about how extra security and police that had to be called in to protect the Nuggets bench and Denver Executives and family of players in the stands. They were getting things thrown at them, beer dumped on them, and various other items. You might want to check out what was happening. Mavs fans are getting publicity in the bad way on National Radio for what was going on.

  • Jason Wilder

    Just 2 notes on 3-0 series deficits and coming back.

    1) Dirk should know it could be done, he was on a team that blew a 3-0 series lead and just barely hung on to win game 7 (2003 vs. Portland in the first round).

    2) The whole idea is that no one has come back from 3-0 is still true, though flawed a bit. The fact is, Dallas isn’t down 3-0 anymore, they are down 3-1. Yes, the chances are still long, but the ORDER of the losses makes no impact upon the future outcome of the games (they could have won Game 3, or Game 1, it makes no difference know, they are down 3-1).

    I liken it to flipping a coin and having it land the same way 10 times in a row. Virtually impossible. But once you toss it and get 7 in a row and only need the last three, the probabilities are much shorter, and the fact that you’ve already tossed tails 7 times in a row doesn’t affect the probabilities on toss #8, it is still 50-50.

    Back to basketball, while I Make the Mavs less than even for Game 5, it is not out of the question. The odds for 3-1 down are a LOT better than 3-0, and more so when one compares 3-2 to 3-1. Plus, outside of Billups, I think Denver is fragile upstairs. Plus, my sense of justice wants Dallas to at least get it back to 3-2 to mirror the 2-1 lead that should have been.


  • Chaz

    Dennis, way to suppose what Cuban “wanted” to stay. Martin’s been considered a thug for years, not just this week.
    Also, Shutupbron, a few Mavs fans may have been unruly, but there are also reports of Melo’s girlfriend being the first one to dumb beer. So her actions are ok if other people react to that? There’s way too much supposing going on. It’s a shame that not even a five-second comment by Cuban has been blown up so much and now things are being so criticized. People act like idiots when they drink, and no one fanbase is “better” than another. There was an idiot Nuggets fan out where I watched the game last night, but nobody started crap with him. The actions of a small group really shouldn’t be applied to a whole fanbase, even if it makes for good listening on National Radio. They’ll overreact to anything if it keeps you listening.

  • Chaz

    Hah, I meant “say” instead of “say” and “dump” instead of “dumb”…maybe I had too much fun watching the game last night. :) At least we get to enjoy this win.

  • Ryan

    dude, that was amazinnnggggg

    JJ the jet plane in the fourth with that layup got me riled up, Brandon bass is really starting to charm me, and it was really nice to see the Mavs knock one down for Dirk. Dirk’s trying to distract himself with basketball- shouldn’t the team give him that at least?

  • Dennis

    Mavs fans suck. And Cuban swallows. Looks like he has a lot of confidence in his team by going to Vegas for to
    receive some dumb a$$ award.

  • Loki

    Shoot, we all knew the refs would hand this one to the Mavs if it was close at the end, given that the League apologized for the end of Game 3. Denver needed a 10 point lead with 4:00 to go to win it, and they didn’t get that done. So be it. Bird will presumably be back for game 5, and Dallas won’t get the same late calls in Denver. It’ll be another 10+ point win.

  • Dennis

    quit crying about the “no call”. Melo had a better chance of missing that shot than making it. What if Melo missed the shot would you be complaining? There were a lot of ticky tack calls against Denver too. The Mave are not going to lose the series because of that 1 call, there going to lose because they are inferior to Denver.

  • Dennis

    For the Mavs fans that cant read at a 4th grade level, by inferior i mean Denver IS the BETTER TEAM!!

  • Dennis

    How can u even defend someone like Cuban? Kharma is a emmefer and as long as Cuban is at the helm The Mavs can will get exactly what they deserve. A one way ticket to loserville.

  • Brandon

    Dennis, I’m pretty sure I learned how to spell “they’re” well before 4th grade. You are the quintessential Thugget fan. They should add you to the payroll – thanks for the laugh.

  • Dennis

    if thats what helps you sleep at night to think of the Nuggets as thugs and thats why the Mavs can only win 1 out of 8 games against my thugs. Cuban is the biggest Thug of all.

  • Brian D

    I think Dennis is actually a Mavs fan, all of those posts are so over-the-top comical that I’m convinced it’s satire.

  • Chaz

    The current state of Mavs “loserville” is much more welcome than before Cuban bought the team. I’m sure most of us remember the seasons when the Mavs couldn’t even top 25 wins. Being losers by making it to the second round of the playoffs (or even the Finals in 06) is much better than those years. Good luck to your team, Dennis, in trying to get to the NBA Finals. It’s a thrilling experience. And have fun dealing with some of the Lakers fans in the next round if you think Mavs fans are actually rather bad or homerish.

  • Jonas

    that woman game.com?