Nowitzki's 44 Points Help Dallas to Avoid Being SweptOn a night when the Atlanta Hawks fought valiantly--but unsuccessfully--to avoid being swept, the Dallas Mavericks showed that they will not go down without a fight. Dirk Nowitzki scored 44 points, grabbed a game-high 13 rebounds and shot a sizzling 14-25 from the field to lead the Mavs to their first win in four tries versus the Denver Nuggets. Nowitzki scored 19 points in the fourth quarter, including a tough fadeaway jumper with 1:05 remaining to put Dallas ahead for good, the Mavericks' first lead since early in the first quarter. Josh Howard, playing on two bad ankles, had 21 points and 11 rebounds, while Jason Kidd added 13 points, 10 rebounds and six assists while committing just one turnover. Carmelo Anthony scored a playoff career-high 41 points in defeat and also had 11 rebounds and five steals. Chauncey Billups added 24 points and a game-high seven assists.
The Nuggets led by as many as 14 points and were up by two points with less than two minutes remaining but Nowitzki just would not let Dallas lose. This series is one bad call away from being tied 2-2, so it will be interesting to see if the Mavericks simply wanted to avoid being swept/ending their season with a homecourt loss or if they will really put some pressure on the Nuggets by winning game five in Denver and forcing the series back to Dallas for game six.
It should be noted that the Nuggets were without the services of defensive stopper Chris Andersen, who was battling some kind of stomach ailment. Without his shotblocking presence, the Mavericks shot .506 from the field, their best performance in this series.
As for the much discussed foolish and classless act that Dallas owner Mark Cuban committed after game three--when Cuban walked up to Kenyon Martin's mother in the stands, pointed in her face and called her son either a "thug" or a "punk" (depending on which account you believe, but Cuban does not deny making a derogatory remark)--this is an excellent example of a major problem in society: some people think that because they have money, fame or a certain kind of status that they can just do whatever they want to do with no consequences. Science fiction writer Robert Heinlein once imagined a society in which people treat each other civilly because all of the adults were licensed to carry firearms and trained to properly use them; while that may be a bit extreme--and I'm not sure that it would work in real world practice as smoothly as it worked in his story--there is some truth to the idea that if stupid, insensitive and/or boorish people truly believed that there would be an immediate consequence for bad conduct then they would exercise better control over their impulses.
When Hugh Douglas, the self-proclaimed "bad-assador" of the Philadelphia Eagles, suggested that then-Eagle Terrell Owens had exaggerated the extent of an injury, Owens--who risked his career to play in Super Bowl XXXIX with a serious ankle injury--fought Douglas in the locker room and then asked if there were any other takers; I have always thought that it was laugh out loud funny that someone would call himself a "bad-assador," have the temerity to question someone else's toughness and then promptly get put in his place but this fits in with something that I have observed in many different situations: real tough guys don't have to tell you how tough they are because when push comes to shove--literally or figuratively--they will show you, while fake tough guys talk big but never really do much. I'm more impressed by Owens playing at a high level in a Super Bowl on one leg than I am by some guy calling himself "bad-assador" (for that matter, I'm more impressed by Nowitzki scoring 44 points and getting 13 rebounds in an elimination game than I am by players who thrust out their chests and act tough but have never made a big shot or grabbed a tough rebound in their entire lives). Maybe Owens' response seems extreme to some people's sensibilities but sometimes if someone has the nerve to question your character and your manhood you have to answer in the only way a bully understands. Obviously, Martin would do himself more harm than good by dealing with Cuban in that fashion but the disgusting thing is that Cuban knows that and thinks that gives him license to say and do whatever he wants. Cuban's conduct was completely out of line and the NBA should step in with a heavy fine and/or other disciplinary action. The NBA has a code of conduct for its players and its fans and apparently it needs one for its owners as well.
posted by David Friedman @ 7:20 AM