Thirty-four seconds left in the game, Mavericks down by two to San Antonio, and where was their shiny new Hall of Fame point guard? On the bench. Jason Kidd (7 pts, 10 asts, 2 stls) hadn’t fouled out, and he hadn’t played a bad game; Avery Johnson simply went with a lineup of guys who are more familiar with Dallas’ playbook and (minus Dampier) were more likely than Kidd to knock down a jump shot. But then one of those guys, Jason Terry, ended up having his shot blocked by Bruce Bowen on the game-deciding play … Great back-and-forth game, with both teams simply doing what they do down the stretch and trading big-time shots: the Spurs fed Duncan (31 pts, 15 rebs) in the post, setting up kick-outs to Bowen and Mike Finley and drives by Tony Parker; the Mavs ran everything through Dirk (28 pts), who would either drop in a fadeaway or get to the line (17-for-21 FT’s). Duncan broke a tie by hitting a pair of free throws with 34 ticks remaining, after which Avery sat Kidd down and went with Dirk, Josh Howard, Terry, Stackhouse and Damp. Twice in the final seconds they went to Dirk, who missed while being guarded by Parker, then Terry got inside the lane only to get swatted by Bowen. In hindsight, genius move by Pop to not have Bowen guard Dirk, because there’s no way Parker makes that block … And what does that say about Dirk when teams will stick someone on him who’s a foot shorter for such a critical possession? … Earlier in the fourth, Brandon Bass had the best offensive sequence of his life, shaking Duncan from a face-up position and cramming on him, then on his next touch, blowing past Duncan again and getting fouled … Almost every quick guard in the League can get inside the paint off the dribble, but part of the reason why Tony Parker’s field goal percentage is so high is that he rarely loses his cool once he gets amongst the trees. He doesn’t leave his feet prematurely or unnecessarily, and he doesn’t panic if the initial shot isn’t there, preventing forced and wild shots … If you haven’t seen them yet, LeBron‘s got another version of the Zoom LeBron V’s out. Check out his “Mr. Basketball” kicks HERE … Is it us or has Kobe seemed a lot more angry with everyone (namely the refs) since the All-Star break? He recently got ejected in Seattle, was all over the refs during the Blazers game, and had his whiny face going early into Lakers/Heat last night. Has the realization that his team can realistically win a championship now kicked things into crucial mode for Kobe and he’s just locked in? Because his antics have been out of control at times, and yet no one has more leeway with the refs … The Lakers routed Miami to win their 10th straight, with Kobe putting up 21 points, 8 dimes and 4 steals, Jordan Farmar scoring 24, and four guys (Gasol, Odom, Turiaf and Walton) pulling down 10-plus rebounds … Play of the night: Kobe threw a long pass over his head downcourt for Walton, who caught it and in one motion dropped a behind-the-back dime to a streaking Odom, who finished it off with a dunk … Devin Harris punctuated his N.J. debut by crowning Andrew Bogut and notching 21 points and 5 dimes in a Nets win. Harris outplayed starter Marcus Williams, who won’t be starting for long … Everyone knew the Clippers were going to eventually get rid of Sam Cassell before Saturday so he could sign with the Celtics and get on their postseason roster, but we didn’t see the Theo Ratliff move coming from Minnesota. If the C’s hadn’t already grabbed P.J. Brown yesterday with their 14th roster spot (Cassell would be #15), what were the chances Ratliff would sign with Boston — meaning Kevin McHale had once again helped his old team? (The Celtics could get Ratliff if they waived Pollard or Scalabrine, but Doc obviously loves Scals and would never get rid of his worst player, and Pollard seems like a good locker-room fit.) If McHale is ever fired in Minnesota, how long will it take for him to get hired as Danny Ainge‘s assistant? Five minutes? Ten? Or maybe it serves Boston better to have McHale working for them from his post in Minnesota … So is this one of those unspoken agreements where no team is going to claim Cassell off waivers so he can go to Boston? Because it’d be hilarious if Sam was packing his bags for Beantown and he found out some team like the Bulls had picked him up for a late-season playoff push. In fact, couldn’t the Cavs use Cassell? … And how pissed is Antoine Walker that Ratliff gets to go and he’s still with the Wolves? We looked at ‘Toine’s situation and the growing trend of veterans going contender-hopping … Smack reader Jim had this about ‘Toine: “Of all the commercials made in the history of NBA endorsement deals, do any seem as inappropriate now as the old ‘Employee No. 8’ campaign? Yeah, ‘Toine is the common man.” … We’re out like Ratliff ..
Best Of 2017
Steven Hyden 12.15.17 7 hours ago