Up Against It

04.26.08 10 years ago 66 Comments
IMAGE DESCRIPTIONDirk came through; Nash didn’t

We said it a couple days ago in our NBA Hit List player ranking: “These next two games is where we’ll see what kind of leader (Steve) Nash is. Right now you can’t tell if this is his team or Shaq‘s.” So what happened in last night’s Suns/Spurs game? Nash had 7 points and 9 assists, while Tony Parker had 41 and 12 in a Spurs blowout. That’s FORTY-ONE points. After Game 2 Nash, like everyone else, said Phoenix needed to do something to keep Parker and Manu Ginobili out of the lane. This time they did what they could, hanging back on the pick-and-roll and giving up open jumpers, but Parker kept making them. Over and over and over again, until the Suns played him close and he darted into the paint for his usual high-percentage buckets … If any team has the talent and the system to come back from an 0-3 deficit, it’s the Suns. But they’re not exactly renowned for their resiliency and mental toughness, and now the home fans are even booing them. Having to win four in a row will take some truly beastly performances by Amare and Shaq, not to mention a Herculean feat of whining and ref-baiting by Mike D’Antoni. His head might explode before that happens … Did you see the “Wired” segment on D’Antoni that consisted of him screaming “Let’s go!” at his guys about 39 different times? Interestingly it happened on the same day some Arizona newspapers were bringing up the question of whether the coach’s job is on the line in this series. Would a new coach come in and change the system that’s bought Phoenix so many regular-season wins but (what seems inevitable now) year after year of running into a brick wall in the postseason? And how could that new coach find ways to hide Nash on defense while still utilizing his offensive brilliance? … No one’s gonna talk about it or put it on YouTube since there wasn’t any post-dunk posing, flexing or screaming, but did you see Tim Duncan (23 pts, 10 rebs) crown Amare off that pick-and-roll? Naturally, TD reacted as if he’d hit a first-quarter free throw and simply ran back of defense … Whatever you thought of Jacque Vaughn‘s NBA prospects when he came out of Kansas (the kid was nice on the college level), we’re guessing it didn’t involve visions of Jacque being put into a playoff game specifically to foul a 7-foot-2, 340-pounder on purpose as soon as the behemoth crossed half court … Meanwhile in Dallas, Dirk Nowitzki was facing the same “man up” scenario as Nash, only he delivered when his team needed him most. Dropping 32 points, pulling down 19 boards and handing out 6 assists, Dirk led the way in a statement win over the Hornets … Avery Johnson finally rescued Jason Kidd from Chris Paul and gave the assignment to Jason Terry, who reached back into his University of Arizona closet and found that lockdown defender he used to be. All of a sudden CP (16 pts, 10 asts) wasn’t getting into the paint at will, and when he did make his way there, his shots weren’t falling. He finished 4-for-18. And you have to love Terry (22 pts, 6 asts, 2 stls) for getting up in Paul’s face after CP leveled Dirk on one play. Obviously one of the Hornets’ strategies for this series was to try and punk Dirk and watch his whole team collapse, but Jet wasn’t standing for it. And before you ask, “Where was he when David West mafia-slapped Dirk in the face?” ask yourself if you’d be quicker to run up on 6-9, 240-pound David West or normal-guy-sized Chris Paul … Speaking of West, he couldn’t get it going early and never recovered. If you’ve seen the Hornets’ best performances this year, it’s typically those nights where West puts up big numbers in the first quarter. Last night he was still getting those wide open looks from mid-range, but nothing was going down for him (6-for-20 FGA, 14 pts) … Ever since 2004 the tendency has been to attribute every Pistons win or loss in the playoffs only to them; either we say Detroit played up to their potential and won, or slacked off/got lazy and lost. Forget that. Last night the Sixers WON that game. Andre Miller busted up the Detroit backcourt for 21 points, The Dalembeast went for 22 points and 16 boards inside, and Philly served up a 20-piece nugget to a Pistons group that looked dead inside. The Sixers were fast-breaking, picking off passes, playing physical ball (Antonio McDyess got his nose broken) and swarming the glass. If only they weren’t tossing passes into the stands and dribbling the ball off their feet here and there, it would have been an all-out clinic … Andre Iguodala is putting himself in a strange position for when it becomes contract time this summer. On one hand, he’s The Man on a team that’s threatening to pull of a huge postseason upset and played like The Man when the Sixers needed to wrap up their playoff spot. But at the same time, the Sixers have won playoff games where Iguodala was somewhere between non-factor and detriment — in Game 3 he committed six turnovers and shot 2-for-9 from the field. This would be pretty scary for Philly fans if Billy King was still running the show, but we think Ed Stefanski can tell what’s real and judge Iguodala’s merits intelligently … Before Friday’s decisive Game 3 of the D-League championship, we got Q & A’s with the Idaho Stampede‘s Luke Jackson and Josh McRoberts, who both talked about life in the minors as compared to life in the NBA. By the end of the night, those two were hoisting the trophy after the Stampede beat the Austin Toros. Mike Taylor scored 27 for Idaho and Cory Violette had 22 and 14 boards, while Andre Barrett scored 29 for the Toros in the loss. Jackson put up 8 points, 7 boards and 10 dimes for the Stampede and McRoberts had 10 points and 5 rebounds … And maybe because of what he’s seen McRoberts go through in his short NBA tenure, Tyler Hansbrough decided to stay at North Carolina for his senior year. Ty Lawson and Wayne Ellington, however, are gonna test the Draft waters … We’re out like Phoenix’s hope …

Around The Web