Undoubtedly, there will be plenty o’ complainin’ from Dallas Mavericks about the end of yesterday’s Game 3 loss to the red-hot Denver Nuggets. And it is somewhat justified – there’s no doubt that Antoine Wright intended to foul Carmelo Anthony as he dribbled, since the Mavs had a foul to give without forcing free throws, and the Nuggets had only a couple of seconds left to try and make up the 2-point deficit.
But you know what? Watch the play again. For a team which had spent the entire game making hard fouls, trying to match Denver’s intensity and physicality from the first two games, and who had successfully slowed the game down to a snail’s pace, a boring, chippy, free-throw shooting contest, Wright’s foul sucked. A little chest-to-shoulder action, then he throws his hands up in the air, universal NBA-ese for ‘I didn’t foul him!’ My guess is that Wright realized, after ‘Melo lost the handle then spent a second-and-a-half dribbling, that he wasn’t going to get off a good, on-balance shot, and his best bet was to play as if he didn’t foul him, let the shot go awry, and live to fight another day.
Whoops. Instead, ‘Melo nailed the 3, ending the game and, effectively, Dallas’ season.
And you know what? The Mavs should not have sent a boy to do a man’s job. Suffice to say, if it were Cleveland in the place of Dallas, wanting to give up their foul, they would not have sent their sixth or seventh best player to guard, and foul, the other team’s best. Instead, it would have been LeBron up there, and ‘Melo would have known that he got fouled. And, on the off chance that ‘Melo managed to get away and get a shot off, LeBron would have blocked it. And, failing that, he would have shot the ball a glare in mid-air so intense that it would not have dared go in, probably deflating while in flight.
So, while I sympathize with the Mavs not getting the call at the end, they got more than their fair share of questionable calls all game, and they should have been able to win this game, which was the Nuggets’ worst performance of the playoffs. When you’re at home, and the other team is playing that poorly, good teams win that game decisively, they don’t let it come down to a final possession question. The Mavs, apparently, aren’t that good of a team.
Also, this just in – LeBron James is a very good basketball player. He’s better than you are, a statement undoubtedly true unless, on the extremely offhand chance, Michael James Jordan has suddenly become a fan of the blog. But if your name is ‘Paul Pierce’, or ‘Carmelo Anthony’, or ‘The Entire Roster Of The Atlanta Hawks, If All Our Talent Somehow Combined Into One Being, Constructicons-Style, Named Hawkimus Prime’, then LeBron James is a better basketball player than you are. As the t-shirt says, it’s his world; we’re just living here.
I’m disappointed that the Lakers/Rockets series is effectively over, with news that Yao has broken another foot and is out for the remainder of the playoffs. That had the makings of a really fun series. But instead, I get to see my adopted team in the Western Conference Finals, which is not bad consolation.