Let it be known that it’s widely recommended that the “F” word shouldn’t have any place within the vocabulary of those affiliated with an NBA franchise – like, say, an owner or commentator. If the word “fixed” is uttered, the league retaliates by slapping a fine on the said offender, or even suspends them for a short period of time. However, during game four, when the Dallas Mavericks took on the San Antonio Spurs at the American Airline’s Center on Monday night, there was a completely different “F” word being tossed around both on and off the court.
The Mavericks, who were once were staring at a 20 point deficit, were headed into the fourth quarter trailing only 65-73. Both teams were preparing themselves for an intense showdown in the final 12 minutes of the game. It was DeJuan Blair who came off the bench in order to attribute 12 points on 5-for-5 shooting, and helped bring his Mavs back up from the brink of extinction. But with only 3:08 left on the clock, Blair managed to get tangled up with Tiago Splitter and both went down. After hearing that a foul had been called on him, Blair submitted to an act of frustration and kicked out his left leg in a fit, not knowing that Splitter had yet to reposition his own body to get up, and nailed the center in the head with his foot. The official called the move a “hostile act” and Blair was ejected, much to the dismay of his team and roaring Mavericks fans. Twitter erupted with rage and utter confusion at the call, not clearly understanding where the term “hostile act” even came from (“Is that a movie?” Shawn Marion asked during the press conference following the game when a member of the press questioned if he had ever heard of the term himself). Nevertheless, Blair didn’t argue and fans gave him a deafening standing ovation as he disappeared into the locker room.
Despite making the biggest playoff comeback in franchise history, The Mavericks would end up losing 93-89. Fans mood reflected the color of the very “MFFL Strong” shirts they donned as they dismally left the building while Mavs owner Mark Cuban most likely had to be restrained in order to keep himself from flying off the handle. Sticking a pin in the former of the two “f” words right now, we’ll touch base on everything that went wrong on the Mavericks’ end – which was a great deal of little crap. After taking an early 9-2 lead with 8:00 left in the first, the Mavs channeled Helen Keller and shot only 36.4% as opposed to the equally as heinous Spurs, who were only shooting SLIGHTLY better at 38.1%. It was 23-18 Mavericks by the end of the first, but considering that the Spurs looked every bit their senior citizen age, the margin during the first 12 minutes should have been wider than Jenna Jameson’s… ego.
San Antonio opened up the second by going on a 7-2 run, tying the game at 25, and this is where the Mavericks’ offense looked like virgins stumbling around trying to get their balls in the right position. All the energy in American Airline’s Center had been immolated – from both the home team and the fans – by execrable shots (Dallas was shooting 28% with 5:14 remaining in the first half). They even had an almost seven-minute long dry spell where the balls were flying everywhere other than their intended goal. With :30 seconds left on the clock, officials called a flagrant foul on Dirk Nowitzki (drawn on Manu Ginobili), which was then reduced to only a technical foul. Nowitzki made his sentiments of outrage known to the refs (according to some of the media positioned closely to the court) yelling out a few of his own “f” words. Even Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo, who was sitting behind the Mavericks’ bench, threw in his two cents (but like everything else Romo throws, those were most likely intercepted as well) and started heckling the officials himself after the technical. The Spurs would lead 50-36 at halftime.
The Mavs came out energized and played a more physical game and started to close the margin. Criticism was drawn from the crowd and the sidelines after Ginobili hit Blair (in a way that mirrored Nowitzki’s early foul on Ginobili), completely knocked him over, and received his own flagrant foul… which was then reduced into a COMMON foul as opposed to Dirk’s technical. Whatever slight amity those in the Center had for the officials quickly dissipated with the odd call. Folks were now throwing around that familiar “f” word – fixed.
Given the state of the league, who finds itself in a nefarious juxtaposition with the Donald Sterling controversy, wouldn’t it be more beneficial to draw seven games out of some of the most thrilling match ups in the West in order to lure the attention of onlookers away from Sterling-gate? Just a question.
Game 5 moves back to San Antonio Wednesday night.