If you had to pick any NBA player to go on a destructive rampage through your house, Dirk Nowitzki is probably your best option. As he left the court in a huff last night, Dirk was kicking, stomping, or shoving anything in sight… but not in any sort of masculine way. This was not like Ron Artest busting up a TV monitor. This was Dirk applying a gentle shove to a stationary bike, and then immediately apologizing to the bike and offering to buy it a wienerschnitzel and an ice cream sundae.
The source of his anger, though, is up for debate this morning. The biggest gripe is the foul on Dwyane Wade with 1.9 seconds left… and a close second is the timeout that Josh Howard called (or didn’t call) after Wade’s first free throw.
The foul on Wade… well, I didn’t see a foul on Wade. Maybe you could call a little bit of thigh contact on Devin Harris, but 1) that would be the first thigh brush in NBA history ever called a foul, and 2) the foul wasn’t called on Devin Harris, it was called on Dirk Nowitzki. And Dirk Nowitzki certainly didn’t foul anyone.
Mark Cuban also contends that Wade committed a backcourt violation upon receiving the inbounds pass, and then fouled Jason Terry before making his move to the basket. I can’t tell about the backcourt call. Wade catches the pass on the Miami side of the line, and then jumps back over to the Dallas side of the line. In non-HD, I can’t tell if his foot was still on the ground on the Miami side when he caught the ball or not. I don’t see this as a largely relevant thing.
As for the foul on Terry, yes, I think it happened. As Wade makes his first move towards the sideline, Jason Terry and Devin Harris are there with the double team, and wade extends his forearm out into Terry, and Terry goes down… but you’re not ever going to get that call in that situation. At that moment, in that situation, whistles are swallowed. But I don’t know why, less than a second later, the whistle is regurgitated and used on such minimal contact, if there was even contact at all from the guy who picked up the foul.
As for the Howard timeout… the only people who know for sure what happened are Josh Howard and Joe DeRosa. The Mavs say that Avery Johnson signaled to Josh Howard that he wanted the timeout after the 2nd free throw… and then Josh Howard made the same signal back to confirm the plans.
Head ref Joey Crawford says Howard went to DeRosa and twice asked for a timeout. I have no idea who, if anyone, was wronged there. Looking at the tape, I don’t ever see Josh Howard “going to” Joe DeRosa. He makes the timeout signal, but I don’t know if he was actually signaling timeout (which, yeah, doesn’t make any sense… Josh Howard’s a smart player, he knows they don’t want timeout there), or just making the motion in the direction of Avery Johnson. Weird situation… I don’t know what happened.
But really… regardless of any of this, if the Mavs want to point fingers, they can feel free to find a mirror. Don’t get me wrong, I think they were wronged with the Stackhouse suspension, and I think they were wronged with the call on Dirk with 1.9 to play… but at the same time, at the ends of both Games Three and Five, they did not execute down the stretch. The offense got stagnant, and they started missing shots. Free throws, too. If they had done what they were supposed to do, and taken care of their own business, and then some bad calls cost them a chance to win, that would be one thing. But that didn’t happen… they played poorly when it mattered most. That’s becoming a trend.