Monday, May 11, 2009

Game 3: Soul Seppuku





I went to my very first playoff game on Saturday. I didn’t get a noisemaker. A quick note on noisemaker etiquette here, folks: take the noisemaker or thunder sticks that are on your seat and your seat only. If at halftime, there are unclaimed noisemakers which are sitting in empty seats you can take those. But only after halftime. There should be no reason for me to get to my seat at tip and there be no object with which I can make noise. Anyways, back to Saturday. I was like a little kid, I was so excited. The place was packed. Everyone was clearly thinking “alright, we even this up at home and it’s anybody’s series to win.” Well, ok maybe we weren’t thinking that. Maybe we were aware of the fact that the Nuggets were killing us and the only chance we had to stop the bleeding was to use the first home game and the first home crowd and Dirk’s felonious lady troubles as motivation to finally eek out a win.

But the game was great. To see Chris Andersen foul out of the game was beautiful. While I’m not usually one for the jumbotron entertainment, the Mavs decided to go for the (inked) jugular by playing a taunting video called “Hey Mr. Overly Tattooed NBA Guy” which not only mocked the Nuggets (and specifically Andersen’s) love of body art, it also questioned whether Kenyon Martin’s neck tattoo of a woman’s name was wise considering that “girlfriends come and go.” The person I went to the game with turned to me after the video and said, “Oh my god, they’re gonna beat us by 70 now."

I remember when the fourth quarter started, I turned and said, “So this is where we blow it, right?” Because up to that point, the Mavs had kept it close. I think either team’s biggest lead was 6 going into the fourth quarter. Even better? By the first few minutes of the fourth quarter, not only had Chris Andersen fouled out but Nene had 5 fouls and Carmello Anthony and Chauncey Billups had 4 each. In short, the Nuggets were about to collectively foul themselves out. Sweet! And the crowd was finally getting into it. I’ve never actually been to a game where Humble Billy’s foreboding taunts of “deeeeeeee-fense” actually lead to the entire arena joining him in the chant. But on Saturday for the entire fourth quarter, we were all standing up and chanting and taunting and noisemaking our asses off. It felt really good.

Then a wheel started to feel wobbly when we started missing free throws. I don’t remember in what order the virus spread but in the last two minutes of the game, I saw Jason Terry, Josh Howard and Dirk split their free throws. The guy sitting (well, standing) next to me with his earphones in said, in a very grave and scary voice, after Jet missed his first free throw, “That will come back to haunt us.” I thought he was being a little dramatic.

Now I don’t really know how to explain what happened for the last 41 seconds of the quarter because, strangely, being there and seeing it myself was of no assistance in my effort to understand what the fuck happened. I would imagine it would be like standing on a street corner watching a car accident involving the ghost of Benjamin Franklin and Count Chocula. Nothing made sense. Everyone was confused.

I actually have the luxury of still not having seen the replays on TV so all I have to go on is what I saw with my eyes. I know that with 41 seconds left, we were up by four. I might have the order of these events transposed slightly but I know that Dirk missed an easy shot then the Nuggets were able to get the rebound and sail down the court for the easiest bucket ever scored in basketball ever. I started to see where Earphones Guy was coming from with his doomsday predictions about that missed free throw. Then, with less than 10 seconds left in the game, the Nuggets inbounded the ball and Carmello Anthony took his spot at the top of the arc. But we had a foul to give. Right? Then Anthony takes the shot and hits it. Everyone in the AAC take a little time out of their busy schedule of screaming obscenities to start to wonder aloud what just happened? Didn’t we have a foul to give? Why wouldn’t we have fouled him? Did Antoine Wright just LET Anthony take the shot?

Then we were told that the play was being reviewed. Oh ok. Good. This should clear some things up. Then we were told that the review was just to check that Anthony’s shot was indeed a three pointer, as it had been ruled on the court, and that his toesies weren’t on the line. Turns out they weren’t and it was and the Nuggets now lead 106-105 with 1 second left in the game. We all sat in our seats, stunned. And slightly amused by Josh Howard being physically restrained and dragged away by Mavs personnel. Then my stomach turned as I looked at the smiling face of Chris Andersen who was alternately gloating and trying to pick a fight with various Mavs staff while still on the court.

Was that Earphone Guy right? No, not really. It shouldn’t have ever come down to a three point shot deciding the game. But to watch three Mavs players split their free throws after a whole game of no Mavs offensive rebounding was crushing. And I don’t like the Nuggets but it seems pretty clear at this point that they are better at basketball than we are. I don’t like the fact that there is no class in this series. Who would have thought that a playoff series between Dallas and San Antonio would be so dignified yet the Dallas-Denver matchup would have all the dignity and class of Anna Nicole Smith mud wrestling Gary Coleman on the Howard Stern show?

The refs not calling the intentional foul on Anthony is inexcusable, mostly because that seems like me forgetting that I have to wear clothes to work or something. The refs had to have known that Dallas had the foul to give and that they were going to at least contemplate or attempt to foul whoever Denver was going to let shoot. However, Anthony could have hit all three of his free throws and then we would have to deal with what we really need to deal with. The fact that the Nuggets are playing more aggressively than the Mavs are and will probably seal the Mavs fate tonight by dealing us the death blow.

But it’s not just the Game 3 of this series that has got me blue. I can’t help but get 19 different kinds of excited when I see that the Rockets have beaten the clearly unbeatable Lakers and are up 2-1 in their series. To think of Kobe getting knocked out of the playoffs before the Western Conference finals gives me happy fingers. But then I remember how we beat Houston in that last game of the regular season and how that night, when the playoffs were discussed, we all talked about how Houston didn’t scare us that bad. And then I think of all the trash talking and city dissing that could happen were the Western Conference finals to be between two Texas teams. Sigh.

I haven’t given up. Yet. I had given up on Saturday as I sat outside the Old No. 7 contemplating ways to sever the brake line on the Nuggets team bus. But I will watch tonight with a limited, faintly glowing light-source of basketball hope. I don’t know what the Mavs are capable of but I don’t feel like it includes winning here then winning again in Denver. But I will have my noisemakers (that I have because some people are not noisemaker thieving bastards) and I will watch and if the season ends tonight, I will know that the Mavs got past the first round which is more than I’ve been able to say about the Cowboys in a decade.

1 comment:

ADUB IS TIGHT said...

that's some beer gut on that samurai warrior. damn. guess i don't feel bad about mine, and i sit in an office all day. now that i think about it, that samurai's a piece of shit.