Either Johnson is still a Spur at heart or he just enjoys throwing games, because last night's coaching poop-fiesta not only jerked defeat straight out of the snapping jaws of victory, it also proved -- once again
-- that having a micro-managing control freak for a coach can absolutely kill a team down the stretch*. The Little General not only watched his team surrender a 10-point lead at the end of the third quarter, he actually contributed
to the Spurs' game-changing 13-1 run by drawing a technical foul for beefing with the officials. Jason Terry also got T'ed up during that stretch. So Johnson can't control himself, and he can't control his players. That's shades of Rick Adelman and the early 90s Portland Trail Blazers. And that does not instill me with a great sense of hope for the Mavericks' playoff hopes.*For further reading, please refer to the 2006 NBA Finals and/or the First Round of the 2007 Western Conference Playoffs.
But Johnson's greatest boner
of the night was benching Jason Kidd for the final 30 seconds of the game. That's the same Jason Kidd that the Mavericks mortgaged their future for. The same Jason Kidd that supposedly gives the Mavs their best chance of winning a champtionship. The same Jason Kidd who is the starting point guard, the team's only
true playmaker, and one of the greatest passers in the history of the NBA. Yes, folks, that
Jason Kidd. So, instead of having Kidd try to create a play to get Dirk and company a nice, open shot, Johnson watched his team's final possessions go down like this
: Dirk Nowitzki missed fadeaway jump shot, Dirk Nowitzki missed layup, Erick Dampier missed tip-in, and Jason Terry missed jump shot, stuffed by Bruce Bowen. Game over.
Right after the Kidd trade finally went through, Johnson had this to say
: "He's going to help us, because at the end of games he just knows how to win. A big steal, a big block, a big rebound, big three, his penetration." So what happened between then and last night? Why didn't Johnson roll the dice with Mr. Big Block, Big Rebound, Big Three, Big Penetration? Here's why: "We wanted to spread the floor and give Dirk more room to operate." Okay. I get that...I guess. Kidd's an awful shooter. But you know who was
on the floor for that final 30 seconds? Erick Dampier. Does Dampier open up a floor more than Kidd? I really
don't think so. And I understand that Ericka was in there for her rebounding -- and she did take, and miss, a tip-in on the Mavs' final possession -- but, honestly, who would you rather have on the floor with game on the line and your team down by two points: Kidd or Dampier? I mean, is that even a question?
This may be an overreaction, and you all know by now that I'm occasionally prone to those, but I feel like I watched Dallas get knocked out of the playoffs already. Because of their coach.Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry's clutchability:
Forget their awful shooting -- a combined 7-for-25 on the night -- these guys couldn't hit a shot to win a game if their grandmas were in some sort of superhero-style death trap (I'm thinking a giant, bone-chilling snowcone or maybe huge pot full of grandma-eating flowers) and the old ladies' very lives depended on it. How many Dallas games over the last few years have ended the way last night's game did? Here's the answer: A lot. Kidd was supposed to fix this problem, but, great as he is, he can't fix anything from the pine.Basketbawful:
I really didn't think that sending DeSagana Diop to the Nets as part of the Kidd trade was that big of a deal. And I still don't. Mostly. But after watching Tim Duncan's 31-point, 15-rebound performance, I'm willing to concede that I might have been...not totally, 100 percent right about that.The Trillion Twosome:
As correctly pointed out by an anonymous reader, there were a couple trillion
performances last night: Sean "I scored 1280 on the SAT" Williams had a two trillion while Kurt "I'm the final piece of San Antonio's championship puzzle" Thomas trudged his way to a four trillion. Note:
The anonymous poster thought there was actually a hat trick of trillions. Unfortunately, Dorell "Mr." Wright actually scored 8 points and had a rebound against the Lakers.The Milwaukee Bucks bench:
Do you think that Larry Krystkowiak ever looks down his bench and wants to throw up in his mouth a little bit? Milwaukee's support staff contributed only 8 points in the Bucks' 120-106 loss to the Nets, and all of those points came from Charlie Bell (5) and Michael Ruffin (3). Yi Jianlian was the next "best" player off the bench with zero points (0-for-2), 1 rebound, 1 turnover, and 3 fouls in 10 minutes of lack-tion. Then there was Royal Ivey, who played almost 7 minutes and contributed 1 turnover. Dan Gadzuric played 2 minutes and had matched Ivey's turnover. Jake Voskuhl? 1 minute, 1 turnover. Bobby Simmons chipped in with a DNP-CD, which was probably the best thing he could have done.Jason Williams:
Pat Riley's going to throw a party when this guy's $9 million salary comes off the books after this season. I'd be willing to bet my collector's set of fake Larry Bird mustaches on it. Last night, Jason Williams might have lost his starting job to Marcus Banks -- yes, that
Marcus Banks -- by scoring zero points (0-for-3), dishing only 3 assists, and racking up a +/- score of -19.Dwyane Wade:
Pookie's descent into sub-superstar status continued to continue last night. And you might not be able to tell from the raw numbers, but Kobe Bryant stuck Wade's head on a spit, cooked it over an open fire, and then ate it. With ketchup. It was a comedy of sadness, kind of like watching the UFC's heavyweight champion
get into a fistfight with the guy who set the world record for extreme ironing
. Flash missed 11 of his 17 shots, committed 4 turnovers -- including one in which Mamba stripped him clean and ran the ball downcourt for an uncontested dunk -- and almost fouled out of the game. And don't think for a minute that Kobe didn't enjoy rubbing Wade's nose in it
When Riles realized that he could actually sucker another team into taking on Shaq's cap-crippling contract, he couldn't push The Big Injury out the door fast enough. Now he's bellyaching about not having
his former center. Here's a sample of Riley's post-game lament: "We won a championship with that kind of game -- being able to post up, being able to run some, pick-and-roll a ton and isolate the top of the lane a lot. And now, we don't have that one dimension. So we're going to have to play differently. When you have a dominant guy like Shaq, whose presence is like a magnet, I don't care what kind of game you play. Eventually that guy's got his hand under the basket and he just forces you to throw it into him. But we don't have a post-up player, so you can't slow it down." Wait, what? It's not like anybody was holding a gun to Riley's head and forcing him to send Shaq away. Does Riley even know what he's saying anymore? Or what he's doing? Seriously, I think it's long past time for Riles to call it a career. He's lost it, his team has lost it, and it's time for a fresh start for everybody.Derek Fisher's shooting touch:
You can't measure Fisher's contributions by numbers alone. He's a character guy who provides savvy, cunning, and a much-needed dose of veteran leadership. But up until the Pau Gasol trade, Fish was having a career season shooting the basketball (nearly 50 percent from the field). Since then, his percentage has plummeted to 44.6, and last night's 2-for-11 shooting performance is becoming more of a rule than the exception. Maybe it's just the Law of Large Numbers
catching up with him, but I figured Fisher's shooting might get even better with Gasol around to open up the floor.
Labels: Avery Johnson, Derek Fisher, Dirk Nowitzki, Dwyane Wade, Jason Terry, Milwaukee Bucks, Pat Riley, Worst of the Night