As much as I say that the Mavs/Spurs are the best rivalry in the game right now, I think that the Mavs/Suns are the best matchup. When these two teams get together, it is a launching pad of awesomeness just pooping out rabbits of awesomeness that will quickly breed more awesomeness. Even if you don't care who wins or loses, if you want to see the NBA the way it is supposed to be, tune in to a Mavs/Suns game. It's beautiful.
1. Suns - I'm sorry. It's a cop-out, I know. But this game was so good, and everyone played so well. The Suns Big 3 of Nash, Stoudemire, and Marion had a great night. Steve Nash had 21 points and 18 assists. Amare Stoudemire had 25 points, 8 rebounds and 4 blocks. Shawn Marion had 23 points, 10 boards and 3 steals. That's awesome. It's even more awesome when it doesn't lead to a Suns victory over the Mavs.
2. Mavs - More cop outs here. It was just such a good game. Josh Howard had 23 points and 7 boards. Erick Dampier, who usually can't hang with the small ball of the Suns, had 8 points, 10 boards, 2 steals and 5 blocks. Devin Harris had 21 points, 6 assists and 3 steals.
3. Refs - I normally don't talk about refs unless they are awful, but I feel compelled to give them their due in this one. Mark Wunderlich , Derek Richardson , and Eddie F. Rush took care of this game. Both teams combined for only 44 free throws, which means that they didn't stifle an up and down game with a lot of whistles. Were there calls that should have been made that weren't? Of course, but it was even on both sides and they let these two teams play the way that they are supposed to play.
- Dirk's Digits: Dirk lit the fire in this one with 31 points on 10 of 20 shooting, 9 boards, 2 assists, 1 steal and 2 blocks. My problem is that Avery seems determined to go away from Dirk. I get that. You teach the others to pick up the slack. Put there has to be a point where you decide to save that lesson plan for another day. Dirk could've had 40+ points in this game if Avery wasn't directing the offense away from Dirk. Something to work on in the future, I suppose.
- With all due respect to Jason Terry and Devin Harris, I miss Nash. I really do. I love JET and Little D, but Nash was almost a deity when he was here. The relationship with Dirk on and off the court was transcendental. I like how we recovered from losing him, but I wish we had never lost him at the same time.
- The Mavs are doing better in the half court game. The Suns are doing better in the open court game. In other news, ice is cold and cancer is bad for you.
- My first problem with this game wasn't the game, it was the announcers. Mike Breen and Jeff Van Gundy are calling the game. I would expect better from Van Gundy because he's a talented color analyst, and he coached in Houston for awhile. But these guys start getting into the usual stereotype that pisses the hell out of me that just because you live in Texas you must ride a horse to work, wear boots and a cowboy hat, and eat your cereal with milk that was freshly drawn from a cow's utter. I drive a Dodge truck, I don't wear a cowboy hat, and my milk comes from Super Target. Okay?!?! (slight side note: there is a pasture across the street from my neighborhood that has cows, donkeys, horses and pigs. My daughter loves them, but that's not the point.)
- Van Gundy really put it down in this one. Normally I don't comment on the announcers unless they really piss me off, but I like Van Gundy. I think he's good. He's a good coach, but I think he's a better commentator. He took the Mavs to the rack in this one about last year, saying that you can't use 67 wins as an excuse for losing to the Warriors due to the fatigue of winning 67 games. The 72 win Bulls team still managed to win a championship. He called it a cop out, and that they needed to bow up and try harder next time. In the same breath, he claims that he doesn't blame the Mavs for losing because it can happen and you have to get over it. Then he gives props to Donnie Nelson for finding guys like Brandon Bass, Devean George, etc. and building this bench with some rugged veteran guys that are capable of taking a back seat as well as being capable of being plugged into the starting lineup if needed. He finishes it off by saying that Josh Howard is dirty, but in a good way. He's the kind of guy that you want on your team at that position. Just a scrappy dude that can do it all, and do it right. Either way, Van Gundy and Mike Tirico might just be the next best tandem to call a national game since Marv Albert and Mike Fratello.
- Brian Skinner is a Baylor grad, just like me, and I'm proud of him for sticking around the league this long. Most Baylor grads don't. The exception is David Wesley.
- ESPN likes to interview the coaches after the first and third quarters. I don't like it. For example, they interviewed Suns coach Mike Dantoni after a first quarter that saw the Mavs jump to a 37-20 lead. Bad idea. The coach with three first names wasn't too happy. That makes for bad television. Or good television, depending on how you look at it. It was a train wreck. He wasn't happy, and therefore the interview was awful and a waste of time.
- The Mavs didn't have a turnover in the first quarter, and they led the frame 37-20. Conversely, they had 3 turnovers in the first 1:30 minutes of the 2nd quarter. The Suns took that frame 34-21. That's not a coincidence. There were plenty of times the Mavs had the Suns on the rope, but let them up. Fortunately, we still came out on top.
- I hate the flop, and even the art of the flop, but so long as it's legal, I guess I can say that Devin Harris is one of the best in the business.
All things considered, this was a damn good game. Mavs/Spurs is a good rivalry and both teams play very hard against each other, but Mavs/Suns is one of a kind. It also helps that both teams win equally. For my money, these three teams are the best the NBA has to offer when they meet up with each other, especially on national television. Can't wait for next time. Go Mavs!