Nothing like a good Mavs/Spurs tussle on national television to get the blood boiling. Too bad it's early November and not late March or April. But a win is a win, especially against the defending champs.
1. Devin Harris - 18 points, 5 assists and 3 steals. Doesn't sound like much, but he out Tony Parker-ed Tony Parker. His quickness kept the Spurs on their heels for the entire game, and he hit enough of his shots outside to keep the defense from collapsing on him every time he tried to drive.
2. Manu Ginobili - Ginobili is a love/hate for me. If he played for any other team, I would praise how overlooked he is. He's a great player, and he does a great job off the bench. Since he plays for the enemy, though, I hate him.
3. Josh Howard - 23 points, mostly because he kept charging the basket and getting to the line. He added 6 boards and 3 steals and continues to make true Spurs fans mad that the Mavs beat the Spurs to him in the draft.
Bonus Cheer: Tim Duncan - It's hard to do a 3 Cheers when the Spurs and Mavs meet up because everybody brings their A game (with the exception of Parker and Finley in this game). You can't forget Duncan, though. Very few players can make 24 points on 11 of 21 shooting and 5 rebounds look as boring as a documentary about the inventor of toilet paper, but it would be a shame not to praise it. Coming from a diehard Mavs fan that has to hate the Spurs by default, Duncan is phenomenal. One of the best of his generation.
- Dirk's Digits: Dirk allowed the defense to key on him, and used that as a way of opening up the offense for other guys. He still got off for 17 points, 8 boards, 5 assists and 4 blocks. Not bad for a maligned, reigning MVP.
- The division and the conference will come down to the Spurs and Mavs, but to make it interesting, the 6th man award will come down to Ginobili and Jason Terry.
- Is this not one of the best rivalries of the decade in the NBA? Sure the Spurs have the rings, but if you were to ask any Spurs fan that's willing to admit it, who do you think they would list as their biggest competition in the conference? The downside is that the Spurs (and their fans) refuse to acknowledge the Mavs as being in their class. You know how I know the Spurs have won 4 rings? Because every time the Mavs beat them, it's the first thing they bring up. That's fine. They earned them. They have scoreboard on us, but it's funny that a dominant dynasty has one true foil, yet they refuse to give them any credit whatsoever.
- The Mavs and the National Guard are doing a promotion tonight called "Green Out". Every person that came to the game got a free green Mavs shirt and was encouraged to put it on. Problem: Game started at 7:00 pm, and most of the rich asses that own seats in the lower bowl (the area that you see on television) don't show up until 8:00 pm after happy hour. It wasn't really a Green Out until the second half, once everyone showed up and they convinced the trophy wives to cover up their boob jobs with a cheap cotton blend green t-shirt. Good idea in theory. It raised a bunch of money for Mark Cuban's Fallen Patriot Fund, though, so that's fantastic.
- The Spurs and the Mavs are the only two teams in the league that have won 50+ games in the last 7 straight seasons.
- I make fun of Tim Duncan quite a bit for his unassuming demeanor, but I think it's warranted. For example, Devin Harris (or maybe it was Jason Terry, I don't remember) drove the lane for a layup. During the lift off, an inadvertant knee came up and just absolutely drilled Duncan right in the twins. His facial expression never changed. If you just looked at him from the neck up, even though he just got a knee rack to the ball sack, he would look like he was sitting at his breakfast table, sipping on coffee, eating a little breakfast, and reading the business section. Of course for breakfast, he would be drinking decaf dark, some toast without butter and maybe some scrambled eggs, sans salt, pepper, and Tabasco sauce, all served on a piece of cardboard. Either way, if he can't register a response after that kind of shot, he's truly not human. He's just a robot programmed to show that look of disbelief every time he's called for a foul that looks like "how was I supposed to know you can't make a rock milkshake in a $20 blender?".
- I missed a good chunk of the 2nd quarter of this game thanks to Tivo hell and a pretty righteous fit from my daughter.
- I was trying to explain to my wife why I was still nervous even though the Mavs were up by 19 at the half. A nice run by the Spurs in the 3rd (outscoring us 30-21) made my case. I don't rest against the Spurs until we are up by 50 with 2 seconds left in the game.
- I can't believe that Spurs guard Jacque Vaughn is still in the league, but God bless him, he's managed to make a pretty long NBA career out of this. It's still hard to believe that when he was drafted, he was supposed to be John Stockton's backup/successor.
- Now I'm going to relay something I wrote to my blog contributor Fandy about Maurice Ager, who started this game unexpectedly and actually had a significant impact in the Mavs 33-18 1st quarter jump: "I would prefer to have Ager start, because he could be one of those players like Howard that can get off quickly to start a game, but has trouble fitting in off the bench. I also think it makes our bench more solid to have a Jones and Hassell to turn to, rather than an unproven Ager. If you start Ager, and he sucks that night, you just pull him. If you don't start Ager, you probably never even use him until garbage time and you'll never know what kind of night he could have had. (That's a damn good point I just made. I think I will put that on my blog.)"
- See. That's the kind of stuff that just comes to me. I can't help it. I'm just awesome that way.
With all due respect to my Spurs fan family and friends, this one felt good. But I know that it doesn't mean anything, so you don't have to go out of your way to remind me. Just know this: Go Mavs!