Not Exactly the Links: Thursday night wrap-up

By Russ Bengtson

Lang’s out of town tonight, so I’m here to give the nightly wrap-up. The heck with analysis and all of that crap—I’m just gonna give you the running from the whole damn night. Let’s go.

In the interests of full disclosure, I missed the first 20 seconds of the Houston/Utah game. I did get home in time to see Andrei Kirilenko catch a dunk from Mehmet Okur, and hear Dick Stockton go on about how last game was Andrei’s best game of the series—when he had eight points. Reggie Miller thankfully brings that up.

Of course later he talks about how Drei is a perennial defensive player of the year candidate because of his long arms. Um, yeah, Reggie, and because he’s a great defensive player. That might have something to do about it, too.

I would pay good money to see Tracy McGrady and LeBron James play one-on-one.

It’s funny how even WITH Tracy McGrady, the Utah-Houston series is like a heavyweight title bout between two Russian guys no one has ever heard of who just stand toe to toe pounding the bejesus out of each other for all 15 rounds. Competitive? Sure! Closely matched? Yep. Fun to watch? Um, well…

The iPod commercial with the guy and his record collection? Besides being a straight rip-off of High Fidelity, how long did his girl go out of town for? 10 years?

I kind of want Houston to win just because that way Chris Webber, Jalen Rose and Juwan Howard will all be in the conference semis. And besides, I kind of hate Utah.

Every once in a while I just find myself thinking, “damn, Yao Ming is HUGE!!!”

“This is what everyone’s waiting to see here, the matchup between these two premier players, Tracy McGrady and Andrei Kirilenko.” Hm. OK, Reggie. Most premier players would have scored double figures in ONE of the previous FOUR games, though. Kirilenko then steps up and commits two fouls in 15 seconds. And I’m pretty sure he was assessed a pre-game T for his nightmare of a haircut. Does he go to the same barber as Matt Barnes?

“This crowd went from the heights to the depths in the matter of…a second.” Dick Stockton needs a tapioca break. And as they go to commercial, “I hear boos.” Yes, Dick, we hear them too. Just take it easy. Deep breaths.

Wow, that’s a horrible technical foul on Juwan Howard after he fouls Memo on a three and Memo jumps back up into his face. I just don’t see how Juwan deserves a tech and Memo doesn’t. And Juwan gets all up in Dick Bavetta’s face. I just hope Juwan’s yelling “THIS IS BECAUSE I’M BLACK, RIGHT?????”

Has Carlos Boozer worn number 5 all year? I really haven’t paid attention to the Jazz at all.

Chuck Hayes with a stiffarm to Gordan Giricek’s head! I love this game.

And the Jazz lead at the half for the sixth straight game.

Midway through the third quarter, McGrady and Yao have 35, the rest of the Rockets combined have 17. This is a problem. And meanwhile, Memo is three of three from three in the quarter, the Jazz are up double-digits, and this series appears to be headed for perhaps the least-appealing Game Seven of all-time. If it was a 53-game series, it would go all 53.

I’m so happy that I don’t REALLY have to pay attention to this game.

Kirilenko blocks Yao Ming, and has one of those classic AK-47 lines going where he has two or three or four of pretty much everything.

Battier cuts it to one with his first field goal of the game, a three from the wing. Shocking, I know. Just under eight minutes left.

So many blue collar dudes in this series that there should be a theme song by Rhymefest.

Memo to Houston: Better luck in Game Seven.

BRING ON THE REAL GAME. OAKLAND! E-40! STEPHEN JACKSON! THE BASH BROTHERS! You know, I would be amazingly ecstatic to see a front row of Jose Canseco, Mark McGwire and Barry Bonds. I know it would never happen, but still.

(94-82 Jazz final in Utah. Great. Another night of Yao being pushed out of the block by Carlos Boozer and Memo. YOU’RE 7-5! YOUR LOWER LEGS ARE THE SIZE OF TELEPHONE POLES! DO SOMETHING! It’s embarrassing, really.)

But anyway, yeah, THE MAIN EVENT. I haven’t been this psyched for a non-Bulls playoff game in a long time. I’ve got connections to a couple Warriors—Stephen Jackson from his time in Jersey, and I did a feature on Baron Davis when he was in New Orleans—but it’s way more than that. It’s even more than the upset possibility. It’s just the fact that the Warriors are ferocious right now, taking chances at both ends of the floor and playing the way an eight-seed should. I really hope they win. Nothing against Dallas as a franchise, but they’ve been playing scared since the first minute of the first game. They don’t deserve to move on. (OK, maybe that’s against Dallas as a franchise, actually. Sorry.)

I want a We Believe Warriors t-shirt. Win or lose.

Marv Albert and Steve Kerr in the house? This game should just be simulcast on ESPN Classic RIGHT NOW. I should also tear out my caps lock key before it gets me in trouble. Marv on Baron: “He has been THE rock star of these NBA playoffs.” YES!

Oh God, it’s Steve Javie. Look out, Stephen Jackson. No clapping.

Holy crap is it loud. Jason Terry wets a three to start things off, and Baron Davis turns it over. Dirk misses, though, and the crowd is right on it. And Jason Richardson hits a three to tie it up, and lets get it on.

Stephen Jackson’s rainbow three freezes the telecast—and drops. That’s a 10-0 run—make that a 12-0 run after a B-Diddy steal and Richardson two-handed tomahawk dunk. It sounds like the entire Yay is in the gym right now. They are ROLLIN’. Stack stops it with a three from the corner, and Jax answers. 15-6, Warriors halfway through the first.

Golden State is making all the hustle plays early. Stack hits another three—he’s never scared—but no one else on Dallas seems particularly energized. The Mavs have four field goals, all threes. Make that five—Stack hits another three from the same spot. “Stack is the most tough-minded player on this Dallas roster.” Steve Kerr and I are on the same page.

BARON DAVIS TO THE LOCKER ROOM. Came up with a hammy after a Stackhouse strip. This could be very bad for the Warriors. And ANOTHER three for Dallas. Josh Howard. 21-18 Warriors after a Monta Ellis (where you been, kid) layup.

Young Dirk on the board with a pair of free throws. Warriors are definitely out of sync right now—Richardson turns it over. The crowd seems quieter, too. That can’t happen. Ellis bangs a jumper, and they’re back up three. “Somebody has to step up and be productive for Don Nelson,” Yessir, Mr. Kerr. Meanwhile, Dallas has gotten 14 offensive boards on the last two possessions.

Ellis to Matt Barnes for a dunk. They’re keeping it clickin’ with Baron in the locker room. Essential. Although then Barnes commits a pretty obvious charge. Too easy. Meanwhile Pam Oliver announces that Davis has a slightly strained hamstring and is having it stretched out. No word on who’s doing the stretching.

Barnes picks up a quick second foul and argues. Kerr: “If that was Stephen Jackson, he’d probably be kicked out of the game!” Instead he comes back down and hits a three. And Stackhouse responds with his fourth.

Ellis hits a ridiculous 50-footer, but it’s seconds after the buzzer. “That looked like a shot out of the ‘50s,” Marv says. “Two-hand set.” Yeah, but it still doesn’t count. 28-25 Warriors after one.

Jason Terry hits the first two-point shot for the Mavs, and they’re only down two. Very strange.

I can’t imagine Baron Davis not coming back into this game. I just can’t.

Josh Howard ties it up with Dallas’s second two, and Stephen Jackson is down after Matt Barnes accidentally elbowed him in the face. Kerr already made the point about how they should have made more of an effort put Dallas away in Game Five, since Davis’s health is questionable. And yeah, he can’t walk. But this—if Jackson’s out—is even worse. I actually said it to someone earlier today—if you’ve got your foot on the better team’s neck, you damn well better finish ‘em off. (Seems like Jack is OK, but still.)

Direct quote from Baron Davis passed on by Pam Oliver: “I’ve played with it before—I ain’t trippin’.” Holla.

Snoop Dogg! Ronnie Lott! Woody Harrelson! Kate Hudson and Owen Wilson!

6:35 to go in the second quarter, and Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t have a field goal yet. That’s not really an MVP sort of thing. Just sayin’.

Mickael Pietrus, not really a three-point shooter. Baron Davis, more of one. At least this series. Warriors up one with four minutes left in the half.

And another one.

Dirk’s 0-7 in the half, by the way. Make that 0-8.

BARON. DAVIS. He has no such difficulties. Warriors up two.

And Dirk hits his first field goal of the game with 38 seconds to go in the half. Baron answers with another three—an off-balance ridiculous shot over Dirk that brings Marv to his vocal feet. Stack gets a layup, and Barnes draws a foul on Nowitzki with 3.7 seconds to go.

50-48 Warriors at the half. Dirk shoots 1-10 from the floor, including a full-court heave with one shoe to end the half. It’s hard to believe he’ll shoot that badly in the second half, and it’s equally hard to imagine that B Diddy will magically heal himself in the locker room. And he can’t guard ANYBODY. Gonna be tough.

Wanna know why Charles Barkley is the best NBA analyst ever? “Dirk Nowitzki—I don’t know what the hell he’s doin’.”

I know it’s a West Coast game and all, and Thursday may as well be the weekend anyway, but halftime at midnight? Painful. OK, not really. Like I wouldn’t stay up until 5 anyway. I’m a West Coast soul living on the East Coast, Even though I’ve never actually lived on the West Coast.

“Avery Johnson said ‘we’re going to go after Baron.’” So says Pam Oliver. Does Golden State have someone in the locker room watching the telecast to find out this stuff? You’d think both teams would have someone just watching TNT to see what they could find out. Or maybe I’m the only one who thinks that.

Baron Davis is moving about as well as Don Nelson. He couldn’t guard me right now. (I can safely say that because I’m 2,500 miles away.)

WHOOOOOO!!!!!! Stephen Jackson doesn’t let a little elbow to the head bother him none. Nowitzki misses a long three of his own, and Desagana Diops Baron. Jack comes back with another three (WIDE OPEN), the Warriors are up eight, the building is going absolutely nuts, and Avery calls time.

Howard drops a three. How many baskets in this game have been threes? A lot, that’s how many. And however many it was, that’s one more as Stephen Jackson drops another one. AND ANOTHER ONE! YES! Good God. Warriors up 12 with 6:39 to go in the third, and the roof might blow off this place. “When I said Stephen Jackson doesn’t care, I mean that in the best possible way.” Preach, Steve Kerr!

I’m sorry, but Dirk needs to start coming up top and demanding the ball. Get in the damn game already, wow. It’s kind of embarrassing, actually. I really don’t understand it. Does he want it or not?

Baron takes Jason Terry off the dribble with one leg, hits the layup. Nowitzki loses the ball inside, Baron is fouled inside by Austin Croshere, and Baron pops right back up in Austin’s face. They’re probably just talking about their high school days, although they earn double techs for the convo. Easy, Baron. Nowitzki heads to the bench looking confused as ever, and Baron hits both to make it a 16-point Warrior lead with 4:15 to go in the third. Another Maverick turnover, another Maverick foul, more Warrior free throws. Jack this time, who hits both. “This is just chaos, there’s not much organization to what Golden State does,” says Kerr. You mean Organized Konfusion? Whatever the case, disorganization leads by 18. Total control.

Warriors by 20 with 3:07 to go in the third. Amazing. 21. Stack misses a three, and they haven’t done ANYTHING inside the three-point line. Live by the three, die by the three. And Matt Barnes dunks all over Dirk Nowitzki to make it a 23-point Warrior lead. Stack comes back with a layup, but this is ugly. The crowd is loud.

“It has been total destruction here in the third quarter by Golden State.” —Marv Albert.

If Dirk ever gets to the line again, I fully expect an “OVER-RATED” chant. Or does that only happen in college?

The Warriors are blanketing Nowitzki on the defensive end and going RIGHT AT him on the other end. How you say, ‘emasculation’?

Golden State by 23 at the end of three. Wow.

Maurice Ager?

The Warriors just want it more. On both ends of the floor. And the stands, for that matter (well, obviously). And it’s nothing but layups to start the fourth because Dallas doesn’t have any post defenders in the game. And we’re under 10 minutes in the game.

Full-court press?

Stephen Jackson with another layup, “and the foul!” He’s got a lot of points. Under nine minutes. Oakland might actually burn down tonight. Like, all of it.

I can’t tell what the chant is, but there is one. It’s pretty much a soccer crowd out there tonight. “I feel sorry for them. Their legacy is going right down the drain.” Steve Kerr. We’re under eight minutes, Warriors still up 23.

Matt Barnes’s fifth foul is a flagrant foul on Maurice Ager. Not smart. He might be adding to Nellie’s beer fund tomorrow.

Under six minutes. And Jason Richardson semi-posterizes Croshere on a nifty bounce pass from Pietrus. And a Warrior steal, and Richardson adds a three from the corner, and the Warriors are up 24. Sheesh. (I’ve been typing “Warrioir” by mistake all night—I hope I caught them all.)

Dirk goes to the basket! He’s alive! I don’t think the crowd is yelling “OVER-RATED,” but they’re sure yelling something.

Richardson again! For three! From the same spot! 102-77, 4:36 to go. Businesses have begun boarding up their windows. Women and children are being cleared from the streets.

Ager hits a corner three of his own, and he’s been better than Nowitzki tonight. Believe it or not. By the way, this is what’s called “prolonging the agony.” If David Stern was REALLY cruel, he’d present Dirk with the MVP at the conclusion of this game. Under three minutes. And Golden State leads by 26.

Dirk’s out of the game, actually.

Baron Davis gets his exit to much applause and yelling, and B Diddy crosses the court to hug Ronnie Lott before heading to the bench. This is amazing. I know I’ve said that before, but there’s really no other word for it. It’s a perfect basketball storm. Gonna go out on a limb here and guess that Cuban isn’t gonna shake Nellie’s hand.

Big ups to long-time SLAM favorite Stephen Silas who’s on Nellie’s staff.

“I don’t know if I’ve ever seen a better crowd in my whole history of playing and after.” Kerr’s feeling it.

Ager with the three to set the final margin—111-86, Warriors. Am—yeah, you know what I mean.

Forget analysis of anything, go to it.