Phoenix Vs. Dallas

by March 14, 2007
18

by Marcel Mutoni

I hear this is a big game or something. I’m being told this is some sort of “showdown”, a meeting of the best teams in the NBA, and a game that will have a major impact on the fate of the universe playoff picture. That being said, I figured it might be a good idea to watch it and jot down my thoughts as the game unfolds. We’ll get going a bit after 9PM Eastern tonight.

Feel free to play along by leaving your observations, jokes, insults, dreams, and haikus in the comments below.

Let’s do this!

Pre-game:

Alright, here’s what we know. Dallas is coming off a surprising loss at the hands of the G-State Warriors, and have an overall record of 52-10 and are playing at home tonight where they’re 30-3. Phoenix is 49-14 overall and 23-8 on the road. Dallas is 2-0 against the Suns this year (including a thrilling last-second victory on Dec.28th), so it’s very important for Phoenix to win tonight. These teams will meet again on April 1st in Phoenix.

Since the game hasn’t started yet, it’s a perfect opportunity for us to check out a hilarious video on YouTube. For reasons no one has yet to fully comprehend, This is why I’m hot by NY-based rapper Mims is one of the hottest tracks out right now. It’s a perfect representation of everything that’s wrong with the hip hop of today, but that’s neither here nor there…

Radio personality Peter Rosenberg parodied the track and used it to brilliantly illustrate why Duke University sucks at life. If this video doesn’t get you amped for March Madness, nothing will. There’s some bad language in there, so viewer discretion is advised.

Speaking of videos, with Dallas winning a boatload of games this season, NBA.com has some cool footage of another team that did a lot of winning in their day: the 1996 Chicago Bulls which posted a historic record of 72-10 on their way to the title.

You gotta admit: it’s a shame that TNT isn’t showing the game tonight. ESPN simply doesn’t deserve to broadcast a game of this magnitude.

First Half:

Shawn Marion and Josh Howard open the scoring. Diaw looks good early.

Amare came to play today, kids. On his first touch of the game (off a Dallas turnover) he hammers it home. On the next trip down the floor, he gets an and-1 and knocks down the freebie. Phoenix up 5 early.

STAT goes to the bench after picking up two quick fouls with 8 minutes to go in the first quarter. Kurt Thomas and his crazy eyes are in the game. It’s going down!

Dallas is in a zone right now, so Phoenix moves the rock around the perimeter and Marion knocks down an open baseline three. Commercial break, 14-8 for the Suns. I’m gonna go grab a drink, and I suggest you do the same.

Dirk is at the line for the second time in this opening quarter. He hits one of two. Nash finds Barbosa with a sick no-look pass on the baseline for the wide-open layup. Nash has 4 assists already. And he just threw in a long three pointer for good measure. Avery Johnson doesn’t look amused as he calls a timeout with Phoenix up 11. He’s clenching his teeth very hard!

Something tells me Phoenix wants this game very badly. It won’t come easy, though. A Dallas victory tonight would send a message to the rest of the League that they’re in a class of their own.

Nash is quite simply dominating this opening quarter (7pts, 4 ast, and 2 boards.) Six turnovers for Dallas already (not good.) Phoenix has started the night shooting 12-18 from the field. It is not a game!

Hmm, questionable call on Dirk as he challenged a Barbosa leaner. The Brazilian Blur pushes Phoenix’s lead up to twelve with 2 minutes remaining in the first. Stackhouse comes right back with a layup. Just as quickly, Barbosa scores again. I’m dizzy.

Dallas is really sloppy right now; Raja Bell gets a charge on Greg Buckner (his second foul.) Lots of guys with two fouls (Devin Harris, STAT, and Buckner.)

Stackhouse misses a shot at the buzzer as Phoenix ends the opening stanza with a 14 point lead. The Suns are shooting 67% from the field. Dirty. Dallas meanwhile is shooting just 28%. Not so dirty.

The Suns are playing what I like to call “Steroid Basketball”. I have no idea what that means, but it seems fitting in their case.

Bill Walton just called Steve Nash the best player in all of the land. Not so sure about that one, Billy boy. Barbosa is going to get P-A-I-D very soon; the kid is playing out of his mind (and just knocked down two more free throws.) Stack and Dirk have opened the scoring for the Mavs in the second quarter but they’re still down by 14.

The U.S. military should show terrorist suspects a continuous loop of Shawn Marion shooting jumpers while interrogating them. I’m telling you: they wouldn’t stand a chance. Another Dallas timeout. Suns up 36-30 with 10 minutes to go until halftime.

Dirk is 1-4 from the field and has just 5 points so far. Mike D’Antoni has Raja Bell guarding him, and it’s working! That’s genius. Phoenix has increased their lead to 13 after James Jones knocked down a three. Nash is resting comfortably on the bench.

Few things make me happier than the sound of Avery Johnson’s voice (ESPN just did that inside-the-huddle thing during a Dallas timeout.) I could listen to him all day long.

Nash, who’s back in the game, finds Jones for ANOTHER three point bomb. Throw some water on that man, please. Dirk comes right back with a tough fadeaway.

They just showed Dirk talking about that surprising 17-point loss to the Warriors; he said the loss “smarts”. Good to know. Jason Terry knocks down a three pointer to cut lead to 11 with just over 4 minutes to go in the second quarter. The Mavs are starting to play better; the offense seems to have found its rhythm and Phoenix is having trouble closing out on the shooters. Stack going to the line after getting Raja to bite on an up-fake.

Just as the Dallas crowd begins to come alive, Nash finds Marion who then finds STAT for a layup. He misses but gets hacked. Both freebies are good. Dirk is starting to warm up and just cut the Phoenix lead to 9. Raja Bell comes right back and hits a leaner on the left baseline. Stack scores for Dallas. Too much stuff happening.

I’m glad to say that a timeout has just been called. My head is spinning. Raja Bell just a hit a three, and Phoenix is up 56-44 with 2 minutes remaining in the first half.

ESPN would like to remind you that Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash are BFF’s. The two buddies then trade baskets. Jason Terry brings the crowd to life as he hits a baseline three. 7 point game with 20 seconds left.

After Amare knocks down two free throws (he’s shooting 80% from the line this year, folks), Terry finds Stackhouse for a filthy alley oop in Marion’s grill. Great way to end the first half. 60-53 for the Suns. See y’all in the second half. It should be a great finish.

Second Half:

Before we get started with the third quarter, I’d like to say a few words about the Toronto Raptors. They’re playing some of the best basketball in the Association (and beat the Knicks earlier tonight) and will be a serious problem in the playoffs. I’m going to try and catch them sometime this month (hopefully against A.I. and the Nuggets) and can’t wait to experience the Air Canada Centre in the postseason. That joint will be rocking.

As the third quarter begins, The ESPN crew (which is a perfectly acceptable job tonight, by the way) comes up with a pretty amazing stat from the ESPN crew : Phoenix and Dallas have combined for 101 victories in 125 games.

After getting blocked by Marion, Eric Dampier gathers himself and throws down a dunk. Unfortunately, he decides to hang on the rim and show everyone just how tough he is. Technical foul. Dumb. A Dirk fadeaway cuts the Phoenix lead to six.

Whenever Nash seems like he’s in trouble, he almost always pulls an impossible pass out of his ass for one of his teammates for an easy bucket. He’s unreal. The game has slowed down a bit (this favors Dallas which has cut the lead to just 3), and we’re now officially in playoff-mode.

Dallas has all of the momentum now, and they’re down by 1 with a chance to take the lead with Josh Howard going to the line. Boris Diaw is getting exposed as a defensive liability, so D’Antoni kindly asks him to take a seat on the bench.

Howard blows the roof off the joint as he hits a jumper while getting fouled. Dallas has the lead!

Um, about that Dallas lead…STAT homers home an oop from Nash. Dampier, not to be denied, tips in a Dirk miss to give the Mavs the lead again. Terry then hits a huge three on the baseline leading to a Phoenix timeout. Mavs up 73-69 and they’ve scored 20 points(!!!) in the first 6 minutes of the third quarter. The crowd is going bonkers in Dallas…

The Mavs have their biggest lead of the night (6) as Dampier scores inside. Nash comes right back with a jumper over Dirk. He’s got 14 points tonight. Dampier then gets a rare standing ovation from the Dallas faithful as he exits. Didn’t they use to hate him?

Josh Howard’s jumper in the lane has given Dallas their biggest lead of the night. Even more interestingly, some little dude called Jose Juan Barea is running the point for the Mavs. Yeah, I’ve never heard of him, either.

Dirk is abusing people tonight. He just stepped around Marion for a lefty layup. With Marion’s quickness, that should never happen. But it did.

Things are getting ugly for Phoenix, Dallas has pushed the lead to 13 with under a minute to go in the third quarter.

Key stats: Jason Terry with 15 points, Howard with 18 and 7, Amare with 17 and 5, Nash with 14 and 9, and Nowitzki with 21 and 9. Dallas ends the third quarter on a high note and a comfortable 15 point lead. Just remember that they overcame a 16 point deficit themselves, so nothing’s guaranteed.

Phoenix has opened the fourth quarter by hitting two quick jumpers. One of those jumpers was by Stoudemire, who’s really improved that part of his game. I’m glad to see that he used his rehab time to add tools to his game.

Seemingly in trouble and nowhere to go, once again Nash pulls an incredible pass out of his ass, this time finding STAT in the lane for a short hook which cuts the Dallas lead to 10 with about 9 minutes to go. Timeout.

As Dallas commits a shot clock violation, ESPN provides us with a great shot of Avery Johnson muttering very bad words to himself. He’s not happy. Another silky Stoudemire jumper from the wing cuts the lead to 8.

After a Terry three, Nash finds Amare for a ridiculously acrobatic bucket. Count it and the foul. Freebie good.

Sweet Jesus! Dirk just blew by a flat-footed Nash for a savage one-handed dunk. I’ve never seen him get up and throw it down that hard before. Nash then gets called for an offensive foul as he tries to set one of those John Stockton picks. I guess these refs never saw John play.

With 5 and 1/2 to go, Dallas is up by 8 with Steve going to the line. Commercial break.

The resurrection of Jerry Stackhouse, ladies and germs! The UNC product has a season-high 26 points tonight. Barbosa meanwhile, has struggled after getting off to a hot start. The grind-it-out halfcourt game doesn’t seem to be his thing. Defense also doesn’t seem to be his thing, because he just got burned on the block by the aforementioned Stack. Dallas up by 8 with just over three minutes remaining.

And just like that, it’s a five point lead for Dallas with 2 minutes remaining. STAT just hit another jumper for those of you scoring at home. Jason Terry just hit a a potentially-back breaking jump shot. Seven point Dallas lead with a minute and a half to go.

This baby is pretty much over; Phoenix is in foul-mode and Dallas is going to ice things at the line.

Of course, as soon as I type that last sentence, Nash gets a foul call at the three point line, and has a chance to cut the lead to 2 with 14 seconds remaining.

OOOH, Dirk misses the first free throws.Three point game with 8 seconds left. UNBELIEVABLE. NASH hits a three to tie the game!!! 2.7 seconds remaining.

I’m guessing that Dirk will be given the chance to play the role of hero here…Drama!

Un-freaking-believable. Dirk misses a tough jumper at the buzzer, and we’re going to overtime. Phoenix looked dead in the water for much of the second half, but has somehow forced an extra session. How did this happen? I’m stunned.

Overtime:

With the amount of hype this game got before it started, it’s only fitting that things get settled in overtime.

Phoenix has new life and takes the early lead. STAT just scored two quick buckets to open the extra session. Stack cuts the lead to 2. This is crazy.

Nash just walked in for an uncontested layup. Dirk, unfazed, comes right back with a three pointer. Black Jesus (Stoudemire) then hits an unreal shot off the glass while falling to the ground to push the Phoenix lead to 4. Two minutes to go.

I never want to watch another basketball game where Phoenix and Dallas aren’t playing each other again. Ever!

STAT and Nash have taken over this overtime. Amare is going to the line with a chance to really make things tough for Dallas. Great spin move before the foul, too.

G’UH!!! Awful turnover by Jason Terry as he faced pressure from Marion. He just threw the ball out of bounds. Terrible. Less than a minute to go, and Phoenix is up by 5.

Nash lets Terry spin right by him and score with ease. Three point game.

UNREAL!!! Terry hits a gi-normous three in Nash’s mug to tie the game with under 5 ticks to go. My heart can’t handle this shit!

I’m guessing D’Antoni runs a play for someone other than Nash or Stoudemire here…

Told y’all. Barbosa couldn’t deliver in the clutch, and now we’re going to overtime #2. This is basketball heaven.

Second Overtime:

Dampier opens the scoring. Phoenix then comes back the other way and gets STAT to the line with a chance to tie. I love how Nash backs it up whenever Dirk or any of the Dallas big men are matched up with him one-on-one at the top of the key. It’s like he’s savoring the chance to kill them off the dribble.

Stunning play from Nash: After uncharacteristically losing the ball in the backcourt, he gathers himself and draws an offensive foul on Jason Terry. On the next possession, he finds Amare off the screen and roll, and STAT flies in for a tough finish, plus the foul. 124-122 for Phoenix.

OY, Jason Terry with another brutal turnover. He just kicked the ball out of bounds. Crazy stats tonight: Amare (41 pts), Nash (31 pts), Stack (30 pts), and Dirk (28 pts). Amare, for his part, has scored 14 points in these two overtimes.

After a huge Stackhouse three from straight away (which cut the lead to 2), Marion grabs an impossible rebound and sticks it back in to push the lead back up to 4. Just over one minute to go.

The Brazilian Blur has just fouled out.

Oh man, Dirk with an incredible tear drop fadeaway to cut the lead to 2. Dallas has the ball after a Phoenix turnover and has 35 seconds to tie or take the lead.

MVP MVP MVP! Nash makes a great defensive play and knocks the ball off Terry, giving the ball back to Phoenix.

After a Phoenix miss, Dirk misses the jumper at the buzzer and Phoenix somehow, someway, wins an unbelievable game on the road. It’s a win they absolutely had no business winning, but they pulled it out. Phenomenal game.

Final score: 129-127

Here’s what we learned this evening: If you slow Phoenix down (which Dallas evidently can), you can beat them. Dallas just couldn’t slow them down for the full 48 and that is why they lost this game. They seemingly thought they had the game in the bag at the end of the fourth quarter, and by letting up for a moment, Nash and the Suns took advantage and stole a big win on the road.

It helps that Amare Stoudemire and Steve Nash are superheroes, too.

Alright, I’m off to bed. I need my rest; there’s a lot of college ball to be watched and a lot of alcohol to be consumed tomorrow.