The Post Up: Denver and Dirk, Cool Under Pressure

by April 11, 2008

By: Holly MacKenzie

It’s Friday, the last Friday of the regular season and I can’t believe we are really here. Only three games last night and it is really too bad that the Dallas/Utah game wasn’t the second part of the TNT double-header because it was insane. Thankfully for everyone who was watching TNT, they showed the final seconds of the game and showed Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks are serious when it comes to making playoffs.

Obviously, I wanted both Denver and Golden State to make the postseason, at the expense of Dallas. Now that the Mavs have been bringing it strong to close the season, I cannot hate what they’ve been doing. They simply are refusing to be shut out of the playoffs. The shot by Deron was something, but then for Dallas to inbound the ball, find Dirk and watch as he calmly threw it at the basket? The Mavs are clicking at just the right time and Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm was there.

While you’re there, scroll down and check the vid of Lance Allred, the D-Leaguer who has been signed by Cleveland if you want a clip of some awkward television. Yeah.
Speaking of refusing to lose, Iverson, Iverson, Iverson. Even though I was going for the Warriors to win the game, I could not root against him and he had me cheering for him by the end of the game. The man was just fantastic from opening tip to final buzzer, coming up huge whenever his team needed him. One one play he gathered himself, drove to the basket and closed his eyes, bracing for the contact as he went up against the Warrior big men before taking the hit and crashing to the floor, hard. Marcus Camby immediately rushes over the give him a hand in getting up, Iverson shakes it off, shakes his hand with the broken finger and then goes to the foul line to knock down some free throws. No commotion, no complaining, no reaction. Sacrificing his body for the game is the only way he knows how to play. There is only one Allen Iverson.

As disappointed as I was that the Warriors lost, these playoffs are going to be absolutely insane. We are lucky, lucky people to get to experience the postseason this year.

About the Kobe video: Eric Pincus over at Hoopsworld confirmed with Kobe himself, that the video was made possible with special effects. Still funny as anything though.

Tonight is the huge game between the Hornets and Lakers. 10:30pm Est tip-off. I recommend watching it because the MVP award might just be decided upon in this game. I think it is probably going to go to Paul regardless, but this game is huge for both teams with the Lakers only 1.5 games behind the Hornets for best record in the West.

One more link for the day: While I was looking for NCAA Tourney coverage I stumbled upon this Kansas Jayhawks blog. Written by Ryan Greene, the coverage from the tourney games, locker rooms etc. was probably the most entertaining that I’ve found. Great stuff!

Enjoy the weekend, watch lots of ball and get ready to discuss some of these match ups and the standings on Monday.
Denver 114 Golden State 105

In the match up of the year for both teams it was not quite win or go home, but basically win or stay home, in terms of which team would get to go on to the playoffs. With identical records, three games remaining each and only one playoff spot available between them, the game was huge. It was just a bit more crucial for the Warriors, who lost out on the season series with the Nuggets and in the case of a tie, will be the team to miss the postseason. Unfortunately for them, Allen Iverson and the rest of his Denver teammates were not about to let the season come down to tie-breakers. With Iverson pouring in 33 points, the Nuggets rebounded from an early 16-point deficit, trailing 37-22 at the end of the first quarter to turn things around in the second, outscoring Golden State 39-23 as they took a 61-60 lead at the break. In the second half, things only went downhill for the Warriors as Denver found their rhythm, led by Iverson and JR Smith who came off of the bench and scored 24 points in the game. Denver led 89-82 at the start of the fourth and they quickly extended their lead to as many as 17 before the Warriors cut the deficit to nine. Iverson refused anything less than a victory and was huge in the final minutes, scoring a layup and then drilling a three-pointer to all but seal the game for the Nuggets as the Warriors spoiled a triple-double from Baron Davis in the loss. Besides Iverson’s 33 points and 9 assists, JR Smith scored 24 points off of the bench as Carmelo Anthony added 25 points and 9 rebounds and Eduardo Najera added 10. Monta Ellis led the Warriors offensively with 29 points as Davis had 20 points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists. Stephen Jackson scored 18 points, Al Harrington scored 20 and Andris Biedrins added 10 points and 19 rebounds as the Warriors out-rebounded Golden State 52-44 in the loss.

Dallas 97 Utah 94

While the Golden State/Denver game was definitely the match up of the night, the contest between the Jazz and Mavs turned out to have the craziest finish. After trailing by as many as 14 points early, the Utah Jazz came back in the third quarter against the Mavericks, setting the scene for a battle in the fourth quarter. With Josh Howard leaving the game in the third with a sore knee and not returning, Jason Terry stepped it up and scored all 21 of his points in the second half as the Mavs tried to survive the push from Utah. With neither team leading by more than five points throughout the fourth, Dallas went up 92-89 on a shot by Dirk Nowitzki with 29 seconds remaining. A dunk by Deron Williams was waved off on the next possession because he had been fouled prior to the score, and he was sent to the foul line where he connected on both shots to cut the lead down to one with 11 seconds to play. Terry drew the foul for Dallas and went to the line where he knocked down two free throws, extending the Maverick lead to three with 9 seconds remaining where the Jazz came out of a time out and Williams rose and drained a three-pointer to tie the game with five seconds remaining. Dallas immediately inbounded the ball, went the length of the court and Nowitzki three up a three at the buzzer and he made it for the fantastic finish. Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 32 points, Terry had 21 and Brandon Bass scored 14 points. Deron Williams had 18 points and 12 assists for the Jazz as Mehmet Okur finished with 19 points and 14 rebounds, Andrei Kirilenko scored 15 points and Carlos Boozer added 10 points in the loss.

LA Lakers 106 LA Clippers 78

In their final meeting of the year, the Lakers continued their dominance over the Clippers this season. While the return of Elton Brand is a positive for the Clippers, they were missing Corey Maggette who sat with a strained hamstring. In addition, they lost Quinton Ross midway through the second quarter with a leg injury and he did not return. While the Lakers were up by 10 for most of the contest, the Clippers continued to hang around until midway through the third where the Lakers used a 32-11 run to close the quarter and open the fourth. The Lakers lead stretched to as many as 32 points midway through the fourth quarter and Lamar Odom was the only Laker starter to get action in the final period as the bench played big minutes, giving the Lakers rest for their match up with the Hornets tonight. Luke Walton led the Lakers in scoring with 18 points as Kobe Bryant scored 16 points, Lamar Odom had 14 points and 13 rebounds and Pau Gasol added 13 points. Rookie Al Thornton had 22 points and 10 rebounds for the Clippers and Elton Brand scored 23 to go with 7 rebounds, while Smush Parker scored 12 points off of the bench in the loss. The Lakers have defeated the Clippers by an average of 26 points in four victories this season.