SPORTS / DEPORTES: Dallas MAVS are the 2011 NBA Champions!

A Texas size CONGRATULATIONS to the Dallas Mavericks for defeating the Miami Heat & for being the 2011 NBA Champions!🙂

2011 NBA CHAMPIONS: Dallas Mavericks

The Dallas Mavericks celebrate with the trophy after winning game six of the NBA Finals between the Miami Heat and the Dallas Mavericks at the American Airlines Arena in Miami, Florida, June 12, 2011. The Mavericks won 105-95 to take the title

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Enjoy the day & I hope you’re having a good summer!


SPORTS / DEPORTES: NBA Finals Game 1 Mavericks 84 Heat 92

2011 NBA FINALS: Dallas Mavs vs. Miami Heat

No explanation necessary. The Miami Heat are three wins from the reason why the Big Three came together in the first place.

James scored 24 points for his first win in five NBA Finals games, Wade scored 15 of his 22 points in the second half and the Heat beat the Dallas Mavericks 92-84 in Game 1 of the title series on Tuesday night — holding the Western Conference champions to their lowest point total of the playoffs after a dominant defensive showing down the stretch.

“Feels good because it’s the first game and we played well as a team,” James said. “We’ve got a lot of work to do. … That’s one in the books. We’re excited about this game. Tomorrow we prepare for Game 2, and I see ways we can get better.”

Dirk Nowitzki scored 27 points — tearing a tendon in the middle finger on his left, non-shooting, hand during the game and revealing afterward that he’ll likely wear a splint throughout the remainder of the series — and grabbed eight rebounds for Dallas, which got 16 points and 10 rebounds from Shawn Marion and 12 points from Jason Terry, most of those coming in an early flurry. It was Dallas’ fifth straight loss to Miami in Finals games, dating to the Heat rally for the 2006 crown.

Dallas held the Heat to 39 percent shooting, Miami’s second-worst showing of the playoffs.

Problem was, the Mavericks shot 37 percent — by far, their worst night of the postseason offensively.
“You hold a team to 38 percent shooting and 92 points, for us, that’s usually a victory,” Marion said.

Sure enough, Dallas had been 7-2 when holding teams to those kind of numbers this season. Game 2 is Thursday in Miami.

“We’re a veteran team,” said Nowitzki, who had a postgame X-ray on the finger that was injured when he was stripping the ball from Bosh. “You can’t get down with a loss. You’ve got to come back strong on Thursday. I’ve said it a couple times in this playoff run, if you’re the road team, you’re happy with a split. So we’ve got another opportunity on Thursday to get one. Obviously, we don’t want to go home down 0-2.”

Wade’s 3-pointer with 3:06 left put the Heat up 82-73, then the largest lead of the game for either team. The Mavs shaved two points off it on the next possession when Nowitzki hit two free throws, but James gave the Heat their first double-digit lead of the Finals a few seconds later.

He dribbled upcourt against Marion, crossed his dribble over and got clear for a dunk while being fouled. The free throw made it 85-75, and most in the sellout, white-clad crowd began standing in anticipation.

Even then, it wasn’t over.

Nowitzki made two more free throws — he was 12 for 12 from the line for the game — with 1:36 left, cutting the Miami lead to six.

A momentary blip.

“They have two very good closers,” Nowitzki said, “two of the best in the game.”

Wade grabbed a key defensive rebound, dribbled away from three Dallas pursuers and found Bosh for a dunk with 1:08 left that restored the 10-point lead. Another dunk by James came with 38.6 seconds left, sealing the outcome.

“For me, going into the fourth quarter, it’s winning time,” James said.

Sure was, and the Heat fans knew it, breaking into their now-traditional tossing of their white seat covers.

“By and large, we’ve got to play better, just overall,” said Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle, especially noting Miami’s 16-6 edge in offensive rebounds.

Miami outrebounded Dallas 46-36, got a gritty effort on both ends from reserve Mike Miller — who left with his left arm in a sling, but insisted he would be fine — and reaped rewards again from another strong fourth-quarter finish by Wade and James.

“That’s who they’ve been their entire careers,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said.

Bosh scored 19 points and Mario Chalmers added 12 for the Heat. The Heat trailed by eight points early in the third quarter before pulling away, remaining unbeaten — now 9-0 — at home in these playoffs and snapping Dallas’ five-game road postseason winning streak.

Dallas had 51 points after 26 minutes. The Mavericks scored 18 points in the next 18 minutes and 33 over the remainder of the game, as Miami’s defense found another gear.

“That’s kind of the way we’ve been winning games, of late,” Wade said. “You’ve got stay with it. You can’t get frustrated because the ball’s not going in. There’s other ways you can dominate the game and we was able to do that tonight. I thought we did a great job in the second half of rebounding the ball, limiting them to one shot as much as possible.”

Take away the 2006 NBA Finals, and Dallas came into Game 1 having beaten Miami 14 straight times. The only team that has lost to any team more times consecutively is Minnesota, which finished with the NBA’s worst record this season. The Timberwolves have lost 16 straight to San Antonio and Portland, and 15 straight to the Los Angeles Lakers.

In the Finals, it simply doesn’t seem to matter.
“We’ll play better. I’m very certain of that,” Carlisle said. “We had some opportunities. Shots we normally make, they didn’t go down. Look, it’s a long series. We’ll adjust.”

Wade — the hero of that 2006 championship — found himself with a couple extra minutes before tipoff because of an unusually long delay after the starters were introduced. So he went looking for inspiration. He screamed at his teammates, “Don’t say, ‘I wish I woulda,’ ” in the huddle before they took the court, his way of telling them not to leave anything in the proverbial tank during this series.

And then he slowly trotted to the other end of the court, pointed to his mother Jolinda in a baseline seat and gave her a hug as many in the crowd roared. He usually blows her a pregame kiss. On Tuesday, that wouldn’t suffice.

“We both said, ‘Here we go. We’re here again. We’re back,’ ” Wade said.

Both teams expect to ride defense in this series, and that was made perfectly evident in the opening 12 minutes. The teams combined to take 35 shots in the first quarter — and made 10.

Dallas led 17-16 after the first quarter, which was the lowest two-team output in the first quarter of Game 1 of a Finals in the shot clock era, according to STATS LLC. It tied the fourth-lowest total for any Finals quarter since 1955, bettering only the 30 points by the Magic and Lakers in Game 2 in 2009, and the 31 posted by the Jazz and Bulls in 1998’s Game 3 along with the Lakers and Celtics in 1969’s Game 4.

Everyone was struggling, maybe a little because of nerves, and mostly to do with the defensive intensity on both ends. James was 3 for 6 in the first quarter, while the rest of the Heat were 3 for 15. Half of Dallas’ four first-quarter baskets were 3-pointers by Jason Kidd, the team’s 38-year-old point guard searching for his first NBA title.

And the Mavericks had one — that’s right, one — 2-point basket in the game’s first 15:49, with 10 of their first 18 field goal attempts coming from 3-point range.

“We really didn’t play well at all tonight,” Terry said. “First quarter, 17 points and third quarter, 17 — that’s not our style of basketball. Give them credit. They disrupted our tempo and they finished at the end.”

Dallas opened the third quarter by scoring seven quick points, all on jumpers, the burst ending with DeShawn Stevenson’s 3-pointer with 10:03 remaining in the period — pushing the Mavericks’ lead to 51-43 and silencing a building that was still refilling after halftime.

“He had three days to shoot that and we didn’t get anybody near him,” Spoelstra said.

That was quickly fixed, and the rest of the third was largely all Miami.

“For the most part, we think we had chances to get a hold of this game,” Marion said. “And we let it get out of our hands.”

The Heat outscored Dallas 22-10 in the remainder of the quarter. Wade started the rally — just as he did in a series-saving effort for Miami in Game 3 of the ’06 Finals, giving the memorable “Nah, I ain’t going out like this” quote afterward — with two layups. And James beat the clock at the end of the period with an off-balance 3-pointer from near the Dallas bench for a 65-61 Miami lead.

“It’s one game, and that’s it,” Spoelstra said. “We’re already moving on.”
(via the AP)

NBA WESTERN CONFERENCE FINALS: OKC Thunder wins Game 2 – will the Dallas Mavs’ win Game 3?

Dallas Mavericks power forward Dirk Nowitzki (41) shoots against Oklahoma City Thunder power forward Serge Ibaka (9) during the first quarter of play in Game 2 of the NBA Western Conference Finals at American Airlines Center in Dallas on May 19, 2011

Not many NBA teams are able to span 27 days between playoff losses. But, the span will go no longer for the Dallas Mavericks as they were punched hard in the gut on Thursday Night at the AAC, dropping a 106-100 Thriller in Game 2 to Oklahoma City.

It is easy to focus exclusively on the Mavericks after these playoff games and whether the result is good, bad, or ugly, I enjoy spending time on the Dallas side of the equation. But, after last night, I think the lead has to be the coaching gambles that were won by Scotty Brooks in what most-likely go down as the biggest win in Thunder History.

Look at it from that perspective with me for a moment.

So, this young coach, who is handling an extremely young and inexperienced team, is entering the 4th Quarter with a 1-point lead. He only has that lead because James Harden just converted a 4-point play at the very end of the 3rd Quarter when he hit a trey and was fouled. He goes with his customary bench lineup to begin the 4th and to get his starters some rest and some time to harbor some foul trouble to Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka before they will have to go back in the paint and battle Dirk Nowitzki and Tyson Chandler for the final few minutes. Brooks cannot insert them back in the lineup too early, because he can’t lose them too early. If he does, it is down to very little to try to leave town with the split that the Thunder so desired.

Brooks starts the 4th with Harden, DaeQuan Cook , Eric Maynor, Nick Collison, and of course, Kevin Durant. If they could hold off Dallas for 4 minutes or so, it will be time to get Russell Westbrook back in (18 points, 4 assists) and try to bring this thing home.

What followed were just under 9 minutes of clinical offense that put 25 points on the board. With 3:15 to play, the game was largely in hand at 102-92. The Thunder had the ball 15 times during that 8:45 to start the 4th. They scored on 11 of the 15 possessions. It was absolutely devastating to Dallas who was able to get Dirk just about anything he wanted during that stretch, but it still wasn’t enough to keep up with the exhibition that James Harden, Kevin Durant, and friends were putting on at the other end.

Sometimes, you blame your defense. If you review that 4th Quarter stretch, you will certainly be frustrated at a moment or two, but for the most part, I submit the Thunder were taking shots that you don’t mind conceding. Harden and Durant were both hitting very tough, well defended shots from a great distance. But, sometimes, especially in the NBA where shotmakers are everywhere, there is just nothing you can do.

And on those rare occasions where Harden or Durant did not carry the mail, here is Eric Maynor, the pride of Virginia Commonwealth, driving in for a tough running bucket. He had 2 baskets during this stretch, too. Daequan Cook chipped in 5 points, including a 3 out of a timeout to make it 98-92. And Nick Collison even added a dunk and some rather important moments on defense – 1 which he just wrestled the ball away from Nowitzki and started the ball the other way.

Cook, Maynor, and Collison? Meanwhile, the Oklahoma City starters – aside from the league’s leading scorer – had a great view of the proceedings, but certainly spent glances wondering when Brooks was going to send them back in the game. It wasn’t as if Westbrook wasn’t playing well. He had a very nice first 3 Quarters. Obviously, he is the item of some discussion based on periods of erratic play, but he is also a pillar of this franchise and these are the moments for him to shine. Kendrick Perkins and Serge Ibaka stand by to force the issues in the paint where Dirk is knifing in for basket after basket.

But Brooks held fast with his lineup. With 7 minutes to go, the thoughts crossed his mind. The offense was fine but the defense was not stopping Dirk and JJ Barea. Inside 6 minutes, it is still a 1-possession game. This is a spot where most coaches certainly take their winnings from their bench standing up to the pressure on the road and play it by the book; getting his starters back in the game to finish the contest.

Brooks opted to roll the dice again. And his next decision (to not change his lineup) is the type of decision that if it doesn’t work is widely ridiculed by the media and fans based on the outcome. How can you let Eric Maynor and Nick Collison stay in the game when you have better options on the bench? And that is where it worked. From 5:30 to go to 3:15 to go, the Thunder bench crew beat the hard Charging Mavericks 7-0. Taking a 3 point lead and pushing it to 10 with a 3 from Cook, a Maynor runner, and one of the most in-your-face jumpers of the playoffs as Harden buries one from the top of the circle with confidence and a beard that made Dallas observers channel nightmares of Baron Davis.

He never went back to his bench. The combined playing time in the 4th Quarter from the OKC 4 starters not named Durant? Less than a minute. 37 seconds for Ibaka and 13 seconds for Thabo Sefolosha. Westbrook and Perkins had 0:00.

What a gutty decision that had a very high risk/reward ratio. The Mavericks not only lost the battle of the benches, but the Thunder bench beat the Mavericks in crunch time. Quite impressive.

From a Dallas perspective, you certainly can find items to critique. You wish the defense could have provided more stops and that Dirk could have showed Collison a few more lessons on the other end. But, sometimes you give away a game and sometimes it is taken from you. In Game 2, I submit that in that 4th Quarter, the game was taken away by the visiting Thunder. Who made tough shots, tough decisions as a coaching staff, and overall deserved to tie this series at 1-1.

If they are going to make those shots under those circumstances from those distances, then I believe you tip your hat, thank the basketball gods that it has been 27 days since you last tasted defeat, and move on to the next one.

As former Cowboys coach Joe Avezzanno used to tell me, “you know, the other team pays its players, too.” (By BOB STURM / Special Contributor