Ball Don't Lie - NBA

Scanning the blogs and beats following the Nuggets' 106-105 controversial win over the Mavericks in Game 3 of the Western Conference Semifinals ...

Dallas Mavericks Blog: "A total of 61 fouls were called this afternoon at the AAC. The Mavs are awfully mad about one that wasn't. With a foul to give, Antoine Wright(notes) raked Carmelo Anthony(notes) across the arm on the Nuggets' last possession. He did so right in front of the Mavs' bench, which was full of fellas hollering to give a foul. Wright was so sure the whistle would blow that he stopped playing. The whistle didn't blow. Melo's 3-pointer went down. And that was the difference in Denver's 106-105 win, which put the Mavs on the brink of elimination. 'I mean, all night long the whistle was blowing fast,' Wright said. 'The whistle was blowing. At the end of the game when we're blatantly trying to foul, the whistle wasn't blowing.'"

The Two Man Game: "There are losses that make you want to yell and scream. There are losses that make you want to roll over and die. And then, there are losses that leave you staring in disbelief, mouth agape, as if the life has been sucked right out of you. Or, if you’re like me, it’s a rotation of the three until I successfully recover from my postgame stupor. In general, I try to avoid the thing that nobody wants to talk about but everybody wants to talk about: officiating. There’s a certain give and take to the ref game, and I respect that. But tonight is different. Although a  blown call in the fourth quarter technically carries the same weight as one in the first, the critical mistake of the officiating crew in the final seconds of Game 3 was the biggest dagger I’ve seen in these playoffs. In one missed call, Dallas fell from a hopeful 1-2 to a funereal 0-3, a death knell in NBA basketball. It’s up for debate whether or not the Mavs had a real chance at winning this series, but one suddenly silent whistle made any debate irrelevant."

Roundball Mining Company: "Yes, what Antoine Wright did to Carmelo Anthony was a foul, but you play the game the way the referees call it. In that light I have [some] recommendations for the Mavericks next time they find themselves in that situation. 1. Tell the officials you want to foul before the shot goes up. It is not against the rules to communicate your strategy to do to the officials. For years players and coaches have informed refs that they want to call a timeout as soon as they grab a rebound. If the officials know what you want to do they will be anticipating that you are going to do it and that makes it much more likely that they will make the call you are looking for. [...] 2. If you are going to foul, foul. Do not make a weak slap at the ball/arm. Wrap the offensive player up. Grab him, hold him like you are at the prom. Leave the referees no choice, but to call the foul."

Mavs Moneyball: "I hate basketball. Discuss."

Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News: "Shirts were pulled and stretched. Forearms were shoved into necks and ribs. Nasty words were exchanged. And all that was after the Mavericks had lost Game 3. The postgame scene on the court at American Airlines Center was one that will no doubt get the NBA's attention, but it also showed just how badly the Mavericks felt they had gotten jobbed [...]  Josh Howard(notes) had to be restrained by assistant coach Darrell Armstrong(notes). Then Armstrong had to be restrained by other team officials. Antoine Wright was ticked off. Several teammates were barking at the Denver Nuggets, who were crowing about their 3-0 lead in the playoff series. Owner Mark Cuban was in the middle of it all. Make no mistake. The Mavericks knew just how important this was. It was a series killer, nothing less."

Talk Hoops: "Truthfully, though this game will undoubtedly prove controversial in the end, the real reason Denver won is because of their resilience. In fact, I'll go as far to say that they are the most resilient team in the league. Despite not playing that well and shooting poorly, this Denver team still clawed their way through an important and ugly win. I mean, there were 61 fouls called and Dallas made 40/49 free throws (almost half their points) and Denver still won  It would've been easy for Denver to take this game off and try to get the next one in Dallas before heading back home to close the series out in Denver, but Chauncey Billups(notes) would have none of it. He had a stellar third quarter scoring 16 points and jump-starting this Denver offense which was fairly stagnant for the most part today. Really, give this Denver team credit, they never gave up and certainly never backed down which propelled them into a virtual series lock."

SLAM Online: "Nowitzki wanted this one, not that he didn’t want the first two, but he really wanted this one. You could tell in the way he attacked the glass for 16 rebounds, you could tell in his body language after knocking down jumper after jumper. More than anything though, you could tell in his reaction after the game was over. While many of his teammates were on the floor either jawing with Denver or looking to hunt down an official (Mark Cuban even got in on the action by pushing a camera man), Dirk went straight for the lockers. His shoulders were slumped, his face had a blank expression and he generally looked like a kid who after expecting a snow day was greeted by an army of snow plows the next morning. There is absolutely no silver lining in this outcome for Nowitzki. He played a brilliant game, did everything he could to get his team a win, but due to a botched call, his team is all but finished in the playoffs."

Randy Galloway, Star-Telegram: "Despite a controversial ending, let there be no Mavs crying, not after missing two free throws (one by Jason Terry(notes), one by Josh Howard) in the final 2:12, among four clanged in the fourth quarter. Or when Dirk Nowitzki(notes), who otherwise was very game, threw up a lame shot with 7.9 seconds left, which was a failure in three areas: No. 1, he missed. No. 2, Dirk didn’t milk the shot clock enough, leaving three critical seconds and 6.5 overall. No. 3, while guarded man-to-man by Kenyon Martin(notes), he didn’t do what he had been doing much of the afternoon. Driving the rim hard, getting to the line."

Basketball Prospectus: "Wright had attempted to give a foul just before Anthony’s shot. He did so by bumping ‘Melo with his chest, not once, but twice. On the second one, Anthony doled out as much of a blow as he took and his progress towards the spot he was trying to get to wasn’t really impeded. Was it a foul? Maybe. Probably. But not definitely. When you’re giving a foul, give it. Wright had a chance to wrap up Anthony and he didn’t do it. He just bumped him. The whistle probably should have been blown, but it wasn’t. So Wright screwed up. Wright then screwed up again. Assuming that the whistle had blown, he stopped playing. That is a cardinal sin — in any sport. Anthony kept right on going and drilled the game-winner. Everyone on the Dallas sideline, including Rick Carlisle and Mark Cuban, was going ballistic. The fact of the matter is that they had no one to blame but themselves. Well, Antione Wright specifically."

Mark Cuban, Twitter [w/ sic]: "There is absolutely nothing to say afetr that."

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