April 23, 2007

Dirk Nowitzki "Obviously" Watch

Double dosage.

"Obviously, the pressure's all on us," Nowitzki said. "No one expects them to win. Obviously, shooting 35 percent [as a team] on our home court won't get it done."

Raiders release Badger, Johnstone

From Scout:

The Oakland Raiders released defensive end Lance Johnstone and offensive lineman Brad Badger on Friday. They also signed defensive back Kris Richard and defensive tackle Josh Shaw.
I know neither one produced as much as the Raiders would have liked, but does this surprise anybody like me? Particuarly Badger, who had been a serviceable backup for a long, long time. Well, I guess Kiffin is making the team his own. Which could be good, but who knows for sure? I think we are all prone to inordinate amounts of optimism for the product we have seen on the field for so many years, but that's just me right now.

Devils 3, Lightning 2 - Devils host Senators

This one was fun to watch, as it was actually on TV.

Although he let in two goals as opposed to shutting them out, Brodeur was the man in this game. Sure, Gionta got two goals and huge ones at that. But Brodeur made the difference and should have been the first star of the game, stopping 32 of 34 shots. He was dang good. Richards had his number, twice turning 2-goal leads into a single goal difference, both times on the power play. That is one aspect that the Devils will have to clean up. They took way too many penalties, and it cost them twice in this game and it could have been even more times, but thankfully that was all they were allowed. Still, this is a problem area. A lot of the time they were just skating around and poking at pucks instead of attacking the puck or at least the puck-carrier. Way too much time spent in the Devils zone.

As for the positive things, the Devils got a lot of rushes. They were content to play in their zone or in neutral ice, but recognized when they had the opportunity and took advantage of it. Elias had a nice pass to Gionta and Gionta was able to rip it past Holmqvist. Looked like a basic shot, but Holmqvist didn't square it up and he paid the price. That was a power play goal, as was the next one as Rafalski slammed one in there at the beginning of the 2nd period to make it 2-0. Richards came back with a goal. Then Gionta got his second one of the day on an extremely easy play. He and Elias were in front of the net and Kuba crashed into Holmqvist while Gionta was plenty patient with the puck, finally putting it past the goalie when he had no chance to stop it. Richards then got another power play goal and that was it for the scoring. No scoring in the third period, but still intense action. The Devils actually looked better at the end of the game when Tampa pulled the goalie. That was pretty weird. But they were able to control the final few minutes and celebrated the moving on to the Eastern Semis to face the Ottawa Senators.

It's weird because I watched the game, and I've hardly seen any Devils games this year, and I don't have much to write about. It was cool. It was very nerve-wracking at the end of the game, when I was waiting for the inevitable tie game because the Lightning always get 3 goals. But not this time. 12 goals the first 4 games, and 2 goals the next 2.

A winnable, but hard series is coming up with Ottawa. Due to re-seeding, the #1 Sabres will face the #6 Rangers while the #2 Devils will face the #4 Senators. I was very nervous about this series with Tampa Bay and their offense, but the Devils were able to roll off 3 straight wins and they looked decent at times and very good at other times. I am particularly glad to see Brodeur back on top of things, he seems to be in the zone. Ottawa has a very capable offense as well and a goalie who doesn't mind dropping the gloves and decking somebody in the face. Should be a good series. Rock on.

Warriors 97, Mavericks 85


One of two things will happen next.

1) The Mavericks will find themselves in a dog fight, slugging it out until late in the series where they will either barely lose or barely win.

2) They find some motivation, some desire, some sense of shot-making ability and slap themselves in the face and win the next 4 games.

This was a sad state of affairs, but that's why they play a 7-game series, I guess. Though if the Mavs keep playing like this, they won't last that long.

This was a game where everyone was giving little advantage to Golden State. Sure, they had beaten the Mavs 6 out of the past 7 times, and now 6 in a row. Sure that happened, but let's give you some excuses as to why none of it mattered. Well, it mattered last night. This team has figured the Mavs out, and they were the better team the entire way through. Nowitzki was a non-factor at best, nobody could make a shot, they gave up on defense far too quickly, and walked away with a deserving loss. On the other end, the Warriors were flying, grabbing tons of rebounds, making little plays and big plays, scoring like crazy, and letting Baron Davis take over in the late stages of the game. He ended up with 33 points to lead all scorers. He also had 14 rebounds and 8 assists. He could not be stopped. He hit three 3-pointers at the late stages of the third quarter to put just enough distance between the Warriors and the Mavs to allow them to win it. Stephen Jackson had 23 points.

For the Mavs, team shooting was 35%. Howard led the way with 21 points, most of those coming early in the game. He was only 8/21 shooting. He did snag 13 boards, though. He also played a ridiculous 43 minutes. Nowitzki had 14 points and and 12 rebounds, and was 4/16 shooting the ball. The Mavs actually had more success when he was on the bench. Terry and Harris were cold for sure. Stackhouse played 20 minutes and missed all of his shots. Dampier only played 2 minutes.

Stats don't really paint as clear of a picture as watching the actual disaster, but here they are nonetheless. Team shooting for the Warriors was only 43%, so the damage could have been much worse. Both teams were awful at the beginning of the game. The Warriors attempted 11 more 3's than the Mavs and made 4 more. Free throw shooting was about even, Mavs with a slight edge, but misses are a concern. Dallas actually ended up outrebounding Golden State, which is hard to figure out, because it didn't appear that way. Must have been late in the game. Assists were tied up at 16 a piece, Golden State had one more turnover, Dallas had 3 more steals. Blocks were even at 6. So stats paint a better picture for the Mavs, but the paintbrush was sweeping toward Golden State's direction.

You can expect Dallas to come out on fire next game. They better.

Reds lose back-to-back games to Phillies, drop below .500


First was Guaranteed Loss Night, as Milton dropped his 3rd. Yet again, he pitched like a mediocre pitcher. He's done decent work, but he and other things happen to make sure the Reds lose. Like Cole Hamels, Phillies pitcher, lighting up the scoreboard with 15 K's, most of any pitcher this year. Or David Ross grounding into a triple play, first of the year. Those types of things. Multiple errors by the Reds, small ball and all that. Costly errors. Biggest crowd of the year and first sellout for Cincy and they suck it up. Did the fans know Milton was pitching? What gives? First sellout and Milton is on the mound against the worst team in the majors? Go figure. The game sucked. Conine hit a homer, though.

Second was Ryan Howard Welcome Back Night and Please Don't Forget to Hit a Home Run. Freddy Garcia came over from the White Sox and got the win, Belisle pitched 5 innings, allowing 8 hits, 1 walk and 6 K's for 4 earned runs and the loss. Phillips got hit by pitches twice times. Freel got a triple. Hamilton stole his first base. Little things. A sac fly and an RBI double for some runs, but not nearly enough. Errors killed again in this game.