April 26, 2007

Mavericks 112, Warriors 99

That sound you don't quite hear is a collective sigh of relief coming up from within the bowels of Dallas, Texas. Where the Mavericks could not afford to go down 2 games to n0ne. And thankfully they didn't. Hard to say how much they actually earned it when Golden State's best player, Baron Davis, was ejected at the end of the third quarter and their second-best player, Stephen Jackson, was thrown out with 4 minutes left in the game. Not sure how much they earned it, but what I do know is that they got it. They got the win. I wish they would have gotten it without any question marks, but that's just now how it went. I'll take the win for now.

The Mavs got off to another slow start, though it wasn't nearly as disastrous as Game 1's sluggish beginning. But it wasn't much to get excited about either. I was fairly concerned, the Warriors looked good again and had early sizeable leads while the Mavs looked like they weren't in it a whole lot. That changed over time, thankfully and believeably so. The Mavs eventually took control of the game bit by bit and were helped out enormously by the ejections, though that's no consolation to the Warriors at this point.

Baron Davis, even before he got thrown out the game, was not the same Mavs Killer as he was in Game 1. He left with 13 points on 5-12 shooting, a good testament for the Mavs playing a much better defensive game, even though both teams scored far more than they did in Game 1. Stephen Jackson was the best threat Golden State put on the floor, and he got kicked out. He left with 30 points, but had 8 turnovers. Jason Richardson had 14 and 10 and Monta Ellis threw in 20 points.

Jason Terry was the man in this contest, playing all but 7 minutes of the game. He ended up with 28 points on 23 attempts, shooting barely over 50%, but it was enough. He was ice cold from 3-point land, going 1/7 but was strong when it counted. Nowitzki was next with 23, even though everyone was predicting a 40-point, or even 50-point explosion from him due to his lack of anything in Game 1. I wasn't expecting that and he delivered a solid, unspectacular game. He also chipped in 7 rebounds and 2 blocks. Josh Howard had 22 points and 11 rebounds. Jerry Stackhouse made a complete turnaround from his 0/7 Game 1, with 17 points in this one. He went to the free throw line often, which was great to see. He also ended up with 8 rebounds.

Shooting was fairly even, Mavs had the edge 49%-47%. Nobody could hit a 3, as the Warriors were 4/20 and the Mavs were 1/16. Free throws were 86%-85% in favor of Dallas, and that figure could stand to improve. The Mavs outrebounded 41-34. Assists were very low for both teams, the Mavs with 15, but the Warriors with only 9. That's pretty sickening right there. Especially when you consider the Warriors had 24 turnovers. Turnover-to-assist ratio was 24/9, one of the worst figures of the entire season I would imagine. Dallas had twice as many steals, 14-7, and the Mavs blocked 9 shots. Stats clearly in favor of Dallas, if not even, so it's somewhat a concern that they didn't win by a wider margin, especially considering the Warriors' two hot shots were holed up in the locker room unable to play the late stages of the game. Hopefully the win will be enough to give the Mavs some confidence heading into Oakland.

Cardinals 5, Reds 2

Guaranteed Loss Night. Just after you witness what a great team the Reds could be after they put a win together like last night, they go out and do the usual: solid starting pitching, not enough hits, shaky defense, and a give-it-up bullpen.


Pitching: Bronson Arroyo goes 7 innings, giving up 5 hits and a walk, K'ing 2, and ends up with an earned run, bringing his ERA further down to 2.86. What more do you want from the guy? And yet, you know the Reds will lose when he pitches. It's been done all 5 starts, while Arroyo personally remains at 0-3. Hard to be that man, but hopefully it won't get to him. Just sad is all. A great effort. SaarLOSE came on in the 8th and didn't get anybody out, walking 2 and allowing 2 hits, giving up 4 runs, 2 of them earned. Once again, I ask if you remember how we wanted this guy to be our 5th starter and were pumped up to have him in the bullpen. Do you remember? I do, because I was excited. Not anymore. Coutlangus came on and got his out, then Santos got the remaining two outs, giving up a walk.

Hitting: Hamilton was pretty much the only highligh, leading off and going 1/3 with his 6th homer of the year. Dunn hit a double and Hatteberg knocked him in for a single in the 9th. Alez Gonzalez had the most hits with 2, but they didn't amount to anything. Good to see him doing so well, though. The Reds didn't put up much of a fight offensively, but they leave their fair share of men on base. That's a stat that I haven't looked through. Most times a man has been left on base. I am sure the Reds are pretty dang high in that category, due to a fair amount of hits but not a lot of RBI's. Somebody should check that out.

Fielding & such: Gonzo was the culprit again, and now I'm REALLY not buying into the defense only approach from this guy, just like Narron, who tells people constantly he wasn't signed only for his defense, but you can tell with his offense that Gonzo is a good player. And that's been true, but now he's all about offense, as he makes his 3rd error of the year, and maybe the most costly one of the season. His bad throw allowed a run to score on the actual play and prolonged the inning, adding another run on a sacrifice fly that would not have happened if the throw was made. Score could have been 3-1 Cardinals, and sure the Reds only got one run but maybe mentally they would have been ready to get 2 runs instead of having to get 4. It's hard to get on a guy like Gonzo when he has been swinging the bat very well and had some great moments in defense, but I'm pretty sure we signed him to be flawless defensively and he hasn't been that. Maybe that's a high standard, but he was treated like a god so maybe he should act like one.

Mock Draft

Yahoo! Sports goes final with Russell:

The Raiders have plenty of options, but this will come down to picking a quarterback or wide receiver. Johnson has the highest grade, Russell has the strongest arm and Quinn is the best fit for the new coaching staff's scheme. With the Browns sitting at No. 3, that could shake things up in any possible deal between the Buccaneers and Raiders. The only real chance for a trade for No. 1 is if the Bucs were to pull the Lions into the mix and have them move down to No. 4. That would allow the Raiders to secure the quarterback at No. 2 and Johnson to land in Tampa Bay. At the end of the day, my gut feeling here is that if the Raiders keep the pick, it will be Russell. But if a deal can be reached, they very well could end up with Quinn a few picks later.
I am getting more and more cautious about picking JaMarcus Russell almost daily. I know it's just sports writers getting into my head, many of them bashing the Raiders, but the Raiders have given them a lot to bash about lately. I just get nervous. Can an athletic freak of nature really turn things around? Will he find himself in an ideal condition, will he eventually flourish or will he never amount to much of anything? I hope he's good. Maybe I want a trade instead.