By Chris Le
In what could be a preview of the Western Conference Finals, the Dallas Mavericks (66-14) defeated the San Antonio Spurs (58-22) 91-86 after a 4th quarter comeback. The matchup was anticipated to lack intensity, as it was—ostensibly at least—a meaningless game to the Mavs, who long ago secured the top seed in the West. But never underestimate the bad blood and the pride at stake between the members of this in-state rivalry, which happens to be the best in the NBA. Dirk Nowitzki, who as of late has logged limited minutes if any at all, played 36 minutes and a large stretch late in the 4th quarter. You know that had the Mavs been playing the Memphis Grizzlies, Coach Avery Johnson wouldn’t have allowed Dirk to step on the court. This was no regular game though. In a feat that defied some pre-game predictions, this game was hard-fought and had the fiery intensity of a playoff game. I can’t wait for the Western Conference Finals (sorry, Phoenix).
However, the most heated battle of the day was not between the two teams but Spurs forward-center Tim Duncan and veteran referee Joey Crawford,who had a few choice words for each other. The budding feud began in the 3rd quarter, when Duncan argued a questionable offensive foul. The two-time MVP went to the bench soon after, but that was when matters really began to heat up. After a subsequent ticky-tack foul against the Spurs called by Crawford, Duncan laughed hysterically, and Crawford took the all-star’s chuckles as undermining the call and quickly charged him with a technical. A similar instance seconds later incited another technical, leading to Duncan’s ejection.
He was laughing. No words were uttered, no offensive hand gestures performed — only laughter. I would imagine a seasoned ref like Crawford would have thicker skin than that. He better not pull anything like this in the playoffs.
Duncan, who received only his second ejection of his career, claimed that he is certain that Crawford has “a personal problem with [him].” The 10-time All-Star even alleged that Crawford “looked at [him] and said, ‘Do you want to fight? Do you want to fight?” In post-game interviews, Duncan responded with “If he wants to fight, we can fight. I don’t have any problem with him, but we can do it if he wants to.”
This is so out of character and insanely awesome on the part of Duncan. Hopefully, people now see the dry and subtle humor that Timmy is known for. I say let them settle it in the ring. I got Duncan by knockout in one.