May 23, 2006
Dirk Nowitzki:
The German came up huge in the biggest game of his career, posting 37 points and 15 rebounds in the Mavs' stunning 119-111 OT win. His clutch 3-pointer may be remembered as the play that delivered the Mavs an NBA title.
 
 
 
The Lead Item
Two Words For You:
JUST.  MAV-ELOUS.

Is it possible for the NBA playoffs to get better?

Consider, in the first two rounds we've had:

• Eight games decided by one point (two of which were OT games);

• Seven more decided by two points;

• Another six that went into OT;

• The Suns shooting 61 percent in one Game 7 (a record for a Game 7) and then 60 percent in another Game 7;

• LeBron scoring 45 and 41 in his first playoff series and nearly leading a huge upset in Round 2;

• Kobe Bryant's last-second heroics against the Suns;

• Tim Thomas' 3-pointer that kept the Suns' season alive;

• Two players (Rajah Bell, Jason Terry) nearly ruining their team's seasons by getting suspended for a Game 6;

• One all-time great Game 7, with the Spurs rallying from a 20-point deficit and actually taking the lead in the final minute;

• Mark Cuban hugging and dancing with his players as the game ends. (Oh, wait, he does that during a December victory over the Hawks).

Supporting Cast
We all saw what Dirk Nowitzki did during Monday night's Game 7 win (37 pts, 15 rebs).

But like we've always said, in every sport there is only so much one man can do.

(Just ask LeBron James.)

So the story of the game wasn't about the 20-point lead the Mavs couldn't hold or Dirk finally taking it to the Spurs.

It was all about the guys on the bench. We know, it's not sexy.

The final score from the bench: Mavs 29, Spurs 2. Ouch.

And if it weren't for Big Shot Rob's layup in the first quarter, the Spurs would have been blanked.

Clippers Sunk
With 1:42 left in the third quarter, the Suns were called for a shot-clock violation (!). And that's when the Suns-Clippers series ended.

Down by 10, it looked like the Clips had a slight mental edge to get back in the game.

CHECK OUT THE QUICKIE EVERY WEEKDAY MORNING!
WHO'S GOT THE MOMENTUM ...
Barbaro: Checking out mares a day after surgery
Cam Ward: Needed only 16 saves in Carolina's Game 2 win
John Smoltz: Outduels Peavy's 16 K's for win
... AND WHO'S GOT NO MO'
Clippers: 0-fer from 3-point land in Game 7
Keith Foulke: 1 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 HR in Sox win
Royals lose 10th straight for second time this season
 
Then Leandro Barbosa ended the quarter on a personal 5-0 run.

Score after three? Suns 94, Clips 79.

No way the Clips could outscore the Suns by 15 in the 4th quarter. Not against a team that shot 60 percent for the game and not with the NBA schedulers giving Steve Nash's back three days of rest.

We all sat around and watched the final 12 minutes, but it was just a formality.

Northwestern Apology
Northwestern's women's soccer team issued a public apology on Monday.

Thank goodness.

The girls said they were sorry about their behavior. We're all glad that this alleged hazing problem has been nipped in the bud before someone got hurt.

Seriously, why all the Page 1 public outrage for this? Where was everyone when we had incidents that led to laws in Indiana and New York making hazing a crime?

So, if you have a college degree, or you're working on one, we're waiting for your apology, too.

MLB Roundup
Peavy fans 16: Sets Padres team record (and does it in 7 innings), but loses to Braves. Most importantly, after a slow start Peavy is back to ace status (2 runs or less in 5 of last 6 starts).

Red Sox beat up Yanks. With all the Yankees' injuries (and now Damon says he's playing with a broken bone in his foot), Boston should be glad for all these early-season games against New York. (Schilling: 8 IP, 5 H 1, R to go 7-2.) Oh, and nice HR in the 9th, A-Rod.

More raves for Verlander. OK, it was a 114-pitch, 5-hit shutout of the Triple-A Royals, but you have to watch this kid -- 6-3, 2.70, .230 batting average against.

Frank Thomas homers twice... in return to Chicago, but White Sox score three in 8th and one in 10th against struggling Oakland bullpen. Are the A's just prepping for their annual second-half burst, or is the AL West looking a lot like last year's NL West?

Jae Seo and Byung-Hyun Kim became the first Korean-born pitchers to start against each other in a major league game. The matchup between the former high school teammates was televised live in their home country. Seo outpitched Kim with 7 strong innings and the Dodgers beat the Rockies 6-1.

Summit: $1 Million
Tennessee coach Pat Summitt became the first women's college basketball to top the $1 million (annual) salary mark, with a six-year extension that earns her $1.125M this season.

Is she worth it? Uhh ... let's put this another way: After watching all the abysmal coaching in the NBA playoffs this year, maybe an NBA team should have hired her at a few million per.

Clippers:
Allowed the Suns to shoot 60 percent from the field. When you factor in the Suns' 15-for-27 effort on 3-pointers, Phoenix's effective FG pct was an incredible 69.4 pct.
 
 
Today on ESPN.com
NBA Playoffs Index
NBA Daily Dime
Page 2 Index
 
NBA Playoff Top Scorers
Gilbert Arenas (34.0)
But oh, those two free throws
 
LeBron James (30.8)
Fantastic first playoff run
 
Vince Carter (29.6)
Imagine if he drove more
 
Dirk Nowitzki (28.6)
Only one still playing
 
Kobe Bryant (27.9)
Higher if he didn't tank last half
 

7-year-old Braxton Bilbrey swam across San Francisco Bay from Alcatraz to Aquatic Park. His next goal? To swim across the English Channel.

The Tampa Bay Lightning re-sign center and former Stanley Cup MVP Brad Richards to a five-year, $39 million contract.

Up-and-coming NASCAR driver Spencer Clark died when his truck lost control on a New Mexico highway. Clark made his Busch Series debut in March.

Gary Sheffield may rejoin the Yankees tonight in Boston after going 1-for-3 in a Double-A rehab start.

An MRI of Brewers starter Ben Sheets' shoulder showed no structural damage. He'll continue physical therapy and long-tossing to strengthen the shoulder.

Mark Cuban, who cursed out Spurs forward Bruce Bowen after losing Game 6, apologized to Bowen before Game 7. Bowen said he wasn't sure the apology was sincere (via SA Express-News).

Kendry Morales, a highly touted 22-year-old defector from Cuba, will make his major league debut tonight for the Angels; he was hitting .318 with 5 HRs in Triple-A.

The Giants are considering Jay Fiedler as their backup QB (via NY Post).

Former Rangers GM Neil Smith talks to the Penguins about their GM opening.

Dan Shanoff is out on parental leave. The proud papa has a son named Gabe.



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