OAKLAND, Calif. -- Baron Davis knows a little something about Hollywood, having a film financing company on the side, along with friends like Owen Wilson and Kate Hudson.
Golden hour arrives in Oakland
If you caught his act Thursday night, you already know that.
"I was able to come back and give what I could," Davis said. "I wasn't as explosive as I was earlier in the series, but I knew I could go out there and play a good floor game."
For the uninitiated, this is what the end of a 16-year drought looks like: A blizzard of confetti cascading from the ceiling and a sea of people screaming at the top of their lungs, hugging strangers, all decked out in garish yellow "We Believe" T-shirts. Snoop Dogg and Hudson in the locker room, shaking their groove thangs with the entire team. Jason Richardson and Andris Biedrins going back onto the floor and racing around with goofy grins waving refrigerator-sized Warriors' flags. In all, half the Bay Area is sure to wake up this morning several degrees more deaf than it was Thursday morning.
Leave it to Stephen Jackson, brawl participant and alleged gun-firing strip-club patron, on this night to be an island of calm in the sea of bedlam, pouring in 33 points and then being amused by all the revelry.
"Over a first-round victory?" he said after completing his 49th playoff appearance. "You could tell everybody is new at this, right?"
Everybody except Jackson and Davis, who finished with 20 points, all of them after dragging a newly strained right hamstring, to accompany an already balky left knee, back onto the floor early in the second quarter and the score tied 29-all.
The crowd cheered when Davis reappeared and sauntered to the scorer's table, but the murmurs began again after he turned the ball over on his first possession and left a wide-open 3 distressingly short. Wary of further damaging his leg, he tried to back down Devin Harris and drew an offensive foul.
"We actually had to go to a zone because they were attacking Baron," said Warriors coach Don Nelson. "I didn't expect to get him back in the game, to be honest. Then I figured I'd just play him as long as I could and go for the win."
Davis was of the same mind. He kept firing, all fadeaways, as if he couldn't stay upright. A deep 3-pointer, then a midrange jumper, then another deep 3-pointer, was enough for a skinny 50-48 halftime lead.
Jackson had his Willis Reed moment, as well. After lying facedown underneath the Warriors' basket for several minutes in the second quarter, the victim of an inadvertent elbow from teammate Matt Barnes, Jackson stuck a dagger in the Mavs and blew the roof off a psychotic Oracle Arena with four consecutive 3s in the span of 2½ minutes in the third quarter, fueling a 36-15 period.
Dirk Nowitzki, meanwhile, barely appeared in the credits. He now faces the prospect of receiving an MVP trophy as a spectator after an eight-point performance that saw him make his first field goal with 38.7 seconds left in the first half. His only other one came early in the fourth quarter, well after the outcome had been decided.
It's hard not to think Mavs coach Avery Johnson was indirectly talking about his star as he praised Davis.
"How special was he?" Johnson said. "You talk about a guy who refuses to lose. He refused to let us stop him."
The Warriors led 86-63 going into the fourth quarter, leaving the last 12 minutes for eardrum-busting and mocking of TNT analyst Charles Barkley, who predicted the Mavs to win the series 4-1. The hot-pink sign that read, "Charles Barkley is a Punk" was replaced by one spelling-challenged fan's work: "Appology Accepted, Charles." Meanwhile, the overhead replay screen showed Barkley in one of the Warriors' yellow "We Believe" T-shirts with the "We" crossed out and replaced by an "I."
But the ending packed an extra punch because of how it started. Think back to when you had the sound system cranked so loud the windows are vibrating and the hair on your arms is doing the hula. That was what engulfed the arena from warm-ups halfway into the first quarter. There were a half-dozen spontaneous "Let's Go, Warriors!" chants, a gratuitous "Dallas Sucks!" chorus, cheers for a mustard-suited Carlos Santana and the lowing of "Snoooop!" for the Dogg -- all before they threw the ball up. The Warriors fed it and fed off it for a 12-3 lead.
Now think back to that selfsame sound system after someone has accidentally kicked the plug and suddenly the room is so quiet you can hear the couch exhale. That's what happened when Davis lost his dribble, turned to race back on defense and abruptly clutched the back of his right leg.
Davis gamely tried to stay on the court, but he was peg-legging it. The Mavs immediately nailed a 3-pointer (Jerry Stackhouse), trimming the Warriors' lead to 19-15, Nelson called timeout and Davis headed to the locker room.
By the time the crowd spotted him sauntering to the scorer's table -- prognosis: strained right hamstring; treatment: stretching and tape -- the second quarter was almost two minutes old and the Mavs had tied the score at 29.
Johnson showed no mercy on the Warriors' next defensive stand, frantically waving everyone to stay clear so Jason Terry could go at Davis one-on-one. Davis cut off the first drive right but Terry merely backed up and went left for a layup past a frozen Davis for Dallas' first lead.
"I told Stephen I'll give it all I got," Davis said. "He had to carry me. He is the only one on our team to have won a championship, so we had to feed off him."
Feeding off Stephen Jackson. Somehow, the crazy outcome, the crazy atmosphere, it all makes perfect sense now.
Ric Bucher covers the NBA for ESPN The Magazine
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Jed Jacobsohn/Getty Images
Warriors hero Baron Davis and Mavs owner Mark Cuban cross paths after a historic upset on Thursday night in Oakland.
First, a little recent history: On January 31, I watched the Golden State Warriors come into Atlanta to face the Hawks, the league's 29th-best team in terms of Offensive Efficiency this season.
Golden State played a zone defense that night ... at least I think that's what they were playing . It actually looked more to me like five guys milling about at the morning shootaround -- it was so lazy and lethargic that it really had to be seen to be believed.
Rocke (LA): What are your thoughts on the Suns-Spurs series?
Chad Ford: I personally think this will be the best series of the playoffs. Whoever wins this, wins it all. I'm going with the Spurs in 7. I just think that defensively, they'll be able to slow the Suns just enough to slip by the Suns.
AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez
Baron Davis, right, hugs Warriors teammate Jason Richardson after a series-clinching 111-86 Game 6 win over the Mavericks.
Quote of the Day:
-- Andrew Ayres
Answering a few questions from a series that has yet to see a team break the three-digit mark ...
The home team has won each game in this series, so will Rockets take
If not, what has to happen for the Jazz to win?
Contrast this style of this series to Warriors-Mavs.
What's been the best approach for Houston?
What's Houston's biggest weakness?
Andrei Kirilenko (14 points, five blocks, big defense) picked a great time to revive after tough season.
-- Tim Legler
Dirk Nowitzki, who averaged 24.6 points per game and was an All-Star this season, made only 2-of-13 shots (15 percent) in the Mavericks' loss.
Only one other player in NBA history has taken at least 10 shots in a game in which his team was eliminated from the playoffs and made as low a percentage as Nowitzki after being an All-Star and averaging at least 20 points per game that season: Michael Finley was 1-for-17 (6 percent) in the Mavericks' 2001 series-ending loss to the Spurs.
To stay in the game, the Raptors must solve the Vince Carter problem. He has been devastating at home lately, playing with supreme confidence. The Raps have resorted to heavily shading Carter when he has the ball, but it might be time for a full-fledged immediate trap on the catch.
Raptors coach Sam Mitchell likely thinks that Carter has to play a poor game for his Raptors to force a Game 7, and Carter won't do that without help from Toronto. Richard Jefferson and Jason Kidd have to be dealt with too, naturally, as all three guys will come out focused on ending Toronto's season.
They are hungry for another second-round birth. Kidd is the guy Toronto will force to make shots, and if he does, then they'll look to take him away. But if Kidd is just ordinary, as he was in Game 5 (if you can call 11-7-10 ordinary), then Toronto has a chance.