“The game flowed, back and forth. The ball moved beautifully up and down, side to side, in and out. Despite the Nuggets’ best effort, the Mavs spaced the floor and continually found open men, for 33 assists on 45 buckets. Players ran, cutters cut, everyone passed and shots fell.
The Denver fans were in the game too, because their Nuggets were also racing down the floor, cutting and dishing. For much of the game, the crowd was making the whoosh-whoosh sound more familiar to great tennis rallies.”
When I read this Royce Webb post for ESPN, I nearly wept because it was such an accurate assessment of last night’s Mavs victory. It’s also an implicit recognition of how starved NBA fans have been for this sort of performance in a season where teams can barely get up for games, let alone practice. Ball movement like the kind we saw last night with Dallas, is as anachronistic as the bank shot or mid-range jumper this season. The lockout and ensuing scramble to get started on Christmas Day, led to a shortened season of catch-up.
Catching-up with new teammates and new cities. Catching-up with new coaches and new offenses. Catching up wth new distractions and new impediments. Catching up.
Maybe teams are finally at the point where they should have been in December? Maybe the level of play will raise, and we’ll start to see more of these games? Maybe I won’t think about Sloppy Joes every time I turn on a game? Maybe this game was the lone sniper’s bullet in a sea of shotgun shells. Maybe I need to stop using thin gun metaphors to make my point?
Maybe I just love watching the ball rip around the perimeter faster than the defense can react, and all of a sudden someone upfakes from the wing, drives into the lane and lofts a gorgeous oop to a big man that slams it down and sprints back up-court. Maybe I’m dreaming when I write this?
AP Photo/Barry Gutierrez