OKLAHOMA CITY -- Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was talking to a room of reporters, but it felt like he was trying to send a message to the referees who will work the rest of this series.
“They’re going to do things to try to disrupt his rhythm,” Carlisle said. “They’re going to grab and hold. To me, a typical example is the play before the first half ends. He’s getting grabbed and held, and they call a foul on Dirk because he’s just reacting to all the contact. You know, that turns into a possession for them and they hit a 3. It’s a big momentum play.
“I’ve seen this for four years. Dirk Nowitzki’s the hardest guy in the league to guard because at 22 feet, if you back up and take your hands off him, he’s going to make the shot. So people grab and hold him all the time. I mean, all the time. He shows incredible restraint in those areas.”
Nowitzki scored 25 points on 8-of-18 shooting, but he had almost as many turnovers as buckets. Two of his six turnovers came in the final 90 seconds, when Perkins bodied up on Nowitzki as the Mavs were in the midst of crumbling in crunch time.
Nowitzki appeared to express frustration with the officials a handful of times during the game. That included the play Carlisle referenced at the end of the first half, when Nowitzki was called for an offensive foul after throwing an elbow at Ibaka while they fought for position, and a few times when the whistle didn’t blow after Nowitzki drew contact on drives to the basket early in the game.
When asked about Carlisle’s comments, Nowitzki answered diplomatically.
“I always talk during the game a lot,” he said, referring to conversations with officials. “My style is never to complain after the game. I won’t do it now.”
It is worth noting that the officiating crew of Joey Crawford, David Guthrie and Tony Brothers wasn’t whistle happy on either end. The Mavs had a 25-20 free throw advantage.