Monday, February 7, 2011
Sessions, Dirk differing views on 'punch'
By Jeff Caplan
DALLAS -- Cleveland Cavaliers guard Ramon Sessions had no doubt that Dirk Nowitzki took a swing.
"He threw a punch. I don't know what it was about it, but I saw the replay," Sessions said. "I don't know if he meant to do it, but he did it."
Sessions was dribbling around the perimeter and bumped into Nowitzki. Nowitzki lunged awkwardly at Sessions with his arm but didn't make contact. He was called for a blocking foul as the two got tangled up. The refs, apparently didn't see the apparent punch.
"A punch? No," Nowitzki said after the Mavs hung on Monday, 99-96, to hand the hard-luck Cavs their record-setting 25th consecutive defeat. "It was nothing."
The Mavs felt Sessions was the initial instigator, leading with his elbow as he dribbled into Nowitzki. After Nowitzki got whistled for the foul, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was up complaining, giving a jabbing motion with his elbow to indicate that Sessions first delivered an offensive foul, which triggered Nowitzki's reaction.
Sessions denied that he threw an elbow first.
"I didn't hit Dirk," Sessions said. "I know he's not that kind of player, but he did swing."
Nowitzki, already playing with a jammed right wrist he suffered in the first quarter and continued to flex throughout the game, avoided a flagrant foul on the play. Had the referees determined that Nowitzki did throw a punch, it would have resulted in an automatic ejection. The play could have been reviewed, but since the refs didn't see it, it was not.
Nowitzki and Sessions appeared to make up just before Sessions went to the free throw line and made both attempts to cut the Mavs' lead to 97-89. That started a 7-0 Cavs run that cut the deficit to 97-94 with 1:50 to play.
A few possessions later, Nowitzki missed a 5-footer, got the rebound and then lost it. But, with 56 seconds left, Cavs forward J.J. Hickson got called for an elbow into the chest of the Jason Kidd. Jason Terry then iced the game with a pull-up jumper with 35.9 seconds to go for a five-point lead.