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Thursday, May 19, 2011
Both teams seek foul control on stars

By Jeff Caplan



DALLAS -- No one expects 56 fouls to be called or 79 free throws to be attempted or for tonight's Game 2 of the  Western Conference finals to last nearly as long as a football game.

"The free throws were a huge factor in the game, obviously," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We've got to try to keep Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook off the line. They shot 37 between them. They've averaged 18-plus during the playoffs so we've got to take them down. And, look, Dirk's not going to shoot 24 again, so the game is going to be different."

The Oklahoma City Thunder have more acknowledged than complained about the perceived touchy-feely officiating in Game 1 as compared to the physicalness that was allowed in their previous series against Memphis Grizzlies' big bodies Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol.

After all, it's a little hard to complain when your team goes to the free throw line 43 times, seven more than the home team.

"There's no question, Memphis, it was like playing a football team," Thunder coach Scott Brooks said. "We were both getting in there and leaving everything, and bodies were banging against other bodies. It's an adjustment we have to make, but our best defense is being aggressive and making them feel uncomfortable."

It starts with Nowitzki, who caught the ball wherever he wanted and drew a slew of non-shooting fouls that helped him march to the free throw line and set a new NBA record with 24 consecutive free throws. Brooks pointed out that Nowitzki only averaged six free throws (6.1) a game in the regular season. He's averaging 9.4 in the postseason.

"We just have to do a better job on Dirk. We fouled him too many times. We expect to be better on him individually and if we do need help we will come attack his dribble and make him put it on the floor."

After the Game 1 foul-fest, will tonight's officiating crew -- Greg Williard, Bill Spooner and Tom Washington -- be more inclined to let the teams play? That's something the players will have to wait to find out.

"We'll probably know within the first six, seven minutes of the game," Marion said. "It might be the first two minutes, it just depends."

Marion, who spends a significant amount of time guarding Durant and fouled out with 2:53 to go in the game and the Mavs up just six, said there was no doubt that Game 1 was being called especially tight.

"The game was really intense. You couldn't say anything or react to anything early," Marion said. "They wanted to make sure they had control of the game early and they did. I don't care. I don't judge that. Everybody's making a big deal of that. We've got to go out there and play."