Dallas Mavericks: Danny Crawford
It’s playoff time. In the recent past, that’s often meant Mavericks fans, including their owner, ranting about refereeing.
The Mavericks broke the Curse of Danny Crawford last postseason, winning three of four games officiated by the official many fans held responsible for the Mavs losing 16 of the previous 17 playoff games officiated by him.
Crawford’s assignment to the Game 2 of the Mavs’ first-round series sparked a nationwide controversy. But nobody was talking about Crawford after he worked Game 4 of the West finals, when the Mavs’ rallied from 15 down in the fourth quarter to win in Oklahoma City.
And the Mavs won in Los Angeles with 2006 Finals villain Bennett Salvatore blowing a whistle.
Recent history suggests that there will be some good, ol’ complaining about officiating from the Mavs during this series with the Thunder. Or perhaps it’s just a coincidence that the Mavs’ two most noteworthy outbursts about officiating this season occurred the last two times they played the Thunder.
The NBA office hit the Mavs for a total of $135,000 after those games. Those fines:
*Cuban got hit for $75,000 after ripping the ref crew of Ron Garretson, Michael Smith and Mark Ayotte to ESPNDallas.com after the Mavs’ Feb. 1 home loss to the Thunder.
"Look, I haven't said a whole lot about the officiating in a long, long time, but I haven't seen it this bad in a long, long time," Cuban said. "Guys miss calls; that's part of the game. You're not always going to have a great crew. Officials have got to learn that's part of the game.
"But these were officials that have been part of the league for years, and it was just off-the-charts bad. And, if no one ever says anything, nothing ever happens."
*Carlisle got fined $35,000 for kicking the ball in the stands while frustrated by a no-call in that game, drawing his second technical foul of the night.
“That can’t happen,” Carlisle said after opening his postgame press conference by apologizing for the incident. “My intent was not to kick it into the stands, I was trying to kick it to the referee, but I’m not a very good kick. But that can’t happen; the officials made the right call on that one. That’s a regrettable situation.”
*Jason Kidd got fined $25,000 for complaining about the defending champions getting a season-long lack of respect from the referees after the Mavs’ March 5 loss in Oklahoma City.
The Thunder had a 33-10 advantage in free throws attempted with the crew of Tom Washington, Brian Forte and Pat Fraher calling the game. The Mavs were especially upset about a critical, questionable foul call on Ian Mahinmi that sent Serge Ibaka to the line for the go-ahead free throws with 46.2 seconds remaining.
"We don't get the benefit of the whistle," said Kidd, who infamously called a crew that included Washington “the three blind mice” after a one-point loss to the Pistons while playing with the Nets in 2006. "I don't think we're looked upon as champions, but that's a whole other story. Dirk [Nowitzki] should live at the line if they would call it the way it's supposed to be. But he doesn't."
On a related note, the Game 1 officiating crew will be Joey Crawford, Tony Brothers and David Guthrie with Bennie Adams serving as the alternate.
The Mavericks had a 2-16 record is playoff games officiated by Crawford during Mark Cuban’s ownership tenure, including a run of 16 losses in 17 games, until the veteran referee worked Game 2 of the first-round series against the Portland Trail Blazers.
Dallas won that game after Crawford’s assignment was the focus of much media attention throughout the day. Crawford also worked Game 4 of the Western Conference finals, when the Mavericks rallied from a 15-point deficit of the fourth quarter in an overtime win over the Oklahoma City Thunder.
“We have no concerns about the fairness of Danny Crawford's officiating in Dallas games, whether in the playoffs or regular season," NBA senior vice president of referee operations Ron Johnson said via email the day he worked the Mavericks-Blazers game in the first round. "And there has never been any consideration given to not scheduling Crawford or any other referee to a particular team's games."
Scott Foster and Derrick Stafford are the other officials assigned to Game 3. Jason Phillips will be the alternate.
The most memorable Mavericks playoff game worked by Crawford was Game 3 of the 2006 Finals in Miami. The Heat rallied from 13 points down midway through the fourth quarter for Miami’s first of four consecutive wins. Crawford also worked Game 6, when Miami closed the series with a win on Dallas’ home court.
The Heat had a 71-49 free throw advantage in those two Finals games. The Mavericks had attempted an average of 6.8 fewer free throws than their opponents in playoff games worked by Crawford until this postseason.
In the two games worked by Crawford this postseason, the Mavs have a 65-52 free throw advantage.
The Mavericks have a 3-16 record in playoff games worked by Crawford, but they do have a one-game winning streak. The Mavs beat the Trail Blazers in Game 2 of the first round after Crawford's assignment to the game dominated headlines and sports talk throughout the day.
The Mavs had lost 16 of the previous 17 playoff games worked by Crawford.
Tony Brothers and Ken Mauer are the other officials on Crawford's crew. Mauer worked Game 1 of the Portland series, when the Mavs had a 19-2 free throw edge in the fourth quarter, which prompted complaints from Blazers coach Nate McMillan that cost him $35,000.
|Tyson Chandler joins Ben and Skin to discuss the 2-0 series lead as they head to Portland.
Referee Ed Malloy swallowed his whistle with a little more than a minute remaining in the first half when Blazers star LaMarcus Aldridge lowered his shoulder and ran over Tyson Chandler en route to a layup. Chandler hit the floor hard and wasn’t happy about it.
After getting back on his feet, Chandler gave Malloy an earful. Malloy responded by putting the T in Tyson, slapping a technical foul on the Mavs’ big man.
Chandler isn’t a flopper, so if he hits the floor, either a charge or block ought to be called. Chandler certainly isn’t going to land on his butt on purpose, considering that he suffered a bruised tailbone when he tried to take a charge earlier this month.
But Chandler, who has his hands full slowing down Aldridge without clouding his mind by worrying about officiating, didn’t stay mad. He calmed down during a 20-second timeout and got back to playing basketball, showing the poise expected of a veteran the Mavs consider their emotional leader.
“It’s playoff basketball,” Chandler said. “You get hot for a second and you’ve got to bring yourself back, because it’s not about you. It’s not about me. It’s about the team. Can’t do anything stupid. I’ve got to be out there to help us defensively.”
Senior vice president of referee operations Ron Johnson responded via email through a league spokesman to an ESPNDallas.com inquiry about whether the NBA has reviewed the Dallas playoff games worked by Crawford or considered not assigning him to Mavericks series.
"We have no concerns about the fairness of Danny Crawford's officiating in Dallas games, whether in the playoffs or regular season," Johnson said. "And there has never been any consideration given to not scheduling Crawford or any other referee to a particular team's games."
According to numbers crunched by basketball-reference.com, the probability of the Mavs winning two or fewer of the 18 playoff games worked by Crawford is five in 10,000.
DALLAS -- On second thought, don’t worry, Mavericks fans. Consider it good news that Danny Crawford will work Game 2.
That might not seem like it makes any sense whatsoever. After all, the Mavs have lost 16 of the last 17 games Crawford has worked in the playoffs, including a few heartbreakers during a six-game losing streak.
But think about the microscope that Crawford will be operating under at the American Airlines Center. His assignment to this game is national news. Every questionable call he makes will be magnified and examined -- by media, bloggers, fans, Mark Cuban and the NBA office, one would assume.
“Oh, so you guys are going to print that and hope that …,” Portland coach Nate McMillan said when informed of the Mavs’ record with Crawford working.
McMillan didn’t finish the sentence. Not to put words in McMillan’s mouth, but a fitting ending would have been, “he’ll feel pressure not to make calls against the Mavs.”
With the spotlight shining on Crawford, he can’t afford to fuel the conspiracy theory that he has an anti-Mavs bias. If Crawford makes calls to fuel that fire, it just might cause him to be fired. An NBA spokesman did not reply to an emailed question about whether the league has reviewed the Dallas playoff games officiated by Crawford, but rest assured Cuban has at least brought the issue to the attention of the commissioner and other authorities.
(That conspiracy theory was confirmed by disgraced ref Tim Donaghy, whose words must be taken with a boulder of salt, of course. The ex-con told ESPN 103.3’s Galloway and Company during an appearance last season that Crawford bragged about the Mavs’ misery in games he worked, information that Donaghy considered a gambling guide. Oh, and Donaghy will be back on GAC at 5 p.m. today.)
It’d be crazy for Crawford to give any additional ammo that he’s crooked when it comes to the Mavs. With this kind of pressure, I’ll predict Crawford calls it straight and the players decide the outcome.
I'm not the only one thinking this way, by the way. I changed my mind after a conversation with a Mavs insider.
"We're moving on to tonight's game," McMillan said. "It's time to stop talking and start doing."
McMillan said he doesn't inform his players on which officials are working each night's game.
"No, because I think the officials, they do a good job," McMillan said. "No, we don't go out and inform our players on who the officials are."
Then McMillan was asked if he was aware of the Mavs' record in playoff games officiated by Danny Crawford, who will lead tonight's crew. He wasn't.
The answer: 2-16.
"So you guys are going to print that and hope that...," McMillan said without finishing his thought. You're trying to...I'm not going there."
Crawford will be the lead official of a crew that includes Pat Fraher and Ed Malloy, but it's Crawford who sticks in the craw of Mavs owner Mark Cuban. Dallas is 2-16 in playoff games officiated by Crawford.
Carlisle said he sometimes looks at the referee assignments when the NBA makes them public at 8 a.m. CT. He said he did not check this morning.
"Why, who is it?" Carlisle asked.
"I don't consider that a factor," Carlisle said. "It would be pretty defeatist if we did. He's a great official and history shows that."
Carlisle is 0-2 with the Mavs in playoff games officiated by Crawford, who was assigned to one Dallas game the past two postseasons.
Asked if he'll talk to his team about Crawford and whistles heading into tonight's game, Carlisle said: "It should go without saying, but if needed I would address it. But, I don't think we need to."
Mavs center Tyson Chandler, the heart and soul of the Mavs' defense and an emotional leader who is new to the perceived Crawford jinx, said it's important the team doesn't play to the whistle.
"In playoff basketball, you got to keep a certain focus. You can't get carried away or worried about anything that's going on. I thought they [the Game 1 referee crew] did a good job of calling the game and we've got to do a good of playing and keeping our head."
DALLAS -- Six words that should seriously concern Dallas Mavericks fans: Danny Crawford is working Game 2.
The Mavs have a 2-16 record in playoff games that Crawford works. That includes a six-game losing streak that began with Game 3 of the 2006 Finals, when the Miami Heat rallied from a 13-point deficit midway through the fourth quarter.
Dallas' lone win in the last 17 Mavs playoff games worked by Crawford came in Game 5 of the 2006 West finals, when Dirk Nowitzki scored a franchise-record 50 points.
Crawford will be the lead official of a crew that includes Pat Fraher and Ed Malloy. That crew's assignment to Game 2 of the Dallas-Portland series comes on the heels of Trail Blazers coach Nate McMillan being fined $35,000 for publicly commenting on the Game 1 officiating, particularly the lopsided free throw disparity in Dallas' favor.
The NBA announced Monday that Dampier had been fined $35,000 for his comments after Game 3, which dropped the Cuban era Mavs to 2-16 in playoff games officiated by Danny Crawford.
"When we play defense we're under a magnifying glass, but when we're on offense, there's no magnifying glasses," Dampier said after the game. "You've got to call it both ways. Dirk Nowitzki drives, he doesn't get fouled. They drive on the other end and they get the little ticky-tack fouls. So keep it consistent, that's all. Don't be one way or the other."
Dampier becomes the third player to unvoluntarily donate $35,000 to charity during these playoffs, joining Boston's Rasheed Wallace and Orlando's Matt Barnes. Two coaches -- Los Angeles' Phil Jackson and Orlando's Stan Van Gundy -- have also been hit with $35,000 fines.
That prompted commissioner David Stern to warn coaches and players to cut out the complaining. Dampier's comments came the next after the Stern warning.
UPDATE: League spokesman Tim Frank said Saturday that Erick Dampier's comments are under review.
SAN ANTONIO --Mavericks center Erick Dampier played 27 minutes and managed to accrue more fouls (five) than points and rebounds combined (four). He said he was miffed at the overall officiating and how Spurs forward Tim Duncan can play more than 43 minutes and get whistled for just two fouls.
Dampier didn't mince words in criticizing an officiating crew that included one of Mark Cuban's least favorite referees, Danny Crawford. By Cuban's count, the Mavs have lost 16 of 17 playoff games with Crawford on the floor.
"When we play defense we're under a magnifying glass, but when we're on offense, there's no magnifying glasses," Dampier said. "You've got to call it both ways. Dirk [Nowitzki] drives, he doesn't get fouled. They drive on the other end and they get the little ticky-tack fouls. So keep it consistent, that's all. Don't be one way or the other."
The Mavs had a decided free throw edge in Game 1, 34-14, but since, the Mavs have been whistled for 43 fouls and the Spurs 31.
"It’s on us, too," Dampier said. "We got to take the ball to the basket, make contact, draw the foul and go to the free throw line."
The Spurs were decidedly the more aggressive team in Games 2 and 3, however Dampier took particular issue Friday with a charge call whistled on Nowitzki by Dick Bavetta. With the game tied, 73-73, with 9:05 left to go, Nowitzki drove the right baseline and made a strong move to the rim as Spurs forward Matt Bonner positioned himself to take the charge. As soon as Bavetta outstretched his arm to call the offensive foul, Nowitzki jumped up in disbelief.
"I'm not even going to comment on that foul. What did you think, it was a foul or what?" Dampier said, believing the call should have been a block on Bonner. "All of us thought that. It's funny, though, they get the same call on the other end, it's ridiculous, one of the refs called the foul from halfcourt. It's almost like they can't even see it. But when he [Nowitzki] drives, 'Oh I saw he was outside the circle, it was a charge.' How can you see that? You can't even see that far.
"Hey, we ain't going to make any excuses. We're going to be ready to play the next game, that's all that matters to us. The next one, biggest game of the year."
On Thursday, NBA commissioner David Stern warned coaches primarily, but players too, about publicly criticizing officials. Stern said he's grown tired of meaningless fines and is prepared to levy suspensions. Dampier said he was unaware of Stern's edict.
Why doesn't Cuban like Danny Crawford? Well, the Mavs are 1-15 in playoff games officiated by Crawford during Cuban's ownership tenure.
Cuban has made it clear that he feels that the refs robbed the Mavs in the 2006 NBA Finals. Crawford worked a pair of tight losses during the Finals flop: Games 3 and 6, when Dwyane Wade combined to shoot 39 free throws.
It didn't help the credibility of Crawford, who will work with Dick Bavetta and Rodney Mott, when disgraced ref Tim Donaghy claimed that Crawford bragged about the Mavs' miserable record in his playoff games.
Donaghy, who made an appearance on ESPN 103.3’s Galloway and Co. to promote his book “Personal Foul,” said that bias cost the Mavericks games and played a significant role in their collapse after taking a 2-0 lead in the 2006 Finals.
“I think there was numerous games,” Donaghy said. “Obviously Mark was very outspoken in regard to the referees. Referees have personal vendettas that they take out on certain players, coaches and owners. Mark was certainly one of those people.”
Donaghy claimed that Danny Crawford bragged that the Mavericks rarely won playoff games that he officiated, information Donaghy used to place bets against the Mavs. The Mavs have lost 15 of their last 16 playoffs game that Crawford worked.
If Donaghy can be believed, there were two major officiating factors in the controversial Finals collapse that was fueled by Dwyane Wade free throws. He said referees are trained to favor teams that are down in playoff series. And then there’s the anti-Cuban bias.
“It had been told to me behind the scenes that they were actually happy in the NBA office when Dallas was knocked out from the playoffs,” Donaghy said, “because it was less complaints from Mark, it was less e-mails from Mark and it was less work that they had to do.”
Of course, Cuban surely fired off a few e-mails after the Finals.
Cuban’s e-mail response to Donaghy’s comments on Thursday: "My position hasn't changed. But I've already paid for stating it, so I'm not going to repeat it."
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