Observations: That Pistol Pete-style ball fake by Chris Paul. You know the one I'm talking about. That was lovely. ... I feel I have noticed a trend of Dirk Nowitzki shoving shooters in the back during release. Watch and tell me if you see it, too. ... I wrote a while ago about systemic problems in Chicago. Tyson Chandler is exhibit A. New Orleans assistant Darrell Walker told me a while ago that building his confidence, post-Chicago, has been a key: "Tyson is really comfortable with the coaching staff. In Chicago, his relationship with Scott Skiles was non-existent, and Tyson got a little timid. Byron [Scott] actually had to threaten to fine Tyson money to get him to try to score some more. When he first came here, if he got an offensive rebound, he always wanted to pass it out. Byron told him to dunk, or go up hard to try and score. It was programmed into him not to make a move, not to score. It happened in a game once, and Byron jumped up and subbed for him, and told him that if he is under the hoop with the ball, he needs to dunk, no matter what happened in Chicago. 'You better start trying to score this ball,' he said. And his confidence started growing to the point that now he's a nice double double guy." ... Did you notice how much room there was in the paint when Dallas was on defense? The Hornets were spreading things out, and it was working.
Chris Paul made more field goals in the second half than Mavericks did. Here's a fantastic round-up of articles about this series, including several about how much trouble the Mavericks are having scoring. Were you wondering what Jannero "I'm one of the least efficient shooters on the floor, but I'll keep shooting in the fourth quarter anyway" Pargo was doing on the floor down the stretch? He was doing a fantastic job hounding Jason Terry, who is very often the guy who scores when the going gets tough for the Mavericks. Not this time.
Something that you probably thought never happened in an NBA game, courtesy of the Dallas Morning News' Eddie Sefko: "After New Orleans' Mo Peterson hit a jumper with 5:36 left in the third quarter, the clock was stopped. When the Mavericks inbounded and kept possession for 10 to 15 seconds, the clock never started. Dirk Nowitzki was fouled and Tyson Chandler was assessed a technical with 5:36 still left in the third quarter. There were five points scored with no time going off the clock."
Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "We've seen it before. The Mavs have managed to make playoff heroes out of a rascal such as Baron Davis, and a he-got-every-whistle talent such as Dwyane Wade. But this Chris Paul... Man, how can you not watch him, and how can you not spread the love? He's a first-class, on-and-off-the-court kid, playing on a New Orleans Hornets team that has rallied a fine old town that both care and the Washington feds suddenly forgot in a time of immense need. As a local cabbie, Sammy, was telling me Saturday: 'It's damn basketball ... Can you believe that? Lived here all my life, rode out of Katrina, lost everything at the house, but as long as we still had the Saints, I could survive it. I didn't care anything about basketball. But now... I can't get enough of it. This is a football town that is suddenly alive and well again because the tourists are finally coming back, and, at the moment, because this damn basketball team of ours has lifted up the city.'"
Matt from Hardwood Paroxysm: "I really like how the Hornets adjusted against the Mavs. Paul pretty much said, 'Fine. You're going to trap the strong side? I'm driving past you and shooting. Stop me.' And they couldn't."
New York Times columnist William C. Rhoden looks at the coaching career of Byron Scott -- thus far it has been seen as a mixed bag -- and sees pure talent: "Scott became the Nets' coach in 2000 and endured a 26-56 season. The next season, Scott led the Nets to the N.B.A. finals, where they were swept by the Lakers. The transition from 26-56 to 52-30 was the sixth-greatest turnaround in N.B.A. history. But some said the real brains of the operation was Scott's assistant, the current Wizards coach Eddie Jordan. More than Jordan, Scott benefited from the trade that brought Jason Kidd to the Nets. Scott led the Nets to the finals again in 2002-3; that time, they lost to San Antonio. Then, midway through the 2003-4 season, Scott was fired, even though the Nets had a winning record. He was replaced by Lawrence Frank. Under Frank, the Nets have not begun to approach the championship level established by Scott. Unless I missed something, Jordan hasn't taken the Wizards to the N.B.A. finals, either. The farther away Scott gets from New Jersey, the better he begins to look."
This time of year, the NBA tradition is to try to precisely pin down what it is about Dirk Nowitzki that prevents the Mavericks from winning. It may not be fair, but that's what has been happening ever since Dallas didn't win the 2006 NBA Finals. (The reigning MVP's not only incredibly noticeable -- so big, so white! -- but also self-effacing, and imported.) Ron Hitley of Hornets247 on the Hornets' intimidating Nowitzki: "Also key in the third quarter was ruffling Nowitzki. David West clobbered him on a jumper about three minutes in and there was no call. Then with 5:36 to go in the period, Tyson got right up in Nowitzki's face as the German caught the ball on the wing, then fouled him as he tried to go baseline. After the whistle, Chandler offered Dirk a shove. It was a definite push, but Dirk milked it as much as he could, flying out of bounds as if he'd been hit by an asteroid. A deserved technical on Chandler, but the point was made, and if the crowd wasn't in the game before, it definitely was now."
TrueHoop reader John emails: "The announcers had a funny conversation during the Laker's game about whether Allen Iverson is the best player all-time 'pound for pound.' Van Gundy argued it was Jordan. AI recorded his best PER in 05-06 with 25.9. Weighing in at 165, this is a PER per pound of .157. Jordan's best PER was in 87-88 at 3
1.7. When he was young he weighed 195, which is a PERPP of .162, slightly better than AI's. Chris Paul, listed at 175 and with a PER this year of 28.3, ties Jordan at .162. Seems like we have witnessed a historic season in terms of this completely meaningless statistic."
Jan Hubbard of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram: "If Game 1 of the first-round series had been a cartoon, the Mavericks would have played the part of the burnt Wile E. Coyote after being charred by Chris Paul, aka the Road Runner."
Eddie Sefko of The Dallas Morning News: "The Dallas Mavericks took one on the chin from New Orleans in Game 1, and Dirk Nowitzki took one on the cheek from David West. In an incident that has been downplayed by the Mavericks but could have been interpreted as a disrespectful move, West, the Hornets' power forward, tapped his fingers on Nowitzki's cheek a couple of times late in the fourth quarter Saturday night. Both players got technical fouls for their face-off, which did not escalate. 'We played a physical game all night long,' Nowitzki said. 'We got tangled up a couple of times, not only once. That's what the playoffs are all about.' Nowitzki said the only thing that bothered him was that he got half of the double technical."