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Old 05-08-06, 01:36 AM
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Bowen bugs, hugs Dirk

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Bowen bugs, hugs Dirk


By Chris Sheridan, ESPN Insider
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SAN ANTONIO -- Bruce Bowen didn't merely drape himself all over Dirk Nowitzki's body. He also crawled into his head.

Take a look at a sampling of Nowitzki's postgame comments Sunday after he made just one basket in the fourth quarter and nearly threw the ball away on Dallas' final possession in an 87-85 loss to San Antonio in Game 1 of their Western Conference semifinal series:

"I'm not going to get any open looks in this series. I already know that."

Or this one:

"I know I'm not going to score 35 a game in this series."

Despite standing nearly a half-foot taller than the defensive specialist assigned to guard him, Nowitzki grew increasingly flummoxed as the afternoon wore on Sunday to the point where the look on his face went from normal to quizzical to queasy.

And on the final play, when Dallas got the ball into his hands near the top of the circle, he stumbled so quickly in the face of an onrushing second defender that he fired the ball to Jerry Stackhouse in the corner rather than waiting for Stackhouse to cut to the basket as coach Avery Johnson had intended the play to unfold. Manu Ginobili deflected the pass, and Stackhouse managed only a desperation heave from the corner that missed everything to end a compelling, competitive game between the two best teams in the West.

More of the same should be in store as we move through the next two weeks. Unless, of course, the doubts in Nowitzki's head continue to rattle around up there like one of Bowen's foul shots. And with a full dose of the same close coverage coming his way for the foreseeable future, that possibility cannot be dismissed.

"It's what you call 'bear-hug defense,'" Mavs coach Avery Johnson said afterward. "That's the new NBA rule. That's what's going on, and I've got to try to formulate or simulate a drill to help him. If a bear comes up to you and hugs you, what's he going to do?"

Johnson left his own question unanswered, but you don't need to be a Discovery Channel regular or a National Geographic Explorer aficionado to know what happens when a bear hugs a human.

The bear wins. And it ain't a pretty loss for the human.

But Bowen wasn't bear hugging Nowitzki so much as he was pestering him like an oversized insect. He was a gnat with his hands and arms, keeping one or the other on Nowitzki at all times, grabbing and clutching occasionally, and with enough discretion, that the refs never called him on it.

We've all seen him do the same to Kobe Bryant and every other scorer in the league, most recently against Bonzi Wells of Sacramento in the latter stages of the Kings-Spurs first-round series, and now it's the big blonde German's turn to try to find a way to repel him. Bowen has guarded Nowitzki before, but never with the stakes this high.

"This has the feel of an NBA Finals," said Bowen, who shrugged it off when Johnson's bear hug comment was relayed to him. "It used to bother me. You would think you try to earn the respect of other coaches, and you'd think they'd be happy with what you do because you give 110 percent. But it's something that's said a lot, so add him to the mini-list of others who want to say stuff."

The task for Johnson in the next two days will include not only inventing a drill to simulate Bowen's defense, but also giving some serious thought to sending a few more double-teams at Tim Duncan.

The Mavs tried to stop the Big Fundamental with single coverage about 90 percent of the time -- using DeSagana Diop, Erick Dampier and DJ Mbenga -- and Duncan ate it up with a display of his offensive arsenal rarely seen during this regular season, when his scoring average was the lowest of his career.

"It was like it was in my rookie year when we were going through him all the time," Tony Parker said.

Dallas got away with leaving Parker (7-for-18) open on the perimeter, and they contained Ginobili enough (15 points on 5-for-14 shooting, five turnovers) to put themselves in position to win.

Bowen's 3-pointer from the corner with 2:14 remaining gave the Spurs their final points and broke an 84-84 tie.

Six missed shots later, the game came down to one final possession, and Nowitzki was too blanketed by Bowen to finish his job as the first option.

"I knew they were going to go to Dirk, and my thing was I'm going to make this as tough as possible for him -- tougher even than his other shots. He started stumbling, and if he tries to shoot the ball stumbling it's going to be a bad shot."

But that wasn't even Nowitzki's final stumble. As he left the postgame interview podium after telling everyone how he wouldn't score 35 in the series or get any open looks, he nearly tripped over a chair while exiting stage right. It shouldn't surprise anyone if it was Bowen who put that chair there.
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Old 05-08-06, 01:47 AM
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he nearly tripped over a chair while exiting stage right. It shouldn't surprise anyone if it was Bowen who put that chair there.
LOL
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Old 05-08-06, 01:51 AM
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lol
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Old 05-08-06, 01:53 AM
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man bowen's D is awsome...... hell i dont think he has stopped playing. he is probably all over dirk right now
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Old 05-08-06, 02:02 AM
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they'll make adjustments and we'll get officials who call it tighter. sometimes dirk goes off even when bruce is painted on him.
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Old 05-08-06, 02:08 AM
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Let me tell you something right now about two players...

Dirk folded up, and may continue to do so for the rest up this series, because of the tight d that bowen played. Wells however bowled Bruce Bowen over. There is no comparison to how the two play.

-J.W.
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Old 05-08-06, 02:30 AM
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If he wants to score 35 in games, he's going to need to post up. I mean you are 7 feet for gosh sakes!!! Take a note out of Bonzi's notebook. Well, he'll just continue to try to beat Bruce at what he does best on the perimeter.
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Old 05-08-06, 03:18 AM
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It is amazing to me how dirk seems to refuse to expand his game by posting up with his back to the basket. At the same time, he expects his teammates to bust their butt on the court. He is supposed to be a leader of the team. I wonder if AJ's comments (before the regular season was over) about the lack of leadership have anything to do with dirk?

I am watching ESPN'S rerun of the game right now and wonder if dirk missing free throws has anything to do with his frustration with Bowen? dirk appears to be susceptible to mental doubts since they keep losing to the Spurs everytime they meet in the playoffs. It's reflected in his mental toughness.
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Old 05-08-06, 03:52 AM
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I found this on a Kings board.
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"When nothing seems to help, I go look at a stonecutter hammering away at this rock perhaps 100 times without as much as a crack showing in it. Yet at the 101st blow, it will split in two and I know it was not that blow that did it. But all that had gone before." - Jacob Riis
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Old 05-08-06, 07:38 AM
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Well, we all know it's going to come sooner or later, right? Bowen is going to march into Dallas, Saturday night, and not have a single call go his way. Some officials are going to look at Game 1's "bearhugging" and not give Bruce any wiggle room to work on Dirk. I hope Brent and Mike are ready to step up and answer the bell.
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Old 05-08-06, 07:42 AM
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AJ not only learned some things from Pop, but by his crying, some things from Phil Jackson and George Karl also.
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Old 05-08-06, 08:22 AM
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Nowitzki knocked out of his rhythm
Dirk, Howard held to 10 points combined in second half



12:18 AM CDT on Monday, May 8, 2006
By CALVIN WATKINS / The Dallas Morning News


SAN ANTONIO – It wasn't a pleasant Sunday afternoon for Mavericks star Dirk Nowitzki.

Nowitzki was fronted for most of Game 1 by San Antonio defensive specialist Bruce Bowen and was held to with 20 points on 8-of-20 shooting in an 87-85 loss to the Spurs at the AT&T Center.

Nowitzki, who averaged 31.3 points in the Mavericks' first-round sweep of Memphis, went 5-for-9 and scored 13 points in the first two periods. But the second half was a nightmare. He went 3-of-11, taking only four fourth-quarter shots, and the Spurs' pressure defense forced him to pass up on a potential game-tying shot in the closing seconds.

"In the second half, I had some good looks and missed some shots I usually make," Nowitzki said. "I had a decent rhythm in the first half but lost it in the second. I have to stay aggressive and finish my shots."

He wasn't alone in his struggles. Josh Howard scored only three of his 17 points in the second half.

Mavericks coach Avery Johnson alleges the 7-foot Nowitzki was being held by the 6-7 Bowen and other defenders. Johnson even nicknamed the Spurs' scheme, calling it the "bear-hug defense."

"He's tough," Nowitzki said of Bowen. "He tries to make you uncomfortable all game by pushing up on me to make me drive and push me toward the help as much as he can."

Howard said one of the main reasons he didn't shoot much was because other players were scoring. Jason Terry scored 14 points, and Jerry Stackhouse came off the bench and added a team-high 24 points.


"They competed a lot harder in the second half," Howard said of the Spurs. "They made sure we got one shot on each possession."


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Old 05-08-06, 10:54 AM
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Props to Dirk he gave Bowen credit unlike his coach who behaved immaturely in denegrating BB's performance - AJ is still a great Fav of mine but facts are facts.
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Old 05-08-06, 11:24 AM
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Bowen is awesome. He single-handedly won the third regular-season matchup between these two teams (first game in S.A.) with his smothering, irritating, grabbing (w/o being caught), biting, kicking, etc. Sometimes I think Artest is better on defense, but, whatever -- there's no question that the two of them are in a class by themselves as perimeter defenders and third place (whoever that is -- Tayshaun maybe?) is not close.

Spurs deserved the win yesterday, and I shook my head and smiled as Timmy killed my Mavs in the first half with his brilliance. I love great basketball, on both the individual and team levels, and the Spurs still make me admire them as they rip out my heart.

Having said all of that, I believe we're in for a long ride in this series. I also believe Dirk will get the better of Bruce, Horry, Tim, and whoever else you throw at him in several of these games. Yeah, he sounded like a puss in the post-game press conference, but you've got to know Dirk to know that doesn't mean he lacks confidence. Unlike other NBA players, who will rarely give their opponents credit, Dirk routinely does. He learned that from Nellie, who constantly told the press that his opponents were better than his team, whether it was true or not. Personally, I prefer the approach of saying "I'm better than you and you got lucky," because I think saying out loud that the other team (or individual defender, in this case) is awesome brings you that much closer to being psyched out by them. But I don't believe Dirk is or will be psyched out. Don't expect to see much of him on the low block (where all of the experts -- on this board and elsewhere) seem to want him to go. He makes the occasional foray there, but he's still not comfortable with it. You will see that from him in future years. But, he'll play with his back to the basket at the elbow all night long, and juke and jive until Brucie (or whomever) gets up in the air or shifts their weight enough for Dirk to find daylight for the jumper, draw the foul, or drive to the hoop. He'll get pounded and he'll flail. He'll whine to the refs. He'll miss some jumpers. And he will also take many opportunities to rip out the hearts of the Spurs fans like Timmy did to us yesterday.

Congrats to the Spurs for a well-deserved victory under very tough circumstances yesterday. Friends, we've got ourselves a series.
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Old 05-08-06, 12:56 PM
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It's great that Game 1 has lowered Dirk's expectations for himself. Way to go, Bruce.

On the other hand, I fear that TP may be suffering similar apprehensions. After he got stuffed a coupla times in the second half, he stopped looking for his shot in the paint. Instead, of finishing in the lane or drawing the foul, he'd penetrate and shovel weak passes to a big.
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Old 05-08-06, 01:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MavsFFL
Bowen is awesome. He single-handedly won the third regular-season matchup between these two teams (first game in S.A.) with his smothering, irritating, grabbing (w/o being caught), biting, kicking, etc. Sometimes I think Artest is better on defense, but, whatever -- there's no question that the two of them are in a class by themselves as perimeter defenders and third place (whoever that is -- Tayshaun maybe?) is not close.

Spurs deserved the win yesterday, and I shook my head and smiled as Timmy killed my Mavs in the first half with his brilliance. I love great basketball, on both the individual and team levels, and the Spurs still make me admire them as they rip out my heart.

Having said all of that, I believe we're in for a long ride in this series. I also believe Dirk will get the better of Bruce, Horry, Tim, and whoever else you throw at him in several of these games. Yeah, he sounded like a puss in the post-game press conference, but you've got to know Dirk to know that doesn't mean he lacks confidence. Unlike other NBA players, who will rarely give their opponents credit, Dirk routinely does. He learned that from Nellie, who constantly told the press that his opponents were better than his team, whether it was true or not. Personally, I prefer the approach of saying "I'm better than you and you got lucky," because I think saying out loud that the other team (or individual defender, in this case) is awesome brings you that much closer to being psyched out by them. But I don't believe Dirk is or will be psyched out. Don't expect to see much of him on the low block (where all of the experts -- on this board and elsewhere) seem to want him to go. He makes the occasional foray there, but he's still not comfortable with it. You will see that from him in future years. But, he'll play with his back to the basket at the elbow all night long, and juke and jive until Brucie (or whomever) gets up in the air or shifts their weight enough for Dirk to find daylight for the jumper, draw the foul, or drive to the hoop. He'll get pounded and he'll flail. He'll whine to the refs. He'll miss some jumpers. And he will also take many opportunities to rip out the hearts of the Spurs fans like Timmy did to us yesterday.

Congrats to the Spurs for a well-deserved victory under very tough circumstances yesterday. Friends, we've got ourselves a series.


Words are words and deeds are deeds.

If you give your opponent mad props and then beat them...that makes your accomplishment seem that much more worthy. If you prop your opponent and lose... atleast you admitted the loss is to a quality opponent. Paying respect to your opponent as a basketball player is a win-win.

If your too insecure to prop your opponent your not ready for the NBAs ultimate award yet. If your too arrogant to prop your opponent... your an @sshole.

Of course team fans are held to a different standard.

Quote:
Originally Posted by mckennaspur1
It's great that Game 1 has lowered Dirk's expectations for himself. Way to go, Bruce.

On the other hand, I fear that TP may be suffering similar apprehensions. After he got stuffed a coupla times in the second half, he stopped looking for his shot in the paint. Instead, of finishing in the lane or drawing the foul, he'd penetrate and shovel weak passes to a big.
He's kind of banged up. He had the one leg contusion going in and then got a good shot on the other leg. Part of it is also just taking what they are giving. As long as the -team- is getting good looks this isn't a problem.

With a little more rest I expect Tony to be attacking with greater ferocity next game. He's a champion and has made a huge leap in mental fortitude this year.
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Old 05-08-06, 01:06 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Supernatural Anesthetist
Words are words and deeds are deeds.

If you give your opponent mad props and then beat them...that makes your accomplishment seem that much more worthy. If you prop your opponent and lose... atleast you admitted the loss is to a quality opponent. Paying respect to your opponent as a basketball player is a win-win.

If your too insecure to prop your opponent your not ready for the NBAs ultimate award yet. If your too arrogant to prop your opponent... your an @sshole.

Of course team fans are held to a different standard.



He's kind of banged up. He had the one leg contusion going in and then got a good shot on the other leg. Part of it is also just taking what they are giving. As long as the -team- is getting good looks this isn't a problem.

With a little more rest I expect Tony to be attacking with greater ferocity next game. He's a champion and has made a huge leap in mental fortitude this year.
Good point, Supernatural. I wasn't dissing Tony. I know that he's hurtin' a bit. But I'm a bit concerned about the mental aspect of his game for the moment.

It also concerned me that the Spurs seemed prone to weak "bail out" passes a few times in the seconda half (not just from TP). I was surprised to see Spur players get caught in the air with no idea where to put the ball.
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Old 05-08-06, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mckennaspur1
I was surprised to see Spur players get caught in the air with no idea where to put the ball.
There was some mental fatigue evident ... nothing a little rest won't take care of :op .
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Old 05-08-06, 01:32 PM
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That makes sense. I'm certainly not pushing the panic button, but I'd love to see the Spurs play a couple of games this round on all cylinders.
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Old 05-08-06, 05:57 PM
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AJ seemed to backtrack on his "bearhug" comments today. He said he was referring to dirk's offense, not Bowen's defense. He said that Bowen is a great defender.

As for arrogance, Stack said that he is 66% from that spot and he would take that shot again. I guess listening to his coach is not his forte. AJ said that they were going for 2 not 3. Once again, Stack's attempt at heroics led to a Mav loss.
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Old 05-08-06, 06:21 PM
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The thing is they always say Bowen has the people behind him to help his D out but with Dirk.... Dirk is a shooter. He doesn't drive to the lane, Dirk is perfectly comfortable at the 18' range and Bowen gave him the clamps.
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