NBA Weekend Recap: Western Conference Semifinals

Greg RiotAnalyst IMay 11, 2009

Refs Blow Call, Melo Hits Game Winner, and Nuggets Go Up 3-0

Down two with under two seconds left on the game clock, 'Melo received the inbounds pass.

The Mavs had a foul to give, and as Anthony received the ball, Wright fouled him with a lower-body bump, but the referee didn’t call it.

Anthony elevated and canned the game-winning triple. Final score: Nuggets 106, Mavericks 105.

After the contest, the NBA admitted to an officiating mistake. It was one of the costliest and most dramatic in NBA history. The Mavericks now find themselves down 3-0 in the series. No team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit in NBA history.

Of course, the game was more than just a single play. Melo and Billups proved a formidable twosome for the Nuggets, as Melo tallied 31 and Billups continued his outstanding postseason run with 32.

The Nuggets didn’t get many other contributions, as Nene had a rare off-night, shooting 2-10. It was enough (with the ref’s help), but just barely.

Dirk continued his strong play with 33 points and 16 rebounds. I was worried about his focus due to off-court issues, but he stayed aggressive and gave the Mavs a chance to win.

The Mavericks really did play well enough to win, but apparently it just wasn’t meant to be. They’ll have to try and regroup for Game Four. It’s a veteran team with a lot of pride, and I think they’ll come back strong to try to avoid the sweep. (Game Five in Denver will be a different story, the Nuggets are just too strong at home).

Game Four goes tonight in Dallas. The Mavericks are a two-point favorite at the BetUS sportsbook, and I like them to cover.


No Yao, No Problem

Yao fractured his left foot in Game Three, a season-ending injury that effectively destroyed the Rockets’ chances against the Lakers.

Or so I thought.

He did get injured, but the Rockets came out with guns blazing and absolutely stomped the Lakers in Game Four. It was absolutely shocking. The Rockets had a 29-point lead at one point in the third quarter, and the final score of 99-87 does not do justice to the beatdown the Rockets laid on LA.

The Lakers were unfocused and lackadaisical on both ends of the floor, repeating what has been a disturbing trend for them all year. It’s like they assumed that with Yao down, they wouldn’t even be asked to play.

And Houston was just on fire. Battier was doing it early (23pts, 5-10 beyond the arc), and Brooks was doing it all night (34 points). Kobe was off, going 7-17 from the field with no free-throw attempts. Gasol was the lone bright spot, as he dropped 30 on 11-17 from the field.

With Yao down, you still have to think this series is there for the taking for the Lakers—but it’s now effectively a best of three, and anything can happen. Still, this loss will serve as motivation for the Lakers, and if I know anything about Kobe, it’s that we won’t have another night like that in Game Five.

The series returns to LA on Tuesday, and the Lakers are massive 12-point favorites. If it’s the good, focused Lakers, it shouldn’t be too hard to cover.

But at this point, with the Cavaliers and Nuggets rolling and looking like legitimate contenders, the Lakers have yet to put themselves into the same group—a major surprise.