DONUT 1: Let's get the zebra business out of the way first: Tonight's 9:30 tip (which I suppose will end up being a 9:55 tip) will be supervised by the officiating trio of Monty McCutchen, Bennett Salvatore and Bill Spooner.
So the Dallas Mavericks are a story and the Los Angeles Lakers are a story and hopefully McCutchen/Salvatore/Spooner won't be a story.
DONUT 2: "I'm not clutch,'' Kobe Bryant says, and the room of reporters laughs at his oozing sarcasm. Because "Kobe not clutch?'' That's the most ridiculous notion ever!
I mean, except for the fact that in his last THREE final-moment attempts to make a big play, all of them on Monday, he blew it: Turnover to Jet on a drive-and-kick, turnover to Kidd on Kobe's slip, and the missed 3 just before the buzzer, all of which allowed Dallas a 96-94 Game 1 win.
Oh-for-3. So what's so funny?
Later today, our David Lord digs into the "Kobe is Klutch'' issue ... And what we're going to find is that he's way more mortal than you think ... and maybe not even atop Dirk in that category ...
DONUT 3: I've often poked fun at the Mavs, led in many ways by Cuban and Jet, who embrace the notion of Dallas as an underdog.
But maybe there is a psychology to it. And maybe it's working.
Consider this: The Mavs organization has been a front-runner pretty much since the moment it went up 2-and-7/8ths game in the 2006 Finals. Since then, every playoff game lost was a disappointment, many moments lost seemed like "chokes,'' every series was a pressure cooker ... in which the pressure was often all on Dallas.
Dallas is suddenly the lower seed in a high-profile series. "Nothing to lose'' is too strong; there is plenty to lose ... games and money and jobs.
But this is almost "house money'' time. ... As a Mavs fan who was going to "burn my season tickets'' after the Game 4 loss at Portland ... aren't you glad you doused those flames?
DONUT 4: Charles Barkley's Dirk-related TNT work has been so mushy it's almost uncomfortable to watch.
As in, "get-a-room'' uncomfortable. As in, "put Chuck and Dirk on the Kiss Cam!'' uncomfortable.
Barkley is so obviously on point in his praise of Dirk that even C-Webb appears to be getting it. ... and here we thought for C-Webb to grasp something so elementary it might require a "Billy Madison''-style re-education program.
DONUT 5: Lakers strategy points for tonight, trickle-down style:
*Does LA have answers for guarding Dirk if it plays Gasol and Bynum together? And if the answer is no, and therefore LA doesn't go twin-towers, does that level the playing field for the Mavs?
*If it does happens, and it means Lamar Odom starts (or at least plays starter minutes), the Lakers bench scoring becomes an LA disadvantage.
*If LA decides to honor Ron Artest's request to cover Dirk, does that allow Dirk to win a battle? Does it mean Marion will be covered by a slower player? Does it mean Phil JackZen is starting to question the road map that got his team to this point in the first place?
DONUT 6: Phil Jackson sends in tapes of Game 1 to the league in protest. A discussion item on DB.com Boards.
DONUT 7: From FOX Sports:
Since becoming a starter in 1999, Nowitzki has never played fewer than 73 games. For 11 consecutive seasons now, he has averaged better than 21 points game. This puts him in very select company, according to STATS LLC, one of only 10 players, to wit:
Kareem Abdul-Jabbar, Karl Malone, Michael Jordan, Shaquille O'Neal, Kobe Bryant, Allen Iverson, Hakeem Olajuwon, Jerry West and Dominique Wilkins.
That becomes an even more exclusive club when you include the fact Nowitzki has also averaged no fewer than seven rebounds: Jabbar, Malone, Shaquille, Olajuwon.
So the world is growing to understand what we already know: Jordan, Kobe, Jabbar, Malone, Shaquille, Olajuwon. ... and The UberMan is somewhere in the pantheon.But ... (you knew there'd be a "but,'' right?)
DONUT 8: In the same piece from FOX by Mark Kriegel, titled, ‘Nowitzki Won't Lead Mavs To Title th columnist asks, "But is he the kind of guy who leads a team to a championship, which, after all has been Dallas' stated goal since he arrived? No. I don't think so.''
Kriegel uses two examples from Game 1 to back up his assertion. He notes that in the second quarter, Dirk passed on the opportunity to challenge a Derek Fisher layup. And he notes that in the fourth quarter, Dirk was helpless to stop a head-faking Lamar Odom, who "blew by Nowitzki on the baseline for a reverse layup. Made it look so easy.''
Mark ... seriously? The reason Dallas can't win a title is because Derek Fisher and Lamar Odom each made a layup?
The Fisher play is the result of something every DB.com reader understands: Nowitzki intentionally avoids early-game foul trouble. It's ON PURPOSE.
The Odom basket is worthy of a different explanation, and it's the old one about how "they pay the guys on the other team, too.''
Hey, if you buy the logic that a team that gives up an easy bucket in a one-on-one situation is incapable of winning a title, then the Lakers are out of it.
Because in Game 1, they gave up a lot of "easy ones.'' To Dirk.
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DONUT 10: Some Dallas fans want a "Blue-Out'' for Friday's home game. The Mavs are announcing that they want it done ... so they are handing out 20,000 blue t's.
Ah, but how to get the Tommy and Tory Crowd (that's "Hilfiger'' and "Burch,'' men's and ladies) to participate? Historically, some of the hoity-toity's on the floor haven't wanted to participate ... don't want to pull T-shirts over their coiffed heads.
The solution: The Mavs are not only giving away the shirts, but are also encouraging y'all to wear your OWN royal blue outfits.So wear your Tommy or your Tory. But make it royal blue.
DONUT 11: Tonight, Ric Renner and I (along with Ro Parrish and Ali D) will be on the AT&T Plaza outside the American Airlines Center for the Mavs Watching Party as we do an 8:30 pregame show online at FS Southwest.
Then the DB.com helicopter will zip us over to the FOX studios, and Ric and I will host the live-on-television postgame show on FF Southwest. Come have late, late, late night TV with us!
DONUT 12: Once upon a time, Magic Johnson of the Lakers was pretty much in a class by himself ... but Mark Aguirre of the Mavericks was somewhere in the vicinity. ...
Ah, 1987. It was almost a very good year.