When Dirk Nowitzki went down at the tail end of the second quarter in last night’s game against the Grizzlies, things didn’t look good. Nowitzki cringed. He pulled his jersey over his face. He rolled. He grabbed his ankle. Yet once the initial fear had passed, he walked with Mavericks trainer Casey Smith to the locker room, used up some athletic tape, and then returned to the floor at the start of the third quarter.
Dallas dodged a bullet. Nowitzki is fine, and according to Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas, Dirk will likely play against the Sixers on Friday, even though he’s listed as day-to-day with an ankle sprain.
Had Nowitzki’s injury been even remotely serious, Dallas would have been poised for a downfall. During last night’s three-minute stretch sans Dirk, Jason Terry did a terrific job of keeping the Mavs afloat with his scoring. Dallas even has a capable positional replacement, as Shawn Marion could comfortably slide in as the starting power forward. However, as is usually the case with injuries to prominent players, the problem isn’t Marion’s ability to compensate for the loss of Nowitzki’s production (though make no mistake, Dallas would struggle without their offensive pillar), but which deep reserve would receive serious playing time as a result. If Marion were to slide up the depth chart, Brian Cardinal would be a candidate for consistent minutes off the bench as a result. Spoiler alert: that doesn’t end well.
Luckily, Dallas doesn’t have to start running damage control on their forward rotation. Nowitzki wasn’t entirely himself after he returned from the locker room, but he moved about as well as one could possibly expect given the injury. After a day’s rest and some fresh tape, Dirk should be ready for 25-point-a-night business as usual.
Out: Derek Fisher.
In: Kurt Rambis.
That’s only the first step of the Knicks’ coaching change.
Brian Windhorst of ESPN:
Of course, Luke Walton and Brian Shaw – like Fisher and the other top candidate in 2014, Steve Kerr – played for Phil Jackson. The Knicks president has a type, one that includes both good and bad candidates.
The good: Walton. He impressed with his handling of the Warriors in Steve Kerr’s absence. He’s one of the hottest coaches on the market. I have some doubts, given Kerr’s and Golden State’s players’ influence. But Walton has done plenty right to be in this position.
The bad: Shaw. Jackson reportedly preferred Shaw to Fisher two years ago, but Shaw was under contract with the Nuggets. Denver since fired him, because he did a stunningly awful job connecting with his players. Perhaps, he has grown in that area since, though.
It seems inevitable Tom Thibodeau’s name will come up. The former Bulls coach isn’t a Phil Jackson disciple, but he previously worked as a Knicks assistant. Maybe his New York connection will allow Thibodeau to overcome his lack of a Jackson tie.
A direct connection to Jackson clearly puts someone on the fast track for this job.
There were rumors about the Knicks firing Derek Fisher – and that was before New York lost 9-of-10.
Now, with the Knicks sinking out of the playoff picture, they’ve made a move.
Fisher was one of the NBA’s most improved coaches – which mostly speaks to how lousy of a job he did last year. But that was also his first season coaching in any capacity. If you’re going to hire someone so inexperienced, doesn’t it also make sense to give him time to learn on the job? And if progresses at a reasonable rate, doesn’t it make sense to allow him to continue to grow?
If the Knicks are firing Fisher now, he was probably doomed from the start.
There are plenty of reasons not to believe in Fisher, including his Xs and Os and refusal to see motivating his players as part of his job. But the Knicks did believe in him. They hired him. It’s difficult to see why they reversed course so quickly.
Especially to Kurt Rambis. Although he is just an interim, they will make another hire this summer.
Rambis went 15-67 and 17-65 in an ugly two-year stint coaching the Timberwolves. He probably won’t lift the 23-31 Knicks back into playoff contention this season.
Perhaps, that speaks to just how fed up the Knicks were with Fisher.
The NBA tweeted the Grizzlies beat the Mavericks on Saturday.
A mistake, yes. Dallas won the game, 114-110, in overtime.
But the tweet also could’ve reflected an alternate reality where the game were called correctly down the stretch.
The Mavericks had two cracks to win in regulation – a Dirk Nowitzki jumper and, after a Zach Randolph loose-ball foul going for the rebound, a lob to Justin Anderson. Neither connected, though neither should have even been attempted.
Nowitzki got away with travelling before his shot at the 5.2-second mark, according to the Last Two Minute Report:
Nowitzki (DAL) moves his pivot foot. The official is looking for any potential illegal contact and does not pick up the pivot foot.
The league also ruled Marc Gasol should’ve been called for fouling Nowitzki on the shot. But the travel came first, which would’ve made the foul irrelevant.
It’s obviously no guarantee the Grizzlies would’ve scored, but 5.2 seconds would’ve been plenty of time to get off a decent attempt. They deserved the opportunity.
At least the Mavericks earned the win in overtime. All three missed calls in the extra period worked against them. The NBA ruled two shooting fouls on Dallas – Nowitzki fouling Jeff Green with 2:07 left and Raymond Felton fouling Mike Conley with 6.5 seconds left – were errors. Those gave Memphis an extra two points on free throws. Gasol also got away with an offensive foul with 1:43 left, though the Grizzlies didn’t score on that possession anyway.
Avery Bradley hit a perfectly dramatic shot Friday – a 3-pointer down two with time expiring against the conference’s best team.
When it fell, the Celtics justifiably went wild.
Well, not all the Celtics: