After the Mavs were laid to waste by the Lakers last night — and after they pulled out a classic NHL maneuver and started being physical once the game was out of reach — Chris Webber went on TNT and ripped the Mavs.
He called them “soft.” We linked to it in our Morning One Liners, but here is the money quote (courtesy the Dallas Morning News):
“Jason Terry is the only Dallas Maverick that does something. Look at Dirk Nowitzki, look at these two big guys, look at Haywood. They deserve to be fined. I hate to say this, but I put the rules on me team that if were not in there, you deserve to be fined…. But what I am saying is, when your guard gets pushed and no one else on the team … the Lakers already won.”
Cuban went on ESPN Dallas radio and fired back (as transcribed by CBS Eye On Basketball):
“Chris Webber has never had an original thought. It doesn’t really matter. You know how these guys work. The last time I looked it was Jason Terry pushing and our guys responding — no one is backing down from anybody. And it’s the same nonsense talked by the same people who haven’t had an original thought in their entire lives. Look, we don’t care what Chris Webber says. It doesn’t matter what Chris Webber says. We just go out and do our thing.”
Cuban is right, calling the Mavericks soft is not original. And calling a team that prefers to shoot jump shots on the perimeter soft is not accurate. It’s not fair. But the Lakers were more physical when it mattered Thursday, and that feeds the common perception. Whatever you think of that perception. That physicality also leads to wins for the Lakers over Dallas.
If you tuned out last night with Dallas up 7 and one minute to go, you missed one epic collapse. Just the fact the Hornets got three offensive rebounds in the final minute — not to mention 8 straight points — to get the win should tell you how Dallas played. How they lost to a Hornets team without Chris Paul.
Mavs coach Rick Carlisle had a word for it, one he told ESPN Dallas:
“Soft,” Carlisle said of his team… “Yeah,” the coach reiterated, “soft.”
Carlisle clearly has taken the Phil Jackson class on sending your team a message through the media. He wanted to get a rise out of his team. It worked.
“Who said that?” Jason Terry said, scoffing at the accusation after he had an off night — rare for him of late — with 10 points. “I’m not soft, not me. I don’t know where that comes from, but we ain’t soft. We have to see how he meant soft in that aspect, but I know he wasn’t talking to me personally or any of my teammates because I don’t think none of these guys are soft.”
We’ll see if that translates into actions when the Mavericks take on the Knicks Thursday.
The Mavs are not soft, but the Hornets did outwork them. Carlisle also used the word “toughness,” as in the Mavericks lacked it. The Mavs are a good team but they are not good enough to coast. Not good enough to take their foot off of the gas.
Even for the final minute.