Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Peace, Dallas: Round 1 Recap

Greetings, loyal readers. It is my pleasure to inform you that Chris Paul's Hornets have already exceeded the McGrady line by winning a playoff series.

Let'em know, Rudy. Let'em know.

I'd say it was hard fought - if only to make all of the journalists at ESPN feel better - but I'd be lying. The Hornets quickly hit a groove and, despite a loss in Game 3, beat the Mavs rather handily. For your reading pleasure, I have put together a quick look back over the series.

Game 1: New Orleans 104 | Dallas 92
CP3 plays out of his mind, part 1. New Orleans gets off to a shaky start, but eventually Chris takes over and drops 35 points, 10 dimes, 3 rebounds, 4 steals, 1 block, 1 turnover on 65% shooting. Avery and company tried a myriad of traps and other ploys to contain Paul. Nothing worked. Add Pargo's relentless defense on Jason "Hornet Killer" Terry and all the Mavericks could do was watch. The game gets physical in the second half. Dirk flop (and I mean FLOP) off a Chandler (soft) foul, which starts igniting sparks on the court and in the crowd. Then Dirk throws an elbow into D.West's lip. West's response? He gets in Dirk's face, says "That's the last time you get to do that, ok?", and then pats his cheek as Dirk white and still as a marble statue. I'd insult him, but Simmons has already done a better job than I could ever manage (in his playoff awards article):

The C.T. Memorial "I Will Work You! WORK! YOU!" Award
To David West for his in-your-face manhandling of Dirk Nowitzki in Round 1, capped off by the same derisive cheek tap that Robert Conrad used to perfection after his concession speech to Gabe Kaplan in the first "Battle of the Network Stars." It's unclear if West was apologizing to Dirk or intimidating him, but we haven't seen a German back off like that since the German army fled from Russia in the winter of '44.

Game 2: New Orleans 127 | Dallas 103
CP3 plays out of his mind, part 2. 32 points, 17 assists, 5 rebounds, 3 steals, 3 turnovers on 63% shooting. Seriously... that's just sick. The team itself sets 5 franchise playoff records: most points in a quarter (39), most points in a half (67), most points in a game (127), most 3 pointers made (10), and most assists in a game by one player (CP with 17). Don't worry, Muggsy. We won't forget you.

Game 3: Dallas 97 | New Orleans 87
The inevitable Game 3. Dallas fans were out for blood after it became painstakingly clear that the Bees were about to close down their season... which would make it 2 first round exits in 2 years. Peja, D.West and CP come out cold, shooting a combined 14/50 (28%) from the floor (although Paul did finish with 16/10). Despite Tyson's 11 boards, he only manages 4 points. Jannero "Malibu Forest Fire" Pargo is the only Hornet who figures out that whole putting the ball in the basket thing; he drops 30 points. It was all in vain, though, as the Hornets never came within a half dozen of the lead.

Game 4: New Orleans 97 | Dallas 84
The end of the line. Sure, we still had one more win to notch before moving on, but it was in this game that the Mavericks officially lost. The Bees went down early in the score, but the Hornet's bench showed up in the second quarter to pull a sick run that would give us the lead for the rest of the game.

The big moment, though, came with 7:16 to go in the fourth. On a fastbreak, Jannero ran the ball up the court only to be grabbed by the neck and then thrown down to the ground by Jason Kidd. Fortunately, Pargo is part feline and managed to get his hands down before crashing head first into the boards. Immediately JuJu showed up ready to pound Jason (and probably his family) six feet into the ground. He had to be restrained by multiple players... it was crazy. Meanwhile, what did Pargo do? He walked away coolly... smiling as he did. Why? Because he knew (as did all of the fans) that the series was over. Dallas had officially cracked. They were now running on the wrong kind of passion: frustration. It was a beautiful moment, really. Think about it, in that 10 second span, we witnessed a player showing the utmost class and not stooping to the level of an idiot defender, we witnessed the wrath and man-up-ingness of JuJu (who joins Al Horford on the list of rookies who don't take no crap from nobody... Al Thornton can come, too), and finally, we witnessed the grand irony of Dallas' "veteran leader" (for whom they mortgaged their future to acquire) get ejected for a stupid (and dangerous) foul. It was truly a beautiful moment.

Furthermore, the W allowed us to start recouping damages from our 0-14 run in Dallas over the past 9 seasons or so (since 1998... the year Chris was in 7th grade... no, seriously).

There's actually an even bigger irony concerning the Kidd trade. Devin Harris and Sagana Diop are going to laugh every day forever after 2010 when LeBron shows up for the Brooklyn Nets and leads them to 4 bazillion championships while the Mavericks crumble to pieces 1500 miles away. Ok, Diop might not even be there by 2010, but Harris will for sure... holy crap... the Hornets have to win it all this year or next... the LeBron era is coming.

Game 5: New Orleans 99 | Dallas 94
CP3 plays out of his mind, part 3. Avery cancels the Mavs practice the day before because Half Baked doesn't cancel his birthday bash the night before (in NOLA, no less). Earlier that day, Howard also admits to using pot in the offseason (and implicates the rest of the league). Kidd has to wake up and live with himself for another day. And then Byron Scott is honored before the game as this season's Coach of the Year. Dallas had not a prayer in the Holy Land. To make matters worse (for Dallas), a fan gets on the Jumbotron with a sign that reads "Stop the Flop" and from that moment forward, every time Dirk visits the stripe, the entire arena chants "Stops the Flop" at the top of their lungs. In the end, Paul finishes with a triple double, recording 24 points, 15 assists, and 11 rebounds 53% shooting (not to mention 2 steals and 0 turnovers). Elias, why don't you take it from here:

Chris Paul capped a historic playoff debut series with a triple double in the Hornets' 99-94 win, eliminating the Mavericks from the NBA's postseason tournament. Paul averaged 12.0 assists in the five-game series, the second-highest mark in NBA history by a player in his first postseason series. The record is 13.0, by Kevin Johnson in 1989. Over the last 20 years, the only other players to post a triple-double in their first playoff series were LeBron James (2006) and Steve Francis (2004).


Want to give a quick shout out to my Dallas buddies Ryon Buchman and Ted Hall for being classy about the series (especially given the overall poor officiating... it was disgusting at times). You guys are troopers and you have my utmost respect. It takes a lot to be a Dallas sports fan. Believe me, I know: I spend the other half of the year cheering/crying for the Aints.


Are we ready for the Spurs? Sure, why not? The experts will pick against us again... but I think that's good fuel for the fire. San Antonio may have more experience, but our crew is out to prove that they're for real. And when those boys get in sync on something like that... well, there's nothing I know of that can stop them. It's time to fan up New Orleans: San Antonio's coming to town.

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