“You think dogs will not be in heaven? I tell you, they will be there long before any of us.”
– Robert Louis Stevenson
Before last night’s game, All Dogs Go to Heaven would have been the favorite movie for the San Antonio Spurs based on their age and the comments of Coach Greg Popovich after game one. (Where frogs go after they die is anybody’s guess.) Popovich’s dog comment must have ignited a fire in some of his mutts. Maybe a threat of a trip to spend the off season with Michael Vick (sorry, I could not resist) if they continued to play this way but that is doubtful. All the Spurs needed to do was watch the film of their game one defeat to motivate themselves to play better and get out of the doghouse. In last night’s rout of the Dallas Mavericks they played hungry, as if they were promised a Milk-Bone or Snausages if they fixed their mistakes. San Antonio looked more like the scrappy team of dogs in Oliver & Company (This makes Tony Parker the poodle and Manu Ginobili the Chihuahua I guess.), who used team work to out hustle the Mavs, instead of a group destined for the great big dog park in the sky.
Richard Jefferson, who the casual observer might have thought had retired or was out with an injury all season because of his poor play, was the lead hound in the first half of the game. Jefferson was pivotal for the Spurs as they raced out early and never looked back. He scored 19 points on the night with 17 of them coming in the first half. For Jefferson, this is a great leap in production from his usual 10-12 points a game in the regular season and a giant leap from the four point effort that lost him his place at the foot of the bed in game one. In the second half of the game he all but faded into obscurity.
Jefferson was not reliable enough to be counted on down the stretch by his master. Dick Cheney would not have even relied on him to retrieve the face of his hunting buddy. No, in the second half with the Mavericks making a concerted effort to fill the hole that San Antonio dug in their backyard, Popovich turned to his oldest and most trustworthy blood hound. (Duncan is certainly a hound dog with all the crying he does, especially towards the referees.) The saying goes, “you cannot teach an old dog new tricks,” well, in this case who would want to try? Tim Duncan quickly picked up the scent of victory when he entered the game during the Mavericks’ push late in the third and into the fourth quarters. He scored 17 of his 25 in the second half. Duncan would not let up the scent until he found what he was looking for.
All night it seemed as if the Spurs mistook the basketball for a Kong or tennis ball because they chased it all over the court with the sole intent of fetching it. They out rebounded the Mavericks, 51-42. Of the 51 rebounds they collected 16 were offensive which led to 23 second chance points. This pack of mutts certainly knew how to get the ball last night, never wanting their game of fetch to end. Despite their top dog mentality, however, the Spurs could not hold off the Mavericks forever. Dallas kept making little pushes and runs to eat into the lead. Yet, with 1:48 left in the fourth quarter the Argentine Dogo nailed a three-pointer to seal the victory.
Popovich’s prize poodle came off the bench again and had 16 points to go along with eight assists which leads one to wonder why when starting point guard, George Hill continues to play like he is a puppy that has not opened his eyes yet. It is probably because there is no scoring bite coming off the bench unless Parker comes off of it. (That is exactly why.) Nonetheless, the Spurs were rewarded for their efforts in Dallas on Wednesday night and surely dined on the finest Kibbles ‘n Bits and Alpo that money can afford to celebrate. Hopefully all their barking did not wake the neighbors.
Perhaps the Mavericks should have heeded the advice of Geoffrey Chaucer who said, “It is nought good a sleeping hound wake.” San Antonio has a slight bit of history on their side, since 2003 they have gone 5-2 in series where they have lost the first game. However, last year in the first round when these two teams met the series had the exact outcome after two games with the Mavs winning the first and the Spurs winning the second. We know the outcome. The San Antonio Spurs are certainly not the Mavericks or Mark Cuban’s best friend. Nothing will change that. What will change is the scenery. San Antonio will now get to run and play in their own backyard, complete with a flowing sewage heap called a river, for the next two games. It will be up to the Mavericks to dig holes throughout it. Every dog has his day and Richard Jefferson and the Spurs hope it has not already come and gone.