First things first, the refs. They are not responsible for the Spurs loss. There were bad calls made in both directions. (Howard did not foul Ginobili on the block from behind.) But it seemed like the more important calls went against the Spurs. For example:
-Duncan's fifth foul. The importance of this call need not be explained. You often hear Walton prattle on about the "principal of verticality." The defender has the right to stand anywhere and keep his arms straight up. In this situation the only possibly correct foul call against the defender would be a block, assuming he's inside the charge circle. The call in question featured Tim with his arm straight up. Dirk jumped, moved his arms into Duncan's and got the call. Without a doubt it was the wrong call. But part of me isn't all the upset, believing it was karmic retribution for all the times Tim bitched about a call, claiming his arms were straight up, when it actuality they were leaning over the defender by about 30 degrees.
-The tripping call on Barry. Again, an obviously bogus call. This one was especially difficult to swallow because the ball should have been out of bounds to the Spurs and instead DAL ended up with two foul shots.
-The no tripping call on Josh Howard. Howard clearly stuck his leg out and tripped Parker as he went towards the basket, resulting in a Spurs turnover. That's a foul. What's even more maddening is that even if he didn't intentionally stick his leg out it's still a foul 95% of the time.
-The sixth foul on Duncan. I actually agreed with this one. Tim hadn't really established position under the basket, and though he didn't intentionally turn Dirk's ankle it still deserved a whistle. It also warrants mentioning that if Dirk hadn't rolled his ankle he would have jumped straight into Duncan, who was well inside the charge circle and turned sideways. Automatic blocking call.
-The last foul that gave Dirk two free throws and DAL the lead. I watched the slow-motion replay of this event about 10 times. There's basically nothing there. Dirk gets the rebound and quickly jumps back up for the shot. Being a 7' German, he looked awkward as hell. Being one of the worst referees in the league (and having a well-documented and near blatant dislike of Tim Duncan and the Spurs), Joe Crawford gave him the call. I watched and watched and watched the replay. The only thing that could have possibly been called is Bruce Bowen grabbing Dirk's jersey from behind for about a millisecond. It's so minute that you don't even notice it at full speed. Of course there's absolutely no way Crawford, being under the basket, could have seen that. And the foul was given to Brent Barry, who was simply standing there watching.
Again, I am not blaming the referees for the loss. The Spurs have more than likely gotten their share of the calls in the past. But the refereeing in the NBA (and every sport) is a motherfucking joke. It's gotten to the point where I wish they would just let the players call their own fouls. And David Stern, politician extraordinaire, smiles behind a podium and says the refs only miss 5% of the calls. Whatever. Go worry about fucking spandex tights. Because that's what the fans care about. Not the actual integrity of the game. Go ahead and pretend that the refs don't decide (intentionally or otherwise) the outcome of multiple games every playoffs. Pretend that Crawford isn't an egomaniacal and incompetent asshole. Pretend that Javie doesn't ejaculate a little with every premature technical. Ignore the fact that during the last six minutes of game 3 there were FIVE ENTIRELY INEXPLICABLE CALLS. Who the calls favor is absolutely immaterial. What matters is the utter lack of quality officiating in the NBA and the effect that has on the impartiality of the outcome of the game, and that fairness is the unequivocal roots of any sport (well, except boxing). Yet undoubtedly Stern will continue to worry about the wainscoting in the parlor while the foundation of the house crumbles.
Was I the only person 100% positive that Stackhouse was going to screw up the intentionally missed free throw?
I have absolutely no idea what Pop is doing at this point.
-So the Spurs call timeout to choreograph a play in the final moments, down by 1. The first attempt features Manu downscreening for Horry who pops out above the three point line. Horry cannot get open, so Barry calls the Spurs' last timeout. SA comes out and the runs the exact same play. What the hell? First off, who runs the same play twice in a row out of a timeout? Secondly, why would you want Manu to get the ball 10 feet outside of the 3-point line while running full speed away from the basket with only 7 seconds left on the clock? If that's what you wanted, why not have Horry downscreen for Manu? How can this be the same coach that came up with the Brent Barry magic in game 2 of the SAC series?
-Why exactly are we switching the Nowitzki pick and roll at the top of the key time and time again, especially considering we rarely switched the pick and roll all season? Maybe the constant mismatch is why Nowitzki shot 50 free throws last game? Why not just put Parker on Dirk to begin with? I know, let's run a box and one, and have that "one" be Bruce Bowen guarding Lesagna Diop. That would be downright quirky and we all know Germans hates them some quirkiness.
-Why is Parker guarding Terry while some Spur, much slower than Parker, guards Devin Harris, who's much faster than Terry? Are we trying to bait DAL into going repeatedly to Harris? Because, if so, it's working terrifically. Unfortunately he's killing us every time he touches the ball. Maybe that's just a minor detail. I don't have a degree in Soviet studies, so don't listen to me.
-Anyone else notice that DAL is playing Parker straight up, going over the top of the pick and roll, and yet he's still shooting only 19-48 for the series? Is he that hurt? Did Duncan contact some Virgin Island voodoo priestess who transferred all his ailments to Parker and Ginobili?