The Thunder and Mavs have got to stop meeting like this.
Got to stop meeting with marbles at stake. Got to stop meeting when every game matters and the spotlight shines bright. Else these NBA neighbors, 200 miles on Interstate-35, are going to start hating each other.
Welcome to playoff basketball. Welcome to playoff rivalry basketball, courtesy of six straight Thunder-Mav postseason games decided by single digits, the latest the Thunder's 99-98 escape Saturday night.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle has deployed gamesmanship; laying the groundwork for more officiating calls. And Scotty Brooks, who usually displays all the venom of a florist, didn't like it. Didn't like it one bit.
Carlisle bemoaned the Thunder's aggressive treatment of Mav star Dirk Nowitzki. And Brooks shot back.
“Just go back to your quotes in 2011,” Brooks said. “He said the same thing.”
In his classic monotone, Carlisle referred to the end of the first half, when Nowitzki was hit with an offensive foul while battling Serge Ibaka for positioning.
“He's getting grabbed and held and they call a foul on him,” Carlisle said. “We've seen this for four years. Dirk Nowitzki is the hardest guy in the league to guard because if you back off at 22 feet he's going to hit the shot. So people grab and hold him.”
Brooks usually just smiles off such talk. Not this time. Carlisle clearly had riled his old Continental Basketball Association roommate with the Albany Patroons.
“They averaged 20 free throws a game,” Brooks said. “They shot 26 or 27 (Saturday night, actually 25). We average 27. We shot 20.
“If you're going to get into that, you're taking away what NBA basketball's about. Play your game, do it as hard as you can, and live with the results.”
Foreman Scotty usually doesn't talk like that. He's usually blander than beige. Even last year, when Nugget coach George Karl referred to Brooks as “cocky,” the Thunder coach laughed it off.
Brooks wasn't laughing Sunday at Thunder headquarters.
“Come on, you can't be sucked into that,” Brooks said of Carlisle's PR battle to influence the series' future officiating. “That's what he does. If anybody, I should be complaining. We only shot 20 free throws.”