Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki shot 7 for 21 from the field, scored 18 points and had seven turnovers in Game 3. He was defended much of the time by Thunder reserve forward Nick Collison.
This led to Mavs coach Rick Carlisle questioning the legality of Collison’s tactics. “They’re making a great effort on him,” Carlisle said. “Now I don’t know, in terms of legal limits. I believe the line may be crossed at times. If so, the league will see that.”
After Monday’s shoot-around in preparation for Game 4, Thunder coach Scott Brooks was asked if Collison was playing illegal defense.
“Please,” said Brooks, who smirked at the suggestion. “The referees do their job, I do my job and the players do their job. That’s all we can do. Nick is a tremendous player. Nobody should think that he does things illegal. He plays the right way. He plays to your basketball. There’s no agenda. Everybody wants Nick on their team. He’s that type of guy. He’s a winner and he makes winning basketball plays, both sides of the floor.
“Nick plays tough every possession. There’s not a time that he takes a possession off. That’s what guys need to do at all times, and Nick does it every time. He’s not a sometime defensive player. He’s not going to be perfect and he’s not going to stop his man every time, but his effort is always there. He just brings a spirit to your team that words are hard to describe because he just does it. We don’t really know what it is, but it works and he’s consistent with it. Good things seem to happen when he steps out on the floor.”