D’Antoni Sums It Up After Knicks Loss: “Dirk’s Dirk”

Published on: 3rd February, 2011


D'Antoni Sums It Up After Knicks Loss: "Dirk's Dirk"  | read this item

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NEW YORK — Dirk Nowitzki had 29 points and 11 rebounds, and the Dallas Mavericks seized control in the third quarter before beating the New York Knicks 113-97 on Wednesday night for their sixth straight victory.

However, it was Nowitzki, an offensive force since entering the NBA in 1998 who passed the 22,000 career points mark tonight, who preferred talking defense, after the game. It was almost as surprising as Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni talking defense after a win. Or a loss, for that matter.  

“Our defense has been going back to where we were in November, December,” he said. “If you look at our defensive effort in the second half, that’s what won us the game. Our big guys did a phenomenal job. Tyson Chandler and Brandon Haywood just stayed down and kept Amar’e Stoudemire in front of them. We just tried to make him finish up over us.”

Nowitzki has passed Larry Bird, Gary Payton, and Clyde Drexler this season on the NBA career scoring list to move into 23rd place all-time, yet couldn’t stop expounding on the Mavs’ play at the defensive end.

“I think we did a good job staying home on their three-point shooters; they are a very explosive shooting team,” Nowitzki continue. “If you hold a great offensive team like they are to low 40s (percentage) shooting, that’s a great job.”

J.J. Barea added 22 points and Tyson Chandler had 15 points and 11 boards for the Mavericks, who outscored the Knicks 26-6 to open the second half and went on to their fifth consecutive win in New York.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle was pleased with the road win but wasn’t ready to get too excited, yet.

“We are gradually building momentum here,” he said. “I’m not getting too carried away because there is a long way to go. Games are going to get harder before they get easier, but we are making strides.”

This one wasn’t as dominant as the Mavs’ 128-78 rout on Jan. 24, 2010, their most lopsided win ever and the Knicks’ worst loss on their home floor. But Dallas was just as impressive in the first 7 1/2 minutes of the third quarter en route to its 16th win in the past 18 meetings overall.

Danilo Gallinari scored 27 points and Amare Stoudemire finished with 21, but missed all five shots in the second half before leaving for good as the Knicks went deep into their bench.

Playing without starting forward Wilson Chandler for the third straight game because of a sore left calf, the Knicks missed 26-of-36 shots over a nearly 20-minute span bridging the second and third quarters. Toney Douglas had 22 points off the bench, but starting guards Raymond Felton and Landry Fields were a combined 6 of 25.

Leading by four at halftime, Dallas opened the third with a 15-4 burst, with Nowitzki’s 3-pointer making it 71-56 not long after Stoudemire botched a dunk. A basket by Shawne Williams briefly halted the Mavs’ momentum, but Jason Kidd made a 3-pointer, Barea converted a three-point play, Tyson Chandler dunked and DeShawn Stevenson nailed a 3-pointer to make it 82-58 with 4:27 left.

The Knicks, who missed 11 of 14 to start the period, suddenly stormed back when Gallinari led a 13-0 burst that cut it to 82-71 on Douglas’ layup with 1:14 remaining. Dallas led by 13 going to the fourth.

Nowitzki and Jason Terry hit the first two baskets of the final period and the Knicks never got within single digits, with the Mavs using another burst midway through the period to put it away.

The Mavericks made seven of their first eight shots, but the Knicks controlled the rest of the first quarter, shooting 56 percent and surging to a 34-27 lead. Dallas picked up its defense in the second, limiting New York to 18 points on 7-of-22 shooting and taking a 56-52 lead.

“I thought we ran out of steam and ran out of good plays,” said Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni. “We were playing well and we let Jose Barea get loose for a couple of three’s and cut the lead to zero. From that point, it was Dirk. Dirk’s Dirk. He’s going to do that. He’s a tough one to handle. But we didn’t make a lot of shots when we were running, and they played well. They’re a good team. They outran us.”

The one lone bright spot for the Knicks (other than Andy Rautins scoring a point on a free throw) was the performance of Danilo Gallinari, who’s been playing well, lately.

“I just think he’s overall playing at a very high level, and we expect that from him,” said D’Antoni. “He has to mix it up and read the game and some games, he’ll have more foot speed than the guy guarding him and he’ll go around him. Other games, he’ll need to take threes. He had 29 the other night, has 27 tonight. He’s playing well.”

Raymond Felton continues to strruggle with his shooting at the point guard position after being on fire for the first part of the season. He was 4-for-14 from the field, tonight, scoring just 11 points. He did have 9 assists against the Mavs but his defense against Barea was almost non-existent.

He’s shot under 40 percent in 12 of the Knicks’ past 16 games. He’s reached his season average (17.2 points per game) just six times since Jan. 2, when he scored 28 points against the Spurs.

“His hand is still bothering him,” said D’Antoni. “It’s swollen pretty good. But I just don’t think it makes a difference. Obviously, it would be nice to hit all his shots, but we have to be a little bit more aggressive on the defensive end and get into people and want it a little bit more than them.”

See, D’Antoni was not only talking defense tonight but was calling out one of his key performers for his lack of defensive intensity. Nowitzki and D’Antoni discussing defense in their post-game comments. Will wonders never cease?

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