It was almost a year ago today when Puerto Rican Guy was voted off the NBA Wall Of Fame to make way for NBA Doubting Thomas Of The Year champ Danilo “The Cock” Gallinari.

Today, he clearly showed just how much the slight still hurt by contributing a major role off the bench in the Mavericks’ 93-81 victory over the Lakers which takes them 2-0 up in the series as they head to Dallas for Games 3 and 4. I wrote a fair bit about the Lakers in my last playoff diary post and saw nothing this game to make me believe I was wrong. More later.

In today’s other game, the Bulls got their ship back on track by beating Atlanta 86-73, with the Hawks’ shooting colder than my ex-girlfriend. Derrick Rose of course received his MVP trophy before the game, but had his struggles. I didn’t manage to see all of this game though, so I’m kinda flying blind here.

Enough with that. Onto today’s votes.

3 Points – Dirk Nowitzki. Vintage Dirk today. His stats (24/7/2 on 9/16FG) doesn’t speak for just how good he was in the final quarter. When Dirk is utilising his high post game, he’s pretty much un-guardable. The guys who are tall enough to block him aren’t fast enough to guard him. And he well and truly took over this game and dragged the Mavs home on both ends, something he hasn’t always done through his career.

In my last post, I wrote about how basketball history will remember Dirk Diggler. At this point, he’s a first ballot Hall of Famer, probably the greatest international player of all time and will be up there in any number of statistical categories once he hangs up his shoes. And let’s not forget he probably has at least five good years left. Even when he loses a step, it won’t matter for Dirk as much as, say, Kobe, because as long as he still has his shooting touch he could probably play when he’s 50.

The one thing missing from this resume is, of course, a ring. If he gets that…we could be talking about Dirk as the second-best power forward of all time (at this stage, I have him No.3 on my list behind Duncan and Malone. A title would move him ahead of Malone) and a top-20 all time player.

But now’s not the time to consider that. Let’s just say that if he keeps playing like this, it’s gonna be very hard to stop the Mavs. Unless David Stern orders it so.

2 Points – Joakim Noah. Derrick Rose had (by his standards) an off night tonight upon receiving his MVP trophy, with 8 turnovers and going 10/27 from the field. Thankfully, in his absence the Bulls defense kicked it up a notch, led by Noah (19 points, 14 rebounds, 3 steals and a block) who continually harassed Al Horford and prevented Joe Johnson (back to his old ugly Iso-Joe ways) from repeating his Game 1 performance.

When you watch the Bulls, you realise that:
a) as great as Rose is, the Bulls won 62 games largely on the back of their defense
b) Noah is the heart of this Chicago D.

1 Point – J.J. Barea. PUERTO RICAN GUY!!!! PRG (as I shall refer to him for the sake of brevity) scored 12 points in the final quarter and stuck the proverbial dagger in the Lakers’ hearts. Bill Simmons said it best after the game on Twitter – “I don’t care if JJ Barea is Puerto Rican, we have to get him on a dollar bill. He’s an American hero.”

That’s today. I think the Lakers are done for. They might win one game – maybe even game 5 at home – but I don’t see how they come back here. They look like they’re pretty much spent. Which is understandable. Phil Jackson will need to pull a Zen mind trick on them from here if they’re going to even be competitive.

As for the Hawks and Bulls, well this is situation normal. Atlanta have already over-achieved these playoffs by just making the second round. If they can somehow grab another win against Chicago, they have a right to be fairly pleased with their season.

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