First, the officials did indeed arrive in a clown car and, as expected, they spent a great deal of time hosing the guys in blue shirts down with seltzer. In the end, though, their performance probably wasn’t much worse than it is during any other game, so your final grades will reflect whether or not your gauges are calibrated to “basic competence” or “sucked about like they normally do.”
Second, the main reason that the refs were no more inept than usual is because they didn’t need to be. I predicted that the Nuggets would bring their A game. They didn’t. Denver didn’t do anything especially well, and there were areas of particular disappointment, like seasoned vet and captain of the Cave Man national squad Pau Gasol taking the Nugs’ wonder rook Kenneth “Manimal” Faried to the woodshed every time it mattered. If you can’t put LA on the ropes, then the refs don’t need to bail them out, and that is 100% on the Nuggets.
Third, a note on something I didn’t mention in yesterday’s preview. Consider this line: 44 minutes, 15 points (4-11 from the 3-point line), 5 boards, 2 assists, 2 swats, 4 steals, suffocating defense on key pieces of the Nugget offense. Not bad, huh? Those are the totals for Metta “DSM-V” World Peace, who just 20 days earlier nearly decapitated Oklahoma City’s James Harden with an elbow that ranks as one of the most appalling cheap shots in NBA history. (Yes, that’s right, MWP owns two of the top four. He’s like The Beatles of NBA thuggery.) Had he done the same thing on the street he’d have been penalized seven years. But since he’s important to the Lakers he only got seven… [sigh] So, here’s how I imagine that the disciplinary meeting went down in league HQ.
Stu Jackson: So, boss, what are we going to about last night’s aggravated assault?
David Stern: You know, Stu, Metta has an ugly history and that was the dirtiest thing I’ve ever seen in sports. We have no choice but to throw the book at him and suspend him for at least the rest of the season, plus a few games at the beginning of next year.
Stu: [tears streaming down his cheeks] BWAAAAH!!! Boy, that was a good one, boss!
Toady #1: Yeah, you really had us going for a second there!
Toady #2: [trying to catch breath] …rest of the season…HAHAHAHAHA!!!
Stu: Hooh. Boy, can’t wait to tell that one to the wife!
Stern: Ha – I still got it! Remind me to tell you the one about the time Michael Jordan bought a Mexican whorehouse! … Hee. Okay, okay, settle down, everybody. So, let’s just suspend him through the first round and be done with it, what do you say?
Stu: But, wait a sec. What if Denver gets hot and forces a Game 7? Stranger things have happened.
Stern: Hmmm. Hadn’t thought about that. Good catch, Stu.
Toady #2: Yeah, good catch, Stu!
Stu: What if we do this? There’s one game left in the regular season. So let’s suspend him for seven games. That sounds kinda like a series if you aren’t paying attention, right? And then if the Nuggets somehow get a run on, Ron will be back for Game 7 at home, right? That plus we’ll put a couple stooges on the game – maybe Duke and that asstool Stafford? Just in case?
Stern: I like it, Stu. Let’s do that. Now, next item on the agenda is the year-end party. Which one of you idiots is in charge of the strippers this year?
Inspired by a true story, yo.
Anyhow, a pox on the Nuggets for not forcing the officiating crew’s hand last night. Now all I have to look forward to is seeing what the creative team comes up with for the LA/OKC series….