Going the route of the solo act didn’t work out too badly for Michael Jackson and Paul McCartney. The hits kept right on coming.
But now three games into The Finals, one look at Dwyane Wade and Dirk Nowitzki tells you that that path to success on the basketball court is always easier with a tight backup band.
While Wade has no doubt been the shining star in the spotlight, there’s plenty of harmony behind him coming from LeBron James and Chris Bosh … heck, even Mario Chalmers. On a night when he was once more out of rhythm after getting poked in the eye, Bosh hit the game-winning jumper from the left wing in Game 3 to cap off Wade’s 29-point effort.
Meanwhile, with the Mavericks, it continues to be all about Dirk all the time. The problem isn’t that he scored 34 of Dallas’ 86 points, but that he had to score the Mavs’ final 12 points of the game, while everyone else was singing off key, most notably Jason Terry.
Terry’s latest fourth quarter of all sour notes — 0-for-7 in the Mavs losses — prompted Nowitzki to call him out, according to Jeff Caplan of ESPNDallas.com.
“Jet hasn’t really been a crunch-time, clutch player for us the way we need him to.”
It was a simple declarative sentence, but Nowitzki could have tossed in some moon-walking and belted out a verse from “Beat It” to get his point across.
The Heat, of course, are well aware that that they’re not going to be able to shut down the singularly talented Dirk. So they have focused on keeping Terry out of the picture, especially late in games when Miami throws a wet blanket over him in the form of LeBron’s defense.
The Dallas bench that was the best in the league over the course of the regular season, averaging 40 points a game, simply can get lift when “Jet” Terry finds the tarmac blocked off. In the first round of the playoffs against Portland, Terry had four games of 20 or more points.
In the conference semifinal sweep of the Lakers, he closed out the two-time defending champs with back-to-back games of 23 and 32.
In the Western Conference finals, he scored 24 and 20 in Games 1 and 4.
That makes the Mavs 6-0 in the playoffs when he gets to 20. So far in The Finals, Terry hasn’t topped 16 and those fourth-quarter absences have been fatal.
Every Batman needs at least one Robin riding shotgun. Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O’Neal or Pau Gasol. Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce or Ray Allen. Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili or Tony Parker. Even Michael Jordan needed Scottie Pippen or John Paxson or Steve Kerr to make his best music.
Ever since the Mavs let Steve Nash walk out the door for Phoenix in 2004, nobody has had to play the solo act more than Dirk. Maybe those are David Hasselhoff tunes he hums to himself at the free throw line, but it’s definitely a McCartney song that’s one his mind heading into Game 4 tonight:
And Jet, I thought the only
Lonely place was on the moon