Friday, May 04, 2007

Golden night on the coast

It's so hard to stay up for sporting events in California on weeknights. But I found a comfort zone and got to stay up to watch two incredible games last night.

Let me start with something I rarely watch - the NBA. Golden State was just incredible last night as they jettisoned the top-seeded Dallas Mavericks in the first round. The building was wild - most of the crowd was wearing their gold t-shirts that said, "We Believe" - and did they have something to believe in or what? Steven Jackson chucking up three's and Baron Davis playing on one leg after pulling a hamstring - they were just awesome and fun to watch.

The best part of the game was watching Don Nelson smile as he beat Mark Cuban, his former employer. There's a lawsuit going between the two men and they don't speak. But Nelson didn't need words last night, he had the scoreboard and his team talk for him with a 25-point win.

My question is how does a team win 67 games and then lose to a team that was under .500 for the season in the first round? Dirk Nowitzki was 2-for-13 and just never in the game.'s Marc Stein looks at how Dirk's loss was Nellie's gain.

The game was so good - I may actually watch another NBA playoff game... but I won't make a habit of it.

Reason I won't make a habit of it? Somewhere down your dial on Versus, I was watching an absolutely incredible performance by Roberto Luongo.

Vancouver's netminder stood on his head in the first period of game five against Anaheim stopping all 17 shots he faced. The Ducks were all over the Canucks - but they were only up 1-0 going into the third period. At that point, Luongo had only stopped 38 of 39 shots.

As is customary in big games, a fourth-liner named Alex Burrows finally slipped one past J.S. Giguere with nine minutes to go in the game and from that point Luongo held down the fort to get the Canucks to overtime. He had now stopped 46 of 47 shots. And it's not like they were gimmes - Anaheim had some incredible chances.

So - I flip to the hoops for a few minutes ... pass the time, not a fan of the Versus studio crew. Brian Engblom (a good Wisconsin guy) and his hair puts me to sleep. When I flip back to the hockey game, much to my surprise, Luongo isn't in the net ... his backup Dany Sabourin is in.

WHAT!!!????? Am I losing my mind??? Am I sooooo tired, I am delusional?

Nope, supposedly Luongo had an equipment problem and couldn't get it fixed in time... so here's the backup cold off the bench after watching an entire game. And he's under NOOOOO pressure, if ya let up a goal, season's over. Good luck - Godspeed.

Sabourin played for 3:34 and I swear to you that the Ducks were in the zone for 3:30 of it. He made five saves and got out as quickly as Luongo skated to him to thank him for saving his butt.

Luongo came back and picked up where he left off - he was amazing. Second overtime comes and Vancouver is about to move out of their own zone when Jannik Hansen made the mistake of skating towards the boards with his head down. Rob Niedermayer absolutely crushed him off the puck. Brother Scott grabbed the puck and flipped a wrister towards the net - unfortunately Luongo was too busy asking for a penalty on the hit - and didn't see the shot as it went by him and into the net to end the series.

Amazing how quickly things happen in the game of hockey - felt horrible for Luongo who stopped 56 shots in the game and 144 in the five game series. It was the first time he had ever been in the playoffs and he was just incredible. This is not the last we have seen of him in the bright lights - Vancouver GM Dave Nonis will get him some help and he will be back. But it shows how he wasted away on Long Island and in Florida for way too long.

That being said - the Ducks are just a solid hockey team. They will get some rest while San Jose and Detroit keep fighting. In my mind, San Jose would match up better with the Ducks, but I don't think it matters. Anaheim GM Brian Burke has built a solid lineup and should represent the West in the finals.

Anyway - that all ends last night and The Shawshank Redemption started at 1:30 a.m. - had to watch a little ... "Get busy living or get busy dying...."

Did anyone actually watch the Republican Presidential debate? Who won? Does anyone care yet?

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