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by Mike Fisher    Wed, Dec 21, 2005, 03:13 PM

    My sense is that Dallas fans weren't so much "watching'' Lakers 112, Mavs 90 on Tuesday as they were "rubber-necking.''
     This was like watching a meteor shower, a natural disaster and a multi-car pileup, all rolled into one. It was horrific and spectacular. Fantastic and calamitous. Awesome. ... and awful. And you couldn't turn away.
      Hey, you could've changed your TV over to ABC, you would've found a nice companion piece to what you were watching. Barbara Walters hosted a special called "Heaven: Where Is It? How Do We Get There?'' Perfect, opposite Kobe Bryant hosting a special called "Hell: I Know Where It Is. And I'm Headed Straight There. And Just For Fun, For One Night, I'm Going To Drag You Helpless Mavs Fans There With Me.''
     Assorted impressions of a Tuesday night in LA that featured "Kobe "The Black Mamba'' Bryant going off for 62 points in three quarters -- and then jubilantly retiring to the bench because at that moment, he'd single-handedly outscored the visitors 62-61:

  • Bryant hit 18-of-31 shots and was 22-of-25 from the line. His 62 is the most ever against the Mavericks. His 30-point third is three short of George Gervin's single-quarter record. He and coach Phil JackZen discussed letting him play in the fourth -- yes, they were quite aware of his numbers, so much so that after the third, JackZen scribbled "Kobe 61, Mavs 60'' on his greaseboard -- but they declined. The Black Mamba decided that chest-thumping and cartoonish grinning and unstoppability was enough.
         "It was a feeling of willfulness,'' Kobe said modestly.
  • Did the Mavs get mad? Given the fact that The Black Mamba scored 43 on 'em last week (thus handing the Mavs their only two losses in the last 10 outings), one might think they entered the constest mad, focused, ready. But Dallas' perimeter defense continues to be suspect -- we recently added up all the point guards who've gone off on the Mavs this year, and now we need an abacus to add up all the shooting guards who've joined their ranks -- and not even Josh Howard was up to this task.
         Oh, J-Ho got mad, alright; this game featured a hot-blooded sequence during which Kobe elbowed Dirk in the face. ("I stripped him clean, and he threw his arms up," a black-eyed Nowitzki said in review. "I got elbowed in the face and I get the foul. That was typical.") And then Howard gets whistled for a flagrant for bashing Kobe in the head. (Howard, to his credit, didn't back down when Kobe challenged him chest-to-chest.) And somewhere in there, coach Avery Johnson earned an ejection.
         As Avery exited the court, he turned back to Steve Javie and crew and yelped, "You owe us one!''
         Maybe so. But the Mavs didn't need one. They needed, like, sixty-one.
  • Did the Mavs stay mad? I know that Dallas fans today are calling for someone to have thrown a punch into Kobe's smilin' grill, but really, that is a TV-watching reaction. You really want Dirk to start a fight with Kobe Bryant? I mean, it'd be cool to watch. But what would it prove again? That when you score 62 against us, we retailiate by taking the advice of Carl Spackler: "What you've got to do is cut the hamstring on the back of his leg... ...right at the bottom. He'll never play basketball again... ...because his weight displacement goes back... ...all his weight is on his right foot... ...and he'll push everything off to the right. He'll never come through on anything. He'll quit the game.''
         The Mavs are upset enough. We've got Mark Cuban calling the league. We've got Avery Johnson getting kicked out. We've got Josh Howard pushing back. That enough for now.
  • What happens next time out? Honestly, I think there is a reason to assume the Mavs' collective confidence is shaken. Maybe Adrian Griffin has seen a little of this before, but Howard, Marquis Daniels and Devin Harris -- all of whom made Bryant look like a golden blur -- might have nightmares about this.
          They insist not, though.
         Jason Terry swore "We didn’t get rattled.'' And Josh, when asked if he'd ever seen a performance like that one, answered, “I haven’t seen a performance like that unless you’re talking about me in high school. Other than that, no.''
         I'll take their word for it, I guess. Luckily, the Lakers still suck. So come springtime, we won't have to worry about Kobe scoring 43 or 62 or 101. Because come playoff time, he'll hopefully be vacationing in the Colorado mountains, rehabbing his knee. ... and stuff. ...
  • In last week's loss to LA, Mavs coaches said that while Kobe killed them, Kwame Brown was another key. Brown scored 12 points on 6-of-6 shooting in that game. "Can't let that happen,'' one staffer told me.
         So they didn't. Brown was 0-of-2 and scored one point.
         So one of the Mavs' missions was accomplished.
  • Those who are into The Legend of The Black Mamba will be interested to know that now, Kobe is insisting that he predicted he'd have a huge night against Dallas. He says he promised he'd score 50. Whatever, Drama Queen.
  • Darrell Armstrong, the Mavs' third-string point guard, emotional spark plug and devoted Redskins fan, has had some fun with the Cowboys' 35-7 loss at D.C. in the last few days. His "How 'bout them Redskins!'' bark over the PA system at American Airlines Center on Sunday drew some attention, some laughs, and a $1000 "kangaroo court''-type fine. (Sidebar issue: I'm still amazed at the number of people, including Mavs media, who think the fine is the result of somebody's anger. "Kangaroo Court.'' Go look it up.)
         But maybe the Dallas sports gods got back at DA here. The Cowboys lost by giving up 35. The Mavs were down by. ... yes, 35.
  • You can say that this was a once-in-a-lifetime thing. ... But doggone it, he had 43 last week. This isn't a once-in-a-lifetime thing; against Dallas, it's a twice-in-a-week thing.
  • Can we re-think the whole "Dallas-doesn't-need-Ron Artest'' concept yet?
  • Yes, I was tempted to turn my TV set off. (Or to turn it over to Barbara.) Admit it: for the first time in more than five years, you thought about flipping the channel from the Mavs game, too, didn't you?
         But of course, there was the rubber-necking factor, the meteor shower/natural disaster/multi-car pileup factor. You know when the tsunami hits, and you wonder how some amateur cameraman acquired the footage that you're watching? And then you realize that he acquired it by being unable to take his lens off the tsunami, just like you can't take your eyes off of it?
         That's why you didn't flip the channel. You were the cameraman, frozen as the wave was coming at you.
  • Josh Howard took the right approach after the game, saying, "We need to turn the page and get ready for Sacramento.” And what did Kobe do after the game? There is no truth to the rumor that The Black Mamba celebrated by allegedly raped somebody. 
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