Four big games took place involving Metroplex teams on Tuesday, and a full sweep was almost accomplished, save a questionable non-call for goaltending in the Mavs game (and a clutch shot by Stephen Curry).
Mustangs Play Best When it Counts
The Clemson Tigers may have led by 12 at halftime over SMU in Tuesday night’s NIT semifinal at Madison Square Garden, but tight defense kept the Mustangs in it. SMU’s first lead came with just 5:09 remaining and continued their comeback trend in every tournament game.
SMU dominated the boards, 34-26, a big key to their rally. Markus Kennedy led the Ponies with nine rebounds, as well as points with 21. Nic Moore added 13 points and four assists.
SMU will now take on Minnesota in the NIT Final on Thursday night. Yes, it is the NIT, but this is a cool deal for a team worthy for post-season success. Color me impressed.
Stars Dominate Caps
Kari Lehtonen stopped all 35 shots he faced in a 5-0 victory, winning his 30th game of the season. Dustin Jeffrey scored his first two goals as a Star and Ryan Garbutt scored a shorthanded goal.
Dallas looked like they simply wanted it more than Washington – a very good sign as the season winds down in a tight playoff race. When your third line scores three goals in the game, you’re competing and taking the pressure off your top forwards.
The Stars have won three in a row, outscoring their opponents, 16-4. They’re in the middle of a five-game road trip and continue to control their own destiny. Keep playing like this and that destiny is the post-season for the first time since 2008. That last game at Phoenix looms large and probably will decide who’s in and who’s out.
Rangers Notch First in Win Column
The Rangers bounced back from Monday’s Opening Day defeat, thanks to a solid pitching effort by Martin Perez, and the hitting of an old reliable in Adrian Beltre.
Perez looks like he picked up where he left off in 2013, showing confidence and making important pitches count. Shin-Soo Choo did what he does best – get on base, including beginning the ninth inning with a walk. It was the fourth time in the game that he led off an inning by reaching base. After a bunt advanced Choo into scoring position, Beltre came through with a big single. Do not underestimate the value that Choo will bring this season with his ability to get on base.
Sorry, Ian Kinsler, your dream of 0-162 died faster than a perfect bracket attempt in the NCAA Tournament. 160 games to go.
Mavs Drop Another One in OT
The Mavericks closed out their franchise-long home stand of eight games with a loss on Tuesday, this time a 122-120 defeat to the Golden State Warriors. It marked the fourth time in the home stand for Dallas to go to an extra period, and for three of those contests, they came up short.
Dirk Nowitzki made play after play, going 13-21 for 33 points and 11 rebounds. Monta Ellis added 27 points on 11-23 shooting. In the end it was not enough.
Stephen Curry nailed a step-back jumper with less than one second remaining in the overtime, breaking a 120-120 tie. A non-call for goaltending of an Ellis shot by Jermaine O’Neal just seconds before proved to be huge. The refs swallowed their whistles and refused to make a call to decide the outcome. Had that play happened in the first or second quarter – count the basket.
Alas – a big opportunity missed (again). If the Mavericks miss the playoffs, they can look at many chances spoiled on this home stand.