Mavs' win over Jazz is a fight to the finish ... and then some
Stackhouse involved in altercation with Utah player after game
12:51 AM CDT on Sunday, April 10, 2005
By DAVID MOORE / The Dallas Morning News
The Mavericks had to fight until the final seconds to beat Utah on Saturday night.
In the case of Jerry Stackhouse, the fight extended into the tunnel well after the game was over.
Nearly 20 minutes after the Mavericks' 88-81 victory over the Jazz was completed, witnesses said Stackhouse was standing in the tunnel that leads to the Utah team bus talking to his wife. Accounts varied on what happened next. But this much is certain: Stackhouse and Utah rookie Kirk Snyder, who exchanged words during the game, quickly came to blows.
Mavericks officials and security guards were still piecing together information late Saturday night. But there were reports that the fight lasted up to 40 seconds. Security officials from all over American Airlines Center rushed to break up the confrontation, and there were reports that Stackhouse knocked Snyder to the ground at one point.
The Mavericks said they were continuing to investigate and would not issue a statement until they were clear on what happened. The club did leave a voice mail with the league office early this morning to let it know about the altercation.
The league will conduct its own investigation. Historically, the NBA office levies fines and/or suspensions in these matters.
Mavericks owner Mark Cuban met with three other club officials before emerging from an office shortly before midnight.
"Something happened," Cuban said. "Stack said he was defending himself. It started in the game. He was there with his wife.
"All we know is something happened. We're hearing varying stories. There is really nothing to say until we investigate it further and see what happens."
An irate Stackhouse was escorted back to the locker room by teammates Josh Howard and Michael Finley. Jazz coach Jerry Sloan was informed of the fight by a reporter upon leaving the Utah locker room. He rushed to the team bus, where he and the rest of the coaching staff pulled the rookie off the bus.
Snyder was bleeding as he spoke to Sloan. Afterward, Sloan declined to say much other than Snyder told him he was not the guilty party.
Mavericks fans plead the case of Dirk Nowitzki as he hits the floor during a game in which 62 fouls were called.
This isn't the first incident for Snyder. Nearly two weeks ago, he was removed from a game against Houston when he began taunting the Rockets' bench. Sloan apologized to the Rockets and informally suspended Snyder for Utah's next game.
The fight overshadowed the fact the win clinched home-court advantage for the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.
The seven-point win over Utah wasn't as impressive as their 36-point blowout of San Antonio two nights earlier. That's being kind. The Mavericks blew a 15-point fourth quarter lead and were extended into the final minute by a vastly inferior opponent.
"Obviously, this game was a struggle for us," said coach Avery Johnson, who warned his team in practice and the shoot-around to guard against a letdown. "I've been in situations like this before. I've seen coaches scream and holler and kick chairs to get the guys ready to play. Sometimes, it takes a close game in the fourth quarter for you to wake up."
It was closer than expected. Still, the game continued the team's reversal of fortunes at American Airlines Center.
A team that was booed in Don Nelson's final two home games as coach is 6-0 at home under Avery Johnson. The Mavericks aren't just winning these games, they're dominating; the average margin of victory is 19 points.
The Mavericks retain a mathematical chance to catch the Spurs for the Southwest Division title. But that is slim. The priority is to work on defensive pressure, offensive efficiency and see which team emerges in the scrum between Sacramento, Denver and Houston for the No. 5 seed.
This was a game where three consecutive possessions without someone being whistled for a foul constituted offensive flow. It was a game where 62 personal fouls, four technicals and one flagrant were called, yet nothing was called at the end of the third quarter when Keith Van Horn was dripping blood on the court after being hit in the face.
One of the few offensive highlights came late in the first half when Erick Dampier took a lob pass from Dirk Nowitzki in transition and slammed it home. A sequence late in the third quarter was more indicative of the evening.
Nowitzki was two steps inside the 3-point line and fell down as he passed the ball to Darrell Armstrong. The veteran point guard fell down as he got the ball to Stackhouse, who ended the possession with an offensive foul.