Never have two players who have combined for 7 minutes and 2
seconds of playing time in the first five games of the Mavericks-Blazers series
caused this much commotion.
In the much-ado-about-nothing category, Brian
Cardinal’s late-game pick on Portland’s Patty Mills has caused a
bit of a storm – among the Blazers at least. It appears to be a desperate
grab at something of a motivational moment.
“I’m just kind of surprised that they’re
so mad about it,’’ Cardinal said Tuesday afternoon. “If
they’re mad, they should be mad at Earl (Barron) or (Nicolas) Batum or
whoever else was in the game that should have called out that
The situation happened with scant seconds left in the game
and the Mavericks safely ahead by 11 points. The Blazers elected to pressure
J.J. Barea full court. So Cardinal did what the Mavericks had done all game and
set a screen near mid-court. Barea ran Mills directly into the 6-8
Cardinal’s rock-ish pick, laying out the 6-foot Mills.
Several Blazers voiced their disapproval with Cardinal as
the final buzzer sounded.
“They were mad,’’ he said. “I
don’t know if they were yelling at me or yelling at their own teammates
for not calling out the screen.’’
For the record, Cardinal has played a grand total of 1
minute, 53 seconds in the series. Mills has played 5:09.
The Blazers said they would not forget about the pick. But
the Mavericks would be within their rights not to forget about the harassing
defense Barea got when it was clear to 20,000 fans in the building all the
Mavericks were trying to do was dribble out the clock. If the Blazers had
backed off, the issue never would have arisen.
“They pick up J.J. full court and they’re going
to double-team him,’’ Cardinal explained. “They’re
playing hard and aggressive, just like I am. They say there’s no time on
the clock or the game’s over, but yet, they’re going to play hard,
full court and press. I’m just doing the same. I’m just playing
hard like they are.’’
And if there’s no pressure on Barea?
“I’m going to be standing on the court waiting
for the clock to run out and the buzzer to sound,’’ Cardinal said.
“But if they would have stole the ball from him, they would have ran down
and scored a layup. They’re playing the game of basketball just like I
“I wasn’t trying to hurt him. I was just playing
smart basketball, hard basketball. And that’s what they were doing. It
just so happened that he picked him up and I was trying to relieve some
It stands to reason that Cardinal is going to hear it from
the boisterous Portland fans in Game 6 on Thursday at the Rose Garden.
Not that he’s worried about it.
“Oh, no, I don’t know,’’ he said.
“It doesn’t matter to me. I’ve played, what, a total of two
minutes in this series. If they’re worried about me and my screens
Then the Mavericks probably have the Blazers right where
they want them.
“They’ve got great fans, intense fans and
it’s going to be a great atmosphere, just like it was in Games 3 and
4,’’ he said. “All teams try to find motivation wherever they
can. We got our own things that motivate us, as they do. It’ll be an
intense Game 6, one that we’re excited to play.’’