Intensity is one thing.
Going across the line is another — especially when you hurt your team in a crucial situation.
Dallas Mavericks forward DeJuan Blair was whistled for a technical and ejected from the game for kicking San Antonio Spurs center Tiago Splitter in the head with three minutes and eight seconds left in the 93-89 loss at the American Airlines Center on Monday night.
The Mavericks led 83-82 at the time.
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The shame of the situation is that Blair was a big part of why Dallas had rallied from a 20-point, third-quarter deficit to take the lead.
But after being called for a foul against Splitter while going for a loose ball, he inexplicably kicked him in the head while they both were flat on the floor.
A foul was called as well as a technical and an ejection for a hostile act.
Blair said he was simply reacting to the foul and not trying to kick Splitter in the head.
"It was clearly a reaction to the call," Blair said. "It was real disappointing because with me in the game, our momentum was going great and when that happened and that got me out of there, it was a big deal."
Splitter made all three free throws to put the Spurs up 85-83.
Blair left to a standing ovation from the Mavericks fans, who appreciated his intensity and toughness in helping bring Dallas back.
But his game also left the floor as well.
And now there might be a question of whether he will be available for Game 5 in San Antonio on Wednesday night.
"It was an accident so we will see what happens," Blair said of a possible suspension. "It wasn't intentional. I was just reacting to a call that I thought didn't go my way."
Blair, who signed with the Mavericks in the off-season after spending the first four years of his career with the Spurs, has made no secret of his disdain for his former team.
His physical play and toughness has proved to be a difference-maker for the Mavericks during the entire series.
And he was a huge factor in the second half Monday.
Blair had no points in the first half, but he made his presence in the third quarter, helping the Mavericks rally from the 58-38 deficit.
He finished with 12 points and 11 rebounds. All of the points came in the third and fourth quarters.
In fact, it was a Blair layup that gave the Mavericks their first lead since early in the second quarter at 81-80 with 4:50 to go.
But less than 2 minutes later, he was gone.
For how long remains to be seen.
"Blair gave us a lot of energy, a lot of force and he gave us a physical presence," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We have to avoid plays like that after the whistle. DeJuan is a smart player. That's just an emotional reaction to something but those are the kind of things that you have to avoid."
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban wants it clear that the NBA would be better without Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling.
He called him a bad owner and said his reportedly racist comments about African-Americans released by TMZ over the weekend were abhorrent.
Cuban said he will support anything the NBA does to penalize Sterling and says the stiffest fine and suspension should be in play.
However, Cuban stopped short of saying the league should take the Clippers away from Sterling or force him to sell the team based on his private comments made in his own home.
Cuban called it a slippery slope and said it would set a bad precedent.
“What Donald said was wrong. It was abhorrent,” Cuban said during a meeting with the media before Monday’s Game 4 of the first-round playoff game between the Mavericks and Spurs at the American Airlines Center. “There’s no place for racism in the NBA, any business I’m associated with, and I don’t want to be associated with people who have that position.
“But at the same time, that’s a decision I make. I think you’ve got to be very, very careful when you start making blanket statements about what people say and think, as opposed to what they do. It’s a very, very slippery slope. If it’s about racism and we’re ready to kick people out of the league, OK? Then what about homophobia? What about somebody who doesn’t like a particular religion? What about somebody who’s anti-Semitic? What about a xenophobe? In this country, people are allowed to be morons.”
Unlike Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander who called for Sterling’s removal from the NBA, Cuban stressed the bigger picture of setting a bad precedent that could potentially affect all Americans and how we live.
“But that has nothing to do with the rules that we have to live by,” Cuban said. “There’s a lot of things I don’t agree with that by letter and rule of law has to happen anyway. When you live in a country of laws, you want to support their are laws. I’ve fought the government, been bullied by the government. Yet, I still support a rule of law.”
Game 6 tickets
Single-game tickets for Game 6 between Dallas and San Antonio Spurs will go on sale Tuesday at 10 a.m.Tickets will be available simultaneously at the American Airlines Center® Box Office, online at mavs.com and via phone by calling 214.747.MAVS. There will be a four-ticket limit per game.
Game 6 will be played on Friday at a time to be determined.
A lottery system will be in place for those fans that choose to purchase their tickets at American Airlines Center. Beginning at 8:30 a.m., a lottery number will be given to each fan. At approximately 9 a.m., there will be a drawing to determine the first person in line. All numbers sequentially following the drawn number will be the second, third, fourth, etc. in line.
Lottery numbers (at American Airlines Center) do not guarantee anyone the right to purchase game tickets. Tickets will be sold upon availability. American Airlines Center® policy prohibits camping out on the premises. Parking will be available in AudiPark garage.
Clarence E. Hill Jr.