2001 NBA Finals

Shop Fantasy Central Golf Guide Free e-mail Travel Subscribe SI About Us
  Finals Home
NBA Draft
More NBA News
Team Pages
Lakers | Sixers
Team Stats
Lakers | Sixers
Pop-up Rosters
Lakers | Sixers
Playoffs Histories
Lakers | Sixers
Daily Schedule
Your Choice Awards

 Sportsman of the Year
 Heisman Trophy
 Swimsuit 2001

 Fantasy Central
 Inside Game
 Video Plus
 Your Turn
 Message Boards
 Email Newsletters
 Golf Guide

 Sports Illustrated
 Life of Reilly
 SI Women
 SI for Kids
 Press Room
 TBS/TNT Sports
 CNN Languages

 SI Customer Service
 SI Media Kits
 Get into College
 Sports Memorabilia

Talking tough

Mavs coach: Jazz manipulate refs, abuse rules

Click here for more on this story
Posted: Monday April 23, 2001 10:02 PM
Updated: Tuesday April 24, 2001 12:13 PM

  Don Nelson Don Nelson fired the opening round in a verbal barrage by accusing Utah of dirty play. Ronald Martinez/Allsport

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- Dallas Mavericks coach Don Nelson is complaining the Jazz manipulate referees and abuse the rules.

Utah forward Karl Malone wouldn't be drawn into a verbal scrap Monday.

"I hate soaps," the Mailman said. "I don't watch soaps, so I have no desire to talk about soap operas."

Fine, but that won't stop the Mavericks from brashly challenging the Jazz leading to Tuesday's Game 2 in the best-of-five series. Utah won the opener 88-86 on Saturday.

The matchup has been, up to this point, portrayed as a contest between Utah's aging but savvy veterans and the talented but untested Mavericks, who made the playoffs for the first time in 11 years.

After narrowly losing Game 1, the swaggering Mavericks are confident they can beat the Jazz on the road in the postseason, just as they did in winning twice at the Delta Center this season.

"Watching the tape, everyone in the locker room felt we let one get away," Dallas center Shawn Bradley said. "There were a lot of 'if' factors. ... The bottom line is, we didn't win and we feel we can."

The Mavericks are walking tough, and now Nelson wants his team talking tough, too. Nellie even showed how it's done, firing the opening round in a verbal barrage by accusing Utah of dirty play.

"The Jazz manipulate referees so well with their flops," he said. "They abuse the rules. It's frustrating to play against that kind of a team, and it's frustrating to coach against them.

"But they sure do it well," he added. "I sure have to give them credit."

The Mavs quickly stepped in line behind him. Asked the best way to match Utah's physical play, Bradley said: "You've got to be professional, keep your head and flop against a flopper, like Coach said."

It's more fuel for a rivalry that's had some acrimonious moments. Malone, in particular, has had run-ins with Dallas before.

The Mailman has jawed with Mavericks owner Mark Cuban in the past and even bumped chests with Nelson during a game in Dallas in January 2000. That face-to-face showdown came after Malone put a knee into Bradley's stomach.

After the teams played in November, Malone was fined $7,500 and suspended one game by the league office for a backhanded slap to ex-Maverick Christian Laettner.

But so far in the playoffs, Malone has avoided fanning the flames.

"I respect their team and their owner and who they are, but I don't have any conversation with any of them," Malone said Monday. "I have a job to do, and that's what I try to do."

Yet when Malone was asked seconds later which Dallas player does the best job of guarding him, the 16-year veteran and two-time NBA MVP couldn't resist some sarcasm.

"Who holds and grabs the best?" he asked. "All of them do a tremendous job of guarding me. Without a doubt, they're the toughest team for me to play against.

"I'm surprised I'm scoring any points," said Malone, who had 26 in the series opener. "I don't know if I belong on the same floor."

The Mavericks said Saturday they planned to be more physical in Game 2, but point guard Steve Nash took it a step farther Monday.

"I was taught to play hard, physical and take it on the chin, rather than flop," Nash said. "That's great for them. Hopefully, we can get better at it. We've got to join in, rather than be stubborn about it."

Related information
Jazz hold off Mavs 88-86 to take Game 1
Keeping Stockton fresh key for Jazz
Utah's Starks cleared to play after hospitalization
Don Nelson can't believe how little it took to get tossed from Game 1. (146 K)
Nelson isn't going to added any unnecessary pressure to his team. (238 K)
Visit Multimedia Central for the latest audio and video
Search our site Watch CNN/SI 24 hours a day
Sports Illustrated and CNN have combined to form a 24 hour sports news and information channel. To receive CNN/SI at your home call your cable operator or DirecTV.

Copyright 2003 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.


CNNSI   Copyright © 2001 CNN/Sports Illustrated. An AOL Time Warner Company. All Rights Reserved.
Terms under which this service is provided to you. Read our privacy guidelines.