Dirk Nowitzki and Kendrick Perkins scuffled early in Game 2 of the Mavericks-Thunder series Tuesday night, sparked in part by the Thunder center’s shoving his forearm into Nowitzki’s lower back while fighting for position under the rim. The two had been jostling before that, and Serge Ibaka also clipped Nowitzki in the face while challenging a Dirk jumper — an unfortunate thing that happens now and then when defenders try to face-guard shooters.
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle shouted at Perkins during the incident and was upset in his typically even-handed way after the game:
“It’s playoff basketball. It’s physical,” Carlisle said when asked about the confrontation. “I mean, we don’t like the cheap shots when they give them, and they don’t like them if we give them. That’s the nature of competition.
“Hey, I love hard play, clean, competitive playoff series. You throw the ball up and may the best team win, but the dirty bulls— has got to stop. We don’t want anybody getting hurt out there either way.”
I don’t know what precisely Carlisle is referring to when he talks about “dirty” play. The word dirty brings to mind cheap shots with the potential to cause harm. Does a very large man shoving his forearm into another very large man’s back qualify? What about some raised elbows?
But dirty could also refer to more subtle rule-breaking, the kind Perkins mastered at the feet of Kevin Garnett in Boston. Folks around the league — mostly outside of Boston — have long complained about Garnett’s occasional moving screens and the extra contact he’s allowed to make when defending the pick-and-roll. Watch Garnett jump out on guards during pick-and-roll plays, and you’ll often see him place both hands on a ball-handler’s hip for just an instant. It’s not a particularly aggressive move — not a shove — but it often has enough of an impact to take that ball-handler wider than he’d otherwise like to go in trying to turn the corner. Garnett has other little tricks, scouts and coaches say, but that’s the main one I notice regularly. Read More…