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Nowitzki Fires Verbal Volley at League Office

By Art Garcia,
Posted Dec 31 2008 1:58AM

DALLAS - -- On a night his nose was bloodied, Dirk Nowitzki took a verbal jab at the NBA office for the timing of his recent one-game suspension.

The former MVP didn't play Sunday afternoon at the Los Angeles Clippers as punishment for striking Utah Jazz forward Matt Harpring in the face Friday. Nowitzki was disappointed with the timing of the suspension since the Mavericks weren't informed until Sunday morning.

"They couldn't tell us Saturday because the investigations took so long, so I thought that was a joke," Nowitzki said after the Dallas' record-setting rally to beat Minnesota 107-100 Tuesday night.

Nowitzki did figure the suspension was coming after hitting Harpring with a backhanded swipe in the 97-88 loss at Utah. Nowitzki received a flagrant foul/penalty 2 and was ejected in the fourth quarter. He referenced the Kevin Garnett's suspension for slapping the face of Milwaukee center Andrew Bogut in November as precedent.

"I figured I would be suspended after KG got suspended for really nothing with Bogut, I figured that was coming, but once we made it through Saturday the hope was up a little bit," Nowitzki said. "But it is what it is."

Nowitzki also took exception with how the league reviewed the altercation with Harpring. NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson announced the suspension, but never spoke with Nowitzki. Another league representative interviewed the All-Star forward.

"He never called me," Nowitzki said of Jackson. "I was going to tell him a few stories, but nowadays it's NBA security, some assistant or whatever, and they just write down what you have to say.

"They can really scratch it out, because they do what they do anyway. I don't know why they interview you anymore. They walk you through the whole spiel and what you were thinking, what you saw and you tell them, and then you get suspended anyways. I might not even call them back next time."

This wasn't the first time Nowitzki was suspended for his actions in Utah. He served a one-game penalty for his takedown of Andrei Kirilenko in March. That it happened again against a Jerry Sloan-coached team wasn't a fluke.

"It's more than coincidence, I'd say," Nowitzki acknowledged. "I just have to do a better job of keeping my head. That's how they play there. They don't call a lot of fouls there.

"Ever since Sloan took over that's how they play there. They let guys just play hard and I've just got to be more ready to take the hits and play through it."

Nowitzki kept his cool, for the most part, Tuesday. A few no-calls in the first half against the Timberwolves left Nowitzki frustrated. A chop he took at a Minnesota defender after losing the ball could have easily been called a technical foul.

"I drove a couple times and thought I got fouled," Nowitzki said. "I took a swipe at the ball there, but it is what it is. I'm going play hard. If they play physical, I've got to be physical. Stuff is going to happen with this league."

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle didn't get off as cleanly. He stormed after an official after another instance of Nowitzki get knocked around, picking up two quick technical fouls and getting tossed midway through the second period.

Nowitzki was hit in the face by Wolves forward Craig Smith in the third as Dallas was storming back from a 29-point deficit. Smith was charged with a flagrant 1, and Nowitzki was left with a bloody nose that had to be plugged for him to continue.

The Mavericks ended up establishing a new mark for the largest comeback in franchise history. Blood was still dripping from Nowitzki's nose after the game.

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