DALLAS -- So there was Erick Dampier, a career 62.7-percent free throw shooter, setting, bending, breathing and flicking his wrist as Dallas Mavericks assistant coach Terry Stotts and free throw guru Gary Boren observed.
One after another, swish, swish, swish. Dampier sank 140 of 150 free throws after Monday's light workout and then went back for me. Of course, making free throws in an empty arena is one thing, while putting an end to the opposing coach's tactic that singles you out as the most likely to miss two free throws is entirely another.
Dampier was the victim of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich's desperation defense that, for lack of a better name, will go by Hack-a-Damp. Popovich became so infuriated watching Dirk Nowitzki toy with his defenders that he instructed them -- in the third quarter, mind you -- to send Dampier to the line before Nowitzki could sniff the ball.
"I think it’s great. I think they should do it again," Dampier said. "Let them keep fouling. We'll just go to the free throw line and knock them down."
Knock them down Dampier did, well mostly. He made 4-of-6 on three consecutive possessions, and both on the final one, in which Popovich resurrected the old Don Nelson ploy of Hack-a-Shaq. It was the other 5-of-6 free throws that Dampier missed that irked him.
"I normally shoot free throws better than I did last night," Dampier said of his 5-of-12 effort. "The good thing about it is there's always a second night, so you get a chance to knock them down some more."