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Anaheimlich Maneuver

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Well, that was fun. We spent Tuesday getting our asses handed to us by Southern California, by a combined score of 11-6. First, the Texas Rangers bumbled their way to a 7-4 loss, followed by the Dallas Stars' humbling 4-2 defeat at the wings of the Mighty Ducks.

The good news: The Mavs finish the regular season tonight against a team from New Orleans.

The Stars’ blackout almost turned into a whitewash, with fans at the American Airlines Center ultimately decked out for a funeral. As good as Dallas was in Games 1 and 2, it was as horrible last night. In a hideous second period the Stars were panicked into consecutive delay-of-game penalties. When trying to clear the puck out of their zone, they instead sent it wildly into the stands. They were shoved around by the bigger, stronger Ducks, who announced that this series is just getting started.

Believe it or not, the Rangers were worse. With a 4-0 lead and ace Kevin Millwood on the hill, Texas produced a plethora of fundamental follies in a fifth consecutive loss that got it booed off its own home field. The Rangers made two more errors, gave up three outs on the bases, missed cut-off men and failed to cover bases. But the ridiculous sixth inning is one they might wind up etching on their 2008 tombstone.

In a 4-4 game, Josh Rupe relieved Millwood and promptly walked the first batter. After a sacrifice bunt, Erick Aybar singled to right fielder Milton Bradley, whose throw home sailed over the cut-off man, allowing Aybar to move to second and eliminate a potential inning-ending double play.

Manager Ron Washington intentionally walked Chone Figgins, choosing instead to face Gary Mathews Jr. with the bases loaded. Oops. Rupe, of course, fell behind 2-0 before being forced to groove a fastball that Mathews lined into left-center for a bases-clearing double. Ball game. Season?

Let’s just hope the Mavs don’t wind up facing the Southern California Lakers in the playoffs. --Richie Whitt

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