Matthew Dellavedova and controversy go hand-in-hand in the NBA – even when the aggressive Australian point guard is not on the court.
Phoenix Suns coach Jeff Hornacek ripped into Dellavedova after the Cleveland Cavaliers won a 101-97 thriller in Arizona on Monday, but it was a case of mistaken identity.
Hornacek accused Dellavedova of suckering the referees into making a wrong call on Suns centre Tyson Chandler when the game was in the balance in the final minute.
“I’m sure whether it was legal, illegal, I can guarantee Dellavedova probably pulled Tyson,” Hornacek, who opened his post-game press conference by targeting Dellavedova, said.
“It’s the trick. You watch these games on tape, he does it all the time.
“So I guess that’s a smart play. He suckered the guy into calling it.”
The problem for Hornacek was Dellavedova was sitting on the bench during the crucial play.
Hornacek mixed up Dellavedova with Cavs team-mate Iman Shumpert, a Chicago-born guard who, with a body covered in tattoos and a trademark vertical hairdo, looks nothing like the fashionably challenged country Victorian.
The play was crucial because the Cavs were up 96-95 and Suns guard Brandon Knight hit a three-pointer just after a referee called the moving screen foul on Chandler.
Dellavedova, with his hard-nosed style, was accused of dirty play during last season’s playoffs.
He locked his legs around Chicago Bulls forward Taj Gibson, leading to Gibson being ejected from an Eastern Conference semi-final game.
Then in the Eastern Conference finals against the Atlanta Hawks he crashed into Kyle Korver’s ankle, ending Korver’s season and leading to surgery, and centre Al Horford accused the Australian of going for his knees.
In the NBA Finals, Dellavedova’s hustle contained the league’s MVP Stephen Curry in the early games of the series.
With Hornacek mixing up Delly with the taller, tattooed Shumpert, it appears the Australian not only has the ability to mess with the heads of opposing players, but also coaches.