Tuesday, November 30, 2004

Spurs vs. Mavs

from the official site of the Dallas Mavericks

Fresh off of a much-needed rest, the Mavericks will look to even the score against Southwest Division leading San Antonio Tuesday night (November 30 at 7:30pm CT) at American Airlines Center. Dallas capped off a six-game in nine day stretch with an impressive second-half showing in running away from Memphis with a 98-85 triumph Saturday night.

Sunday was an off-day for the Mavericks, but they got in a good practice session in anticipation of their second clash with Tim Duncan and company in the last six days. By the way, Michael Finley did not return to practice on Monday, so he will miss his 11th straight game Tuesday still recovering from the severely sprained right ankle he suffered November 9 in Orlando. Minus Mike, Dallas was drilled by the Spurs at SBC Center November 24, 94-80. The Mavs were held to a season-low 8 assists, hitting just 38% of their shots, scoring just 13 fourth quarter points on a 3-of-17 shooting frame in the setback. While Dallas has hit the 10-win mark in the season's opening mark at 10-5, it trails the Spurs (11-3) by a game and a half in the standings.

In my book this qualifies as a BIG GAME. The Mavericks have designs on battling San Antonio for division supremacy and one of the West's top three seeds looking to the playoffs. Should they fall on their home floor for a second loss to the Spurs in less than a week, not only will it drop them 2 and a half games off the pace but it would assure San Antonio no less than a 2-2 season series tie with Dallas. The Mavs want to let the club that's arguably the West's best know that they'll give no quarter in this rivalry. The time to deliver that message is Tuesday night.

In the first game between these two teams, Spurs point guard Tony Parker outplayed rookie Devin Harris as he controlled the game's tempo and got into the paint at will off the dribble to deliver a 15 point, 9 assist, 5 rebound masterpiece. Harris must do a better job staying in front of Parker in this game if the Mavericks are going to have defensive success.

The other immediate areas that come to mind off of that 14-point Dallas setback last Wednesday are the Mavericks lack of productivity in the middle and on the wings. Center Erick Dampier struggled to get much done on the interior with 1 point (0-4 from the floor, 1-6 from the line) and 4 rebounds. He'll be looking to make amends in this game against the Spurs’ tall tandem of center Rasho Nesterovic and power forward Tim Duncan.

Swing starters Marquis Daniels (6 points) and Josh Howard (7 points) will also look to be more involved at the offensive end of the floor to take some of the load off of Dirk Nowitzki, who did his part in the earlier meeting with 23 points and 11 rebounds.

Tim Duncan's stats swelled as the night progressed in the first meeting with the Spurs as he wound up with 27 points and 13 boards. Should he post those numbers in this game it won't kill the Mavs unless they again surrender big numbers to Tony Parker at the point.

Don Nelson will hand the head coaching reins over to Avery Johnson in this game. No one knows the Spurs better than the Little General. A.J.'s fire and passion should be quite present in this Mavericks effort.

The Mavericks are a much better defensive team than they've been in years past (as Saturday's second half shutdown of the Grizzlies will attest) and I think that they match up fairly well with San Antonio. The keys in this game will come down to point guard play, rebounding and generating easy baskets. Jason Terry is close to having fully recovered from a right ankle sprain suffered two weeks ago. His late game leadership was instrumental in back-to-back wins over Portland and Memphis. If Devin Harris can bust out of his recent funk and start strong in this game DEFENSIVELY, the Mavs have the personnel to keep Parker in check.

After a slow start to the season on the boards, Dallas has thumped the past two foes on the glass by decisive margins. More of the same is ordered up here because the Mavs can ill-afford to allow second chances to a team whose half court offense is superb. The Spurs again come to Dallas as the league's premiere defensive outfit. Dallas must find ways to create easy scoring opportunities against San Antonio's lock-down approach. Whether those come in transition or early offense, the Mavericks must make it a night-long commitment to keep the Spurs on their heels defensively.

I love the way that Dirk Nowitzki's playing right now (averaging 26 ppg and 11 rpg). I believe that he's capable of leading this Mavericks squad to a big home-court victory on Tuesday night. Dallas is beginning to get healthy again and appears poised to take a good run at the Spurs in this game.

Sunday, November 14, 2004

Mavs Finish Strong

from NBA.com

In his first game back in the nation's capital, Jerry Stackhouse made the Washington Wizards pay with his clutch long-range shooting.

Stackhouse scored 28 points, including three 3-pointers in the closing minutes, to help the Dallas Mavericks to their third straight win, a 122-113 victory over Washington.

"When you get traded from a team, the logic is you want to tell them that they made a mistake, but we left on good terms," said Stackhouse, who was traded with Christian Laettner and rookie Devin Harris for Antawn Jamison, who won last season's Sixth Man Award. "The media didn't spin it like we left on good terms, but as far as Ernie (Wizards general manager Ernie Grunfeld) and Eddie (coach Eddie Jordan) and those guys in that locker room, it was mutual.

"We felt that it was a better situation for them having a younger player and a great situation for me going to a veteran team and a playoff team."

With the Wizards hanging close for much of the second half, Stackhouse buried a 3-pointer with 4:24 remaining, giving the Mavericks a 105-101 advantage. He added another from the left wing 98 seconds later to increase the lead to 111-104.

Stackhouse scored 11 points in the fourth quarter.

"People try to make it more than what it is," Stackhouse said. "I've got a lot of love for those guys over in that locker room and obviously at the end of the game you saw they had a lot of love for me despite everything that's gone on. I feel like I'm in a better place, a place where I'm supposed to be.

"I'm just happy and enjoying playing the way that I'm playing right now. I guess that's respect when every time you touch the ball you get booed. It was fun to quiet the crowd."

Dirk Nowitzki scored 19 of his 32 points in the second half and added 13 rebounds for Dallas, which went 3-1 on its road trip.

"He was balling yesterday," Nowitzki said of Stackhouse, who scored 28 points Saturday in a 94-78 victory at New Jersey. "He was on fire and making shots from everywhere. He's been giving us a big lift, especially now that Mike's (Finley) out (with a sprained right ankle). We need somebody who can come up and score for us and he was big in the last two games.

"I think he's going to be really good for us the whole season," Nowitzki said. "Sometimes you need somebody who can come in off the bench and flat-out score and he showed today and last night what he can do. I think he's going to win a lot of games for us this year."

Marquis Daniels and Jason Terry chipped in 13 points apiece for the Mavericks.

Former Maverick Jamison and Larry Hughes scored 23 points each for Washington, which absorbed its fourth loss in its last five games. The Wizards also got 20 points apiece from Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes.

The last time four Wizards scored 20 or more points in a game was February 6, 2004 in a 112-100 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.

Arenas added nine assists as Washington became the first team to score at least 100 points this season against the Mavericks. However, the Wizards dropped to 0-4 when allowing 100 or more points.

"It's pretty much unheard of for all of your starters to get double figures," Jamison said. "I'm not talking like 10, I'm talking like almost everyone had 20 points. That's a good sign. It shows you how we look for the open guy, we're unselfish, and that's the way basketball should be played. But there is also a second part of it. You have to find a way to do it on the other end."

Monday, November 01, 2004

Dirk’s Solid Work Carries Mavs

From NBA.com

DALLAS, Oct. 28 (Ticker) -- In a dress rehearsal for the regular season opener, Dirk Nowitzki was nearly unstoppable.

Nowitzki scored 30 points on 11-of-16 shooting as the Dallas Mavericks wrapped up their preseason schedule with a 112-93 victory over the Sacramento Kings.

Nowitzki, who came in shooting just 29 percent (17-of-59) from the floor in his last four games, combined with Devin Harris and Josh Howard to score 29 of the Mavericks' 31 points in the third quarter.

Harris, a rookie from Wisconsin, scored a preseason-high 24 points as he reached double figures for the fifth straight game. Howard added 21 points.

Erick Dampier added preseason highs of 15 points and 15 rebounds, helping Dallas (3-5) hold a 44-28 rebounding edge.

Sacramento's Bobby Jackson, who did not play in the first-round playoff series between the teams last spring due to a strained abdominal muscle, came off the bench to score 15 points. Maurice Evans and Matt Barnes added 13 each for the Kings (2-5).

Sacramento wraps up its preseason schedule against Phoenix on Friday before returning to Dallas to open its regular season Tuesday.