Wednesday, December 22, 2004

Mavericks-Hawks Preview

by Associated Press, from Foxsports.com
STANDINGS: Mavericks - 2nd place, 3{ GB, Southwest Division. Hawks - 5th place, 14{ GB, Southeast Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: Mavericks - F Howard, F Nowitzki, C Erick Dampier, G Finley, G Jason Terry. Hawks - F Al Harrington, F Walker, C Jason Collier, G Smith, G Boris Diaw.

TEAM LEADERS: Mavericks - Nowitzki, 26 ppg and 10.5 rpg; Armstrong, 4.1 apg. Hawks - Walker, 20.5 ppg and 9 rpg; Walker and Harrington, 3.3 apg.

SEASON SERIES: Mavericks, 1-0.

LAST MEETING: Dec. 18; Mavericks, 90-68. At Dallas, the Hawks missed 13 of their first 14 shots as they dropped their fifth straight.

ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Mavericks - 9-3 on the road; Hawks - 2-11 at home.

INJURIES: Mavericks - D.J. Mbenga (hamstring); G Tariq Abdul-Wahad (knee); C Pavel Podkolzin (knee). Hawks - G-F Donta Smith (back); F Chris Crawford (knee)

Mavericks 123, Knicks 94

by Chris Sheridan / Associated Press, from Foxsports.com
Josh Howard had career highs of 26 points and 16 rebounds, and the Dallas Mavericks opened a 39-point halftime lead in a 123-94 demolition of the Knicks on Tuesday night.

"We really came out hard. We really want to set ourselves apart again with the best of the West," Dirk Nowitzki said.

Nowitzki scored 23 points, all in the first half, and Michael Finley added 21 in what was easily the Mavericks' most lopsided victory of the season.

On the eve of the one-year anniversary of Isiah Thomas taking over as team president, the Knicks were loudly booed off the court at the conclusion of the lopsided first half. Thomas watched the carnage unfold from his usual spot near the center-court tunnel, sticking around until the final seconds before chatting afterward with comedian Chris Rock.

The Knicks chose to shrug the loss off as an aberration following four wins in five games.

"There wasn't a lot of yelling, because we knew that was not us," Jamal Crawford said.

Still, it was a humiliating defeat for a Knicks team that was beginning to feel good about itself after moving two games above .500 for the first time in more than three years.

In many ways, it was a worse performance than a 34-point defeat against Boston in the home opener that led to the firing of coach Lenny Wilkens' top assistant, Dick Helm, the following day.

New York allowed Dallas to repeatedly score with ease on the inside, surrendering 100 points before the third quarter ended.

Howard, a second-year forward from Wake Forest, shot 7-for-17 from the field and 12-of-13 at the line with seven offensive rebounds and three steals. His previous career highs were 22 points and 14 rebounds.

"I knew I was playing hard, I didn't know career-best," Howard said. "Some of their guys weren't playing as hard as they could."

Nazr Mohammed led New York with 14 points, but he set the tone for what turned into a dreadful night by firing up airballs on the Knicks' first two possessions. A jump hook by Finley gave Dallas its first double-digit lead, 12-2, and the Mavericks made 13 of their first 17 attempts in opening a 31-17 lead.

The booing began in the second quarter when Howard gave the Mavericks their 10th and 11th second-chance points on a putback that made it 51-29. Kurt Thomas followed with an airball, and Nowitzki hit back-to-back 3-pointers to get the lead up to 26.

The Mavs' zone defense forced the Knicks to repeatedly throw up long jumpers, and Dallas often turned the ensuing long rebounds into fast breaks.

Howard dunked off a 3-on-1 break for the final points of the first half after Tim Thomas rushed up an ill-advised 3-pointer when the Knicks should have been holding for a last shot. The dunk made it 75-36 at the break.

The Mavs eventually went ahead by as many as 46 in defeating the Knicks for the seventh straight time and securing their fifth consecutive road win.

Dallas had 27 fast-break points and 21 second-chance points.

"There are a lot of things that go into having a good offensive night, but certainly the open court was good to us," coach Don Nelson said. "It got us into a rhythm and feeling good about ourselves, then we scored in our set offense almost every time in that first eight minutes of the game." Ilunga-Mbenga are the only members of the Dallas roster to have not been a starter this season. Stackhouse said he was "hopeful" to play Wednesday night at Atlanta. ... Jason Terry made his second consecutive start at point guard and had six points, seven assists and seven rebounds. ... The Mavericks have made a 3-pointer in 472 consecutive games.

Thursday, December 09, 2004

Preview

from Foxsports.com

GAME: Seattle SuperSonics (16-3) at Dallas Mavericks (13-7).

TIME: Thursday, 8:30 p.m. EST.

Even without All-Star Ray Allen playing at maximum effectiveness the last few weeks, the Seattle SuperSonics have surprisingly emerged as one of the top teams in the NBA.

With Allen rounding back into form, the Sonics hope to continue their hot start as they visit Dirk Nowitzki and the Dallas Mavericks.

On Nov. 27, Allen injured his left ankle after tumbling into Memphis forward Brian Cardinal. Though the injury didn't stop him from playing, it had been altering his shot.

With the exception of last week's 109-86 win over Utah, in which he scored 38 points, Allen had failed to make more than five shots from the perimeter in six games since tweaking his ankle.

"(Since) I twisted my ankle in that Memphis game, I've had to rework my shooting routine and get my rhythm back down because it has thrown me off as far as my balance." Allen said. "I've been getting good looks, but they are not going down."

Allen burst out of his shooting funk by scoring 29 points, including a pair of late 3-pointers, to help Seattle end San Antonio's 21-game home winning streak with a 102-96 victory on Wednesday night.

Allen made 9-of-19 shots, buried 5-of-9 3-pointers and hit all six of his free throws as the Sonics improved to an NBA-best 16-3. Having regained his touch, Allen will focus on helping the Sonics snap a five-game losing streak at Dallas.

The Mavericks will have a different look waiting for the Sonics.

Known for the smaller and quicker lineups he has employed for much of his coaching career in Milwaukee, Golden State, New York and Dallas, Mavericks coach Don Nelson featured his "big lineup" in Tuesday's 97-87 victory over Minnesota.

Based on the way 7-foot Nowitzki, 6-11 Erick Dampier and 6-9 Alan Henderson performed as a unit, it may be a while before Nelson is tempted to tinker with the rotation.

Nowitzki responded with 34 points, Henderson - making his third start in place of injured forward Marquis Daniels - had 11 points and 15 rebounds, while Dampier chipped in with 11 points and 11 rebounds.

"We went big, but it doesn't matter who we have out there as long as we win," said Dampier.

With Michael Finley, who has been out with an ankle injury, expected back in uniform Thursday, and Daniels close to returning, juggling playing time will be a challenge for Nelson.

The Mavericks are 1-4 at home against teams with winning records, with the lone victory coming against Sacramento in the season opener.

"I think we've had some tough opponents come in so far, and we haven't had our full complement of players," Nelson said.

STANDINGS: SuperSonics - 1st place, Northwest Division. Mavericks - 2nd place, 3 GB, Southwest Division.

PROBABLE STARTERS: SuperSonics - F Reggie Evans, F Rashard Lewis, C Jerome James, G Allen, G Luke Ridnour. Mavericks - F Henderson, F Nowitzki, C Dampier, G Josh Howard, G Darrell Armstrong.

TEAM LEADERS: SuperSonics - Allen, 24.1 ppg; Evans, 8.7 rpg; Ridnour, 6.1 apg. Mavericks - Nowitzki, 27.7 ppg and 10.8 rpg; Armstrong, 4.3 apg.

2003-04 SEASON SERIES: Mavericks, 3-1.

LAST MEETING: April 10; Supersonics, 119-99. At Seattle, Lewis scored 25 points as the Sonics avoided a season series sweep.