Saturday, October 20, 2007

Second half warriors

Of the six players to log at least 10 minutes in the second half Friday night, only Josh Howard and Trenton Hassell figure to be regular parts of the rotation. So for the other four – Brandon Bass, JJ Barea, Moe Ager and Nick Fazekas – getting a chance to play can only help.

And when they contribute, it’s that much better. That quartet accounted for 30 points, 17 rebounds and eight assists after halftime in the 122-94 romp of Detroit.

“Coach rested most of our main guys in the second half,” Bass said. “And he told the bench players that this was the game that he really wanted to focus on us running our system, playing good defense and showing our improvement since training camp.”

Friday, October 19, 2007

Meaningful rout over Pistons

Routs don’t mean a thing in themselves during the preseason, but the Mavs found plenty of value in beating Detroit by 28 points. Even if the Pistons were going through the motions.

Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard appear to be in regular-season form, even if Howard’s regular season will be delayed two games. Brandon Bass and Trenton Hassell continue to impress, while Gana Diop looked healthy, especially on the boards, after a two-game hiatus with the flu.

Ball movement was also at its healthiest, as the Mavs led by as many as 38 points, shot 54.4 percent and had 26 assists on 49 baskets.

“We hadn’t been a really big assist team and we are trying to get more people involved, and you see more of the three and four passes,” Avery Johnson said. “When you have guys that are making better decisions and the shots go in, it makes everybody look good. You see big guys making better passes and our point guards are really familiar with what we are doing. We definitely played our game tonight and it made things a lot easier.”

Nowitzki was crisp during an efficient 27-minute stint, leading all scorers with 25 points on 10-of-14 shooting. He added eight rebounds, three assists and two steals.

“He looks pretty good to me,” Johnson said. “He looks strong. Dirk is a big-time competitor. He has improved his post game more than last year and he has more space to operate. The guys that are out there on the floor with him are at least a threat and that gives him more room.”

Johnson worked out Diop personally in the morning and pronounced his only healthy center fit. Diop responded with 10 rebounds in only 18 minutes.

Bass (18 points and 10 boards) continues to show a quicker-than-expected first step and shooting touch, to go along with his obvious strength and toughness.

“That’s one of my strong points, to be strong around the goal and that’s what I’ve got to bring every night,” he said after his second straight double-double. “I always try to go strong to the basket with both hands and try to dunk it. I’m not into the layup thing. I’ve just got to go up strong.”

The Mavs (3-3) return home Sunday night in the next-to-last preseason affair against New Orleans.

Dirk not going anywhere

When it comes to Dirk Nowitzki, Mark Cuban didn’t want to leave any room for interpretation.

“Dirk is untouchable,” Cuban told during the Mavericks’ 122-94 trouncing of Detroit at American Airlines Center.

Speculation has run rampant that Lakers star Kobe Bryant may be headed to Dallas, similar to talk this summer about Kevin Garnett. The Mavs haven’t been afraid to deal in the past to improve the team and that philosophy hasn’t changed.

The key being that any deal has to improve the team. The MVP won’t be part of any trade, Cuban reiterated, and stressed his faith in the current roster, including All-Star forward Josh Howard.

“We had a 67-win team last year,” Cuban continued. “We love J-Ho. We love all the guys on this team. We’re not looking to do anything, but if somebody makes us an offer we can’t refuse, we’ll go from there.”

Howard has heard the speculation, but adds all the talk comes from external sources. No one within the organization has approached him about any rumors. Howard doesn’t have any illusions about the business aspect of the league, but his preference on his future is clear.

“Coming into this league, it’s a business,” he said. “Things happen, but I love this city. I’d love to finish my career here, but not too many players finish their career where they started playing at. Hopefully, I get to stick around. I think it would be a good situation to stick around.”

Avery Johnson acknowledged the climate of sports gossip – “That’s what we sign up for,” he said – but isn’t worried about uncertainty seeping into the locker room and affecting the team.

“It won’t be a distraction for us,” he said.

'Very disappointed' with Howard suspension

The Mavs were left scratching their heads at the NBA’s decision to suspend All-Star forward Josh Howard for the first two games of the season and not punish Sacramento center Brad Miller for their parts in an altercation Tuesday.

The incident began when Miller shoved Devin Harris without provocation in the second quarter of the Mavericks’ 101-99 preseason win, leading to Howard’s retaliation.

NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson announced the suspension and, according to the league’s release, Howard escalated the situation: “by running across the court, striking Miller in the back of the head with his forearm, pushing Miller in the back, and engaging with other Kings’ players.”

Howard said he would react the exact same way again, even knowing the repercussions. And he wasn’t surprised by the league’s ruling, alluding to past dealings with the franchise.

“I had to do what I had to do to protect my teammate,” Howard said before tonight’s tip-off against Detroit at American Airlines Center. “I’ve been with this organization long enough to know what happens. It’s crazy [Miller] didn’t get any suspension or any fine.”

Avery Johnson was similarly dumfounded.

“Very disappointed from the standpoint I wouldn’t have thought it would have been more than one game,” he said. “There’s no appeal process. You can’t go to the judge or the jury. What it is, is what it is.

“Obviously, we understand the NBA’s position in not wanting things to escalate, but I thought it would have been a maximum of one game. To lose one of my star players is not good and, on top of it, for Miller not to get suspended for a game makes no sense.”

Johnson has asked the league for clarification on the decision and, at this point, the team hasn’t received any. He also isn’t sure of the logic behind the suspension, comparing the situation to how a replay official in football interprets a challenged play.

“Before I deal with Josh, I’m going to figure out what started it all,” Johnson said. “That’s my point. What led Josh to do what he did? What led Devin to push back? How did it all start? The guy or persons who are responsible for viewing this, they don’t see it the way we see it.”

Mark Cuban also had plenty to add.

“I didn’t think it was fair because it seems every time we play them, Brad puts Devin on his butt,” Cuban said. “Avery asked Josh to make more of a leadership role and he certainly has. Nobody is going to call the Mavs soft again.”

Jerry Stackhouse, suspended during the 2006 NBA Finals for his takedown of Heat center Shaquille O’Neal, pointed out an interesting precedent.

“I guess you don’t have to swing at a guy,” Stackhouse said. “That’s good to know. You just have to push him down and it’s nothing.”

Harris said recently that Miller has flattened him several times, including a backcourt screen that knocked Harris out of a game his rookie season. Howard will miss the opener at Cleveland (Oct. 31) and the Atlanta game (Nov. 2).

Howard’s first game back? Nov. 3 against ... Miller and the Kings.

Mark and Kym ready to Samba

Cha-cha? Check. Mambo? Check. Jive? Check? Waltz? Check. Samba? Tune in Monday night (ABC, 7 p.m. CT) as Mark Cuban and Kym Johnson get saucy, campy and a little silly for the newest installment of Dancing with the Stars.

Our favorite Cuban and Australian are alive in Week 5. Remember, once Mark and Kym are done, get your voting on. The call-in number to vote for Mark and Kym is 1-800-VOTE-411. You can call up to 11 times from any phone. You can also vote 10 times online at DWTS. tracked down Mark before Friday’s dance practice in Dallas.

In your wildest dreams, did you think you would get this far?
I had no idea what to expect. I hoped I would and planned on working as hard as I could to go far. I think the difference, though, has been all the support from Texas and, in particular, Mavs Fans. I may not be the best dancer on the show, but no one has better support than I do, and that is half the challenge.

Do you remember the last time you worked this hard for something? What was it?
I always work hard. I’m used to that. Physically, I can’t remember being this sore all the time since playing rugby. But it’s a good sore.

Do you feel you’ve made more of a connection with people everywhere through Dancing with the Stars than any other venture you’ve been involved in?
No question. I’m hearing from fans of the show across the country that have connected with how hard I work, how much fun we are having or just like the show. It’s far different than the business world.
What did you or your body (i.e. hip) enjoy most about the waltz?
That it was very low impact and I had to glide and not jump. Now with the samba, it’s back to going up and down with lots of hip movement. So I’m back to being sore.

Any stage fright left?
Sure. There are no 20-second timeouts when you are dancing. You get one shot. That’s it. That can be nerve wracking.

What do you have in store for us in Week 5?
A fun, crazy samba. The samba is about having fun. We have a song from the 60s, so you are going to see us get very campy and silly.

We’ve asked you this before, but share your thoughts again on the support you’ve received.
It’s amazing. Half of my score is based on votes from fans. Mavs fans have come through for me. I can’t thank all of you enough. It’s amazing.

Gana signing autographs tomorrow in Plano

Let’s hope the big fella is over the flu in time for this.

What: DeSagana Diop to sign autographs at the Plano Academy Sports & Outdoors

When: Saturday, October 20th, 3-4 p.m.

Where: Academy Sports & Outdoors, 4045 North Central Expressway (at Spring Creek), Plano, TX 75023

Academy Sports & Outdoors is counting down the days until the Mavs tip-off the 2007-08 season against the Cleveland Cavaliers on Oct. 31st. Mavs Man and the Mavs Street Team will be at the Plano location from 2-4 p.m. to celebrate the Mavs Countdown to Tip-off.
All this is part of the Academy Sports & Outdoors Countdown to Tip-off Sweepstakes. Fans can visit or any DFW area Academy Sports & Outdoors location to pick up a registration form.

One grand prize winner will receive an autographed jersey and 4 tickets to the Mavs home opener on Nov. 3rd vs. Sacramento. One runner up winner will receive two tickets to the Nov. 5th game vs. Houston and a $50 Academy gift card.

Thursday, October 18, 2007

AJ talks life with Devin

Of the regular-rotation guys, Devin Harris has yet to take a game off. That’s by design.

“I wanted Devin to play in these first six games,” Avery Johnson said, “especially in both of the back-to-backs because part of our slow starts last year early in the season, we didn’t get very good point guard play.”

Jason Terry, on the other hand, missed two games with a slight left knee sprain. Johnson stopped the Houston game with a timeout early in the second quarter to give Harris a little extra one-on-one instruction.

“I really wanted to share something there,” Johnson said without wanting to share the subject.

Harris obliged, explaining that Johnson was wondering if his sore ankle was fine, and if so, get to the basket.

“That’s not the first time he’s called timeout to share his life experiences,” Harris said diplomatically. “And it won’t be the last.”

Mavs drop 104-90 decision in Houston

The depleted (by design) Mavs dropped the 2-3 this preseason after tonight’s 104-90 loss at Houston. The contest wasn’t without its positives, as Avery Johnson got long look at guys like Moe Ager, JJ Barea, Eddie Jones, Brandon Bass, Nick Fazekas and Trenton Hassell.

“This game played out just like we wanted it to,” Johnson said.

Ager started for the first time this preseason and had his hands full early with Tracy McGrady. The Rockets star coaxed a couple quick fouls out of Ager. Bass powered his way to double figures before the first quarter was done, scoring 12 of the Mavs’ 16 points, and hit 23 by halftime.

The Mavs, down 57-47 at the break, made a push in the third behind Barea despite the creative lineups. Barea started the half in place of Devin Harris, who turned his left ankle during the morning shootaround.

“[Johnson] told me to push the ball and they started missing shots,” said Barea, who admitted he tired some during his 32-minute stint.

Harris played 11 minutes in the first half, but sat out the final two quarters as a precautionary measure. His status for Friday night’s home game with Detroit is uncertain.

Bass finished with 25 points and eight boards in fatiguing 33 minutes. “He wasn’t the ‘Animal’ at the end,” Johnson quipped. Fazekas scored 12 with eight rebounds, Ager fouled out with nine and Barea (nine points and nine assists) flirted with a double-double.

No time for Kobe rumors

Don’t expect the Kobe Bryant talk to die down any time soon … or at least until he’s traded. But one thing for sure, Avery Johnson certainly isn’t going to spend time speculating on the subject. He was asked if he pays attention to rumors linking superstars like Kobe to Dallas.

“Not much,” he replied. “Right now I’m trying to get Nick Fazekas to make an open 16-footer. Trying to get JJ Barea to not turn the ball over. Figure out who I’m going to start at the 2 spot. Try to get Diop well. He’s been sick twice now.

“I’m coming in here against a 7-6, 350-pound [Yao Ming] and Darvin Ham is going to have to try to control him. So that’s what I’m thinking about right now.”

Chew on that.

Dirk, Stack and Josh out tonight

Dirk Nowitzki, Jerry Stackhouse and Josh Howard aren’t playing tonight here in Houston. Stackhouse is dealing with a stomach illness. Howard and Nowitzki, to borrow hockey parlance, are healthy scratches. Gana Diop was sent home earlier on the trip with the flu.

So the starting five are Devin Harris, Moe Ager, Darvin Ham, Eddie Jones and Nick Fazekas.

But we do have some good friends back. Mark, Brad and Laura are back after a one-game hiatus to do the game on TXA-21. Chuck and Bob, of course, never take a night off on ESPN 103.3 FM.

Stackhouse was feeling better in the locker room before the game, but it was different story this morning.

“Must have been something I ate last night,” he said. “I felt pretty bad in the a.m. Must have been the oysters. I don’t know if the gulf is really where I want to eat oysters from.”

Dirk gets his work in

Don’t count Dirk Nowitzki among those who think the preseason is meaningless. He relishes any chance to get on the court, whether it’s practice, a pickup game or the NBA Finals.

He sure got a good sweat in going more than 37 minutes in Tuesday’s thrilling 101-99 win over the Kings. Yes, even for a preseason game, it was thrilling.

“It was definitely fun,” Nowitzki said. “They started off playing really hard and I think that’s a credit to their new coach [Reggie Theus]. I saw him before the game and he said ‘I’m trying to make this guys play hard all the time.’ He did. They defend a little better and come after you more, so I guess that triggered us playing hard.”

Nowitzki finished with 23 points, 13 rebounds, five assists, a steal and a block. That’s not your normal preseason line.

“It felt like this was a regular game for me,” he said. “I was a little winded in the first quarter. I felt like it was the fourth quarter. Once you get that first wind back, I felt good throughout the game. My jumper was a little short on a couple occasions.

“We’ve got four more games and a couple good tests. The schedule coming up now is a regular-season schedule, so that should be a good test. And then we’ve still got a good week to put some of the offense in and chart everything, and get ready for the big dance.”

Houston tonight is the first in a stretch of three games in four nights. The Mavs play their last three preseason games at American Airlines Center – Detroit tomorrow night, New Orleans on Sunday and Chicago on Tuesday. The real stuff gets started Halloween Night at Cleveland.

Moe and more to stretch out vs. Houston

Avery Johnson knows what he has in Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jason Terry, etc. So this is a good time to get a long look at young players, newcomers and those trying to earn a roster spot. That’s how Johnson is approaching tonight against Houston.

“The game was structured for Moe Ager to play and we need to see a lot of him,” Johnson said today. “We needed to see Eddie Jones. We needed to see [Trenton] Hassell. We need to see [Nick] Fazekas. We need to see [Darvin] Ham.”

Even though the team has the maximum 15 guaranteed contracts, Johnson said he’s not that much closer on making roster decisions. Complicating matters are the injuries to centers Erick Dampier and DJ Mbenga, leaving some uncertainty behind Gana Diop.

“Because of injuries,” Johnson said, “I think it’s all probably going to go down to the wire, especially with the big guys. We don’t have enough bodies.”

Johnson added that JJ Barea will play about 24 minutes. The coach has been pusing the second-year point guard and Barea is responding, averaging 10.3 points and team-high (along with Devin Harris) 3.5 assists.

Dirk is no MJ

Dirk Nowitzki is usually up to something at the end of shootarounds and practices, and it usually falls in the goofball category. Most if the time it’s something like an exaggerated monster dunk off a pass from Brad Davis along with a primal screen.

Today he decided to go Jordan from the free-throw line. It wasn’t pretty. The takeoff was a step inside the stripe and the ball never quite reached iron. That was enough to get Avery Johnson’s attention. The General yelled out to equipment manager Al Whitley to get the MVP off the court.

“Get his shoes,” a jovial Johnson instructed. Al responded by bear-hugging Dirk, who did manage to squirm away for a couple more shots.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Keep it near the bench

Obviously, Avery Johnson didn’t have a problem with Josh Howard coming to the defense of Devin Harris.

Howard probably could have chosen a better way to deliver his message, but the incident did provide Johnson with another teaching point and the team responded with flying colors.

“You know what I was excited about? That nobody on our team left the bench,” he said today. “That’s what I talked to them about.”

Johnson complimented the job done by assistants Paul Westphal, Joe Prunty and Mario Elie in maintaining order on the bench. Though it’s a major point of emphasis in the NBA, keeping guys glued to the seats when body parts start flying isn’t the easiest thing.

Just ask Amare Stoudemire and the Suns.

“Guys have been doing it their whole lives,” Johnson said. “Ask anybody who played inner-city basketball.”

Johnson also added: “This is not the inner-city. This is a $550 million team and there billions of dollars in this NBA corporation, so it’s a whole different deal. There must be rules and guidelines and disciplines, we all know what they are, and you wish you can coach a guy on what to do in those situations, but sometimes emotions take over.”

Don't change a thing

There’s been plenty of conjecture about a certain No. 24 coming to Dallas. One of those rumored as a possible piece in a blockbuster deal doesn’t believe he’s headed anywhere.

“I’m very confident. I’m very optimistic,” Jason Terry said today. “My confidence comes from within. It comes from Avery Johnson. Until Avery tells me anything different, he’s the reason why I’m here in Dallas and he’ll be the reason why I stay. I believe in him. I’m not concerned about it. I’m focused in on having fun and playing as hard as I possibly can every night out.”

Not messing with the team’s time-tested chemistry seems to be a priority over any dramatic roster shakeup.

“I can’t make that decision,” Devin Harris said. “If we’re forced to do it, we’ll have to live with it. Over the course of the years the team camaraderie that we’ve built, the experience with the core group of guys, going through the ups and down, we’re definitely in place to do what we need to do. And hopefully it’ll stay that way.”

AJ goes AI

You know everyone is in a good mood when Avery Johnson channels his inner Allen Iverson. Asked about practice going a little long today, the General uttered the infamous: “Practice? Practice?”

He never got to, “We’re talking about practice,” but he didn’t need to. Johnson is in the unique position of being able to sympathize with Iverson and his former coach Larry Brown. Johnson played for Brown in San Antonio in the early 1990s.

“That’s my man, Larry,” Johnson said. “I felt the same way as Allen. I just didn’t say it. Seems like [Brown] was there to meet me at practice every morning. As soon as I walked in the gym, he was out there standing with the ball at the middle of the floor.”

Gana improving and may play Friday

Gana Diop is doing much better, according to Avery Johnson today, and could be in the lineup Friday night against Detroit at American Airlines Center. The only non-injured center on the roster returned to Dallas before Tuesday night’s road game because of the flu.

Diop has been resting and taking medication, and the plan is for him to do some cardio tomorrow in preparation for the Pistons. His absence, plus injuries to Erick Dampier (shoulder), DJ Mbenga (knee) and Jamal Sampson (ankle) forced Johnson to use Brandon Bass and Darvin Ham at center against Sacramento. Both fouled out.

Harris and Miller have a history

Devin Harris had no doubt Josh Howard would be at his side. Better yet, in Brad Miller’s face.

“If anything ever escalates or anything ever happens, I know he has my back and it’s the same way [with me],” Harris said late Tuesday night. “It’s unfortunate that situation happened, but it happened the way it did.”

What happened was one of those incidents the NBA would rather not see, but one that sometimes can’t be avoided. Miller, the veteran Sacramento center, knocked Harris over with a hard two-handed shove in the second quarter of the Mavericks’ 101-99 win in Las Cruces, N.M., leading to Howard’s retaliation – a forearm up near Miller’s head.

Miller is one of the league’s more aggressive personalities on the court, so the move wasn’t surprising. The reason and his explanation afterwards were. He decided to take out his frustrations on Harris after being tangled up with Mavs rookie Nick Fazekas under the basket.

“Sometimes you mean to just grab a guy, to get the foul so you can talk to the ref,” Miller said. “I guess I got stronger over the summer.”

Harris wasn’t buying it. Told of Miller’s logic shortly after the Mavs arrived in Houston, Harris just shook his head and said it’s best to just move on.

But it’s not the first time he’s run into Miller. Literally.

“About three times by my count,” Harris said today after practice at the Toyota Center, site of Thursday night’s meeting with the Rockets. “He sets those screens in the backcourt and my first year he got me real bad. He knocked me out of a game. We’ve had a couple more since.”

If you want to read more, go to Got your back.

Stack shows youngsters how it's done

So there’s Jerry Stackhouse hitting the track this summer with Moe Ager and Nick Fazekas. Is there a lesson there?

“They need to see it never stops,” Stackhouse told out in Las Cruces, N.M. “If you’re a young guy just coming on or trying to make a team or you’re a guy that’s in your 13th year, it’s still about conditioning and preparing your body for the grind.

“Playing 82 games plus the playoffs can be taxing. I had no idea it would translate into having to start or anything like that. I was just doing it for my own psyche.”

Stackhouse has started three games this preseason, including Tuesday night’s wild 101-99 win over Sacramento at the Pan American Center on the campus of New Mexico State. Stackhouse remains in the running to open the season alongside Devin Harris in the backcourt.

He’s primarily been the sixth man since arriving in Dallas and has thrived in that role. Over the last two seasons, Stackhouse has single-handedly outscored the opposing bench 18 times and another nine times in the playoffs.

His commitment to his body is a product of his age (turns 33 on Nov. 5) and the three-year contract extension signed in July. Mavericks coach Avery Johnson noted that Stackhouse “worked out probably harder this offseason” then ever before and arrived for training camp in excellent shape.

“The team made a good investment in me, and I wanted to make sure I’m strong enough to play and do what I need to do to help us achieve our goal,” Stackhouse said. “It’s about leading by example. It was great for the young guys to see it was them and me.”

Jet's 3 beats Kings 101-99

LAS CRUCES, N.M. – There was nothing exhibition about the Mavericks and Sacramento hooking up Tuesday night on the campus of New Mexico State.

Mavs forward Josh Howard was ejected in the second quarter of Dallas’ 101-99 victory, while Dirk Nowitzki picked up a flagrant foul in the fourth. There was a definite regular-season feel in intensity as the game built to Jason Terry’s game-winning crescendo.

“This was pretty hectic for a preseason game,” Nowitzki said. “We played all the way to the end and it came down to the last possession. That was actually the hardest preseason game I’ve ever played.”

With the lead seesawing down the stretch, the court was covered with NBA regulars. Among the Mavs on the court during crunch time were Nowitzki, Terry, Jerry Stackhouse and Devin Harris. The Kings had Mike Bibby, Ron Artest, Brad Miller and Kevin Martin out there.

Nowitzki made several key plays on both ends in the final minutes, including blocking a reverse slam try by Artest. Two free throws from Nowitzki put the Mavs (2-2) up 98-97 with less than 30 seconds left.

Kings swingman John Salmons answered with a pair from the line with 11.1 seconds remaining. After a timeout, Terry knocked down a 3-pointer from the left wing with four seconds left. Out of timeouts, the Kings never got the ball past midcourt.

Terry’s final dagger is also a snapshot of Harris’ continual growth at point guard. The play was drawn up for Harris to attack the basket, but he was doubled. So he swung the ball to Trenton Hassell who moved it to a wide-open Terry.

“He made a great find in getting that ball across the court and Trenton got the ball to the scorer,” Mavs coach Avery Johnson said. “With Jet, we’ve seen that before. Jet’s a big-time shooter.”

Terry added: “I still got it.”

Terry finished with 15 points off the bench. Nowitzki led with a line – 23 points and 13 rebounds in 37 ½ minutes – straight out of the regular season. Stackhouse had 17 points in his strongest preseason showing and Harris finished with 11.

“It felt like a tough regular-season showdown,” Terry said. “We fought through some adversity with some foul trouble, losing Josh, but we weathered the storm and executed the way we had to down the stretch.”

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Update: Dirk asks for explanation on Flagrant 1

Josh Howard’s ejection wasn’t the end of the rough stuff. With 8 ½ minutes left in the game, Dirk Nowitzki was whistled for a Flagrant 1 against Kings forward Francisco Garcia, who was driving to the basket on the break.

Nowitzki went for the block and actually knocked the ball out of Garcia’s hand. On the follow-through, Nowitzki’s elbow hit Garcia’s head. Nowitzki and Johnson vehemently disputed the call made by official Rodney Mott since Nowitzki made a play on the ball. Nowitzki went up to Mott and pleaded: “Explain it to me.”

“He said I was winding up,” Nowitzki said. “I said I was trying to go for the block and I hit the ball, but he said the windup was too much. It’s preseason for [the officials] and they don’t have a way to practice. This is their warm-up, too. We’re all trying to get ready for the regular season.”

Update: Howard ejected, Miller instigates

Josh Howard’s ejection followed Kings center Brad Miller shoving Devin Harris in the second quarter in what seemed like a case of mistaken identity. Miller and Mavs rookie Nick Fazekas got tangled up under the Kings basket, but as Dallas was pushing the ball up the court, Miller turned and knocked Harris down.

Miller admitted after the game he knew it wasn’t Harris on his back. He just wanted to stop the game to get the officials’ attention. Harris jumped up quickly and confronted Miller, leading to the stoppage of play with 7:01 left in the period. Howard ran down the court and struck Miller high with his forearm.

“It’s emotion,” Howard said. “I saw what he did to Devin. I came to the aid of my teammate. I’m going to leave it alone. The NBA is going to have to deal with it.”

Howard could face additional punishment from the NBA office, but his ejection doesn’t lead to an automatic suspension. The league probably won’t decide until Thursday at the earliest. Johnson doesn’t believe a suspension is warranted. Howard’s teammates are hoping for the best.

“You protect your teammates,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “Obviously Josh is heated. We all know that, so we’ll see what the league says about it. Hopefully this preseason game doesn’t come around to hurt us for the regular season.”

Howard was ejected on the Flagrant Foul 2. Miller received a Flagrant 1 and stayed in the game. Kings forward Kenny Thomas was hit with a technical.

Before he left the court, Harris patted Howard on the chest in a show of support. A smiling Howard threw his wristbands into the crowd while being escorted to the locker room.

For his part, Miller may be hearing from NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson.

“I don’t know what happened,” Harris said. “He turned and pushed me to the floor. You can’t have that.”

Officials are required to do video reviews on plays involving several triggers, including Flagrant 2 fouls and player altercations. However, officials didn’t have their review equipment in place since the game was played at a college arena.

They were only able to huddle up and decide punishment. The game was televised by the Kings and the incident was shown repeatedly courtside, but the officials never saw a replay.

Welcome home … Reggie

The Las Cruces Sun-News had a nice feature on Kings coach Reggie Theus, who coached the previous two seasons at New Mexico State and led the Aggies to the NCAA Tourney in March. No mention of Avery Johnson.

“Reggie should get it,” Johnson said. “He did a nice job here.”

Johnson is sort of a local guy, too. He began his college playing career at New Mexico Junior College in Hobbs in 1983. “Hadn’t been here in a while,” he said, “so it brings back a lot of memories.” Not too many. Johnson left after one season.

Now it’s the Aggies’ turn

I’m talking the New Mexico State Aggies and their fans. A few nights ago in Virginia, the George Mason student band got some good ole fashioned ribbing in at JJ Barea’s expense. They chanted “Hair Gel, Hair Gel” every time he touched the ball, a reminder of the days when Barea and Northeastern were in town.

The fans here in Las Cruces got to know Nick Fazekas, who starred for WAC rival Nevada for four years. Nick knows something is coming.

“I don’t know what to expect tonight, but I’m expecting a few things for sure,” he said after shootaround. “It was a lot worse than what JJ got at George Mason, I know that.”

Nick was referring to the treatment he got during his college career. He does have a favorite memory of Pan American Center – beating the Aggies his junior year to take the lead in the WAC race.

So what sort of reaction did he get? Nothing too creative, just a chorus of boos.

Gana sent home sick

Gana Diop flew back to Dallas suffering from flu-like symptoms. He’s obviously out tonight against Sacramento and won’t be with the team for Thursday’s game at Houston. So without Diop and injured big men Erick Dampier and DJ Mbenga, who starts at center?

“Popeye Jones,” Avery Johnson cracked. Jones, a developmental coach, played one pickup game this summer. He did block a shot from Nick Fazekas. Not sure what that says about the rookie.

Monday, October 15, 2007

Glory Bob

Getting into El Paso, it’s the stop before we bus to Las Cruces for the game tomorrow night, got me thinking about the Texas Western national championship team and the movie “Glory Road.” And guess what? Sitting across from me on the bus is Mavs color analyst Bob Ortegel, who happened to star in that flick. Hey, in my book he’s a star.

Bob was a high school coach when Texas Western upset Kentucky in the 1966 title game many dubbed the “most important” in college basketball history. I asked Bob if he filmed any of his scenes in this desert town. He actually spent 10 days on set … in New Orleans. That’s where they did the regional tournament, with UNO’s gym doubling for Lubbock’s old coliseum.

“I was in it by accident,” Bob said of the movie. He helped legendary broadcaster Merle Harmon put together his audition tape for the movie and the casting director ended up calling Bob about a role as an announcer. (Harmon got the part, too.)

Bob remembers one day on set when he was in at 11 a.m. and filming went to 4:30 a.m. the next morning. They only broke to eat. And poor Bob didn’t get in a scene that day. He did, however, help consult on basketball scenes when asked.

They must have been impressed. The producers asked Bob if he wanted to be in a horse-racing movie last year, but filming overlapped with the Mavs schedule. The “Glory Road” hasn’t ended for Bob. He continues to receive residual checks to this day.

International football experts

Who says you have to be born in this country to know football? The two guys still alive in the team’s weekly football pool are JJ Barea of Puerto Rico and Gana Diop of Senegal. I’m guessing that maybe JJ has picked up a football – he did go to college in the States – but no way on Gana.

International wins seem to be a a trend on this team. Germany’s own Dirk Nowitzki won last year’s Super Bowl pool. I’m not sure he knew who played.

Sampson staying back, injury updates

Jamal Sampson’s hopes of making the team may have taken a hit with a left ankle sprain. The free-agent center won’t be making the two-game road trip that starts tomorrow night in Las Cruces, N.M. against Sacramento. Sampson was hoping to stick while Erick Dampier and DJ Mbenga come back from injuries.

Speaking of Dampier and Mbenga, both will be traveling after staying home on the first trip. Dampier won’t be playing, but Avery Johnson joked: “I want him to keep me company.” Dampier said his shoulder rehab is on schedule and he’ll be reevaluated at the end of the month.

Mbenga had his first full practice today since right ACL surgery sidelined him last season. Johnson left open the possibility of the reserve center playing Thursday at Houston. Mbenga, however, said that’s unlikely.

Devean George is also staying behind to continue treatment on the stress reaction in his left foot. He hopes to beginning running on the treadmill later this week. George doesn’t think he’ll suit up during the preseason and remains unsure whether he’ll be ready for the regular-season opener Oct. 31 at Cleveland.

Mark and Kym doing the waltz tonight

Mark Cuban and Kym Johnson are dancing the waltz tonight in Round 4 of Dancing with the Stars at 7 pm (CT). Your support got them there, so let’s get Mark and Kym into Round 5.

The call-in number to vote for Mark and Kym is 1-800-VOTE-411. You can call up to 11 times from any phone. You can also vote 10 times online at the DWTS Web Site.

AT&T customers can text votes 11 times to 3411. Check out his personal thoughts on competing at and

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Dancer Calendar Release Party Tonight

Don’t miss the unveiling of the Mavs Dancers 2007-2008 Calendar at the official release party, presented by Planet Tan, is tonight, Oct. 15th, (6:30-10 pm) at the House of Blues Dallas (2200 N. Lamar St.) All 17 dancers will be on hand to perform and sign autographs, in addition to the ManiAACs. Fifty (50) lucky fans will win a free autographed calendar, along with other prizes.
The 14-month calender was photographed by Shawn Northcutt Photography (Shawn is also a ManiAAC) and designed by Mavs graphic designer Matt Stewart. This isn’t the typical beach-style calendar, instead being shot entirely at the House of Blues and showcasing the Southern, bluesy, rock and roll edge they’re famous for.
Beginning Nov. 3rd, Dancer calendars will be sold at the American Airlines Center Fan Shops, the Ultimate Fan Shop in NorthPark Center, House of Blues Dallas, all Metroplex Planet Tan locations and online at, with a retail of $12.99.

Avery: Don't TiVo the season

Think of 2007-08 – the preseason, regular season and playoffs – as one program on your TiVo. Sure, there’s a temptation to skip through the boring stuff and get to the big finish. But what fun is that? Avery Johnson has already put down the clicker. He’s up for watching the whole thing, commercials and all.

“We don’t want to fast-forward or rewind,” he said. “Just stay in the moment.”

Johnson preached the same a year ago, but the words seemed somewhat hollow. Coming off a long playoff run and short offseason, neither of which felt rewarding at the time, the regular season ahead didn’t have much appeal. The focus then was to get back to the playoffs and “finish” the job.

There’s nothing to finish this time since they’re starting over. Starting from scratch. Johnson has always seems more comfortable and at ease in the underdog role, and he’s selling it hard. To convince a team that won 67 that it’s the underdog is quite a feat, but the way last year ended should be enough do the trick.

“We can do it with these guys,” Johnson said. “The only problem is I believe we can do it more than them. That’s what we’re working on.”

It never ends.