Friday, October 26, 2007

Devin Harris: Jumping into the jumper

So is Devin Harris a jump shooter now? Let’s not get too carried away on preseason stats, but an offseason of working on his shot on and off the court appears to be paying off.

The fourth-year point guard finished the eight-game preseason shooting an even 50 percent from the floor. More impressive, though, is the 62.5-percent connection rate (5 of 8) beyond the arc.

Much of the film study done by Harris this summer focused on locating spots on the floor where his jumper dropped. He also dug up some tapes from his days at Wisconsin and noticed a flaw in his mechanics.

“I’m trying to focus on shooting on the way up,” Harris said. “A lot of my shots last year, why they were falling short most of the time [was because] I wasn’t using my legs a lot. I was shooting on the way down. Especially the 3s I’m shooting now, I’m making sure I’m getting it on the way up to give it a chance to go in.”

He also carries around a bit of advice from Jerry Stackhouse regarding his right (shooting) arm: “Rub my rib, keep that elbow in.”

Avery Johnson has his own theory on the new-and-improved jumper.

“It looks better because he’s more confident,” Johnson said. “His body language is better.”

Southwest Division writers’ roundtable

With the NBA regular season opening Tuesday, Oct. 30, writers from Southwest Division teams Dallas, Houston, Memphis and New Orleans (where’s San Antonio?) got together to discuss the 2007-08 campaign.

The Southwest is arguably the toughest division in the NBA – defending league champion San Antonio has captured four titles since 1999; Dallas racked up 67 victories last season; Houston made it three squads in the division with 50-plus wins; New Orleans nearly reached the postseason despite widespread injuries; and Memphis could be much improved after enjoying one of the NBA’s best offseasons.

Kudos to Jim Eichenhofer of for putting this 2007-08 roundtable look at the Southwest together.

Dirk: “Obviously, Start Your Engines”

Nowitzki is serving as the Grand Marshal for next Sunday’s Dickies 500 NASCAR NEXTEL Cup Series race at Texas Motor Speedway. Nowitzki’s role for one of the largest single-day sporting events in the country will be to give the command of “Gentlemen, Start Your Engines,” to the 43-car field.

I wonder how many times he’ll work “obviously” into the start.

“It is a tremendous honor for me to be the Grand Marshal of the 2007 Dickies 500 NEXTEL Cup race,” Nowitzki said. “It is my first NASCAR race and I am very excited to be a part of it.”

Nowitzki won’t have to worry about parking at TMS or traffic getting there. A helicopter will fly him out there that morning.

“It is an honor to have the reigning NBA MVP as the Dickies 500 Grand Marshal, especially with Dirk and the Mavericks opening their season that same week,” TMS president Eddie Gossage said. “I’m sure he will have a keen interest in following former Formula One star Juan Pablo Montoya during the Dickies 500, and I’m optimistic that the ambiance of the event will impress him in his first visit to Texas Motor Speedway and NASCAR racing.”

Jet's delayed takeoff

We told you a few days ago that Jason Terry was coming off the bench this season. That’s not breaking news. Anyone who’s watched a minute of preseason play could have told you that.

But since it’s official now, let’s get Terry’s thoughts.

“There it is,” he said today after practice. “That’s where I’m playing. Little delayed takeoff, but the Jet is still on the runway.”

He plans to use his time on the sideline to see how the game develops and get a feel for, in his words, the “flow” before he checks in. Though he’s primarily been a starter throughout his pro career, he’s no stranger to coming off the bench.

“Takes me back to my college days,” the Arizona product beamed, “when I was the best sixth man in the country.”

Just because he doesn’t start doesn’t mean he won’t finish.

“If I’m still coming off the bench in the fourth quarter, then I’ll have a problem,” he said with a smile.

Don’t count on that.

Another step: Limited contact for Dampier

Erick Dampier’s rehab from offseason shoulder surgery took another positive step today with limited contact work in practice. Up to this point, Dampier had only been cleared to do certain drills and conditioning.

“I can’t tell a lot from only doing a little bit, but it feels better,” Dampier said. “We’ll continue to strengthen it and see how it feels after practice tomorrow.”

Suddenly, the prospects at center seem a whole lot better behind Gana Diop. DJ Mbenga, coming off knee surgery, got into the final preseason game after sitting out the first seven. There isn’t a timetable on Dampier’s return, but since he hasn’t experienced any setbacks, optimism abounds.

Hacking it up on an off day

So how did the Mavs spend their day off yesterday? Doing what most of us would have done with a day off – golf. The guys spent the afternoon at Hackberry Creek in Irving taking divots with some well-heeled friends of the franchise. Speaking of hack, check out Dirk’s swing.
Avery Johnson was disappointed he came up short on the longest-drive hole. His 305-yard blast (impressive) died about five yards shy of the winner. That was about the only highlight from those who get paid to put a ball in a hole ... that also has a net.

“We’re spending a lot of time working,” Johnson noted. “If our golf games were good, I’d be in trouble. All of my coaches were bad, I was bad, the players were bad, so that’s a good sign. We’re focusing on basketball.”

Harris to sign autographs in Arlington

What: Devin Harris to sign autographs

When: Monday, Oct. 29th, 6-7 p.m.

Where: Academy Sports & Outdoors
1101 W. Arbrook Blvd. (across from The Parks Mall)
Arlington, TX 76015

More Info: Academy Sports & Outdoors is counting down the days until the Mavs tip-off the 2007-08 season at Cleveland on Oct. 31st. Mavs Man and the Mavs Street Team will be at the Arlington Academy Sports &Outdoors from 5-7 p.m. to celebrate the Mavs Countdown to Tip-off. Harris will sign autographs from 6-7 p.m.

Thursday, October 25, 2007

Jet ready for takeoff

Jason Terry sat out three games nursing a sore left knee, but he played in the preseason finale and looked strong. He knocked down all six of his shots, including two 3-pointers, and scored 16 in just 20 minutes.

“The knee is a little sore but nothing that I won’t be ready for the opening night against Cleveland,” Terry said.

Preseason gets job done

Avery Johnson didn’t have much to complain about at the end of preseason. Sure, he could have done without the injuries to Erick Dampier, Devean George and DJ Mbenga. Johnson did, though, get newcomers Eddie Jones, Trenton Hassell and Brandon Bass a crash course in Mavs basketball and the trio has acclimated nicely.

Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Devin Harris look to be in regular season form. Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse were in cruise control, which is understandable for vets. The two new assistants also seem to fit in well. Paul Westphal exudes a relaxed vibe with an eye for offense. Mario Elie has that fire that rubs off on players.

“I can’t really say anything I haven’t liked,” Johnson said of the preseason. “We’ve gotten after it in practice and we’ve tried to manage these games as much as we can. We’ve got guys some playing time and I thought that Dirk has been strong the whole preseason for the most part and when we wanted to play a game or two in the preseason, I thought we looked pretty good.”

The Mavs finished 5-3 in their exhibitions, winning their last three games. The games start to count for real Wednesday at Cleveland.

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Band on the run

If the preseason could be extended one more game, Avery Johnson wouldn’t mind. Eight games would seem to be enough, but as a perfectionist in an imperfect world, Johnson can always find more to work on.

So if he did have those 48 minutes under the bright lights with the popcorn popping, what would the Mavericks coach want to address?

Transition offense, believe it or not,” Johnson said. “Just for us to run.”

The Mavs didn’t get out on the break enough last season, especially late in the season, for Johnson’s liking. Though defense is their calling card, the team is also built to run with two lightning-quick point guards in Devin Harris and Jason Terry, along with a host of wings that can fill the lane in Josh Howard, Jerry Stackhouse, Eddie Jones and Trenton Hassell.

“I like when Devin gets out in the open court,” Johnson said. “It is really beautiful when he gets out in the open court and makes things happen and probes and looks for openings.”

Blast from the past...Messier Rigaudeau

Watching from the catwalk in Euro jeans and a shirt maybe a size too small was the one-time answer at small forward. Antoine Rigaudeau, the Frenchman imported during the 2002-03 season, is in town as a guest of president of b-ball ops Donnie Nelson.

After practice, Rigaudeau and DJ Mbenga had an animated discussion. Mbenga speaks French. Rigaudeau also chatted with Avery Johnson, who was a teammate in ’02-03.

You may or may not remember Rigaudeau. He signed in January and was introduced during a surreal press conference at Don Pablo’s. He was supposed to be the prototypical point forward in Nellie’s system.

Dirk Nowitzki, the one remaining Maverick from that team, did remember Rigaudeau’s glory days in Europe. It was obvious, though, that his better days had passed him by when he reached Big D.

Rigaudeau would see action in only 17 games and played a grand total of 91 minutes. His NBA career consisted of eight baskets and six assists. It wasn’t a surprise when he was left off the playoff roster.

Roster down to 15; Ham and Newson waived

Darvin Ham and Jared Newson were waived today, getting the roster down to 15, which is the maximum a team can carry into the regular season.

“These two were really difficult,” Johnson said. “I hope they get picked up by another team.”

Of the three free agents in camp – Jamal Sampson was waived earlier in the week – Ham (6-7, 240) had the most productive preseason. The veteran out of Texas Tech started twice at center when Gana Diop was out with the flu and averaged 1.1 points and 1.9 rebounds in 12 minutes per game.

Avery Johnson often praised the work ethic of Ham, who has played eight years in the league and was part of a championship team in Detroit in 2004.

Newson (6-5, 215) averaged 3.6 points and 1.4 rebounds in 9.6 minutes. He saw action in seven games, including an 11-point, five-rebound outing at Houston. Newson, a rookie free agent who spent last season in Germany, was part of the Mavs summer league team.

President of basketball operations Donnie Nelson wouldn’t mind getting Newson back next summer.

“It wouldn’t surprise me if he walks away with a guaranteed deal,” Nelson said.

Good news: Mild sprain for Howard

The MRI exam on Josh Howard’s left (non-shooting) wrist performed this morning revealed a moderate sprain. Howard will be evaluated again in about a week. The injury occurred in last night’s game against Chicago when Howard hit the floor after falling over Bulls guard Ben Gordon.

“We’re looking at 5-7 days and he’ll be ready to go,” Avery Johnson said. “We got a break there. It could have been worse.”

He went through limited drills during practice today. Even though he was wearing a soft cast from his lower arm up to his hand, Howard beat Johnson in a shooting contest.

“It didn’t stop me too much,” Howard said.

Howard was the team’s leading scorer in the preseason averaging 16.1 points and shooting 55.1 percent. He’s sitting out the first two games of the season serving a two-game suspension, but should be fine for the AAC home opener Nov. 3 against Sacramento.

“I’ll be ready for my season opener,” Howard said.

Dirk shut out in 2007-08 GM Survey

Is this the year that the Spurs repeat? Or do the Mavs or Suns finally break through? Is LeBron poised for an MVP season? Reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki didn’t even get a vote. Can anyone challenge Kevin Durant for the Rookie of the Year award? Will Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen make the Celtics the most improved team? posed these questions and more to the league’s general managers, and nearly all of the GM's responded to our survey. Here’s what the guys who call the shots think will transpire this season.

Which team will win NBA Finals 2008?
1. San Antonio Spurs 37.0%
2. Phoenix Suns 25.9%
3. Dallas Mavericks 14.8%
4. Detroit Pistons 7.4%
Others receiving votes: Boston, Houston, Miami, Orlando
Last year's pick: San Antonio

Hassell or Jones at the 2?

The unveiling of Avery Johnson’s preferred starting lineup won’t happen until Nov. 3 at the earliest, as Josh Howard serves his two-game suspension. Depending on how Howard’s sprained left wrist checks out from this morning’s MRI, the timetable could actually be a bit longer.

Johnson isn’t even tipping his hand on what starting 5 he’ll use when the Mavs open at Cleveland on Halloween Night. We do know four of the starters once Howard does get back: Dirk Nowitzki, Devin Harris, Gana Diop and Howard.

The guessing game throughout camp has been at that shooting guard spot opposite Harris in the backcourt. Jerry Stackhouse, Eddie Jones and Trenton Hassell all started there during preseason. It appears more likely that Stackhouse and Jason Terry, last year’s starter, are coming off the bench.

So that leaves Jones or Hassell. Jones has been through the wars, has 3-point range, but is still working his way back into shape. Hassell is a dogged perimeter defender, but doesn’t have the shooting range of Jones or offensive history. If I had to guess, I’d go with Hassell, but that’s just a guess.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

That’s a wrap

The Mavs put the finishing touches on the eight-game preseason by easing past Chicago 96-88 tonight at AAC.

Josh Howard led the way with 19 points before leaving in the third quarter with a wrist sprain. Avery Johnson said he was about to take Howard out before he hit the floor falling over Bulls guard Ben Gordon.

Devin Harris had the pedal to the metal early, and finished with 13 points and four assists. Jason Terry was perfect from the field (6-6) and scored 16 in 20 minutes. Dirk Nowitzki took just six shots in 28 minutes, scoring 10.

Gana Diop, looking to establish himself at center, turned in his third straight solid rebounding game since returning from the flu with eight boards. Crowd favorite Brandon Bass tallied his fourth straight double-figure scoring outing with 10 points along with eight rebounds.

Asked if he was happy the preseason was over, Johnson went both ways with the answer.

“Yes and no,” he said. “Yes from the standpoint that it is preseason and no because we wish we could have another game before we open up, but that is just the way it is.

“We’ve done a lot of good things in preseason and we have gotten a lot accomplished, but we still have some days of practice. There is nothing like a game, so we will try to do the best that we can do and to try and manage these next six or seven days.”

Howard sprains wrist and leaves game

Josh Howard’s preseason came to an early end when he left the game in the third quarter with a left wrist sprain. He bit on a pump fake from Ben Gordon and fell over the Bulls guard.

Howard was taken to the locker room for X-rays, which came back negative. He'll have an MRI exam on Wednesday.

“I think it’s OK,” Howard said. “We’ll have the MRI in the morning and find out.”

Howard had 19 points in 22 minutes at the time. Provided the injury isn't serious, he won’t return until the home opener Nov. 3 against Sacramento. He’s suspended for the first two games.

Feeling pressure

“Mental toughness” has been a much-talked about topic throughout preseason. An offshoot of a guy’s makeup upstairs is how he handles pressure.

Jerry Stackhouse was asked before the game if players handle pressure differently. He answered with a question of his own.

“Think about that question,” Stackhouse said. “Do all humans like pressurized situations?”

Last time I checked, NBA players are also human, so Stackhouse does make a point. Just because they’ve reached the top of their profession doesn’t mean they all want the ball down one with the clock under 10.

“There are a lot of guys that play well that don’t respond in late-game situations,” Stackhouse explained. “They may be talented, but that doesn’t always respond to being confident with the game on the line. They might not be willing to accept the backlash.”

The Mavs aren’t hurting in that category. Start with Stackhouse, Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry, Eddie Jones, Josh Howard, Devin Harris and keep going down the line.

“The list goes on,” Stackhouse said. “We’ve had guys that have taken and made big shots over the course of their careers.”

Managing the break

The eight days between the end of the preseason and the regular season isn’t ideal, but it is the deal. The break won’t be a time to lounge around.

The team has a family event tomorrow at Six Flags and a golf tournament Thursday. Avery Johnson also wants to squeeze in a couple of “full-blown” scrimmages before the opener Halloween Night in Cleveland.

“We need consistency,” he said, “and continue to focus on offense and defense.”

Johnson added that the break won’t be as long next season. “We’ve already repaired that problem,” he said.

Jerry Stackhouse, probably speaking for most in the locker room, is ready to get started: “We’d all much rather have a few days of practice and be able to play the game.”

Howard and Mbenga suiting up, Jones out

Any confusion about Josh Howard not playing tonight against Chicago was cleared up before the game. Howard has to sit out the first two games of the season serving a suspension.

“He’ll play,” Avery Johnson said. “He needs to play because he’s a guy that’s going to have a longer break than all of us.”

Johnson will purposely look at combinations without Howard on the court in preparation for Cleveland and Atlanta.

DJ Mbenga is also set to make his preseason debut. Though he hasn’t played since suffering a torn ACL in February, Mbenga is confident he’ll be able to contribute once the season starts.

“I’ll be ready to do my job,” he said.

Eddie Jones is sitting the game out after starting four of the last five. Trenton Hassell is getting his first start of the preseason.

Final cuts looming

Opening-night rosters are due Oct. 29, but look for two cuts to be made Thursday to get the team to the 15-man limit. The Thursday afternoon deadline allows enough time for players to clear waivers and not count against the salary cap.

Free agents Darvin Ham and Jared Newson are still with the team, along with the 15 that have guaranteed deals. Avery Johnson was asked several times tonight if guaranteed contracts will figure into the equation. He didn’t tip his hand or change his chorus.

“We’re going to try to put together the best 15 men on the roster that we possibly can,” Johnson repeated time and again.

Mavs-Bulls preview

Preseason Game #8
Chicago Bulls (3-2) at Dallas Mavericks (4-3)
American Airlines Center • 7:30 pm (CT)
HDNet • ESPN 103.3 FM • KFLC 1270 AM (Spanish)

Mavs probable starting lineup (preseason averages)
F Dirk Nowitzki (17.2 ppg, 9.2 rpg)
F Josh Howard (15.7 ppg, 4.2 rpg)
C Gana Diop (4.2 ppg, 6.6 rpg)
G Eddie Jones (4.6 ppg, 2 rpg)
G Devin Harris (9.7 ppg, 3.3 apg)

Injury report: Erick Dampier (right shoulder surgery) and Devean George (left foot stress reaction) are out. DJ Mbenga (right ACL surgery) is a game-time decision.
Last game: 103-97 win vs. New Orleans
Next game: at Cleveland, Oct. 31, 7 pm (TXA-21/ESPN)
All-time series (regular season): Bulls lead 27-26

Connections: Bulls swingman Adrian Griffin served two stints with Dallas, most recently as a part of the 2005-06 Western Conference championship team … Diop participated in Basketball Without Borders in Africa will Bulls forward Luol Deng … Jerry Stackhouse and Bulls center Ben Wallace were teammates for two seasons with Detroit … Trenton Hassell was drafted in the second round by Chicago in 2001 and spent two seasons there.

Notable: Harris, Hassell, Brandon Bass, JJ Barea, Nick Fazekas and Darvin Ham have appeared in the first seven preseason games … Howard is averaging 21 points in the last two games … Diop has 18 rebounds in two games since returning from the flu … Jones has started four of the last five games after missing two with a hamstring injury.

Scouting the Bulls: Four are averaging double figures, led by Andres Nocioni’s 12.0 ppg … Ben Wallace is shooting 58.8 percent from the field (10-17) and 44.4 percent at the line (4-9) … Allowing only 88.2 points per game.

Monday, October 22, 2007

Last dress rehearsal

The plan is to use a rotation tomorrow night vs. Chicago that resembles the regular season, though Avery Johnson is making an adjustment necessitated by Josh Howard impending two-game suspension.

“I’m going to have to do a little bit without Josh in there some because we’re going to have two games without him,” Johnson said. “We’ll look at some combinations, maybe even our point guards (Devin Harris and Jason Terry) together like we’ve done in the past.”

Jerry Stackhouse, Trenton Hassell and Eddie Jones figure to share Howard’s minutes at small forward during the first two games. Devean George likely won’t be ready to play in the first couple games, though he reported feeling “great” today.

Eddie Jones hopes to be "other" guy

It’s probably not fair to call Eddie Jones the Buck Showalter of the NBA, but it makes some sense.

“It looks that way to me,” Jones mused after Monday’s practice at American Airlines Center. “You bring in a new guy to see if you can get there. For some reason I was the guy that was leaving.”

Getting “there” is winning a championship. The first two MLB teams that Showalter managed – the Yankees and Diamondbacks – won titles the year after he left. (Yes, the Rangers broke the streak).

Jones has watched two franchises he felt were on the brink – the Lakers and Heat – win it all shortly after departing. Though he laughs about his “bad luck” now, his desire to get there hasn’t waned.

Mbenga not ready to contribute

Just because DJ Mbenga might play 3-6 minutes in tomorrow night’s preseason wrap doesn’t mean he’ll be ready to contribute once the season starts.

“He hasn’t played in a year,” Avery Johnson said today. “He’s had an ACL injury. He wasn’t in the rotation when he was healthy, so we’ve got to give him some time.”

So even with Erick Dampier sidelined indefinitely and Gana Diop as the only true healthy center on the roster, Johnson obviously isn’t going to rush Mbenga. In the meantime, look for Brandon Bass to back up Diop and Dirk Nowitzki to steal some minutes in the pivot.

Gana's free throw means day off

The scene didn’t quite resemble a game-winner, but Gana Diop was at the center of a celebration to close out today’s practice.

The entire team was standing on the baseline, except for Diop at the foul line. Avery Johnson issued a challenge: “If you make this one, we’re not going to have shootaround tomorrow.”


“I’ll see you all at 5:15,” Johnson called out. So instead of meeting at AAC for a morning practice, the team has the entire day off until tomorrow night’s preseason finale against Chicago.

Diop figuratively pounded his chest when I asked if that was the most pressured free throw of his career.

“I make free throws any day of my life,” Diop deadpanned. “That’s what I do.”

Really? For the record, he knocks them down at a 51-percent clip. Dirk Nowitzki he’s not, but Diop made this one.

“He came through because I’ve never seen the guys hug him like they did,” Johnson quipped.

Sampson waived

The roster got lighter today with the release of center Jamal Sampson. The free agent and nephew of former NBA center Ralph Sampson hoped to stick around as Erick Dampier and DJ Mbenga continue to rehab injuries. Sampson, though, struggled during limited playing time early in preseason and a recent ankle injury effectively ended his tryout.

The roster is down to 17. Teams can carry a maximum of 15 into the regular season and the Mavs already have 15 guaranteed contracts. Rosters must be finalized Oct. 29. Free-agent hopefuls Darvin Ham and Jared Newson remain in camp.

Dirk's road to the NBA

Reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki is one of 30 current players who shared their experiences on their road to the NBA with Below is the first question from My Amazing Journey -- Dirk Nowitzki. Click it to read the whole thing.

What was the biggest obstacle you overcame to reach the NBA?
Dirk Nowitzki: I guess basketball is not really a huge sport in Germany. There are not hoops everywhere. It is not soccer. Soccer is way easier to play over there than basketball. You had to find your spot, you had to find friends to play with, and find goals outside that you can play on when we were young. It wasn't that you could just walk around the block and play hoops.

Regular strength: Mavs see-saw past Hornets

Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Devin Harris logged the majority of their time in the first and third quarters.

Not coincidentally, the Mavs outscored New Orleans 69-34 in those two periods. Dallas reserves didn’t fare nearly as well. New Orleans “won” the second and fourth quarters 63-34.

Add it up and Dallas wins 103-97. I think that's right.

“Everybody is on the same page,” Johnson said of his starters. “Our bench didn’t play as well in the second quarter, but they finished the game well.”

Harris keyed the quick start as the Mavs jumped out to a 14-0 lead.

“Everybody was in sync and Devin was playing at a high level and the ball was moving well,” Johnson said. “At the same time our defense was keying a lot of our offense. The only thing that hurt us was getting into severe foul trouble in the first quarter. In the first six or seven minutes of the game we were pretty good.”

Harris is feeling more comfortable and confident quarterbacking the team.

“I didn’t look over to the bench once today,” Harris said. “He’s given me the reins to call my own plays and run the sets that I call.”

Harris finished with 19 points, including two 3-pointers, and four assists. Howard had 22 points and seven boards, while Nowitzki chipped in 14 and 11. None of the three played more than 25 ½ minutes.

Sunday, October 21, 2007

Mental toughness

How a team comes back after playoff disappointment isn’t the only measure of mental toughness. That happens every day.

“I can gauge it even before adversity,” Avery Johnson said. “I can gauge it in different situations. I can even gauge it in practice.”

Johnson feels good about the team’s mental state, adding much of that confidence stems from Dirk Nowitzki’s leadership. “Dirk sets the tone for us in a lot of ways,” Johnson said.

Devean George's foot improving

Devean George is about 10 days from returning to “full-fledged” practice, Avery Johnson said before the Hornets game. The veteran swingman has missed all of camp and preseason with a left foot stress reaction. He started running on the treadmill last week and hasn’t experienced any setbacks.

The 10-day timetable has George back on the court around the start of the regular season Oct. 31 at Cleveland. Johnson typically wants a player to go through several full practices before getting into a game.

Bass never had shot with Hornets

Brandon Bass promises to treat tonight against his old mates as just any other game. No hard feelings, he says. But you can tell there’s a little extra there.

Why wouldn’t there be?

Bass spent the first two years of his career with New Orleans, though you would hardly know it. Even if you watched the Hornets regularly.

Asked why he didn’t get off the bench there, Bass replied: “I really don’t know why. I might have to ask Coach Scott.”

Any conversations with Byron Scott tonight likely won’t go there, but Bass can’t help but wonder why he never got a chance.

“I felt like I was ready to play,” he said. “All players would be frustrated when they don’t play the first couple years.”

The Mavs, somehow, did see enough here and there to be intrigued by the sculpted 6-8, 240-pound power forward. Bass was offered a spot on the summer league team and his strong showing there led to a two-year deal as Dirk Nowitzki’s backup.

He’s looked solid this preseason, averaging 11.8 points (third on the team) and 7.5 rebounds (second). Avery Johnson doesn’t hand out praise easily, especially with young players, so it’s understandable when he points out that Bass needs to be “more of a competitor on the defensive end.”

There’s also a feeling that Bass is only scratching the surface of his potential.

“He’s gotten some rebounds that nobody on our team can get,” Johnson said. “That’s refreshing.”

Jet sitting tonight, Mbenga back Tuesday?

Jason Terry will miss his third game of the preseason tonight against New Orleans at AAC. Though the plan is to rest veterans here and there, there was a precautionary aspect to Terry’s absence. He missed a pair of road games with a slightly twisted left knee and Avery Johnson thought it best to give him another game off.

That means JJ Barea will get all the minutes behind Devin Harris, who has played in every preseason game so far.

DJ Mbenga may be on the court for Tuesday’s preseason finale against Chicago. Though getting the backup center into the lineup would seem to be a boost, especially with Erick Dampier out a while, it doesn’t appear that Mbenga is ready to be a factor.

Johnson said this morning he’s “not comfortable” yet with Mbenga being able to contribute in the games that count. The 7-footer was just recently cleared for contact – he’s coming off ACL surgery – and though he’s moving better, he has a ways to go.