Saturday, November 3, 2007

Barea and Mavs shoot down Kings 123-102

Eddie Jones told JJ Barea that he had Tony Romo money coming his way. Barea just laughed.

There were plenty of smiles to go around Saturday night.

In the town that practically invented quarterback controversies, the Mavericks and their fans sure had some fun watching Barea fill in for injured point guard Devin Harris in the home-opening 123-102 romp over Sacramento.

“He earned his money,” Jason Terry said of Barea.

When the pint-sized Puerto Rican checked out early in the fourth quarter with leg cramps, a standing ovation followed. After scoring a career-high 25 and handing out five assists, it was easy to see why the sellout American Airlines Center crowd of 20,343 shared the love.

Dallas coach Avery Johnson chuckled when asked about the “point-guard controversy” after the game.

“He did some nice things out there,” Johnson said, carefully choosing his words. “We’ll see where it goes from here.”

No frustration here on starting 5

Josh Howard comes back, Devin Harris sits out. So for at least another game, Avery Johnson’s preferred starting lineup of Howard, Harris, Dirk Nowitzki, Gana Diop and Eddie Jones has to wait.

The General was asked if that is frustrating.

“I wouldn’t say frustrated,” he said, laughing off the question. “It would be frustrating if [Harris] wasn’t there for our first playoff game. I would call that frustrating. Not tonight.”

Dirk talking title

Jerry Stackhouse addressed the crowd before the game, thanking Mavs fans for their support and welcoming everyone to the 2007-08 season. Stackhouse also went to Dirk Nowitzki before the game to ask if the MVP wanted him to say anything special.

Here’s Jerry’s version of what Dirk said: “Stack, do your thing. I’ll talk at the championship ceremony.”

Josh Howard excited to be back

Josh Howard is certainly glad to be back in the fold. Chalk up the two-game suspension for attacking Brad Miller this preseason as a lesson learned.

“You know me, I’m ready to play,” he said not long ago. “I would have rather been back last night. It was a learning experience. We didn’t get off to a good start. We had an awesome comeback in the third quarter. I was yelling like crazy at the ESPN Zone.”

Watching the first two games on TV reminded Howard how much he prefers being at the arena. He even said that after he’s done playing, he plans to watch games in person whenever he can. As for coaching, he doesn’t think so.

“I can’t coach somebody like me,” he said. “I would never know what I was thinking.”

Devin Harris out, JJ to start

Devin Harris (left thigh contusion) won’t play tonight, but expects to return Monday against Houston. He talked about the knee he took from Hawks guard Josh Smith that knocked him out of the game in the second quarter last night.

“I tried to get out of the way,” Harris said. “I took the charge, but I didn’t take it square. I took a knee in the inside of my thigh, the one place I don’t have padding.”

Harris said his thigh is doing better, but he needs to watch for swelling the next couple days. No Harris means more is needed out of JJ Barea, who will share playmaking duties with Jason Terry. Look for Barea to start. Yes, JJ.

“He’ll play a little bit,” Avery Johnson said of Barea. “Jet will play. Everybody will have responsibility.”

By the way, Harris ran into Kings center Brad Miller in the Mavs weight room earlier. Miller, you may remember, knocked Harris over in that preseason melee that led to Josh Howard’s two-game suspension.

So what did Miller say? “Nothing,” Harris said.

Miller and Harris have quite a history, most of it involved Harris getting knocked out of games by Miller screens in the backcourt.

“I can blame my teammates for not calling out the screen,” Harris said with a laugh. “He just happened to be setting picks. In the preseason I just happened to be the person there when he turned around. You could say it was coincidence.”

Mavs-Kings preview

Sacramento Kings (0-2) at Dallas Mavericks (1-1)
Saturday, Nov. 3 • American Airlines Center • 7:30 pm (CT)
TXA-21 • ESPN 103.3 FM • KFLC 1270 AM (Spanish)

F Dirk Nowitzki (7-0, 245)
F Josh Howard (6-7, 210)
C Gana Diop (7-0, 280)
G Eddie Jones (6-6, 200)
G Devin Harris (6-3, 185)

F Kenny Thomas (6-7, 245)
C Brad Miller (7-0, 261)
G Kevin Martin (6-7, 185)
G Orien Greene (6-4, 208)
G John Salmons (6-6, 207)

Dallas: Erick Dampier (right shoulder surgery) and Devean George (left foot stress reaction) are out. Harris (left thigh contusion) is day-to-day.
Sacramento: Mike Bibby (thumb), Ron Artest (suspension) and Spencer Hawes (knee) are out. Beno Udrih (hand) is day-to-day.

Last game: 101-94 loss at Atlanta
Next game: Houston, Monday, AAC, 7:30 pm (NBATV)
All-time series: Mavs lead 65-58

Connections: Bibby and Jason Terry were teammates at the University of Arizona where they won the 1997 National Championship… Kings center Mikki Moore has been teammates with both Jerry Stackhouse (Detroit, 1998-2002) and Terry (Atlanta, 2002-03) … Miller has played with two Mavericks – Jones (Charlotte, 1999-2000) and Trenton Hassell (Chicago, 2001-02)… Terry and Kings veteran forward Shareef Abdur-Rahim were teammates in Atlanta from 2001-04… Terry and Hawes both hail from Seattle.

Scouting the Kings: Haven’t been competitive without Bibby and Artest, dropped their first two games by 14 and 16 points … Martin is doing his best to pick up the slack, averaging 24 ppg … Miller is averaging 12.5 ppg, but only 4.5 rpg … Have dropped 13 of the last 16 in the series, including seven straight in Dallas.

Observations: Terry wasn’t just speaking the company line when he said he was fine with coming off the bench. His campaign for Sixth Man of the Year is off to a flying start, averaging a team-high 22 ppg and 5 apg … Nowitzki is staying steady to start the season with 21.5 points, 8 rebounds and 4 assists … Diop is averaging 8 rebounds, 6 points and 5 blocks … JJ Barea was forced into action when Dallas lost Harris in the first half at Atlanta. He responded with 14 points (5-6 FGs, 4-4 FTs) in just 9 minutes of action.

JJ stepping up

The loss of Devin Harris meant extra work for JJ Barea and the second-year point guard delivered. Barea (14 points in nine minutes) drove the ball with reckless abandon, jitterbugging to the basket repeatedly for layups. He could be on the floor plenty against the Kings.

“This was great for my confidence,” Barea said. “If Devin is going to be out, it’s an opportunity I have to take advantage of.”

Avery Johnson isn’t afraid of using Barea, even if he can’t pronounce his last name. (It comes across more like Ba-rer-ra.) JJ logged four first-half minutes at Cleveland, a strategy Johnson concocted to steal a few extra minutes of rest for Harris and Terry.

Smooth Operator

You never know where Avery Johnson is going to take a question, so it should come as no shock the General channeled Sade when asked about Juwan Howard.

“Smooth,” Avery Johnson said of Howard. “They had a song Smooth Operator, he’s a smooth operator. Smooth.

“That’s what happens with veterans when they’ve been around the block a lot and when you’re smart. He’s a smart player, very heady player, so there’s no real stress attributed to adding him to our ball club.”

Howard is operating with a “condensed package” for the time being, but it shouldn’t take too long for the 14-year vet to get the Mavs’ system down. As Avery Johnson pointed out, Howard already knows the team’s plays having played against Dallas plenty the last three years with Southwest Division rival Houston.

Howard played seven minutes against the Hawks. He missed his only shot, had one rebound and committed three fouls.

Delayed debut for J-Ho

Josh Howard was on the two-game road trip, but watched the Cleveland game at a restaurant with a college friend and caught Mavs-Hawks at the ESPN Zone.

With his two-game suspension in the books, Howard begins his fifth NBA season tonight against Sacramento in the AAC opener. Avery Johnson is understandably excited to get his other All-Star forward back.

“I heard a statement that Dean Smith made one time that your offense can work pretty good in certain situations, but in other situations, recruitment takes over,” Johnson said.

In other words, it’s not always about the plays. Sometimes it’s about the players.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Young gunning Hawks hand Mavs first loss

ATLANTA – At some point, potential either comes of age or it dries up. It’s too early to say if the Hawks will realize their promise over 82 games, but the Mavericks sure got a taste of where this Atlanta franchise can go.

The Hawks took a big step in proving their NBA-best preseason record was for real by handing Dallas its first loss, 101-94, Friday night in Atlanta’s season opener at Philips Arena.

“If the Hawks sustain the type of energy they had in tonight’s game, I think they have a chance to be one of the eight teams [in the playoffs] this year," Jerry Stackhouse said.

The setback came two days after whipping the best team the Eastern Conference had to offer last season in Cleveland’s home opener. Dallas (1-1) looks to regroup in its first game at American Airlines Center this season Saturday night against Sacramento.

Though they don’t have much time to dwell on the loss, the Mavs returned home with plenty to think about.

“We had some key breakdowns in the fourth quarter when we didn’t get stops,” Jason Terry said. “That’s how we win games, regardless of how tough it is in the fourth quarter, but we didn’t get stops tonight.”

Devin Harris hurt, leaves game

Devin Harris suffered a left thigh contusion after colliding with Hawks forward Josh Smith with 3 ½ minutes left in the first half. Harris drew a charge from Smith, whose knee left Harris writhing on the court in pain.

Harris checked out and sat on the bench for a bit before retreating to the locker room for treatment. He won't play in the second half and his status for the home opener tomorrow night against Sacramento is uncertain. Jason Terry opened the third quarter in his place.

“My thigh is pretty sore so we will see how it feels tomorrow,” Harris said. “It’s day-to-day right now. I’m hoping to be back for the Houston game.”

Harris got off to a torrid start, shredding Atlanta’s defense by attacking former teammate Anthony Johnson. Harris went by Johnson with ease and scored Dallas’ first 10 points.

Special night for Law

The NBA debut for Hawks rookie Acie Law IV was special on several levels, as the point guard from Texas A&M opened against the team he grew up rooting from.

“How can you not like the Mavs growing up in Dallas?” he said before the game. “The energy that Mark Cuban has brought to the franchise and where they are now compared to where they were is night and day.

“It’s a lifelong dream to open my career in Atlanta, but starting out against my hometown team. My family and friends back home are watching the game.”

Save the drama for your …

We all know Avery Johnson wants to stick with one starting lineup through thick and thin. Injuries and suspensions have a way of screwing things up, but Saturday in the home opener against Sactown you’ll see the General’s preferred five-man tip-off group.

“Yeah, you already know what it is so there’s no drama attributed to it,” Johnson said. “Stackhouse will go back to the bench and Josh will start so there’s no real drama.

For the record it’ll be: Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Gana Diop, Devin Harris and Eddie Jones.

Not the same ole Hawks

In football they call these “trap” games. In basketball, people tend to go with “letdown.” Coming off a blowout win, like the one at Cleveland, and facing a team that traditionally isn’t good, like the Hawks, is a recipe for one of those letdowns.

Avery Johnson was asked this morning if this sets up as a potential letdown for the Mavs.

“No, if we would have come in and the Hawks would have gone maybe 1-7 in the preseason, but they were the best preseason team in basketball (7-1) and they play with a lot of energy. New possibilities for them this year, so we know they’re going to be pretty excited.”

He also alluded to the rebounding deficit against the Cavaliers and how that can’t happen again tonight against Joe Johnson, Marvin Williams, Josh Smith, Al Horford and Co.

“We didn’t rebound the ball good and [the Hawks are] so big and athletic we know we got to rebound the ball good against them,” Johnson said. “So again, there’s no letdown here.

Preview Q&A with

Not that anyone cares what I have to say, but I knocked out five questions with about the Mavs for tonight's game. If you're interested, check it out: Hawks-Mavs Preview.

Dirk re-launches 41FAN.NET

The reigning MVP and six-time NBA All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki announced today he has re-launched his official website,, with a brand new design.

“I am very excited about the re-launch of my website,” Nowitzki said. “I love the new look and how the designers put everything together. The site is a great way for me to reach out to all my loyal fans.”

The interactive website features a variety of information about Nowitzki and includes a blog where Dirk himself is able to post entries.

Also, the site will soon include a new community feature where fans will have the possibility to present themselves. In the “41world” section, player profiles and teams can be created to match up against each other in the virtual and real world.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Juwan Howard to wear "Howard" and "55"

Let’s clear up any confusion right now: The back of Juwan Howard’s jersey is going to say “Howard” along with “55,” his new number. He wore “5” during his first swim through Dallas. There was some speculation that with Josh Howard on the team, the jerseys may read “Jo. Howard” and “Ju. Howard.”

Nope. Mavs PR guru Sarah Melton said the team checked with the league and all that’s required on the back of jerseys is the last name. I personally like the move. Who’s going to mistake Josh for Juwan? And they do wear different numbers. Josh, by the way, is No. 5.

Bass the Punisher

Another tidbit from practice today: Avery Johnson graded Brandon Bass’ 16-plus minutes (six points, three rebounds and a block) against Cleveland as “solid.” Bass could have grabbed another couple rebounds and blocked another couple shots, Johnson said, but there were no complaints about his intensity.

Johnson wants to see the young power forward go 100 mph for 100 percent of the time.

“I don’t want to have to wind you up,” Johnson said. “I want him to get in there and throw that muscle around. I want him to go up and try to tear the basket down. I want him to hit somebody so hard that their body is going to be shivering the whole night. That’s what his job is, and he’ll get there.”

Juwan Howard debuts at practice

Juwan Howard’s second tour with the Mavericks began Thursday during a get-to-know-us-again practice on the campus of Georgia Tech.

It shouldn’t take too long to get the 14-year vet up to speed, and don’t be surprised if he plays Friday night against the Hawks. “I’m ready,” Howard said. Basketball is basketball, and other than learning the terminology of Dallas’ system, Howard’s initiation figures to be smooth and painless.

He’s already clear on his role, and it goes beyond just supplying needed frontline depth.

“It’s been proven over and over in this league that veterans help you win games,” he said. “Veterans are the ones that help you win championships. Veterans put you in position to have an opportunity to make the playoffs.

“I’m here to add some veteran leadership, bring a workmanlike attitude in practice and in games, play hard and help the team in whatever fashion I can.”

Read more of the happenings today in the Mavs notebook at

Devean George seeing daylight

The stress reaction in Devean George’s left foot continues to improve. He’s running 45 minutes a day on the treadmill without any complications.

He’s scheduled to be evaluated on Monday and if all goes well could be cleared to participate in some drills on the court.

“It depends on what the doctors say,” George said. “It feels good.”

Seems like old times

It’s hard to imagine Jason Terry’s first night at sixth man going any better. He torched Cleveland for a game-high 24 points Wednesday, including a 6-for-8 showing from beyond the arc.

Other than his rookie season (1999-2000) in Atlanta, Terry has been primarily a starter in his pro career. But 10 years ago at the University of Arizona he came off the pine.

“It’s something that I used to do in ’97 when we won a championship,” he said. “I relish that role. I love to come in and be that spark.

“When you have a young point guard like Devin Harris, it’s his time now. His time to go out and be a starter, and when I come in, there won’t be a drop off.”

Juwan Howard officially on board

Free agent forward Juwan Howard is practicing right now here in Atlanta after signing his one-year contract. The 13-year veteran was originally drafted in the first round (fifth overall) of the 1994 NBA Draft.

He holds career averages of 16.1 points and 7.1 rebounds in 951 games. Howard is a 15,000-point scorer and was named to the All-NBA Third Team and Eastern Conference All-Star team in 1996 as a member of the Washington Bullets.

The Chicago native begins his second stint in Dallas after playing 80 games for the Mavs from Feb. 22, 2001 to Feb. 21, 2002. Howard started 71 times, averaging 14.6 points and 7.3 rebounds. He also started all 10 playoff games.

As a standout at Michigan and member of the “Fab Five,” Howard was the first NBA player to leave school early and graduate on time. Named one of the “Good Guys in Sports” by The Sporting News, Howard is active in the community through the Juwan Howard Foundation which benefits underprivileged youth.

Wednesday, October 31, 2007

Mavs whip Cavs 92-74 on Halloween

The Mavericks and Cavaliers didn’t need costumes Halloween Night to remind everyone of who they once were. Dallas was the Finals runner-up in 2006. Cleveland had that honor four months ago.

That’s about all they had in common Opening Night. The Mavs made Quicken Loans Arena their personal trick-or-treat cul-de-sac, filling up their candy bag with enough 3-pointers, steals, layups and blocked shots in the 92-74 blowout to make any sweet tooth happy.

Sweet it was.

“It was a great game all around,” Jerry Stackhouse said. “We have to keep building. We don’t even have one of our horses.”

Even without Josh Howard, whose suspension ends after Friday’s visit to Atlanta, the first half couldn’t have gone any better if it was scripted. It seemed each Maverick did exactly what he was supposed to do.

Read the rest of the opening-night win at

More trick than treat for Cavs fans

The in-game entertainment here in Cleveland is among the best in the league. Mark Cuban’s romp on Dancing with the Stars was the basis of a couple video skits, including a brilliant take on the Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy’s press conference tirade. Another personal favorite was the zombie-dance reenactment, Michael Jackson and all, from Thriller.

But all the fun for Cavs fans happened during timeouts and even that wasn’t enough. It seemed half the capacity crowd had gone trick-or-treating before the fourth quarter was halfway done. Being down 25, it was easy to see why they hit the exits.

The two C's

It wasn’t exactly American Idol, but Dirk Nowitzki and Devin Harris were the big winners in voting for the team’s captains. The team and the coaching staff each had their separate votes and in both cases Dirk and Devin prevailed.

Avery Johnson said both were serious about earning the leadership positions.

“Dirk, first of all, didn’t want to give up his captaincy, so that was a good sign,” Johnson said. “I was hoping that would happen.”

AJ and MB know the feeling

Avery Johnson and Cavaliers coach Mike Brown have been on the short end of the last two NBA Finals. They also share San Antonio roots – Johnson played there and Brown was an assistant under Gregg Popovich – and a friendship.

The two had a chance to talk in Chicago at the NBA’s coaching meetings shortly after Cleveland lost to the Spurs.

“We know the feeling,” Johnson said. “We know the feeling of not being able to get it done.”

Brown was obviously down at the time, but Johnson had a way of picking up his spirits. Relaying the message Johnson had for him, Brown broke into a full-on impression complete with Johnson’s high-pitched Louisiana drawl: “I’d take going to the Finals and being swept 0-4 over not going to the playoffs any day.”

Juwan Howard: Player and Mentor

Juwan Howard won’t be making his Mavs return tonight here in Cleveland. He’s back in Dallas undergoing a physical today and will join the team for practice tomorrow in Atlanta.

Avery Johnson was clear on why the team signed Howard.

“Just another veteran guy,” Johnson said this morning at Quicken Loans Arena. “Guy who has a lot of experience. Somebody who really wants to cap off their career with a championship. Very professional. Integrity. Family man. He’s an NBA player.”

The idea of picking up Howard didn’t just happen with his release Monday from Minnesota. Johnson and the front office had an eye on Howard in case he became available. After being traded from Houston this offseason, the Timberwolves bought out his contract.

“You’re always looking at guys that could possibly be a part of your team,” Johnson said. “When veteran players get traded, you wonder if they’re going to stick with their team. If not then you start throwing around possibilities.”

Howard, 34, has been in the league 12 years. The Mavs believe there is plenty left in the tank, especially as a backup along the frontline. Johnson listed Howard’s assets: Solid low-post defender and team defender, ability to knock down an open shot, and a skilled passer in the high-low game.

Howard’s presence should also benefit Brandon Bass. Johnson actually talked to Howard about being a positive influence on the young power forward.

“That’s something that we visited about,” Johnson said. “Down the road, four or five years from now, when you’re not playing, one of your biggest legacies will be: Did you help develop anybody else?”

Who's officiating tonight?

If you’re curious to see who calling tonight’s Mavs-Cavs game or any other game in the Association, click here for daily referee assignments. Following up on comments David Stern made last week, the league is posting its ref lineup for every day that morning at

Tonight’s crew here at the Q: S. Javie, M. Davis and E. Malloy.

Mavs-Cavs preview

Game #1: Dallas Mavericks (0-0) at Cleveland Cavaliers (0-0)
Quicken Loans Arena • 7 pm (CT)
TXA-21/ESPN • ESPN 103.3 FM • KFLC 1270 AM (Spanish)


F Dirk Nowitzki (7-0, 245)
F Jerry Stackhouse (6-6, 218)
C Gana Diop (7-0, 280)
G Eddie Jones (6-6, 200)
G Devin Harris (6-3, 185)

F LeBron James (6-8, 250)
F Drew Gooden (6-10, 250)
C Zydrunas Ilgauskas (7-3, 260)
G Larry Hughes (6-5, 185)
G Daniel Gibson (6-2, 194)

Injury report
Dallas: Erick Dampier (right shoulder surgery), Devean George (left foot stress reaction) and Josh Howard (suspension) are out. Cleveland: Eric Snow (knee) is out.

All-time series: Cavaliers lead 29-23
Next Mavs game: Friday, Nov. 2, at Atlanta, 6:30 pm (FSNSW)

Connections: Gana Diop was a lottery pick by the Cavaliers and played in Cleveland from 2001-05 … Moe Ager and Cavs guard Shannon Brown were teammates at Michigan State … Cavs guard Damon Jones played for Dallas during the 1999-2000 season … Trenton Hassell and Cavs forward Donyell Marshall were teammates in Chicago (2002-03) … Marshall played with Erick Dampier in Golden State (1998-2000).

Scouting the Cavs: Still without contract holdouts Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic, who were both key the last season’s run to the NBA Finals ... James has averaged 31.5 points in eight career games against Dallas … Ilgauskas will become the first player in team history to start at least eight straight opening nights.

Notable: The Mavs are 16-11 all-time in season openers .. The Mavs have won 11 of the last 13 against Cleveland … Nowitzki (23.5) and Jason Terry (20.5) averaged at least 20 points against Cleveland last season.

Getting ready for the Cavs

Opening the season tonight against LeBron James and the Cavs put a smile on Avery Johnson’s face this morning.

“Great to be part of this whole deal,” he said. “Another season is starting. A lot of possibilities and we’re ready to finally ready to get a game under our belt and get on the journey.”

Johnson probably won’t be smiling too much thinking about ways to slow down LeBron, especially without Josh Howard’s perimeter defense. Not having Erick Dampier to help clog the lane – and give a few hard fouls – doesn’t help, either.

“Anytime those guys are not on the court, both of them, we’re going to miss it,” Johnson said. “But that’s why it’s team basketball. That’s why they allow you to have 12 guys in uniform. Somebody else needs to get in there and do something.”

The focus will have to be on team defense. Individually, look for plenty of Eddie Jones, Jerry Stackhouse and Trenton Hassell against King James.

Johnson also cautioned that whatever happens in Game #1, don’t read too much into it: “I don’t think we’re going to be nearly as good tonight as we hope to be down the road.”

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Cleveland doesn’t rock … yet

The Cavaliers are without contract holdouts Anderson Varejao and Sasha Pavlovic going into the opener. That can’t be an easy feeling for the team that squared off against San Antonio for the title.

“They probably don’t feel they’re the team that got to the Finals,” Jerry Stackhouse said. “They’re without two important parts that got them there.”

Avery Johnson, though, isn’t taking LeBron James and his remaining cohorts lightly.

“They’re the defending Eastern Conference champions,” Johnson said. “They were one of the two best teams in basketball the way they finished last year.”

Johnson is without one of Dallas’ two All-Stars in Josh Howard.

“That’s a challenge,” Johnson said. “That’s 20 and 10. It’s good when you can count on 20 and 10.”

To be fair, Howard averaged 18.9 points and 6.8 rebounds last year. Both numbers were career highs and, though not 20 and 10, aren’t too shabby.

Moe Ager contract extended

The team exercised its third-year contract option on guard Moe Ager today. Under the terms of the NBA’s collective bargaining agreement, the first two years of a first-round draft pick's contract are guaranteed, while the third and fourth years are team options.

Ager (6-5, 202) was selected by Dallas in the first round (28th overall) of the 2006 NBA Draft. Ager averaged 2.2 points, 0.7 rebounds and 0.5 blocks in 6.7minutes per game in 32 games (one start) as a rookie last season. The former Michigan State Spartan contributed 9.1 points, 2.6 rebounds and 1.0 assist in 22.6 minutes in seven preseason games (one start).

Juwan Howard coming back to Dallas

The Mavericks picked up some much-needed frontline help by agreeing to terms with free agent Juwan Howard today. The contract can’t be completed until Howard clears waivers tomorrow.

Howard (6-9, 253) hit the open market after Minnesota bought out his contract and should join the Mavs on the season-opening two-game road trip, perhaps as early as Wednesday night at Cleveland. The power forward has averaged 16.1 points and 7.1 rebounds over his 12-year career, including a stint in Dallas over parts of two seasons (2000-01 and ’01-02).

“Juwan was too big of an opportunity to pass up,” president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson told “Juwan is a winner, he’s a leader and he knows the Maverick way.

“He can swing from the ‘4’ to ‘5,’ so it gives us tremendous flexibility on the frontline.”

Howard should join the rotation immediately backing up Gana Diop and Dirk Nowitzki up front. The Mavs were in need of help down low, especially with Erick Dampier out. Brandon Bass was the only other healthy big man with NBA experience on the roster.

The team made room for Howard by releasing four-year center DJ Mbenga, who recently returned from a knee injury. Mbenga (7-0, 240) played three seasons in Dallas and holds career averages of 1.3 points and 0.9 rebounds in 79 games.

Mbenga played in 21 games last season before suffering a torn right ACL on Feb. 7. His only action of the preseason was in the finale against Chicago. Mbenga recorded five rebounds, two blocked shots and an assist in 12 minutes of action.

“DJ needs an opportunity to play and develop,” Nelson said. “We appreciate everything he’s done for us and he’s been a big part of our success. We’re hopeful that with playing time, whether it’s in the NBA or Europe, he’ll be able to join our team in the future.”

Monday, October 29, 2007

Back again but not to "finish"

The Mavs broke every huddle and ended every practice last season with the rallying cry “Finish.” Not so this time around.

It’s back to the basics for Avery Johnson’s crew.

“We’re not going with any more trick slogans like ‘Finish’ or anything,” he said. “Just want to try to stay stronger a little bit more than we did last year and learn from both of our years.”

The 2006 season ended with four straight losses in the NBA Finals. They exited in the first round in May.

“I thought we were a lot stronger the year before,” Johnson said. “Last year I didn’t see it as much. Mentally, I thought we wore down a little bit and we just didn’t have it, not even in the playoffs, but the last 10 or 15 games. We’ll try to stay strong and get back to playing that Mavericks defense like we can.”

Dirk Nowitzki agreed, saying the team did run out of gas.

“We won 67 games, but it didn’t really feel like it,” he said. “We kept stressing and kept the intensity so high and then once the playoffs came we really had no other step to go to, no other gear.

“Hopefully this year we can enjoy and really have fun with each other on and off the floor. And then it’s all about being ready in April and May. Last year when it came time for the playoffs, we weren’t on top of our game. All of us.”

Johnson is ready to get the season going Halloween Night at Cleveland.

“After our finish last year I think there was some that thought we weren’t going to show up this year,” he said, “but we’re back again and we’re excited to be here.”

Jet and Stack: Sixth Men 'A' and 'B'

Finishing a game with a different five than the starting group isn’t a foreign concept in the NBA or with the Mavs. Nick Van Exel hardly started during his run in Dallas, but he was out there when the game was on the line. Ditto for Jerry Stackhouse the last three years and expect the same for Jason Terry this season.

“JT is our sixth man, so that doesn’t mean he’s not going to finish the game,” Avery Johnson said today after practice. “He’s one of our better fourth-quarter players. The guys that you start may or may not finish depending on how the game is going.”

So I asked the General since Terry is the sixth man, does that mean Stackhouse is now the seventh man? “6A, 6B,” Johnson answered.

Johnson went on to explain the thinking behind bringing two proven scorers and team leaders in Terry and Stackhouse off the bench.

“We’re hoping to have more bench production this year,” Johnson said. “If we can get more bench production, then we’re hoping that guys like Josh, Dirk and Devin and those guys, they won’t have to be overextended as much.

“If you have to overextend your starters that means your bench is not playing at a high level. So with Jet and Stack coming off the bench, we’re hoping to get more production there.”

Official roster set

The NBA released the rosters for all 30 teams today, including the active and inactive lists for the openers. Below is the lineup the Mavs turned into the league for their opener Wednesday night at Cleveland.

Of note: Nick Fazekas is inactive, while DJ Mbenga is active. The coaching staff must think that although Mbenga is recovering from knee surgery, he is more ready to contribute than the rookie forward out of Nevada.

Active list: Mo Ager, JJ Barea, Brandon Bass, Gana Diop, Devin Harris, Trenton Hassell, Josh Howard, Eddie Jones, DJ Mbenga, Dirk Nowitzki, Jerry Stackhouse, Jason Terry.

Inactive List: Erick Dampier, Nick Fazekas, Devean George.

Help blanket DFW: Jason Terry Coat Drive

With the holidays right around the corner, the Mavs, Dave & Buster’s and Jason Terry are asking fans to help blanket the Metroplex by making a donation to the first annual Jason Terry Coat Drive, benefiting Metroplex shelters.

The program will last for the entire month of November, giving Mavs fans a chance to help those in need. Donation bins will be set up at all three of the Metroplex Dave & Buster’s locations for fans to drop off any new or gently-used coat. A Dave & Buster’s $10 Power Card will be given to anyone who makes a donation.

“Dave & Buster’s has been involved in the Dallas community for the past 25 years. This is just another way to give back to those in need and we are proud to be partnering with Jason Terry and the Dallas Mavericks in this effort,” said April Spearman, Vice President of Marketing for Dave & Buster’s.

Fans can also donate at the Saturday, November 17th game vs. Memphis. Bins will be set up at all four entrances to American Airlines Center for fans to drop off their donations. Fans that bring five or more coats and/or blankets will receive a commemorative autographed Jason Terry photo (while supplies last).

“I’m excited to be a part of this great program,” Terry said. “With the colder weather right around the corner, this is a great time to collect coats and blankets for people who need them, but just can’t afford them.”

About Dave & Buster’s: Celebrating over 25 years of operations, Dave & Buster's was founded in 1982 and is one of the country's leading upscale, restaurant/entertainment concepts with over 50 locations throughout the United States and in Canada. More information on the company is available on the company’s website at

Howard cleared to practice

Josh Howard was cleared to practice after having his sprained left wrist re-evaluated today. Team doctors removed the cast bracing his wrist and replaced it with a removable splint.

His status for the first two games of the season hasn’t changed and Howard will accompany the team on the upcoming road trip. His suspension covers the games at Cleveland (Wednesday) and Atlanta (Friday), but he’ll remain on the active roster leaving the Mavs with 11 players in uniform for the first two games.

“Josh for us plugs a lot of holes on both ends of the floor,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “He can score in a hurry. He gets out to 16-point quarters in heartbeat. He really gets our offense going. On defense he’s long. He’s a great rebounder for his size, so he does a lot of things for us just with him being active.

“We’re definitely going to miss him, but we’ve got enough perimeter players that can step in and make plays. That’s how we won 67 games last year. When somebody was out, somebody else was able to fill in and play.”

Howard is expected back for the home opener Saturday against Sacramento.

New court for the Oak Cliff YMCA

Jerry Stackhouse, Devean George, and JJ Barea were on hand to help dedicate a newly refurbished outdoor basketball court at the Oak Cliff YMCA in South Dallas on Friday. The three Mavs were joined by representatives of the Mavs Foundation, FSN Southwest, NexCourt, the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas and kids from Hampton Preparatory School in Oak Cliff. The dedication marked the 14th Mavs court refurbishment completed in the Metroplex since the program began in 1998.

“We are extremely excited about the refurbishing of the outdoor court at theOak Cliff Family YMCA," said Gordon Echtenkamp, President/CEO of the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas. “This court will enable us to continue to serve the children of Oak Cliff and South Dallas, providing a safe environment in which they can play. In today’s challenging and complex world, kids need more opportunities to get outside and play, and thanks to the Mavs Foundation, the children in this community can do just that.”

The new outdoor court, worth an estimated $80,000, will allow the Oak Cliff YMCA to expand programming so that more than 500 at-risk youth and teens ages 10 -17 throughout South Dallas and Oak Cliff will have a safe place to play. The court will also give the center the ability to offer programs that enhance youth interaction and development so they will be more likely to make healthy choices and avoid a wide-range of high-risk behaviors.