Saturday, November 17, 2007

Notables from 108-105 win over Memphis

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: The Mavericks used a 14-5 run between 8:14 and 3:33 in the fourth quarter to take a 101-91 lead. The Grizzlies then went on an 10-0 run (ending at 1:13) to tie the game at 101. Over the last 1:01, the Mavs outscored the Grizzlies by 3 to secure the win.

With the win tonight, Mavs coach Avery Johnson improved to 150-41 (.785) in the regular season. He became the fastest head coach in NBA history to reach the 150-win mark. Pat Riley accomplished the feat in 203 games on 1/21/92. Mavs assistant coach Paul Westphal is third all-time, reaching the 150-mark as a head coach in 204 games on 1/26/95.
• Josh Howard’s game-high 27 points tied his career-high (also on 11/3 vs. SAC).
Memphis’ Mike Miller scored 10 of team-high 23 points in 4th quarter.
• Grizzlies guard Mike Conley left the game in the third quarter, after sustaining a right shoulder strain, and did not return.
• Dallas has won the last eight games in the series and the last four in Dallas.
• Tonight’s attendance was 20,385 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 239 regular season games at AAC.
• Today marked the 277th consecutive regular/postseason sellout. The Mavs currently have the longest running sellout streak in the NBA. The Sacramento Kings previously held the streak but failed to sellout their home opener this season. The Mavs are now ranked #10 on the all-time NBA sellout streak list.

Another record for Avery Johnson

Avery Johnson became the fastest coach in NBA history to reach 150 wins with tonight's win over Memphis. He needed just 191 games, shattering Phil Jackson’s old record of 203. Mavs assistant Paul Westphal, incidentally, sits third on the list at 204.

Such records are becoming old hat for the General. Johnson was also the fastest to 50 and 100 wins, and holds the record for best 82-game start. The Mavs have also won at least 60 in each of his two full seasons.

Fewest number of games to reach 150 wins in NBA history:
Avery Johnson, 191 (150-41)
Phil Jackson, 203 (150-53)
Paul Westphal, 204 (150-54)
Johnny Kundla, 212 (150-62)
Les Harrison, 216 (150-66)
Pat Riley, 217 (150-67)
Rick Adelman, 222 (150-72)
Brian Hill, 222 (150-72)
Bill Russell, 222 (150-72)

DJ Mbenga gets picked up by Nellie

A former Mavs center was signed by a former Mavs coach, as Golden State skipper Don Nelson signed DJ Mbenga today. The Mavs waived the native of Congo on Oct. 30.

Mbenga, a 7-foot physical specimen who never moved past the project stage, played three years in Dallas. A knee injury this past February ended his season, but he returned in training camp.

”We hope that he’s healthy and can continue his career,” Avery Johnson said. “When he’s healthy, he’s a pretty athletic guy and obviously we loved him enough to keep him around here a couple years.”

Ager's run to last 5 games

Moe Ager’s run at starting shooting guard figures to last in the neighborhood of five games. Avery Johnson could have easily turned to Jason Terry or Jerry Stackhouse with Eddie Jones sidelined, but Ager keeps the bench rotation intact and allows the second-year Michigan State product the chance to show where he’s at.

“We’re at that point,” Johnson said before tip-off against Memphis. “The easy thing to do would be to start Jet or Stack and we’d probably be OK. They play a lot together anyway. This gives us a chance to see if we can get between 14 and 18 minutes out of Moe and give him some great experience.

“We just need to see what we’ve got. He could easily sink down at the end of the bench or go on the inactive list all year or maybe even go to the NBDL and play, but there’s nothing like NBA experience. We still think there’s another level for him to go to. We need to see that athleticism. He can make shots. We want him to continue to grow on defense.”

Johnson has referred to the practice of using an end-of-the-bench player as “stealing minutes.” He did the same with JJ Barea earlier this season, and has used the strategy in years past with guys like Rawle Marshall and Josh Powell.

Johnson also wants to be sure those minutes are productive ones and not have Ager out there just to fill out a spot.

“There were times even last year when we had some injuries we would put Moe in the game early in the first quarter and get some minutes there,” Johnson said. “We wanted to do it to start the game this time. We’re a pretty fast team with Howard and Ager on the wings and Devin [Harris] is pushing the ball. Or is somebody else is pushing it and Devin is running.

“We’re a pretty quick team and the game has really resorted to running right now and penetration, and we think those guys can do all of those things. I would even say steal a few minutes, but if we could get a few minutes with Moe early, and good minutes. I thought he didn’t blow anybody away, but he was solid the last game.”

Friday, November 16, 2007

Support Jet's Coat Drive Saturday night

Quick rundown of the some of the activities for Saturday’s night Mavs-Memphis game at AAC:

Pregame: New and gently used coats and blankets from fans are being collected as part of JET’s Coat Drive. Dave & Buster’s volunteers will be at the main entrances collecting the donated items until the end of the first quarter. Any fan that brings five or more coats and/or blankets will receive an autographed Jason Terry photo (while supplies last).

Halftime: Renowned artist Michael Ostaski will be doing an Art Explosion painting of reigning MVP Dirk Nowitzki. He will create a masterful full-colored canvas portrait (6-by-7 foot) of Dirk starting from scratch in 6 ½ minutes.

Broadcast info: TXA 21, ESPN Radio 103.3 FM, 1270 AM (Spanish)

Five new Mailbags

If you've ever had a question about anything having to do with the Mavs, here's your chance. We've introduced five new mailbags at We may have gotten a little carried away, but when you've got this talent around, why not use it.

Ask Art Garcia: Our beat writer answers your questions about the Mavs and the NBA.

Ask Stack: Find out what's going on inside the locker room from seasoned vet and fan favorite, Jerry Stackhouse.

Ask Lindsay or Big Rob: Is there something you're dying to know about the Mavs Dancers or ManiAACs? Lindsay and Big Rob are here for you.

Ask the Broadcasters: This is your spot to ask Mark Followill, Bob Ortegel, Laura Green, Chuck Cooperstein or Victor Villalba anything about our various broadcasts.

Ask Coach Prunty: Want to know more about X&O's? How do the Mavs draw up plays, balance minutes or decide strategy? Ask assistant coach Joe Prunty.

Dampier starting strong

Erick Dampier has played 30 minutes this season in two games. That’s about the equivalent of one solid start and his stat line is just as solid – 17 rebounds and 10 points. He had four offensive boards against San Antonio, all coming in the second quarter.

“We really don’t maintain that lead without Damp’s offensive rebounds and, if you notice, we seem to be getting more,” Avery Johnson said. “And our offense seems to be working a little bit better now that he’s back.”

The Mavs have 20 offensive rebounds in the last two games. Thin at center not that long ago, Johnson now has Dampier, Gana Diop, Brandon Bass and Juwan Howard to turn to.

Hassell coming along slowly

Trenton Hassell was running sprints with the low-minute players at the end of today’s practice. He’s gone from competing for the starting spot in preseason to not getting off the bench Thursday.

“We’re just trying to find the right group for him to play with, find the right situation,” Avery Johnson said. “Trenton, before this season ends, he’s going to have a major impact on our season because of the way he can defend.

“He’s another man that’s strong in character, attitude is there, he wants to play now, but he just needs to go with it. He’s probably going to play tomorrow against [Memphis guard] Rudy Gay and he’s going to have to play that type of defense that we brought him in for against him and be effective on the offensive end.”

Building up Devin Harris

Devin Harris knows he’s pretty good. And he knows he can get even better. Just in case he ever has doubts, he’s got the General.

“That’s one of the things I talk to him about,” Avery Johnson said today after practice. “You’ve got to have that confidence when you walk in the building. I told him, if I was him, I would have been angry when they invited me to be a part of the junior team, like they made a mistake.

“That’s my personality. I should have been on the first team. And when you go in there playing hard, Hey, I should be on the senior team. I’m not satisfied being on the junior team. That’s the kind of confidence.”

Harris was part of the junior national team that practiced against Team USA in Las Vegas this summer. It’s hard to argue he was slighted by the selection committee, not that anyone is arguing that, but being left off the All-Star ballot has raised a few eyebrows in Mavsland.

Not that Harris is complaining about the snub.

“Same thing Josh [Howard] had to go through,” Harris said. “I got more important things to worry about, like directing this team, getting to the Finals. I mean if all that takes care of itself, then the rest will take care of itself. I’m more focused on that.”

Thursday, November 15, 2007

Mavs sprint past San Antonio 105-92

The verbal bouquets were tossed from one side to the other beforehand. Aren’t the Mavericks and Spurs supposed to be bitter rivals?

“They’re a great basketball team and arguably the best team in the league,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said of the Mavs. “They’re going to be there in the hunt for a championship. I don’t know what else to say about them.”

Funny, Dallas coach Avery Johnson also called the defending champs the best team in the league. The debate wasn’t decided Thursday night, but the Mavs did prevail with a resounding 105-92 victory before a packed American Airlines Center.

The Mavs (6-2) closed the gap against San Antonio (7-2) in the Southwest Division, but few are worried about the standings now. The mental angle of such as win may also be overstated.

“We don’t get surprised when we beat anybody,” Jerry Stackhouse said. “We surprised when we lose. We definitely respect San Antonio, but we don’t hold them with as much respect as ya’ll do. They’re the champions to ya’ll. We didn’t get to compete against them last year.”

Stackhouse wasn’t ranting. And he did remind those with cameras, recorders and notebooks that the Spurs own the “hardware.” Stackhouse and the rest of the Mavs made the point of not getting carried away with a November win.

“It’s just another game early on in the season against a great team, the defending champions,” Jason Terry said. “But we did what we had to do at home and we’ve got to see them three more times.”

The Mavs, though, aren’t going to sell their performance short. Dirk Nowitzki filled up the box score again. Devin Harris out-Parkered Tony Parker. Josh Howard went for 23 points. Tim Duncan didn’t go crazy.

The Mavs got off to a quick start thanks to their quick hands. They may have knocked away more passes and had more strips in the first seven minutes than the first seven games.

“We were pretty active defensively early,” Johnson said.

Notables from 105-92 whipping of SA

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: The Mavericks used an 11-0 run over a 3:00 span in the second quarter (ended with 5:26 remaining in the period) to go up by 19 points, 46-27. The Mavericks never led by less than 10 points the rest of the way.

• Devin Harris scored 14 of his 18 points in the fourth quarter. In the period, he went 6-6 FGs and 2-2 FTs and scored 10 straight Mavs points between 5:13 and 1:49.
• The Mavericks used their sixth starting lineup of the season (Ager, Nowitzki, Diop, Howard, Harris).
• Dallas has won the last four games of the series.
• The Mavericks shot 52.1% from the field for the night (38-73 FGs). For the season, they are 3-0 when shooting better than 50%. They also improved to 2-0 when their opponent shoots 40.0% or less from the field (SA shot 40.0%, 32-80 FGs).
• For the first time this season, the Mavs’ bench was outscored by an opponent’s bench. The Spurs’ bench scored 53 points to the Mavs’ 37.
• Manu Ginobili (game-high 25) and Tim Duncan (24) scored 53.2% of the Spurs’ points on the night.
• Tonight’s attendance was 20,468 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 238 regular season games at AAC.
• Today marked the 276th consecutive regular/postseason sellout. The Mavs currently have the longest running sellout streak in the NBA. The Sacramento Kings previously held the streak but failed to sellout their home opener this season. The Mavs are now ranked #10 on the all-time NBA sellout streak list. The next closest team to Dallas’ current streak is Detroit (187 games).

Dirk is nearly "perfect"

One of Gregg Popovich’s most endearing qualities off the court is his candor. Though the Spurs coach may seem gruff to some, he’s honest, direct and avoids the pat answer.

He was asked before the game whether Dirk Nowitzki was capable of leading Dallas to a title. He laughed incredulously before answering.

“The only reason any media brings that up is because they haven’t won a championship,” he said. “You have to blame somebody, so it gets put on Dirk and it’s baloney. He’s one of the most competitive guys in the league. He does a hellava job. Teams win championships, not individuals.”Popovich was then asked if the reigning MVP had any holes in his game.

“If you want to look for holes in a game, Dirk is not the guy to look to,” Popovich said, who added that Nowitzki is "about as perfect as you can get."

Popovich finally added: “Why you would even bring Dirk up is beyond me.”

Free throws as a weapon

The Mavs came into the game as best free-throw shooting team (86.1 percent) in the league. The problem, at least in Avery Johnson’s view, is they get to the line only 25.7 times per game. That ranks in the middle of the pack.

“We should be able to get there more,” Johnson said of the foul line. “Take our shots when they’re there, but really take the ball strong to the basket and try to get the line more.”

Johnson called it using the free-throw as a “weapon.” The Mavs took heed, hitting the bonus early in each of the first two quarters.

Moe Ager gets start

From inactive to the starting lineup. That’s been the last two games for Moe Ager, who opened at shooting guard against the Spurs.

It marked the second career start for the last year’s first-round pick out of Michigan State. It gave Ager a chance to impress the coaching staff during Eddie Jones’ absence. He was on the inactive list for Tuesday’s win over Philadelphia.

“I’m happy to get the opportunity to help this team,” Ager said.

Ager was solid early, playing the first 11:31 of the game. He has a couple fastbreak baskets, including a two-handed slam to punctuate a 16-1 run that led to a San Antonio timeout. He finished with five points in 21 minutes.

“We thought he was OK overall,” Avery Johnson said. “He didn’t do anything crazy and he bought us 20 minutes. I was only hoping for a good 16. He was real disciplined in his approach and he made one mistake defensively that gave a three to Bowen in the corner, but it is a game of mistakes.

“That is just the way we feel we need to go right now and we are going to give that a look. Even if he would have played bad tonight, talking to my coaches, I felt I need to start him the next game.

He learned he was starting at the morning shootaround, but Avery Johnson hinted that he would start after Ager aced a defensive-oriented pop quiz after practice Wednesday.

“I’m still trying to settle on a 2-guard right now,” Johnson said. “The guy that we planned on, we knew he might have to deal with some injury issues. He’s out right now. It’s a revolving door there.”

Johnson is committed to keeping the rotation intact by bringing Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse off the bench. Johnson’s other option would have been Trenton Hassell. Like Jones, Hassell was brought in to add depth at shooting guard.

“Hassell hasn’t played the way we want him to play yet,” Johnson said.

General gets the one-up on Pop

Avery Johnson did his part to get an upper hand on the defending champs. Well, at least on their coach.

“I don’t even want to see him,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich deadpanned. “He kept me up all night last night. We went out last night. He kept me up way past my bedtime because he knows I can’t take it. So he was trying to do me in and he did a good job last night. I don’t even want to see him today.”

The two close friends have made of habit of getting together before games whenever the schedule allows. So what did they chat about?

“Everything but basketball,” Popovich said. “Families, live and fun, friends. That kind of thing. We get enough basketball.”

So did Pop, a noted wine aficionado, try to do the General in with the grape?

“Avery doesn’t drink or curse,” Pop quipped, “does he?”

Avery also had a message for the Spurs and his former coach.

“Tell them when their plane breaks down they can’t use our plane,” Johnson chided. “Tell him he can’t sit in my seat.”

General's thoughts before Spurs tilt

Avery Johnson thoughts on different topics from shootaround this morning:

· Can’t repeat same formula from the Philly win: “I don’t know if we’re going to be able to play one half against the Spurs and be successful.”

· Spurs point guard Tony Parker: “He’s really dominating on the offensive end, getting in the paint, making his jumper.”

· Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse: “They come in and change the game in different ways … Both guys look like they’re really comfortable in their roles.”

· Matching wits with Gregg Popovich: “I don’t know about matching wits. I know all our plays work when the ball goes in the basket. I don’t think the game is about us. It’s about players.”

· On whether he was a positive leader with the Spurs: “Not all the time. That’s why I know the difference. Just ask Tim Duncan.”

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Strong debut for Dampier

Other than his right arm being a little fatigued, Erick Dampier was pleased with his regular-season debut Tuesday against Philadelphia. He had seven points and seven rebounds in 12 ½ minutes.

“I didn’t really know what to expect for the first night,” he said. “I just went out there and did whatever I could. Whenever I touched it, I just tried to make the most of it. Guys saw me for easy shots around the basket. I tried to hit the glass hard.”

Dampier wants to repeat that type of solid performance against Spurs star Tim Duncan.

“He’s going to touch the ball,” Dampier said. “I just try to be physical with him. Whenever I get the opportunity, try to make him pay.”

Here come the Spurs

Anytime the Spurs come to town, it’s special. There’s more than a little extra involved in the I-35 rivalry, so there’s no point claiming it’s just another regular-season game.

“They’re the defending champions, four-time champions, they’re the best in the league,” Avery Johnson said today after practice. “They’ve been one of the best teams in teams in the league, even during some of the years when they didn’t win a championship.”

He added: “They’re the cut-and-dry favorites. All of us are chasing them. We won’t win a championship tomorrow, but we need to come out physical.”

Johnson compared this kind of game to his days in San Antonio when Michael Jordan’s Bulls or the Shaq-Kobe Lakers would visit.

“It’s human nature,” he said. “Guys should be excited, but at the same time, when that game is over with, we’re going to play Memphis on Saturday.”

5 Mavs on All-Star ballot: Harris snubbed

Five Mavericks are among the 60 Western Conference players on the NBA All-Star ballot released today. Of those five, only Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard, both All Stars last year, are starters. The other Mavs on the ballot are Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier.

The notable omission is starting point guard Devin Harris, who is fourth on the team in scoring (13.0) and second in assists (4.8). “Stuff happens,” Harris said diplomatically.

Howard knows a little something about snubs. Despite having a career year, he was left off the team initially last season after voting by West coaches. He was eventually named an injury replacement by commissioner David Stern.

“Going to the All-Star Game is overrated,” Howard said with a laugh. “Not to take anything away from the guys on it, but it’s like the all-defense team. It’s the same five guys every year. I went through it. You have to prove yourself and Devin has proved himself. He can use this as more motivation to prove that he belongs on the All-Star ballot next year.”

Three guards from the Spurs and Suns are on the ballot. There are some questionable names among the guards, including Randy Foye (yet to play this season), Luke Ridnour (averaging 2.0 ppg and 15.2 mpg), Jarrett Jack (coming off the bench) and Antoine Walker (he’s a forward).

Nowitzki is a shoe-in even if he’s not voted in by fans. Howard should be, but it could be close when it comes time for coaches to vote. Terry, currently the team’s leading scorer, and Stackhouse have come off the bench all season. Avery Johnson likes to refer to them as 6A and 6B, in terms of the sixth-man role. Dampier made his debut in last night’s win over Philadelphia. Johnson has said that Gana Diop will remain the starter even when Dampier gets back to full strength.

To see the complete list of West and East nominees, and for info on how to vote, here’s the link at The All-Star Game is Feb. 17 in New Orleans.

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Second-half surge lifts Mavs past Philly

Just because several familiar faces – Devin Harris, Eddie Jones and Erick Dampier – were back in the fold Tuesday night didn’t mean the Mavericks were going to run at full strength.

It’s going to take some time. Much as the game against Philadelphia took some time for the Mavs to hit their stride.

Once they did, the Mavs pulled away in the second half for a 99-84 victory before 19,875 fans at a sold out American Airlines Center. Dallas improved to 5-2 overall and 3-0 at home. The four-game homestand continues Thursday against defending champion San Antonio.

The Mavs’ early struggles were somewhat familiar. The two losses this season – Atlanta and Portland – were at the hands of teams in the lottery last summer, just as the Sixers were. And just as those two teams, Philadelphia also has its share of young athletes, most notably Andre Iguodala.

“Sometimes it’s hard to play a team that everybody, including yourself, expects to beat,” Jerry Stackhouse said.

The 76ers took a 50-43 lead into halftime before Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Terry and Co. began to heat up offensively and lock down at the other end. Nowitzki struggled with his shot early, but it didn’t affect the rest of his game. He made his presence felt on the boards (12 rebounds) and with the pass (career-high-tying eight assists).

“Jet messed up my triple-double,” Nowitzki joked.

Jones shutting it down for 2 weeks

Eddie Jones limped through five minutes before hitting the bench for good. Avery Johnson announced after the game that Jones would be “shut down” for two weeks.

The team has taken a similar approach in the past with Howard, Harris and Devean George. The hope is that after the two-week break Jones comes back completely healthy.

“It’s the smart thing to do,” Jones said. “It’s still not there. I’ll shut it down for a week and see where it’s at. He wants me to get out there healthy.”

Notables from 99-84 win over Philly

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: The Sixers led at halftime, 50-43. To start the third quarter, the Mavericks went on a 19-6 run. When the run ended (6:43 remaining in third), Dallas led 62-56.

• Erick Dampier returned to action after missing the preseason and the first six games of the season while recovering from right shoulder surgery. He finished the game with 7 points, 7 rebounds in 12:34.
• Dirk Nowitzki finished the night with his second double-double of the season (21 points, 12 rebounds). He tied his career-high for assists (8) and also chipped in with 2 steals and 3 blocks.
• Jason Terry scored a game-high 25 points of the bench. The entire Sixers’ bench scored 23 points (led by Kyle Korver’s 10). For the fifth game this season, Terry outscored the opposing bench (5-0 record).
• In the third quarter, the Mavs outshot the Sixers 52% (11-21 FGs) to 37% (7-19 FGs). The Mavs held the Sixers to 34 second half points (Mavs scored 33 alone in the third quarter).
• Tonight’s attendance was 19,875 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 237 regular season games at AAC.

Slow but steady progress for George

Devean George (left foot stress reaction) has been out longer than Avery Johnson expected, but the versatile swingman continues to make progress. George has gone through limited drills at practice and could be cleared for full-contact work in the next week.

“It’s gone much slower, but the good thing is there hasn’t been any setbacks,” a sweat-soaked George said after a strenuous workout on the practice court. “It’s still getting better. They had me on a good program. We kept making progress even if it went slower than we thought.”

Instead of going with Coach or General, George goes with “Boss” when referring to Johnson in practice.

“I haven’t heard that name when he’s trying to explain his mistakes,” Johnson quipped.

Damp and Jones both play

Erick Dampier and Eddie Jones are both in uniform tonight. Jones suited up Saturday at Portland and never got off the bench, but he did start against the 76ers.

This is the first time Dampier is active this season. He checked in for Gana Diop midway through the first quarter.

Avery Johnson on the state of New Orleans

New Orleans is always in Avery Johnson’s heart. The native son, like most of the country, remains frustrated with the recovery efforts two full years after Hurricane Katrina ravaged the city and the Gulf Coast.

“It’s only going to fully recover when the government gets off its butt, when the state and local authorities that are in power positions stop thinking about themselves and really start to care more about people and housing and jobs, and everybody quits the foolishness and all of the red tape,” Johnson said today. “Once all of the bureaucracy is out of it and the people that are getting monies and help down there manage the money properly and get it to the right individuals and families that need it, then it’s going to start moving in the right direction.

“Until then it’s just going to be another story. It’s somewhat of a back-page story right now, which is really disappointing.”

Johnson has long maintained that the plight of New Orleans has been marginalized by mainstream media. He compared the situation to the recent wildfires plaguing Southern California.

“It still should be in the forefront because it’s an American city,” Johnson said. “Any time an American city gets hit like that, like we’ve had the tragedies out in California, we should give them a lot of attention. I’m just curious to see how quickly that part of the country is going to come back as compared to New Orleans.”

Johnson is appreciated of the NBA’s role in the rebuilding process, singling out commissioner David Stern and Hornets owner George Shinn.

“I would like to commend David Stern for keeping the All-Star Game down there,” Johnson said. “I would like commend Mr. Shinn for getting the team back down there and not giving up on New Orleans, because they need some sort of entertainment.

“They need some sort of people in the entertainment industry like we are. We really care about them. I’m really excited about the All-Star Game being down there. I’m glad the Sugar Bowl is back. I’m glad the Hornets are back. Whatever we can do to punch some life in the city, I think it’s a necessity.”

Support our Troops: Cut your hair

Are you in need of a trim as much as Dirk Nowitzki? Well, get your Mavs fix and your mullet tightened up courtesy of Supercuts. They’ll be out at eight games, so get a $3 buzz and support the Fallen Patriot Fund.

What: Supercuts is offering haircuts on the American Airlines Center concourse to raise money for the Fallen Patriot Fund. Last season $7,856 was raised.

When: Eight games (Doors open for haircuts 2 hours before tip)
Nov. 13: Mavs vs. Philadelphia, 7:30 p.m.
Nov. 26: Mavs vs. Washington, 7:30 p.m.
Dec. 6: Mavs vs. Denver, 7 p.m.
Dec. 17: Mavs vs. Orlando, 7:30 p.m.
Jan. 9: Mavs vs. Detroit, 8 p.m.
Feb. 6: Mavs vs. Milwaukee, 7:30 p.m.
March 10: Mavs vs. New York, 7:30 p.m.
March 20: Mavs vs. Boston, 7:30 p.m.

Where: Plaza concourse outside sections 111/112 and section 101

More Info: All haircuts are a minimum $3 donation with all proceeds benefiting the Fallen Patriot Fund.

Staying in the moment

Avery Johnson was asked today how he prepares a team mentally for another 82-game grind.

“Right now we’re not really looking at it as 82 games, in a sense,” he said. “Right now it’s just Philadelphia. The more you can just stay in the moment, but at the same time have a plan for the future, that’s the tricky part. That’s what we’ve tried to do and I think they’ve done it this year.

“We’ve obviously gotten off to a better start this year compared to last year, so that at least shows they’re interested in playing. I just don’t want them to get tricked by some of things that’s been publicized that the regular season doesn’t count.”

These Mavs will be judged by the playoffs, but there’s still plenty to do before then. Even though they went 67-15 last year, the general feeling was the Mavs undervalued the season and went into the postseason flat.

“You look at it like a journey,” Devin Harris said. “If you want to get to the playoffs and be at our best, we have to learn from the 82-game season.”

Bounce-back mode against the Sixers

Any chance the Mavs look past the 76ers? After all, those Spurs are on tap Thursday.

“Nah. Coach won’t allow that,” Devin Harris said. “We had a pretty intense practice yesterday. It was duly noted that we need to respond. We didn’t play well in Portland and usually after a game like that we respond pretty well.”

The Sixers might only be 2-4, but they boast one of the league’s more under-appreciated talents in Andre Iguodala. The small forward is averaging 20 points, six rebounds and four assists. Avery Johnson called Philly “dangerous.”

“We’ve had the dangerous teams like this and hadn’t fared well,” he said, referring to losses at Atlanta and Portland. “The so-called games that we’ve really been up for like the Clevelands and the Golden States and the Houstons, we’ve fared well in some of those games. We can’t overlook them. It’s a home game for us and we should be in bounce-back mode tonight.”

Lineup news for tonight vs. Philly

Devin Harris is back tonight against Philadelphia. Erick Dampier and Eddie Jones are maybes. Harris missed Saturday’s loss at Portland to go back to Wisconsin because of the death of his grandfather.

All things considered, he said he was doing fine. This also happens to be his AAC debut, having missed the first two home games with a thigh injury.

“I feel OK. I’m about 95 percent,” Harris said this morning after shootaround. “My leg is still a little stiff, but we’ll definitely get out there and rev it up tonight. This team is playing pretty well and we definitely have to protect our home court, so the guys are really excited to get back home.”

Dampier and Jones are both game-time decisions. They made it through practice yesterday and today’s shootaround without any setbacks. Both will get another workout tonight before the game before Avery Johnson makes a decision.

The constant lineup shuffling has been a challenge.

“We’re always concerned,” Johnson said. “Right now you just can’t worry about the things you can’t control. I think that adds stress and once you put added stress on top of situations like that then you don’t think clearly, you don’t make rational decisions and you don’t have any fun. This is a lot of fun.

“This is a great opportunity for us. We have another good group. And we haven’t been able to see our group whole yet. Whether Damp plays at some point this week or not or Eddie Jones, we still won’t see them whole until they actually get in great game shape.”

Monday, November 12, 2007

Eddie Jones ... relax

Eddie Jones is resisting the temptation to push himself too hard to get back. It wasn’t easy watching Saturday’s loss at Portland from the sidelines and he wants to get out there against the 76ers.

“We’re all about winning and all about being healthy,” he said. “When we’ve got our full allotment of players we’re pretty good team. I’m just trying to get healthy and able to help the team, that’s my main objective. I think every day I’m trying to get better.

“Like today, I wanted to try to push it, I wanted to see if I could deal with the pain throughout 45 minutes. I tried. I got to a point where one of the coaches actually told me, ‘Eddie, relax.’ He saw me limping a little bit.

“I’m going to try again tomorrow, and hopefully, I’m serious, I’m going to try to give it a go in the game. If I can stand the pain, competing, sometimes you sort of forget about it. That’s what I tried to do today is try to forget about it, forget about that pain. I’m going to try again tomorrow.”

The bright side of changing lineups

The constant lineup shuffling – four starting fives through six games – may not breed consistency, but it does allow the coaching staff to experiment with different combinations. It’s allowed for players that otherwise may not had prominent spots in the rotation, such as Brandon Bass and JJ Barea, a chance to strut their stuff.

“We’ve learned a lot and a lot has been confirmed,” Avery Johnson said. “Lots has been confirmed about guys that we’ve had here and we’ve learned some new things about the guys we’ve brought in. Some of our guys play better with other people and certain guys play better on certain spots on the floor. Guys are different in guarding pick-and-rolls, so we’ve learned quite a bit.”

Three of the five starters – Josh Howard, Devin Harris and Eddie Jones – have already missed games for various reasons. Bass missed one game, and Erick Dampier and Devean George have yet to play.

“It does affect the team, but as more of a veteran team, we’ve got to be able to deal with that,” Jones said. “It’s not up to the coaches to make the perfect situation, it’s up to the players to go out and in any situation try to be successful.”

The Mavs, under Johnson, have made it a point not to worry about who’s not in uniform.
“We’re an NBA team, man,” Howard said. “We’ve got players that have been in the league longer than four years, so guys know what to do on the court. That’ll be coach’s decision once he gets that settled. We’re a team, we’re going to play with whatever we’ve got out there.

Lessons from Golden State-Portland

The Mavs have taken a pair of two-game road trips this season, having gone 1-1 on each. They were in position to sweep both only to drop the second game.

On the latest jaunt to the West Coast, the Mavs downed Golden State in a spirited and emotional shootout before being handled by Portland.

“Any time you come off the road with a split, that’s not a bad deal,” Avery Johnson said. “We sure like to win all of them, but it would have been worse if we’d had come back 0-2.

“I think more than anything guys were really looking forward to that first game on the road probably since the season ended, and I don’t know if we left most of our emotions and concentration in that game, but we didn’t have anything against Portland.”

Dampier and Jones close to returning

Close is the word for Erick Dampier and Eddie Jones. How close is anybody’s guess, but don’t be surprised to see one or both on the court this week. The Mavericks start a four-game homestand with Philadelphia tomorrow before welcoming defending champ San Antonio on Thursday.

Dampier and Jones both went through practice today. Though they got through the workout, they’re noncommittal on their returns.

“Practice started off feeling good, all of a sudden it starts bothering me,” said Jones, who’s nursing a sore right leg. “Today I was trying to see how much of the pain I can take.”

Dampier, coming off shoulder surgery, was recently cleared for full contact, but called today his first complete practice.

“Conditioning is not what it should be, but I’m sure over the next couple of weeks it will get to that point as I continue to condition on the court and on the treadmill,” he said. “Just getting back in the flow of things, being out for a couple of months, I haven’t really picked up a ball. Eager to get back to it. Just have to try to work my way into some kind of conditioning.”

Though there is no rush to get either back, this would be a good time, especially against the Spurs. Jones would be part of the mix chasing around Manu Ginobili, while Dampier would come in handy banging against Tim Duncan.

The only member of the team not practicing right now is Devean George. Eventually, Avery Johnson is going to have his 15 guys. How is he holding up waiting?

“I wouldn’t call it anxious, but it’ll be nice to see at some point during the season whether it’s for one game, 10 games or 21 games, it’ll be nice to have our whole team together,” Johnson said. “But, hey, that’s part of the whole NBA season. If you would ask me would I prefer to be really whole later on down the line, yes, but at the same time we’d like to see it whenever we can.”

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Blazers shoot down Mavs

PORTLAND – The excitement in this Pacific Northwest outpost may have been tempered with the knee surgery that ended Greg Oden’s season before it ever started.

But there’s still plenty for Portland fans to celebrate. Led by young talents Brandon Roy and LaMarcus Aldridge, the upstart Trail Blazers handled the Mavericks 91-82 Saturday night at the Rose Garden.

“There’s no excuse,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “We didn’t guard them tonight, plus when you shoot [35 percent] on the road, it’s tough to win. That’s a little letdown after the big win in Golden State.”

The Mavs (4-2) returned home Sunday having split the two-game road trip that opened with the 120-115 victory at Golden State. Dallas plays its next four at American Airlines Center starting with Philadelphia on Tuesday and Thursday's visit from defending champion San Antonio.

“Should be a great week for us,” Nowitzki said.

Nowitzki also wanted to make the point that losses now aren’t just going to be accepted for the sake of the big picture.

“Every time we lose, we don’t want to say: Hey, we’re focusing on the playoffs,” he said. “That’s not how it works in this league, either. You have to work hard in the regular season and try to win all those games, so it’s not like every time we lose we’re just going to say once the playoffs come around we’re going to be great, we’re going to be great.

“That’s not how it works. We still have to improve. Our defense still is not really great right now. We’ve got a lot of things to work on.”