Saturday, December 1, 2007

Hornets snap 21-game skid

NEW ORLEANS – The longest current winning streak in professional sports didn’t amount to a plate of red beans and rice to Avery Johnson.

“We haven’t played them in the regular season this year,” Johnson said before the Mavericks and Hornets tipped off. “That [streak] doesn’t mean anything. It’s 0-0 right now. That’s for you guys to talk about. They’re a much better team than they were in the past.”

Make the Mavs 0-1.

The Hornets aren’t the same group that went into Saturday night having lost 21 in a row in the series dating back to 1999. New Orleans suits up some impressive talent, starting with Chris Paul and David West. Even if the city hasn’t noticed – and judging by the attendance it hasn’t – the Hornets should be in the Western Conference playoff race all season.

Both the Mavs and Hornets were finishing off a back-to-back, having won in a different city the previous night. Intensity wasn’t an issue in this one, as the lead and momentum swung from one side to the other. Forty-eight minutes weren’t enough time to decide it.

Paul and the Hornets made the deciding push in overtime to grind out the 112-108 victory before a small but lively throng of 12,223 at New Orleans Arena.

“We were getting after it,” Johnson said. “We left everything on the floor. The game should never have gone into overtime.”

Brandon Bass returns home

Avery Johnson wasn’t the only one celebrating a homecoming. Brandon Bass, a native of Baton Rouge and product of LSU, rounded up 41 tickets for family and friends. (Johnson needed 50 tickets.)

Under different circumstances, it would have been a home game for Bass. He spent the first two years of his NBA career with the Hornets, who spent much of that time in Oklahoma City. Bass never found his niche in Byron Scott’s system and signed with the Mavs during the offseason.

“I’ve very happy where I’m at right now,” Bass said, “but it just feels so weird to not be playing here and to be here. I’m finally getting the chance to play and that’s what it’s all about.”

Johnson has plugged the energetic and athletic Bass into the rotation off the bench. That role never materialized with his “hometown” team.

“His time with the Hornets is water under the bridge,” Johnson said.

Johnson didn’t do much with his family before the game by design. The Johnsons were planning to get together after and Sunday morning.

21 straight doesn't matter

The Mavs have won 21 straight over the Hornets, the longest winning streak in any of the four major sports. Yes, I’m including the NHL. Though us reporter types like to throw out such stats, those actually involved in the streaks don’t put much stock in them.

So we’re told.

“We haven’t played them in the regular season this year,” Avery Johnson said minutes ago. “That [streak] doesn’t mean anything. It’s 0-0 right now. That’s for you guys to talk about. They’re a much better team than they were in the past.”

Dallas enters the game 11-5. New Orleans is a half-game back in the Southwest Division at 11-6.

Friday, November 30, 2007

Mavs close out Portland and homestand

Playing perhaps their most complete game in two weeks, the Mavericks finished up their homestand by taking care of Portland 91-80 on Friday night.

Dallas (11-5) won the last two of the three-game set at American Airlines Center. The Mavs also avenged a 91-82 loss at Portland on Nov. 10. The Trail Blazers are the only Western Conference team to beat Dallas this season.

Josh Howard led a well-balanced attack of five in double figures with 23 points and a season-high 14 rebounds, but it was Dallas’ work on the defensive end that led to the double-digit win. Howard led the way there, too, by matching up against Blazers guard Brandon Roy.

After lighting up the Mavs for a career-high 32 points three weeks ago, Roy struggled to find his rhythm, along with most of his teammates. He scored just eight this time out, with only two points coming in the first half.

Getting a handle on Roy wasn’t the only difference in the two meetings, as Devin Harris was in the back lineup. He missed the previous contest due to the death of his grandfather.

The Mavs’ floor general controlled the pace effectively, scoring 14 and dishing out seven assists. Backcourt partner Jason Terry knocked down four 3-pointers and scored 17.

Notables from 91-80 win over Portland

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: The Mavericks led 56-45 with 7:46 remaining in the 3rd quarter. The Mavs then went on a 10-2 run (lasting until 4:03 remaining in quarter) to go up 66-47. Josh Howard scored 6 of the Mavs’ 10 points in that span.

• Dirk Nowitzki is perfect from the free throw line over the last three games. Tonight, he finished with a season-low tying 11 points and made his 1 FT attempt. Over the last three games, he is a perfect 25-25 FTs. He also made his final FT attempt at MIL (11/24) and has made 26 consecutive free throws.
• Josh Howard recorded his second double-double of the season with game-highs 23 points and 14 rebounds. His 14 rebounds and 12 DRs were season highs.
• Dallas native LaMarcus Aldridge recorded his fifth double-double of the season with team-highs 22 points and 12 rebounds (season-high tying). He also set a career high in blocked shots with 5.
• For the second straight game, four of five Dallas starters finished in double figures. The exception in both games has been C Erick Dampier. (Howard 23, J. Terry 17, D. Harris 14, Nowitzki 11, Dampier 4).
• Tonight’s attendance was 20,301 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 243 regular season games at AAC.
• Tonight also marked the 281st 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.

Observations from Mavs-Blazers

• An accident on the Dallas Tollway delayed more than just the crowd trying to get to American Airlines Center. Josh Howard and Jerry Stackhouse were among those caught in traffic, each arriving about 75 minutes before tip-off. They normally begin their routines more than 90 minutes before the game.

• Avery Johnson on speculation that Blazers coach Nate McMillan is on the hot seat: “He should be in the cold seat. He should be on the sticky seat. That’s a joke to me.”

• Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips attended the game as a guest of the Mavs.

Bass a free-agent find

Though the signing didn’t have much sizzle factor nationally, Brandon Bass has made an immediate impact. Playing power forward and center off the bench, the ex-Hornet went into Friday averaging 9.9 points, 5.1 rebounds and 21.9 minutes.

Avery Johnson called the offseason signing one of the best in the league. “Pound-for-pound, dollar-for-dollar, we’re really excited about this young man,” he said.

Daily George and Jones update

Devean George (foot) and Eddie Jones (leg) are on track to return sometime during the next two weeks. George responded well to Thursday’s demanding practice.

“His weight is just really looking good,” Avery Johnson said. “I’m starting to recognize him again. He’s coming along and he just can’t wait until we get back on the court for another full practice, which probably will not happen until Tuesday because we’ve got three games in four nights right here.”

Jones isn’t as far along as George, but he’s expected to participate fully in Tuesday’s practice. The Mavs begin a three-game road trip Saturday at New Orleans.

West who? It's about Portland tonight

Avery Johnson was asked about 90 minutes before tip-off on how he plans to guard Hornets forward David West tomorrow night. Naturally, the answer focused on the Blazers.

“Right now what I try to do is just stay in the moment,” Johnson said. “I can’t think about West right now. I’m thinking about LaMarcus Aldridge and Brandon Roy right now. We can’t fast-forward even though West is a terrific player. I’m going to need a couple more hours to digest this game and then we’ll start thinking about West.

Mavs' protest denied by NBA

The following was released by the league office today:

New York -- The NBA today denied a game protest filed by the Dallas Mavericks over their 111-107 loss to the Indiana Pacers on November 23.

The Mavericks filed the protest because a basket by Indiana's Troy Murphy with 9:59 remaining in the second quarter was mistakenly recorded as a 3-point field goal instead of a 2-point field goal (making the score 41-25 in Indiana's favor), and the Mavericks contended that this extra point had a clear impact on the outcome of the game.

The NBA's review confirmed that Murphy's shot was mistakenly recorded; the Official Scorer erroneously believed that one or more referees had given the signal for a 3-point field goal. In fact, no referee made such a signal, nor was any referee aware until after the game that the Official Scorer had awarded 3 points to Indiana as a result of Murphy's shot.

Although he concluded that an inadvertent error was made by the Official Scorer, NBA Commissioner David Stern determined that it did not have such a clear impact on the outcome of the game that a replay of the contest should be ordered. Murphy's shot occurred with almost 34 minutes of regulation time remaining in the game, providing Dallas with a substantial opportunity to overcome the 1-point error. Dallas lost the game by four points.

Although NBA rules would have allowed the game officials to correct the scoring error at any time prior to the end of the game, it was not brought to their attention until after the game.

Avery on facing Portland tonight

Here are Avery Johnson’s thoughts from shootaround this morning. The Mavs finish up their three-game homestand tonight against Portland, which is also the only Western Conference to beat Dallas this season.

How did the new-old starting lineup (Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Devin Harris, Jason Terry and Erick Dampier) do Wednesday against Minnesota?
“They got off to a good start. Lot of enthusiasm. I think they were really excited to be back out there on the floor as a group. They hadn’t been together like that all season, so they were excited. We had a good first half and then they built up a 20-point lead in the third quarter, and then from there we started having some problems. That’s been prevalent for a while, but I thought they did a nice job in the first half and helped partly into the third quarter. They did a nice job of just making sure we got the win at the end of the game.”

How has rehab gone for Dampier?
“He’s making some progress. We stretched him out pretty good, close to about 30 minutes the last game, and if we didn’t have playing those 30 minutes the way he battled [Al] Jefferson, it could have gotten pretty ugly. He’s made some progress. He’s running the floor pretty good. He almost had a double-double the last game. If he can just do that and take up space. He’s our offensive and defensive linemen all rolled together into one.”

The plan initially was to start Gana Diop at center.
“We hope for a lot of things, all right. I can hope Avery Jr. can come out here and be the next starting point guard and I want to coach him. That may not happen. Sometimes you hope for things. Like I’ve been saying all along, we hope Eddie Jones can come back and start at the 2-guard spot. But if it doesn’t work, you can’t push something that’s not going to work. Damp is there. He’s been there. Before Damp got injured last year, I thought he did a heck of a job for us.”

What will be different than the 91-82 at Portland three weeks ago?
“We didn’t have Devin when we played them last time and we didn’t shoot the ball well. More than anything we’ve got to meet our goals on defense, which we haven’t met for quite some time. We’ll keep trying to get after it and competing. We need a lot of hustle and energy against this young team. Since we’ve played them, we have a little bit better idea of how they’re going to attack now. Hopefully with some adjustments there and paying attention to detail and making them pay on the defensive end, we can play much better than we did in Portland.”

Thoughts on Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
“He’s come along nicely. Finishing inside. He’s a threat on the post. Once he gets that ball above his head on the perimeter, it’s hard to get there and contest it. Just long and athletic. It looks like he loves to play. Nate [McMillan] says he’s very coachable, so he’s really turned out to be a nice player.”

Thursday, November 29, 2007

New lineup destined to change ... again

Avery Johnson sent his starters home after the entire team watched film Thursday. If you’re not sure who those starters are, you’re not alone.

The Mavericks coach employed his eighth starting lineup in just 15 games during Wednesday’s 109-103 victory over Minnesota, snapping a three-game losing skid. The “new” lineup had a definite “old” feel as Jason Terry and Erick Dampier joined Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Devin Harris for the opening tip.

For the record: The above-mentioned five didn’t go through practice Thursday, along with veteran Jerry Stackhouse. The break for the high-minute guys was a result of six games in nine days leading up to Minnesota.

“They saw some of the areas that we’re still working on,” Johnson said of those given early release. “I haven’t really given them any rest here recently. We came out of four games in five nights and practiced, and played a game, and practiced.

“I just thought it was a good time to give those guys a little break just to try to get their legs back under them and hopefully that will help us.”

Everyone else worked out, including 14-game starter Gana Diop. Dallas (10-5) finishes up a three-game homestand Friday night against Portland before traveling to New Orleans for another game the following night.

Click here to read the rest of this story at

Avery predicts big night for Romo and T.O.

Wisconsin native Devin Harris is naturally pulling for the Packers in tonight’s NFC showdown at Texas Stadium. Avery Johnson has hitched his wagon to the team owned by his close friend Jerry Jones.

“The Cowboys are going to sack Brett Favre six times,” the Mavs coach boldly predicted today, “and Romo is going to have one of his better games.”

Johnson foresees about 320 yards passing from Tony Romo and three TD grabs by Terrell Owens. Johnson’s final score: Dallas 28, Green Bay 16.

And yes, Johnson does have the NFL Network.

Vote for Mavs All-Stars and Win

Vote for your Mavs All-Stars. Click here to vote for Dirk, Josh, JET, Stack and Damp. Vote once a day, every day. Vote early and vote often. Click here for daily prizes and to start voting.

Through January 20, 2008, vote for your favorite Dallas Mavericks players to start in the 2008 NBA All-Star Game in New Orleans and you could win amazing prizes, including game tickets, jerseys, game balls, and signed posters and pictures.
This Year's All-Star Candidates:
Forwards: Josh Howard, Dirk Nowitzki
Guards: Jerry Stackhouse, Jason Terry
Center: Erick Dampier
(You can also write in other Mavs)

Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Notables from 109-103 win over Minny

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: The Mavericks led 83-77 to start the 4th quarter. The Timberwolves got to within 3 points, 83-86, with 8:25 remaining. The Mavericks then went on a 10-4 run (between 7:30 and 5:41) to take a 96-87 lead.

• The Mavericks used their 8th starting lineup of the season. Both C Erick Dampier and G Jason Terry made their first starts of the season tonight.
• Dirk Nowitzki is perfect from the free throw line over the last two games. Tonight, he scored a team-high 27 points (7-13 FGs, season-highs 13-13 FTS). Over the last two games, he is a perfect 24-24 FTs. He also made his final FT attempt at MIL (11/24) and has made 25 consecutive free throws.
• Nowitzki also had 11 rebounds for his 5th double-double of the season.
• Minnesota’s Al Jefferson scored a season-high with 31 points (previous was 30 vs. CLE on 11/21). He also had 14 rebounds for his 10th double-double.
• The Mavericks shot 50.0% from the field (38-76 FGs) and improved to 4-0 when accomplishing the feat.
• The Mavericks have now won 5 straight vs. Minnesota (5 straight at AAC).
• The Mavericks ended a 3-game losing streak with tonight’s win.
• Tonight’s attendance was 20,054 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 242 regular season games at AAC.
• Tonight also marked the 280th 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.

Mavs snap skid by beating T-Wolves

The Mavericks doldrums lately have been a concern for Avery Johnson. To admit anything else would be disingenuous.

Sure, it’s early in the season and it’s not time to panic. But it’s also not time to sit back and act as if life is all roses and dunks.

“That may be an arrogant statement to say that I’m less bothered by it,” Johnson said. “If we were in this situation when we first took over with our team being a younger team, we would really have a lot of alarms going off. Now we have some.

“Don’t get me wrong. I haven’t liked our starting lineup the whole year.”

Looking for a spark, Johnson ran out Mavericks starting lineup No. 8 against Minnesota on Wednesday night. So far, it’s undefeated.

The starting five, featuring Jason Terry and Erick Dampier for the first time, jump-started the Mavs to a 109-103 victory before 20,054 fans at American Airlines Center. Dallas (10-5) snapped a season-long three-game losing skid by beating the Timberwolves for the sixth straight time.

Wolves weird without KG

It is weird seeing the T-wolves without Kevin Garnett. Avery Johnson agreed.

“To see this team tonight without Garnett and not have to rewind the film over and over again and watch some of his great moves has been different,” he said, “but at the same time Al Jefferson has some terrific moves and Antoine Walker has been playing great for them off the bench. It’s a different kind of video with their new team.”

It’s also kinda strange seeing Walker and Greg Buckner in black-and-green.

Full rotation coming soon

Avery Johnson hasn’t been comfortable with his starting lineup all season. The main reason has been the guard spot opposite Devin Harris. Eddie Jones, his preferred starter, hasn’t been healthy and second-choice Devean George has yet to play.

Johnson expects to get both back in the next 10-14 days. The other concern has been center, and Erick Dampier made his first start in place of Gana Diop.

“Whether it’s been because of injury or suspension, we haven’t found any sort of mix that we like,” Johnson said. “So it’s probably our biggest concern. So we’ll continue to deal with it and evaluate it on a day-in, day-out basis. Especially with Damp, we haven’t been able to take a look at him being in the lineup.”

Avery goes with eighth starting lineup

Looking to break out of the doldrums, Avery Johnson introduced his eighth different starting lineup tonight against Minnesota. Erick Dampier and Jason Terry made their first starts, joining Dirk Nowitzki, Devin Harris and Josh Howard.

Terry had been used exclusively as the sixth man this season. Dampier, working his way back from offseason shoulder surgery, replaced Gana Diop. Johnson has been critical of the starting lineup lately, and especially the slow starts.

“I haven’t liked our starting lineup the whole year,” he said. “I haven’t like the way we started off games, except Cleveland we got off to a pretty good start.

“But we’ve had some alarms and signals go off early, but I wouldn’t say it’s cause for panic. But we still have a few concerns and we know some of those concerns are only going to be worked out by playing games over and over again.”

Juwan Howard thanks Minny for buyout

Juwan Howard is facing his semi-former team tonight when Minnesota visits Dallas. Howard was traded from Houston during the offseason and took part in training camp/preseason with the Timberwolves.

Howard asked for a trade to a contender and when that wasn’t possible, a contract buyout was negotiated. After considering several high-profile suitors, he signed with Dallas on Nov. 1.

Howard expressed his thanks to Wolves owner Glen Taylor, vice president of basketball operations Kevin McHale and coach Randy Whitman, and called the organization “first class.”

“They understood my situation and did whatever was possible to make me happy,” Howard said. “You don’t find it too often in this league when an organization will respect a player.”

Devin Harris still a Cheesehead

Devin Harris has no emotional dilemma for tomorrow night’s NFC Championship Game XLI ½. The Mavs quarterback shares an allegiance with Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo since both are from Wisconsin, but that’s where Harris draws the line.

“I hope Tony does well and I’m glad that the Cowboys are doing well,” Harris said today after the morning shootaround, “but obviously I want the Packers to win. That’s my team. That’s who I’m going with.”

Harris will be there when the Cowboys and Packers hook up down the road at Texas Stadium. He made sure to reserve a spot in Mark Cuban’s suite weeks ago. In Harris’ perfect world, Brett Favre leads the Cheeseheads to a last-minute 42-35 victory.

“I want to see a great game, a lot of touchdowns, guys playing well, but at the end I’d like to see the Packers on top,” he said.

Though the Mavs play tonight, football is on the brain. Asked if he planned to watch the gridiron title, Avery Johnson acted bewildered at first. After a broad smile, he admitted that he would, in fact, be in front of the TV. Then he referred to Eddie Jones as “Eddie George.” George, a former Heisman winning running back, spent a season with the Cowboys after a long run with the Oilers/Titans.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Dirk getting Golden Stated

Dirk Nowitzki was asked today if he’s seeing more of the Golden State treatment. In other words, are teams flooding him with smaller defenders?

“Guys are trying to run a double-team and get the ball out of my hands some, but that’s something that we’ve seen before,” he said. “We just have to make some plays on the weak side. I’ve got to make my teammates better if that’s the case. We’ve just got to make some shots. Shooting 39 percent at home yesterday is still not going to cut it.”

It didn’t cut it back in Oakland, either.

Problems on defense? Speak up!

The Mavs’ problems start with defense. At least that’s the educated opinion of Avery Johnson. So what specifically is at fault?

“Penetration, penetration, penetration, pick-and-roll defense – there’s a couple of miscues there,” Johnson said, no doubt emphasizing the former. “Again, until we learn how to communicate. Boy, when we’re in the locker room, they have a lot of fun. When they’re on the bus, they have a lot of fun. When they’re out here for pregame, they love each other and have a lot of fun.

“But when we’re on the court, we’re too quiet. I’m trying to figure out a way to transfer that type of energy on the court.”

Johnson explained that two positions on the court most responsible for speaking up. Gana Diop and Devin Harris, step right up.

“First of all, it’s your center because he’s the anchor,” he said. “Your point guard is kind of the head of it, so it starts there and then it trickles down to everybody else.”

Dirk: "We're not good enough to coast"

Dirk Nowitzki offered up a frank assessment of the team on its current three-game losing streak, which included last night’s 12-point home loss to Washington without Gilbert Arenas.

“We see we’re not good enough to coast,” he said today after practice. “That’s what we need to learn from this. We need to play hard on both ends of the floor for 48 minutes. If we don’t, we can lose to anybody, on the road or at home.

“They came in yesterday making shots from everywhere and really took it to us on our home court. Just because we’re at home, we can’t relax. No matter who we play. Tomorrow we play Minnesota. They just beat New Orleans at New Orleans. Every team in this league is dangerous and we’ve got to be ready to play.”

All three losses have come against teams not considered contenders in the Eastern Conference. Are the Mavs playing down to the competition?

“I don’t think we’re that good to play down,” Avery Johnson said.

It appears the Mavs do get up for the “big” games. Dallas has beat defending champ San Antonio, defending East champ Cleveland and Houston twice.

“There are a lot less big games than there are other games,” Nowitzki said. “We’ve got to find a way to get motivated and win those other games, too. There is only one big game every other week, so it’s those other games where you show that you’re a good team.

“The good teams or the great teams, they’ve got to establish themselves every night. They just can’t show up once every two weeks and win a big game.”

It gets back to finding ways to win on those other nights.

“Some nights you just don’t have it,” Nowitzki added. “You can’t seem to make a layup or your jump shot goes, you dribble the ball off your foot. Things like that happen. Good teams find a way to grind those games out and at the end when it comes down to it, they’re sharp enough to win.

“Last year we won 67 games. We came out with those kinds of games. It seemed like if we were close the last two minutes of the game, we just found a way to get one stop or two stops and get a big bucket and come away with a win. This losing stretch right here, we just couldn’t get over the hump. We couldn’t get the stops we needed to.

“We’ve got work to do at both ends of the floor. There’s no question, but it’s still November. We’ve got a lot of NBA season left, but going through losing stretches is never fun.”

Devean George gets through practice

Devean George went through practice Tuesday and reported feeling fine. That’s the first step to getting the veteran swingman back on the court, perhaps in the next week.“Not a bad practice,” Avery Johnson said. “We had to take him out a little bit at the end, but he didn’t get injured. We just didn’t want to overwork him and so we’ll get him back in practice on Thursday.”

Once an injured player gets back, he has to go through several practices without setbacks before being cleared to play. Erick Dampier went through a similar process earlier this month.

As for Eddie Jones, the injured shooting guard is only doing limited drills. In addition to getting his sore right leg healed, Johnson said that Jones needs to meet a “weight requirement.” Jones has said he wants to lose between 5-8 pounds.

“When he does that he’ll be able to play,” Johnson said. “I told him we’ll really see how bad he wants to play.”

West's top three go down

Monday wasn’t a good day to be one of the Western Conference’s elite. The Mavs, Spurs and Suns all lost on the same night. In fact, they were all blown out. Dallas lost by 12 (Washington), San Antonio by 13 (Sacramento) and Phoenix by 15 (Golden State).

It’s been a long time since those three shared defeat on the same night. According to Elias Sports Bureau, the last time it happened was nearly four years ago on Nov. 28, 2003.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Notables from 110-98 loss to Wizards

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: Washington used an 11-2 4th quarter run that started with 6:35 remaining (WAS led 96-86). The run ended at 4:01 and the Wizards led by a game-high 19 points, 107-88.

• The Mavericks were perfect from the free throw line tonight (29-29 FTs). While the Mavericks have gone 100% from the free throw line several times in franchise history, the 29 free throws made without a miss set a club mark. (Previous record: 27 made with out a miss @ NJ, 2/6/02.) Dating back to the 4th quarter of the game @ MIL (11/24), the Mavericks have hit 30 consecutive free throws.
• Dirk Nowitzki’s 17 1st quarter points matched his high for a quarter (also 17 in 3Q vs. TOR, 11/20). He contributed 21 of the Mavs’ 45 1st half points. Nowitzki finished the game 1 point off of his season mark with 31 points on 10-18 FGs, 11-11 FTs.
• Devin Harris dished out 7 1st half assists tonight. His high for the season is 9 (@ MIL 11/24). He did not have any assists in the 2nd half.
• Tonight’s loss was the fourth to the Eastern Conference this season (1-4 overall). Last year, the Mavericks lost a total of 3 games to the East. The Mavs have lost their last 2 games vs. Washington.
• The Mavericks had not lost three straight games since they started the 2006-07 season 0-4 (between 11/2-11/8/06).
• Tonight’s was the first loss at home this season. (Last loss at home: 89-104, vs. UTA, 4/13/07.)
• Tonight’s attendance was 19,556 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 241 regular season games at AAC.
• Today marked the 279th 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.

Wizards shoot down Mavs 110-98

The Mavericks returned from an eventful and unfulfilling road trip hungry for some home cooking. Dirk Nowitzki, for whatever reason, was the only one at the table for much of Monday night.

Washington did the feasting, shooting lights out in the third quarter to blow past Dallas 110-98 before 19,556 fans at American Airlines Center. The Mavs (9-5) dropped their first home game in seven tries and the three-game skid is the longest since opening last season 0-4.

“I don’t think championship teams can get used to losing two or three in a row,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said.

The Wizards, minus injured point guard Gilbert Arenas, appeared to be the perfect remedy for Dallas, which was coming off consecutive losses to finish up last week’s three-game trek. Making matters more appetizing, Washington had allowed an average of 123.5 points in its two previous games – both losses.

The Mavs failed take advantage of the Wizards’ spotty defense. Well, everyone but Nowitzki. Dallas scored just 45 points in the first half on 40.5-percent shooting. Other than Nowitzki making 8-of-10 shots, the rest of the team was 9 of 32 (28.1 percent).

“The energy hadn’t been there,” Johnson said.

Falling behind: Starters or subs fault?

Comeback wins are nice, but that falling behind part isn’t as much fun. As impressive as the rallies against Toronto and Houston were last week, fighting back from 24 or 17 points won’t lead to success on a consistent basis.

Avery Johnson attributed the slow starts to his starting five.

“It’s mainly with our starting team right now,” he said. “We’re not getting the stops and getting back on defense as much. I think what’s happened is the first round of subs has actually helped us get back in games.

“Our starting team hasn’t been as effective as some of our other starting teams in the past. It’s a different year and we still have some of the same starters, but you need all five guys to be on the same page and we’re not there yet.”

Getting on the same page has proven tricky with seven starting lineups through the first 13 games. Dirk Nowitzki and Gana Diop are the only Mavs to start each game going into Monday night against Washington at American Airlines Center.

Josh Howard and Devin Harris have missed five games between them. Eddie Jones has played just five games. Different circumstances have led Johnson to start Jerry Stackhouse, JJ Barea, Trenton Hassell and Moe Ager at times this season.

“Earlier in the year we played our first two games without Josh, Devin gets hurt in the third game and I’ve had more of a revolving door at that 2 spot for whatever reason,” Johnson said. “Maybe that’s contributed to it, but hopefully it won’t continue to contribute to it. Once we get Eddie back, I think we’ll be able to have some stability there.”

Jet's thoughts from shootaround

Jason Terry talked to reporters this morning as the Mavs were preparing to face Washington tonight at American Airlines Center. Here are Jet’s musings on different subjects:

• Starting a three-game homestand: “Good to be back home and sleep in your own bed, kiss your kids. It’s a good feeling. We need our fans to lift us up tonight.”

• Fatigue set in on the road trip: “Not at all. We have some areas we need to improve in. we have those games now to learn from and if we make those same mistakes we were making last week, we won’t be making any progress. This game right here is a good test for us to see if we’ve learned from our mistakes.”

• Falling behind by double-digits lately: “Those were areas we’re trying to address. This week is a great test for us. We want to get off to good starts. Better than what we’ve been having and not play from behind as much, as get some wins as the end result.”

• Wizards without Gilbert Arenas: “Not much difference. They run the same stuff. You don’t have that end-of-the-game factor with Gilbert, that automatic score from the point guard position, but all those guys around him have been doing a great job. I think they have a winning record without him. They’ve been playing well. They still have All-Stars out there.”

• The Mavs’ free-throw woes: “I’m trying not to catch that bug. I’m wearing a mask at games and at practice, so I can stay up there in the high 80s and 90s. The only thing you can do with the free throws is worry about yourself and get the job done, and hope the other guys will pick it up, too.”

Johnson fined $25,000 by NBA

Mavericks coach Avery Johnson was fined $25,000 by the NBA today for failing to leave the court in a timely manner and for verbal abuse of a game official during Friday night’s 111-107 loss at Indiana.

Specifically, Johnson confronted official Bennett Salvatore after Devin Harris wasn’t awarded a shooting and/or clear path foul with 8:34 left in the fourth quarter. Harris appeared to be in a shooting motion in midair at the basket when Pacers forward Mike Dunleavy grabbed his right arm and pulled Harris down.

A foul was called, but it didn’t result in free throws for Harris. A similar play involving Jason Terry occurred a few minutes earlier with the same result.

Those incidents were enough to get Johnson going. He charged Salvatore, breaking away from Harris and other Mavs personnel before being restrained. Johnson picked up his first two technicals and first ejection of the season.

Salvatore has a checkered history with the Mavs. At least that’s the perception. He was the official who called the “phantom” foul against Dirk Nowitzki that led to Dwayne Wade’s free throws to win Game 5 of the 2006 NBA Finals, giving Miami a 3-2 series lead.

Another official in that game, Joe DeRosa, was on the floor in Saturday night’s loss at Milwaukee. The Bucks went to the line 41 times. The Mavs just 17.

Perhaps it’s a coincidence. But the incidents involving Salvatore and DeRosa do raise the question once again of referee bias, especially within the Mavs inner circle. There’s certainly a level of suspicion regarding certain officials when they call Mavs games.

The NBA would claim otherwise. But it’s also no secret the Mavs haven’t had the best relationship at times with the league office, particularly executive vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson and director of officials Ronnie Nunn.

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Doing a better job the second time around

About nine hours after landing at Love Field, the Mavericks were back on the practice court Sunday morning. It’s not often the team works out after a back-to-back, especially one on the road, but back-to-back losses coupled with limited practice time were reason enough for Avery Johnson to gather the troops for a brisk one-hour session at American Airlines Center.

The Mavs (9-4) were in position against Indiana and Milwaukee, down three points in the last 10 seconds of both games. Dirk Nowitzki didn’t get a chance to tie the Pacers game Friday, as a pass intended for him was deflected away. Jason Terry got that chance Saturday, but his 3-pointer didn’t fall.

Johnson was pleased that Friday’s breakdown was repeated 24 hours later. Even though Terry didn’t make the 3 that would have tied it, the execution down the stretch against Milwaukee was noticeably better. Devin Harris made a read on the previous possession that led to a Terry jumper. After his miss, Terry drilled his last of five four-quarter 3-pointers at the buzzer.

“We thought we got three great looks at the basket, unfortunately only two of them went in, so we got five points and we needed eight,” Johnson said. “Again, that’s stuff that we work on every single day and it’s good to see those guys really having a lot of confidence.”

As for the team’s defense the last two games, Johnson isn’t too happy. The Bucks scored 35 points in the fourth quarter, handing the Mavs their first loss of the season when leading after three periods. Johnson said a 26-point quarter is considered a poor one defensively, and Indiana did that three times.

“We’re not there,” he said. “We’re not good. There are several areas that we’re still just trying to get consistency from.”

Dallas went into Sunday ranked 12th in points allowed (97.15) and 15th in defensive field-goal percentage (44.8). The Mavs have consistently been a top 10 team in both areas under Johnson.

“Sometimes your offense is your best defense, and in the last few games we haven’t had a good start offensively,” Brandon Bass said. “Today was a good practice after a back-to-back to really focus in on some of the things we need to improve.”

Injury updates on Jones, George and Damp

All of the Mavs went through practice today, including Eddie Jones and Devean George. Jones (sore right leg) has been out since Nov. 13 and George (left foot stress reaction) has yet to play.

“Felt good for what we did,” George said. “I ran up and down the court. It was like training camp.”

Jones, who hopes to drop around five pounds to about 208, doesn’t have a timetable for his return. He wants to make sure he’s 100 percent healthy when he does get back, a strategy fully endorsed by Avery Johnson.

“When I’m ready to go, I’ll be out there,” Jones said. “I want to play probably more than anybody out here. [Johnson] knows what I can bring. He saw what I can do at 202 pounds.”

Erick Dampier said his surgically-repaired right shoulder is sore, but not to the point he can’t play. He’s logged less than 14 minutes in the last two games.

“As I continue to get stronger, those aches and pains will go away,” he said.

Avery not sacrificing wins

Jerry Stackhouse sat out at Indiana even though he wasn’t injured. Stackhouse himself admitted being surprised by the move.

Avery Johnson has made it a point this season to keep his team fresher, both mentally and physically, over the 82-game season and into the playoffs. For some, though, the perception is that he’s sacrificing wins now. Johnson was asked as much today after practice.

“Let me rephrase this because I want to make sure of the word,” he said after a brisk one-hour workout at American Airlines Center. “We’re not sacrificing wins. We don’t want to say that. That’s not what we’re saying. We want to win. I think I’ve been pretty consistent. We are trying to win all games, okay?

“With my basketball team, since I’ve been the coach, I know Dirk Nowitzki’s body, I know Stackhouse’s body, I know Jason Terry’s body, I know Devean George’s body. If I see some sort of danger that they may have with their recovery, then I’m going to limit minutes or they maybe will not play because our theme for this year is to try to stay stronger longer and have something in the tank when we need it. That’s our whole thing.”