Saturday, January 19, 2008

Notables from 111-96 win vs. Sonics

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: Over the last 7:00 of the 2nd quarter, Dallas went on a 27-10 run to lead 66-44 at the break. During that span, the Mavs shot 59% FG (10-17 FGs) while the Sonics hit just 33% of their attempts (4-12 FGs).

• The Mavs are now 3-0 when scoring 60+ 1st half points (66 1H points tonight),
• The Mavs limited Sonics rookie Kevin Durant to just 6 points (3-12 FGs, 0-1 3FGs, 0-1 FTs) in 25 minutes. He added 2 rebounds, 1 turnover and 1 foul in the game.
• Dallas improved to 11-2 when shooting better than 50% FG (51.7% FG, 46-89 FGs tonight)
Seattle’s Nick Collison collected his 4th double-double of the season (16 points, game-high 12 rebounds).
• Over the last 2 games, Devin Harris is averaging 21.0 points and 8.5 assists.
• For the 1st time this season, Juwan Howard was Inactive for the game (coach’s decision).
• Tonight’s attendance was 20,386 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 255 consecutive regular season games at AAC and 293 games including the postseason. Dallas currently owns 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 race by Sonics to start new streak

After a brief exit off Victory Road, the Mavericks found their way back to the Winners’ Circle by easily lapping Seattle 111-96 Saturday night before 20,386 basketball-starved fans inside a packed American Airlines Center. The home crowd hadn’t seen their team in person in 10 days.

In the interim, Dallas (27-12) went on a three-game road trip followed by a season-high four-day break. Dallas had a seven-game winning streak before falling Monday at Sacramento. The Mavs hit the road Sunday tied for first place in the Southwest Division with New Orleans. The quick two-game trip begins Monday at Washington.

Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Devin Harris combined to score 54, leading a balanced attack of seven Mavs with at least eight points. Dallas shot 52 percent and its defense was considerably better than 122-120 loss at Sacramento. The Sonics were held to 44 percent from the floor and bottled up leading scorer Kevin Durant again.

King of the Jungle

Gana Diop has gone from starting center to being one of several fighting for a spot in the rotation. Erick Dampier’s solid play at center, plus Brandon Bass’ ability to play both power forward and center has made minutes harder to come by for Diop.

“Still climbing,” Avery Johnson said of Diop. “He hasn’t really blocked shots the way we wanted him to. He’s still a work in progress. We’re trying to get him back to where he was in the past. We’re trying to get him more confident.

“He used to be the guy that protected the jungle for us, for lack of a better word. That was kind of an inside joke: He was the big king of the jungle. We’re trying to get him back to that point where he can defend that paint for us the way we need him to consistently.”

Diop, as he’s done all season, has continued to stay ready. He realizes what Johnson wants from him and he’s trying to deliver.

“I’ve got to keep working hard at getting better,” Diop said. “That’s my job.”

Stripped of Animal

On orders from Avery Johnson, the team wasn’t allowed to use Brandon Bass’ nickname after the bruising power forward didn’t commit a foul in 19 minutes against Cleveland on Dec. 27. Johnson has three options for the big guys protecting the paint: Block the shot or take a charge or commit a hard foul.

Bass claims to have never taken a charge in his life. And since he had only one blocked shot that night and no fouls, Johnson took away his “Animal” moniker. His teammates, especially Dirk Nowitzki, took to over-pronouncing his first name “B-Ran-Don.”

The ban didn’t last long. “I got it back the next game,” Bass said of his nickname. He nearly fouled out, muscling up for five fouls in 23 minutes against Golden State on Jan. 2.

Mr. Two-tone shoes

Yesterday we witnessed an animated exchange between a local reporter and Avery Johnson. Tonight, Avery could only shake his head at the footwear choice of another local scribe.

A certain unnamed beat writer arrived for tonight’s game wearing loafers. Nothing strange there, except one was black and the other brown. From what I know of the guy, he’s not color blind.

“You should get a picture of that,” Avery instructed the TV camera in the room. “That is … whoa.”

The double takes didn’t end in the locker room. Being conscientious reporters, we also made sure to point out the fashion faux pas to the guys. Gana Diop summed up everyone’s sentiment.

“What happened?”

Juwan off, JJ on

In somewhat of a surprise move, Juwan Howard is on the inactive roster tonight and JJ Barea is active. Howard isn’t hurt. It’s likely that Barea is a better option against the Sonics, who don’t have much of an inside threat.

Friday, January 18, 2008

Coming into focus

With the season’s halfway point right around the corner – Game No. 41 is Wednesday – the picture is beginning to come into focus. The Mavericks are essentially healthy, save for a couple minor aches, and settling into a rotation.

Dallas (26-12) began Friday tied with New Orleans atop of the Southwest Division. The recent seven-game winning streak, which ended Monday at Sacramento, gave coach Avery Johnson a glimpse of what could be.

“We had a snapshot of our team when we were whole,” Johnson said after practice. “When everybody was there, whether it was three games or five games, we had a snapshot of what I kind of envisioned. In the midst of that snapshot, we played some decent basketball and we won games in different ways.”

During the season-high winning streak, the Mavs won three games by at least 20 (only four all season) and outscored opponents by 14.3 points. Going back further, they’ve held 14 of the last 17 foes to less than 100 points, and only the Magic, Clippers and Kings exceeded their season scoring average.

Read the rest of this note, get Josh Howard’s thoughts on Kevin Durant, a look at the Sonics, and an injury update on Jerry Stackhouse and Eddie Jones in today’s notebook at

Texas Exes playing some ball

What do Kevin Durant, LaMarcus Aldridge and Daniel Gibson have in common? OK, that’s even an easy one for an Aggie such as me to admit.

Those t-sippers are playing some righteous basketball. Avery Johnson agrees.

“I don’t know what they’re feeding those young boys down there at UT, but they’re surely turning out some nice players over the last couple years,” he said.

Durant and the rest of his Seattle SuperSonics visit American Airlines Center tomorrow night.

Go Diego Go

A reporter from Spanish-language newspaper Al Día helped bring a rousing end to today’s post-practice media session. Diego Aparicio asked about the playing status of Puerto Rican-born JJ Barea before Avery Johnson cheerfully fired back.

“I get a question from you about JJ every day,” Johnson cracked. “Hold on a second, we’ve got Juwan Howard, Dampier, Josh Howard, Devin Harris, Eddie Jones. You ask me about JJ every day.”

Johnson continued: “We’ve got other guys on the team. You don’t think Jason Terry is awfully good?”

Aparicio explained that his readers wanted to know why Barea wasn’t playing much lately.

Johnson finally brought it to a riotous conclusion: “JJ is not playing because of Devin Harris and $45 million.”

Ray Johnston on Family Feud

Ray Johnston, the one-time Mavs summer leaguer and leukemia survivor, and his family hope to strike it rich on the Family Feud. The Johnstons of Dallas are taking on the McFarland family of Phelan, CA, on Feb. 1.

Ray still has a lot of friends in the Mavs locker room and throughout the organization. His courageous battle with the disease may have ended his playing career, but he continues to stay connected to the game through coaching.

The rest of this family on the Feud includes: cousin Jim, a marketing specialist; uncle Wat, a manufacturer; cousin Brice, an attorney; and cousin Mason, who’s in the insurance industry.

“My cousins and I like to get together, especially if it involves competition, a challenge or a vacation and this involved all three,” Ray said. “If we win, we’re planning another vacation.”

Feud host John O’Hurley added: “Those Johnstons are a bunch of really smooth characters. Hopefully their antics will throw the other team off and they can bring a victory home to Big D.

“Will Dallas’ Johnston Family win enough to go on an expensive vacation? We’re not saying, but viewers can find out by tuning in.”

The show airs locally in DFW at noon Monday-Friday KDAF-TV (Channel 9).

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Barea wants to be a pest

JJ Barea has seen action in three games over the past five weeks. That may be the extent of his playing time in the near future if he’s not assigned to the D-League.

The second-year point guard likely won’t be part of the active roster unless one of the top 12 is out. Such was the case with Josh Howard and Jerry Stackhouse each missing a game on the recent road trip.

“I’ve got to do the little things to stay ready,” he said.

Barea has tried to make the most out of limited chances. The former undrafted free agent helped sway the momentum in the second half of Saturday’s comeback win at the Los Angeles Clippers with three points and three assists in nine minutes. He matched those numbers exactly in Monday’s nail-biting loss at Sacramento.

Avery Johnson isn’t afraid to throw the frenetic Barea into a game. The Mavericks coach actually started the Northeastern product in four straight games in early November due to other injuries. Whenever he does throw Barea out there, Johnson’s message is simple: “Be a pest.”

Read the rest of this in today’s notebook at

Defense sitting at "75"

Eddie Jones sat out of the contact part of Thursday’s practice to rest a strained left groin. The focus during the workout was defense and conditioning. The team worked on multiple defensive situations and adjustments to make sure everyone is still on the same page.

Avery Johnson estimated the defense was at a “75” on a scale of 1-100. That’s right on track for this point of the season. It’s not where he wants to end up.

“We have to get to the high 80s or 90s, because sometimes even with great defense, great NBA players find a way to make the defense pay,” Johnson said. “We’ve got to get that next 10-15 percent better before the end of the season and that’s the hard part.”

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

Dirk: Community Assist Award for Dec. '07

As an unsure rookie trying to find his footing in a new land, Dirk Nowitzki formed a bond with Mavericks fans. Support formed the basis of the connection that’s grown through the years as he’s gone from that unsure rookie to MVP.

Nowitzki has never forgotten that bond and his support for his Texas home continues to grow. The recipient of the NBA’s Community Assist Award for December continues to give back. He does so with a smile and that’s all he hopes for in return.

“It’s important because we’ve all gotten a lot of support from the community over the years,” Nowitzki said. “I remember my first year when no one really knew me and I was coming off the bench and they were always cheering for me and always supporting me. Ever since then I’ve had a great relationship with the community, they embraced me and I embraced Dallas.”

For those reasons and many more, The Dirk Nowitzki Foundation was established to help promote education, health and well being for children around the world. Nowitzki’s foundation will receive a $5,000 donation from the league and he’ll be honored for the Community Assist Award before the Mavs-Nuggets game at American Airlines Center on Jan. 27.

“Anytime we have a chance to visit and meet people – people don’t see that we do a lot of that stuff, even after games,” said Nowitzki, who also won a Community Assist Award in 2004. “We meet people all the time and it’s great for us. If you just see a kid smile that makes your day.

“In November we lost a bunch of games and you come out there, and you see a kid smile at you and he’s so happy to meet you, it makes you forget about wins and losses. It’s been a special time so far in Dallas and I’ve been enjoying it.”

Dirk’s advice for Romo

It was inevitable that some of the questions today, actually a lot of them, would center on the Cowboys’ playoff loss. A larger than usual media contingent visited practice today with Valley Ranch going dark.

“We were wondering why there were so many of you guys here,” Jerry Stackhouse cracked to the extra cameras and microphones in attendance.

Comparing the Cowboys loss to the Mavs’ first-round setback is an obvious angle. I do want to credit Steve Dennis of CBS 11, aka Radio Boy, for asking Dirk Nowitzki what advice he would have for Tony Romo. Nowitzki, as you remember, picked up the MVP the week after falling to Golden State.

“There’s not much advice to give,” Nowitzki said. “Everybody deals with stuff differently. People are different. I just had to get away as far as I could. It helped me get my mind off basketball some, so I’m sure he’s kind of feeling the same and going through some tough times.

“But at some point I realized you’ve got to get over it. At some point you’ve got to look forward. He’s still young, he’s got a great career ahead of him, so at some point you’ve can’t just always look at the negatives. You’ve got to look at the positives, at the great season that you had and get ready for the next one.”

Winston-Salem makes push for Josh

Winston-Salem is doing its part to get local boys Josh Howard and Chris Paul (Hornets) into the All-Star Game. Mayor Allen Joines recently announced a voting push to elect the longtime residents to the 2008 NBA All-Star team.

Mayor Joines stated, “Chris and Josh have made it a priority to invest in the Winston-Salem community. They have both given so much to Winston-Salem that spearheading an All-Star voting campaign for them in their hometown seemed fitting. I strongly urge all residents to show their appreciation and vote.”
Active in giving back to their community, Paul and Howard sponsor annual events in Winston-Salem. Paul hosts the Chris Paul Weekend every September to benefit Habitat for Humanity of Forsyth County and Howard sponsors a free basketball camp every summer at Reynolds Park Recreation Center.

Read more about the city’s initiative and check out this story in the Winston-Salem Journal.

Getting back to work minus Avery

Assistant coaches Joe Prunty and Mario Elie presided over a scaled-back workout today, as the Mavs maneuver through a four-day break before Saturday’s visit from Seattle to American Airlines Center. The focus was some shooting, some lifting and more rest.

Avery Johnson and assistant Paul Westphal took the day off. Both will be back for tomorrow’s practice. Johnson typically lets his assistants run 2-3 practices a season depending on the breaks in the schedule.

Naturally, such a break has its good and bad.

“What’s good, it gives us a chance to rest a little bit and get our feet back under us,” Devin Harris said. “What’s bad is our last game we lost, so we have to sit with it for four days until our next one.”

KG's jersey is the hottest

The Boston Celtics and their All-Star forward Kevin Garnett lead the NBA’s lists of most popular jerseys and team merchandise in sales at the NBA Store in New York City and online at for the holiday season.

Dirk Nowitzki sits eighth on the list, which ranks the top 15, and the Mavericks check in at 10th.

The offseason acquisition of Garnett, along with the team’s fast start, catapulted both to the top spots for the first time since the NBA began compiling the lists in 2001. Garnett jerseys have tripled in sales since last season.

1. Kevin Garnett – Boston Celtics
2. Kobe Bryant – Los Angeles Lakers
3. Allen Iverson – Denver Nuggets
4. LeBron James – Cleveland Cavaliers
5. Steve Nash – Phoenix Suns
6. Dwyane Wade – Miami Heat
7. Gilbert Arenas – Washington Wizards
8. Dirk Nowitzki – Dallas Mavericks
9. Stephon Marbury – New York Knicks
10. Carmelo Anthony – Denver Nuggets
11. Kevin Durant – Seattle SuperSonics
12. Paul Pierce – Boston Celtics
13. Tracy McGrady – Houston Rockets
14. Dwight Howard – Orlando Magic
15. Chris Paul – New Orleans Hornets

1. Boston Celtics
2. Los Angeles Lakers
3. New York Knicks
4. Chicago Bulls
5. Miami Heat
6. Phoenix Suns
7. Denver Nuggets
8. Cleveland Cavaliers
9. San Antonio Spurs
10. Dallas Mavericks

Tuesday, January 15, 2008

Streak snapped at Sacramento

SACRAMENTO – The last-second heroics belonged to the other guys this time. John Salmons’ coast-to-coast bank lifted the Kings to a 122-120 victory Monday night, snapping the Mavericks’ season-high seven-game winning streak.

“Nobody could really stop each other,” Mavs coach Avery Johnson said. “It seemed the team that got the ball last was going to win.”

The Mavs (26-12) once again had to rally down the stretch, overcoming an eight-point deficit in the final 3 ½ minutes. Dallas rallied from nine down in the last five minutes to beat the Clippers 95-94 on Jerry Stackhouse’s 3-pointer as time expired.

The final basket capped a wild final finish, featuring five ties and two lead changes in the last 1:46. Jason Terry had just knotted it at 120 with 7.0 seconds left when Salmons took the inbounds, spit Devin Harris and Brandon Bass and lofted the ball over Dirk Nowitzki with 2.4 seconds left. Out of timeouts, Terry’s desperation heave from inside halfcourt had a chance, hitting the backboard and rim.

“We’re not going to win many games giving up 122 points,” Johnson said. “We just got broken down all over the place and we didn’t do a protecting the basket, we didn’t do a good job of guarding the dribble. Our support defense wasn’t there. We just had one of our poorer defensive efforts in a while.”

The Mavs returned home after a 2-1 road trip that featured three distinctly different games. The trek started with a wire-to-wire rout at Seattle, continued with a walk-off victory against the Los Angeles Clippers before concluding with the most wall-to-wall game of the bunch.

“Take the good with the bad,” Devin Harris said. “We were on the top end of the stick last game and we’ve got to take in on the chin this game.”

Monday, January 14, 2008

Cowboys bummin'

The Mavs team plane touched down Sunday afternoon in Sacramento right before kickoff of the Cowboys-Giants NFC playoff games. Most of the players, coaches and staff hurried to find a TV.

“Disappointed like everybody,” Avery Johnson said of the Cowboys’ elimination. “Had an awesome season, though, for a quarterback who started his first full season. If you look at the whole pie, I think they’ve had an outstanding year.”

Johnson was then asked if it compared to the Mavs’ first-round loss last year: “I don’t want to compare that. I don’t even want that question. I think they’ve had an outstanding year and they have a lot to be proud of.”

Stack out with hammy strain

Jerry Stackhouse is sitting out tonight’s game with a strained right hamstring. He suffered the injury late in the second quarter of Saturday’s win over the LA Clippers. With a four-day break coming up, Stackhouse expects to be ready for Saturday’s visit from Seattle.

“I’ll be fine,” he said.

His absence shakes up the rotation, since he joins Jason Terry as the first two off the bench.

“We’re going to need to get some production out of Devean George and [Trenton] Hassell,” Avery Johnson said, adding that JJ Barea could also get a few extra minutes in the backcourt.

Other than making the game-winner at LA, it’s been a tough trip for Stackhouse. Already playing with a sore right thumb, he knocked knees with a Sonics player Friday at Seattle, which he feels helped lead to the hamstring pull. The following night, he reacted too quickly to a guy cutting to the basket, leading to the injury despite no contact being made.

He played the rest of the game. The hammy didn’t really tighten up until later that night.

“I didn’t even feel it,” he said. “It’s amazing what emotion and adrenalin can overcome.”

Stackhouse is missing his third game of the season. Asked if he came into the season with a goal for games played, he answered: “All the playoff games.”

Trip finale isn't the end

The Mavs take on the Kings going for their eighth straight win. Avery Johnson doesn’t look at it as the finale of a three-game roadie.

“I wouldn’t say it’s the final game,” he said. “It’s our next game. We’re playing against a real high-energetic team that’s much better than when we played them earlier in the season and the preseason.

“They’ve had some injuries and now they’ve got Martin back. Whether we’re playing this game at home or playing it here tonight, we’re just going to have to play some of our best basketball.”

Kings leading scorer Kevin Martin returned Saturday against Indiana after missing 17 games with a strained right groin. He scored 25 in the 111-105 loss.

Josh Howard back & looking for his shot

Josh Howard rejoined the team yesterday and will be good to go tonight at Sacramento, provided he finds his shot. J-Ho and Juwan Howard went through some extensive shooting drills after shootaround today, leaving the younger Howard soaked in sweat.

Asked if he was working hard, Josh caught his breath: “Oh yeah. Out there with Juwan trying to find my shot.”

He watched Saturday’s buzzer-beating win over the LA Clippers yesterday when he got to Sacramento.

“It’s hard not being able to be there with my team, but for us to be able to pull a win out is good,” Josh said. “Stack made a big shot. Eddie Jones made a great cut to make the rotation harder for them.”

Pulling out the win in SoCal without No. 5 proved a stiff challenge.

“Good to have him back,” Avery Johnson said. “Obviously, we missed him the last game. When he’s not in the lineup there are five different areas we can potentially suffer in, but when he’s out there it makes a difference for us. We’re definitely glad to have him back. Hopefully he can have a lot of energy tonight.”

Take Stack to School

In a continuing effort to promote the importance for children toget three servings of dairy foods (milk, cheese or yogurt) daily, the Mavs, DairyMax and Dannon are again giving one Metroplex student the chance to take Mavs forward Jerry Stackhouse to school.

The winner of the third annual "Take Jerry Stackhouse to School" sweepstakes will receive a school visit by Stackhouse, four tickets to a 2007-08 Mavs regular season home game and an autographed Jerry Stackhouse jersey.

"Low-Fat and non-fat milk and dairy foods are among the most recent Dietary Guidelines Food Groups to encourage children to eat, along with fruits,vegetables and whole grains," said Teresa Wagner, registered dietitian with Dairy Max, the regional promotion organization funded by dairy farmers. "Teaching children to eat a variety of nutrient rich foods such as milk, cheese and Dannon yogurt ensures they receive the vitamins and minerals they need to be fit and healthy while taking in the appropriate amount ofcalories."

Starting Tuesday, January 15th, students ages 6-12 can obtain an entry format any participating Albertsons location throughout the Metroplex and describe how they get their 3-A-Day of dairy on game day and why they love the Mavs. Entries are due by February 29, 2008. A full list of rules is available on

Nine-year old Alexis Godina of Arlington was selected as last year's winner.

Sunday, January 13, 2008

Catapulting to bigger and better things

SACRAMENTO – The Mavericks are rolling. Is even more in store after Jerry Stackhouse’s walk-off 3-pointer Saturday night sunk the Los Angeles Clippers?

“This is the kind of thing that can catapult to a nice spurt for us,” Stackhouse said. “I know we’ve won seven in a row now, but hopefully we can continue build off the momentum.”

Unlikely as it seems after the uneven 20-game start, Dallas (26-11) has leapfrogged everyone in the Western Conference except for Phoenix. The Mavs moved past San Antonio to lead the Southwest Division and are tied with the Suns for the conference’s top record going into Monday night at Sacramento. In position to sweep the three-game road trip, Dallas has a winning record on the road (9-8) for the first time since being 3-2 on Nov. 21.

It should also be noted: The Mavs were only 5 ½ games up on the ninth-place Utah to start Sunday. That’s the difference between the No. 1 seed and the lottery.

Read the rest of this story and get a look at the Kings at

Stack’s 3 at buzzer caps comeback

LOS ANGELES – The Mavericks made coming back a habit Saturday night, so when Jerry Stackhouse lined up a 3-pointer with the buzzer about to sound, it seemed fitting. The ball found the bottom of the net and the Mavs found themselves wildly celebrating a dramatic 95-94 victory over the shell-shocked Los Angeles Clippers at Staples Center.

The Mavs battled back from deficits of 11 in the first half, 14 in the third quarter and nine in the last five minutes on the second half of a back-to-back. And they did it without Josh Howard, the team’s best defender and second-leading scorer who was excused to attend to a personal matter.

“There were a lot of points in the game where we could have said, ‘Screw it, it’s not our night,’” Jerry Stackhouse said after his second buzzer beater with the Mavs. He knocked one down at Boston almost exactly two years ago.

The deciding bucket followed an unlikely set of circumstances. After an Erick Dampier dunk and Dirk Nowitzki jumper tied it at 92, the Mavs made another stop. Nowitzki tried to get off a go-ahead shot, but was forced to pass.

Devin Harris missed a baseline jumper and Brandon Bass fouled Clippers guard Brevin Knight on the rebound. Knight hit two free throws with 28.1 seconds left. To make matters worse, Jason Terry fumbled a routine inbounds pass from Eddie Jones at halfcourt, giving LA the ball back with 27.5 seconds.

“I was mad at myself for about two seconds and I realized we had 28 seconds left in the game, which is a long time,” said Terry, who replaced Howard in the starting lineup and scored 20. “I knew we needed one stop.”