Saturday, February 2, 2008

Dirk's best year ever

ROCHESTER, Mich. – The last minute of Thursday’s loss at Boston wasn’t Dirk Nowitzki at his best. Far from it. In fact, he’s still steamed he couldn’t win that game.

Yes, Nowitzki said he should have won the game.

“I couldn’t really win the game in Boston,” Nowitzki said Saturday. “I had that rebound down the stretch that I should have secured, and I came right back down and missed a layup where I got bumped a little bit, but still I’ve got to make that layup.

“That’s the kind of pressure I always put on myself. I want to help the team win and if we don’t win, I take a lot of the blame on me, even though some nights it might not be my fault. Some nights it might be, but if we lose, I’m always going to be disappointed because I didn’t do my job.”

Celtics guard Rajon Rondo stole a rebound out of Nowitzki’s hands and scored the go-ahead basket in the Mavericks’ 96-90 loss. Nowitzki missed a chance to tie with the aforementioned layup, and the Celtics closed it out at the line.

Late-game mishaps haven’t been habit for Nowitzki this season. Far from it. Asked to size up the performance of his franchise player, Avery Johnson offered up an opinion that would appear surprising if based solely on stats.

“This is Dirk’s best year as a pro,” Johnson said after a brisk practice at Oakland University in suburban Detroit. Dallas faces the Central Division-leading on Pistons Sunday afternoon at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Read the rest of this story and get a look at the Pistons in today’s notebook at

Hanging at Oakland University

Jerry Stackhouse is going through practice here at the student recreation center at Oakland University. Devean George is not, having come down with food poisoning.

Stackhouse has missed the last four games with a strained hamstring. He hopes to play on this trip that picks up tomorrow against Detroit and ends Monday at Orlando.

As some of you might remember, Oakland U is the alma mater of former Mavs small forward Rawle Marshall. The folks sure haven’t forgotten around here. Marshall’s Mavs jersey (No. 1) is the centerpiece of a glass-encased display of former Oakland players that have played in the pros.

Friday, February 1, 2008


The Dallas Mavericks and Josh Howard, along with NAPA Auto Parts and Jordan Brand, have announced the first annual Josh Howard Cap Drive, benefiting local hospitals and children afflicted with cancer.

"I am very excited to be a part of this great program," Howard said. "I have worn caps my whole life, and this is the perfect way to put one of my hobbies to use for the benefit of people that suffer from the unfortunate circumstances surrounding cancer."

For the entire month of February, Mavs fans can donate new caps at anyDallas/Fort Worth area NAPA Auto Parts store. For every cap that is donated, NAPA will give away a free NAPA Racing Hat and will donate one NAPA Racing Hat to the Josh Howard Cap Drive. The first five people per store to donate a cap will get a Josh Howard autographed photo. Fans can also register to win a pair of tickets to the Feb. 29th Mavs-Sacramento game and the opportunity to attend a postgame meet-and-greet with Josh.

Caps can also be donated at the Feb. 29th game. A collection bin will be set up on the Plaza concourse at American Airlines Center for fans to drop off their donated caps. The first 100 fans to donate 10 or more new caps that night will also have the opportunity to attend the postgame meet-and-greet with Josh.

Thursday, January 31, 2008

Celts pull away in the last minute

BOSTON – The first tussle against the NBA’s pacesetter lost some luster when Kevin Garnett couldn’t give it a go. The Celtics, though, aren’t just about one guy, as the Mavericks witnessed Thursday night.

The other two members of the Boston Three Party – Paul Pierce and Ray Allen – each scored 26 and the Celtics separated in the final seconds to nip Dallas 96-90 before a capacity crowd at TD Banknorth Garden.

The Mavs (31-14) had their four-game winning streak snapped in the first of three straight games against Eastern Conference division leaders. The trip picks up after a two-day break Sunday at Detroit.

The loss also means the Hornets’ Bryon Scott will coach the Western Conference All-Star team. Though the Mavs can still tie New Orleans for the conference’s best record, Scott enjoys the tiebreaker since Avery Johnson coached an All-Star Game more recently.

On the night All-Star reserves were named, each team felt it was a representative short. So it was fitting the two snubbed – Josh Howard and Allen – were in All-Star form early. Dirk Nowitzki did make the West team, while Pierce picked up an East nod.

Stackhouse and Harris on the mend

Jerry Stackhouse (strained right hamstring) did go through shootaround Thursday morning and is on track to practice Saturday in Detroit. Stackhouse hopes to play before the road trip ends Monday at Orlando. He’s missed four straight games.

The pain in the left ankle of Devin Harris has begun to subside. The point guard remained in Dallas to receive treatment and his timetable to return hasn’t been altered. Harris could be out until the All-Star break.

Dirk an All-Star, Josh snubbed

BOSTON – One made it and one has to wait … again. All-Star reserves were announced Thursday and Dirk Nowitzki is headed to the mid-season classic. Josh Howard didn’t make the cut in voting by Western Conference coaches.

“Same people every year,” Howard said. “I don’t know what to do or say. I guess I have to average 40 points.”

Nowitzki went into Thursday night’s matchup against Eastern Conference-leading Boston leading the Mavericks in scoring and rebounding. It’s the seventh consecutive selection for the reigning MVP, extending his franchise record.

“Is it seven or six? Wow,” Nowitzki said. “It’s always an honor to be nominated and represent a great organization. It’s been great, but I’m more disappointed than anything about Josh not being there. He’s had an unbelievable year. He deserves to be there as much as I do.

“He’s been probably our most consistent player throughout the whole year, so it’s disappointing, but in the West it’s so tough to get in there. There will always be players that deserve to go that don’t go.”

Howard was an All-Star last season, albeit as an injury replacement selected by NBA commissioner David Stern. Howard is averaging 20.9 points and 7.5 rebounds – both career highs. The other forwards chosen by the West coaches were: Carlos Boozer (Utah) and David West (New Orleans).

“That’s a shame,” coach Avery Johnson said of the Howard snub. “It’s very disappointing. That’s the greatest thing to be recognized by the coaches. We just didn’t have enough coaches voting for him. Very disappointing. We’re happy for Dirk, but right now we think we’re at a stage where we have two guys that should be automatic All-Stars.”

Though he was left off the team, Howard said he was happy for West and Hornets point guard Chris Paul. Howard and Paul are both from Winston-Salem and went to Wake Forest.

Though Nowitzki has never been voted into the All-Star starting lineup by fans, he did start last season in Las Vegas. West coach Mike D’Antoni picked Nowitzki to replace injured center Yao Ming.

Johnson said the All-Star selection process is flawed and should be improved. One idea floated out is to increase the roster size from the current 12. Johnson also wonders if fan voting can be tweaked.

“They should definitely have a say, but not as much,” Johnson said.

Black History Month Challenge

The Dallas Mavericks, Jerry Stackhouse, and McDonald's have teamed up to pay tribute to black leaders in American history through the Black History Month Challenge. Dallas/Fort Worth area middle and high school students can participate in an essay competition for a chance to win Mavs tickets and the opportunity to meet Stackhouse.

"Honoring the legacy of our great African American leaders is something that is very personal to me," Stackhouse said. "Without their courage, we wouldn't have the opportunities that we have today. We are able to express our beliefs, explore our talents, and live dreams because of their selflessness, passion, and dedication."

Students must write a 1,000 words or less essay answering the question: "Which influential black leader from American History inspires you and how have they made an impact on your life?" The top 3 essays will be chosen , and the first-place winner will receive tickets to see the Mavs on March 12, 2008 vs. the Charlotte Bobcats and meet Stackhouse postgame.

"At McDonald's, we recognize the importance of celebrating those who have been instrumental in shaping American history," said Anthony Grissett, McDonald's Owner/Operator. "We are committed to celebrating the achievements and heritage of the African American community, and we are excited to partner with the Dallas Mavericks on this initiative."

The challenge will begin February 1, 2008 and essays will be due no later than March 3, 2008. Essays must be sent to: "Black History Month Challenge," 2909 Taylor Street, Dallas, TX 75226.

Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Beasts of the East are on tap

Three games. All three on the road. Three division leaders. That’s what lies ahead for the Mavericks starting Thursday night in Beantown.

“It’s a tough test for us no matter who we’re playing,” coach Avery Johnson said Wednesday before the team departed for Boston. “They’re all terrific teams.”

The Celtics lead the Atlantic, Detroit (Sunday) paces the Central and Orlando (Monday) tops the Southeast. It’s the best of the Eastern Conference for one of the West’s best. Dallas (31-13) has won four straight and sits second in the Southwest Division behind streaking New Orleans.

The Mavs have beaten Detroit and Orlando this year, both at home. Dallas is just 11-10 on the road, including 4-5 at East teams, and 10-7 overall against the other conference. Johnson’s troops have won five of the last seven outside of Dallas.

Explaining the relative struggles away from home, Johnson listed a couple reasons: Many teams are simply better this season, especially at home, and the Mavs often lose their identity outside of American Airlines Center.

“We’ve tended to be more of a jump-shooting team on the road,” he said. “Our offense has as much to do with our defense as our defense itself. We tend to be less aggressive.

“We’ve seemed to play a little bit better here recently on the road because we’re much more aggressive, much more alert, we attack the basket more and we defend the paint better.”

Read the rest of this note, another on JJ Barea going home and get a look at the Celtics at

Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Inaugural Parents & Kids Basketball Clinic

What: Mavs Inaugural Parents & Kids Basketball Clinic

When: Saturday, Feb. 16, 2008, 10:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m.

Where: Mavs Practice Facility at American Airlines Center
2500 Victory Avenue, Dallas, TX 75219

More Info: Please note that space is limited to the first 100 people (parents and kids ages 6-12) for a nominal fee of $10 per child and $15 per adult. Spots are still available.

Kids and parents will be separated into divisions by agegroup-ages 6-8, ages 9-10, and ages 11-12. Camp Coaches will teach a variety of basketball fundamentals including stance/movement, dribbling/ball handling, passing, shooting, and rebounding. Mavs Man will also make a special appearance.

To register for the clinic, please visit the registration page

Mavs vs. Celtics Watch Party

When: Thursday, Jan. 31, 2008, 6 p.m. Tip is set for 7p.m.

Where: Dave & Buster's, Walnut Hill and 75 Location
1021 Walnut Hill Lane, Dallas, TX 75231

More Info: Dave & Buster's will host a Mavs Watch party Thursday night for the Mavs' game against Eastern Conference leader Boston. The party will get started at 6 p.m., one hour before tipoff at 7p.m. Mavs Fans will have the opportunity to interact with the Mavs ManiAACs and Mavs Street Team, while enjoying great food and watching the game on D&B's big-screen TV in the Show Room. Fans will also have a chance to win Mavs merchandise, autographed gear and Mavs tickets.

Monday, January 28, 2008

Mavs overpower Grizzlies

MEMPHIS – Two of the Mavericks’ top five scorers were laid up back in Dallas on Monday night. It mattered little, at least for one game.

The remaining boys wearing blue had more than enough in their tanks to pick up the slack for their missing teammates. Josh Howard played the part of conductor as the Mavs rolled over the Grizzlies 103-84 before a listless crowd at FedEx Forum.

“Mainly our guys were focused,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. “They played tough on both ends and stuck with the game plan. We established our post game early in the game. We were physical which set the tone for the rest of the game.”

Howard scored 26, including 21 during a perfect first half, as Dallas (31-13) extended its winning streak to four against one of its Southwest Division neighbors. Memphis (13-32) isn’t the same team that met the Mavs in the playoffs two summers ago.

Starting point guard Devin Harris and key reserve Jerry Stackhouse – fourth and fifth, respectively, in Dallas’ scoring pecking order – are both out of the lineup nursing injuries. Jason Terry slid into the starting lineup for Harris, with JJ Barea and Trenton Hassell showcasing the bench’s depth.

“When we’ve been healthy and whole, I think they did a good job,” Johnson said of the bench. “We had a little moment there where we were healthy, we had a chance to see our team, but now we have two guys that are out of the rotation, so some other guys are going to have to play.”

The Mavs were in control from the start, taking their lead from Howard. If he’s making a late bid to impress Western Conference coaches, the first 24 minutes against Memphis can’t hurt any All-Star campaign.

Jet: Stop, drop & roll

The way Devin Harris attacks the basket, he knows some pretty hard falls are coming from time-to-time. Jason Terry said players have to be aware of those that surround the court – fans and photographers – throughout the game and actually prepare for falls.

“I’m always cognizant,” Terry said. “There’s a technique you have to use. Sometimes you can’t control yourself. It’s the heat of the moment.”

Hearing this, Dirk Nowitzki called from across the locker room: “What’s the technique, Jet?”

“Stop, drop and roll,” Terry answered without skipping a beat.

Sounds like valuable advice on the basketball court … or if you’re on fire.

The plan with Harris out

MEMPHIS – Devin Harris’ career season hit its first snag – a left ankle bone bruise that is expected to keep him sidelined for the next two to three weeks. The diagnosis, however, is about as good as could have been hoped for after teammates carried the Mavericks starting point guard off the court Sunday night.

“It could have been worse,” Mavs coach Avery Johnson said before facing the Grizzlies. “We’re glad that it’s not season-ending. Everybody goes through it. It could have been worse, but hopefully it will be a maximum of three weeks and we’ll be able to get him back.”

The MRI exam performed Monday in Dallas revealed the extent of the injury, since X-rays taken after the Denver game were inconclusive. Harris took a hard fall into the row of photographers along in the baseline the fourth quarter of the win over the Nuggets.

Harris’ loss shortens a rotation already stretched without injured swingman Jerry Stackhouse. Jason Terry moves off the bench and into the starting lineup. More will be expected of third-stringer JJ Barea, who has performed admirably in spot minutes lately. Josh Howard and Eddie Jones can also run the offense in a pinch.

“We’ve got guys that can do it,” Howard said. “A lot depends on JJ. I can do it. Eddie can do it. It’s cool.”

Read the rest of this story at

Devin Harris out 2-3 weeks w/ bone bruise

Devin Harris underwent an MRI today on his left ankle and the results revealed a left ankle bone bruise. There is no additional structural damage. He is anticipated to return to activity in 2-3 weeks.

Harris suffered the injury at the 7:53 mark of the fourth quarter in last night’s game vs. Denver. In 39 games this season, Harris has averaged 14.4 points, 5.3 assists and 1.44 steals. All are career highs. He is also shooting 48.3% from the field, a career-high 35.7% from 3-point range and 82.1% from the free throw line.

He did not travel with the team to Memphis for tonight’s game.

Sunday, January 27, 2008

Notables from 90-85 win vs. Denver

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: Dallas went on a 15-3 1st quarter run (between 6:28 and 1:22) to take a 22-12 lead. The Mavs led from that point.

• For the 3rd time in 4 games, Josh Howard scored at least 10 points in the 1st quarter. Tonight, he had 12. Over those 4 games, dating back to @ WAS (1/21), Howard averages 10.0 points per 1st quarter. (He scored 8 1Q points vs. LAL, 1/25.)
• Denver scored just 34 1st half points, tying the opponent season-low (also @ CLE, 10/31).
• Dirk Nowitzki tallied his 12th double-double of the season tonight with 32 points and 11 rebounds.
• Tonight’s 32-point performance marked Nowitzki’s 9th 30-point game of the season. He has now scored at least 20 points in every game in January (12 games).
• Over the last 2 games, Nowitzki averages 29.0 points and 10.5 rebounds.
• Devin Harris left the game with 7:53 remaining (sprained left ankle). He did not return. The injury occurred when Harris collided with several cameramen under the basket after scoring a field goal.
• Denver’s Anthony Carter went 4-6 3FGs – both marks set career-highs (previous highs were 2 3FGM vs. SEA, 2/15/06 and 5 3FGA @ CHA, 1/14/08).
• The Mavericks improved to 13-1 when holding their opponent under 90 points.
• Tonight’s attendance was 20,437 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 257 consecutive regular season games at AAC and 295 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.

Two All-Stars better than one

The last time the Mavericks faced Denver, they changed their approach to the season. No such revolution was needed this time.

Following the lead of Dirk Nowitzki late and Josh Howard early, the Mavs scored a solid 90-85 victory over the Nuggets before 20,437 fans at a sold-out American Airlines Center. The Mavs (30-13) won their third in a row, and seventh straight at home, before embarking on a season-long four-game road trip.

When the Nuggets routed Dallas back in the first week of December, Avery Johnson decided to break to season down into five-game segments to promote better focus. The Mavs dropped to 12-8 at the time. They’re 18-5 since.

The Nuggets (26-17) were without an injured All-Star small forward Carmelo Anthony, which put an added scoring burden on fellow Western Conference starter Allen Iverson. Focusing on one dynamic scorer instead of two certainly had its advantages.

The 34 points Denver scored in the first half tied a season low for Mavs’ opponent. (Cleveland was held to the same on opening night.) Shadowed most of the night by bigger defenders, such as Eddie Jones, Josh Howard and Trenton Hassell, Iverson was held to a manageable 23 points on 7-of-17 shooting.

The Mavs had their full complement 20-point scorers in Nowitzki and Howard, and they were too much for Denver to handle. All-Star teammates last year, the two forwards combined for 52 points, 19 rebounds and nine assists.

Devin Harris turns ankle again

The Mavs suffered a blow when Devin Harris left four minutes into the fourth quarter after re-injuring his left ankle. Harris had just converted a driving layup before falling into a photographer under the basket.

He immediately grabbed his ankle. Wincing in pain, Harris was carried to the locker room by Juwan Howard and Trenton Hassell. Harris sprained the same ankle in the first quarter Friday against the Los Angeles Lakers.

He did not accompany the team to Memphis and is scheduled to undergo an MRI exam tomorrow. A timetable for his return will not be set until the extent of the injury is determined.

“I am pretty sore,” Harris said. “I am going to get an MRI tomorrow and be re-evaluated. I will just have to wait and see how I am doing then.”

Josh Howard is a focus, too

Opponents take pride in slowing down Dirk Nowitzki. It’s a feather in their cap if they can bottle up the reigning MVP. It’s the same for the Mavericks when then face the likes of Allen Iverson, who visited American Airlines Center with the rest of the Nuggets on Sunday. (Carmelo Anthony was out with an ankle sprain.)

Denver coach George Karl, no doubt, had his sights set on slowing down Nowitzki, but he wasn’t the only one on the radar. Josh Howard, an All-Star last season, is seeing more attention come his way every night.

“I don’t really pay attention to it,” Howard shrugged before the game. “I just go out there and play my game regardless of what’s going on or the defense that the other team is playing. I’m just trying to stay consistent.”

Remaining consistent is the one reason Howard is a strong contender to join the Western Conference squad in New Orleans next month. The starting small forward is having a career year – 20.6 points and 7.6 rebounds – after last year’s career year.

“Josh is a tough player to slow down because he’s mixing up his game more now,” Dallas coach Avery Johnson said. “He’s getting us layups on the break, he’s running the offense for us, he’s getting in-between shots, he’s making the long shot and now he’s making some terrific passes when he’s covered.”

Read the rest of this note and more in Mavs-Nuggets notebook at

Full attention on Denver before road trip

After the Mavs face Denver tonight at American Airlines Center, the next four are on the road. Getting a win before leaving town isn’t the sole motivation. Avery Johnson has plenty to think about with Allen Iverson, who torched the Mavs for 35 in the Nuggets’ 122-109 in early December.

“Just because we’re going out on this road trip, I think we need a win period,” Johnson said. “This is a team that we had one of our poorer efforts against, but we didn’t play well. We lost the night before [at San Antonio], we turned the ball over, we weren’t physical, Iverson had back-to-back great games. I think he had 50 points [51 actually] the night before against LA [Lakers] and then came against us and had a huge night. We’ve got to play much better.”

Is the upcoming stretch of 11 of 15 on the road the most difficult of the season?

“If we make it difficult,” Johnson replied. “If we play like we did in the third quarter against the Lakers when we built that 17-point lead, then we will have a chance. If we played like we did against Washington, then we have no chance.”