Saturday, March 8, 2008

Notables from 111-91 win vs. Nets

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: Dallas led 30-24 when Nowitzki and Kidd returned with 8:24 to go in the 2nd quarter. The Mavs started a 22-10 run at the 8:07 mark. At half, they had extended their lead to 52-34.

• In his 743rd regular season game, Dirk Nowitzki (16,644 points) became the Mavericks all-time franchise scoring leader, passing Rolando Blackman (16,643 points). Blackman’s record stood for nearly 18 years (since late in the 1989-90 season) until Nowitzki scored 34 points tonight (10-18 FGs, 2-3 3FGs, 12-12 FTs) to move into first place all-time.
• Tonight’s was Nowitzki’s 17th game of 30+ points.
• Jerry Stackhouse has made 36 consecutive free throws with his last miss coming vs. GS (1/2).
• Brandon Bass scored a career-high 19 points (career-highs 8-13 FGs, 3-3 FTs). His previous high was 18 points @ SA (12/5).
• For the third time this season, Malik Allen came down with a season-high 9 rebounds (season-high tying 4 OR).
• Devean George left the game in the 1st half with lower back tightness and didn’t return.
• For the third time this season, the Mavericks held their opponent to just 34 1st half points. The Nets scored 34 points on an opponent 1st half low 27.9% (12-43 FGs, 2-7 3FGs) field goal shooting and 57.1% (8-14 FTs) free throw shooting.
• The Mavericks improved to 10-2 when holding their opponent to under 40% shooting from the field. New Jersey shot 38.6% (32-83 FGs, 4-13 3FGs) for the game.
• The Mavericks started their 19th lineup of the season with Jo. Howard, Nowitzki, Dampier, Stackhouse and Kidd.
• Tonight’s attendance was 20,399 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 264 consecutive regular season games at AAC and 302 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.

Dirk sets scoring record in win over Nets

As much as some wanted to make Saturday night about those who were once here, the guy that never left has always been the story. Dirk Nowitzki added another chapter to his ever-growing legacy as the all-time leading scorer in the history of the Mavericks.

The reigning MVP scored 34 in the 111-91 victory over New Jersey, eclipsing the record held by Rolando Blackman for the last 18 years. The Mavs (40-23) snapped a three-game skid, remained in seventh in the Western Conference and hope to build some momentum with less than 20 games remaining in the regular season.

Taking a pass from Jason Kidd on the low block, Nowitzki broke the franchise record with a step-back jumper over Richard Jefferson with 4:50 left in the fourth quarter. The 20,399 fans at a sold-out American Airlines Center erupted with a standing ovation. A confetti shower followed the final horn.

“Well obviously it’s a great honor to be the all-time leading scorer for this franchise,” Nowitzki said as he winds up his tenth season. “There have been so many great players along the way. Ro Blackman is a friend of mine and he coached the German National team one year so I’m really, really close to him, so I hate to break that record and take it from him, but it’s definitely a great honor for me.”

Nowitzki checked out at the next stoppage and received a hug from Avery Johnson before congratulations followed on the bench. Nowitzki’s point total has reached 16,644 – one more than Blackman.

“That was a pretty strong moment for us and I know it was for me,” Johnson said. “During my coaching tenure, I’ve had the pleasure of working with Dirk as a player and coach, and it’s been a great ride.

“He allows me to push him. I think I’m probably on him more than anybody. I know sometimes, there’s some disappointment about some of his performances, but nobody’s on him probably as hard as I am. He’s allowed me to try to bring out the best of him. He’s had a triple-double this year, he’s been MVP. He defends the paint better, he has a better post-up game, he’s a better passer. He’s really just been a joy to work with.”

The ride has been pretty bumpy lately, especially Thursday without a suspended Nowitzki in the lackluster home loss to Houston.

“I told Dirk just don’t get any more flagrant fouls,” Johnson quipped.

Johnson: Throw away the pacifier

It’s time to get it together and quit with the excuses. That was Avery Johnson’s message to the team, one he left on the white grease board inside the locker room. He hopes the not-so-subtle memo serves as a call to action with a quarter of the regular season left.

Since the Jason Kidd trade, the talk has been about “adjustment” and “incorporating new pieces” and “learning the system” and “extended training camp.” You can go on and on. In so many words, Johnson said: “Enough.” It’s time to get it and start winning.

“We don’t want to keep sucking on that pacifier for the rest of the season,” Johnson said of the multiple excuses.

Johnson added: “At some point, some things are going to start clicking.”

Stack starts and Jet sits

Jerry Stackhouse opened in the starting lineup, the 19th different opening five used by the Mavs this season. The first group: Stackhouse and Jason Kidd in the backcourt, with Josh Howard, Dirk Nowitzki and Erick Dampier up front.

Jason Terry is coming off the bench for the first time since Feb. 20 after making eight straight starts. Avery Johnson had recently tabbed Terry the permanent starter with Kidd.

Brandon Bass, Devean George and Malik Allen all came into the game before Terry, who checked in at the 3:41 mark of the first quarter.

Juwan Howard, Tyronn Lue and Eddie Jones are on the inactive list. In his search for a consistent backup center, Johnson wants to get a good look at Jamaal Magloire tonight.

Devin looks for normal in return

It’s been a surreal yet somewhat normal day for Devin Harris. He tried to make this feel like a home game as much as possible, but didn’t know where the visitors’ locker room was inside American Airlines Center.

His usual pregame routine during his days with the Mavs was low key. He would sit at his locker directly in front of the big screen and watch film while answering a few questions from us media types. Tonight he held a full-scale press conference outside the Nets’ locker room.

As far as basketball, the transition to New Jersey appears smooth considering the lack of practice, the lack of wins and Harris’ return from injury. He’s enjoying running the Princeton offense and the freedom given by Nets coach Lawrence Frank.

“It’s definitely a different set up,” Harris said. “I have no restraints whatsoever. The team is mine. The play calling is mine. I’ve got pretty much total control out there. It’s a different feeling than what I had in the past.”

It’s also interesting to hear some of the questions asked. You can tell where certain people stand when it comes to the trade and what they perceived were the reasons behind it.

One of the questions asked: Did Dallas give up on you?

Harris quickly put that in perspective: “I got traded for Jason Kidd. That’s a lot. Give up on me? I don’t think so.”

Another: Were you a scapegoat for the Mavs’ problems?

Harris: “I don’t know. I don’t pay attention to a lot of that stuff. …If you look at the way they’re playing, Dirk’s numbers are up. Who’s to say they’re not right.”

Harris admitted it wasn’t natural referring to the Mavs as “they” at first.

“It took me a while to get to that,” he said. “I used to say ‘we.’”

Jet: “Do or die tonight”

Not only have the Mavs slipped to the bottom end of the Western Conference playoff picture, but as crazy as it may seem, scenarios are being painted that don’t include a postseason trip. Dallas has lost three in row, including Thursday’s listless 113-98 home loss to Houston.

The Mavs do have the easiest remaining schedule of the West contenders and face the first of five consecutive teams with losing records tonight with New Jersey.

“It’s do or die tonight,” Jason Terry said. “This obviously is a tremendous game for us. I’m very disappointed after our last performance, especially here at home in front of our fans. I feel like we let ourselves down and we let them down. We’re going to come out, its going to be an emotional game and we’re going to have to bring it for 48 minutes.”

The Mavs have been waiting to run off string of wins, particularly since the addition of Jason Kidd.

“There’s no holding back tonight at all, and for the rest of the season, for that matter,” Terry said. “Tonight especially. To get a streak going you have to win one and this has to be the one that gets us going.”

Jerry Stackhouse said there’s no sense worrying what’s going on above or below the Mavs in the standings.

“That’s the thing you can’t do,” Stackhouse said. “You’ve just got to worry about yourself and what we’re doing, and try to cure our ills. Winning is a cure-all.

“If we’re able to string together a couple wins and start feeling good about what we’re doing on the court, you always have ups and downs during the course of the game, but whenever you have a good end result, it always makes things a lot better.”

Johnson: Tough trading Devin & Diop

We heard from the players yesterday on the emotions associated with the return of Devin Harris and Gana Diop. What about the man that had to pull the trigger on the blockbuster deal that sent Jason Kidd back to Dallas?

“I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t a different feeling,” Avery Johnson said earlier today. “We have some men over there that we’ve invested a lot of time into and we’ve been through a lot of different, tough games with and they cooperated while they were here and were very coachable, so, yeah, it is a little different.

“But we’re just in need of trying to play well. Once the ball goes up, you’ll forget about all that and everybody will play as hard as they can.”

Losers of three straight, the Mavs need a win in the worst way tonight against New Jersey at American Airlines Center. That’s got to be the focus. And though the NBA is a business, personal relationships aren’t brushed aside.

“Devin and Diop are two of the toughest players I’ve ever had to trade,” Johnson admitted. “Those players, I was kind of emotionally attached to. So it was tough to talk to them and let them know they were involved in this trade, but everybody has to move on.”

It shouldn’t take long tonight.

“It’s good to catch up, but once you’re on the court and in between the lines it’s all business,” Jerry Stackhouse said.

After about five minutes, emotions burn off and, as Stackhouse added: “It becomes the Mavs against the Nets. Both teams are striving and trying to get back in the playoff picture.”

Johnson went through similar separation issues as a player with two of the coaches he’s closest to – Gregg Popovich and Don Nelson. Though he parted ways on a few occasions with both, Johnson remained close to Pop and Nellie.

And just as he did with those two, Johnson hopes the friendship with Harris and Diop perseveres. Perhaps someday they can have dinner together.

“You have those strong ties to some players,” Johnson said. “Some players are easier to trade than others and those two right there were definitely hard.”

Johnson also continues to believe that Harris could be an All-Star down the road: “He has that potential. Who knows how it’s going to all come together.”

Friday, March 7, 2008

Lue spurns Shaq to join Mavs

How much did Tyronn Lue want to play with the Mavs? Well, he cautiously spurned the recruiting efforts of an old friend and teammate before deciding to sign with Big D.

“Shaq called like 12 times one day, he was like, ‘You’ve got to come out. I need ya, I need ya.’ ‘Man, I can’t do it,’” said Lue, replaying the conversation today.

In addition to Phoenix, Lue’s list of suitors included New York, Chicago, Denver and another team he couldn’t quite remember. He made up his mind to come to Dallas even before the Suns signed Gordan Giricek.

The Big Cactus wasn’t too happy with Lue’s choice.

“I took a lot of stuff from Shaq,” Lue said with a smile. “He’s pretty mad at me. He called me all kind of names.”

Lue wasn’t about to repeat the names. He did talk about his reasons for coming here: The chance to play with Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd, as well as being a part of first-class organization and playoff contender.

Lue has been in Atlanta for the last four years before being traded to and cut by Sacramento.

“It’s a great opportunity,” he said. “I’m happy to be here. Coming from Atlanta, we were a young team, so we were rebuilding. That was a tough process for a guy. I was glad to come back to a winning team and a winning sit with a great group of guys.”

He’s nursing a calf injury – it’s still a little stiff and sore – and doesn’t expect to play until next week. He feels comfortable with the offense, and is looking forward to playing behind and learning from Kidd.

“Just give J-Kidd a little break every now and then playing 12-13 minutes or whatever he needs,” Lue said. “Pressuring the ball full court, playing good defense, all the hustle plays, taking charges, diving on the floor or whatever. It’s nothing dramatic. Just play the way I’m capable of doing.”

Emotional return for Harris and Diop

Of course there’s going to be some emotion spilled inside American Airlines Center tomorrow night when a few former Mavericks make their return as New Jersey Nets. The outpouring should be especially moving for Devin Harris and Gana Diop, two integral parts of the Mavs’ success over the last several years.

“They played their hearts out every time they stepped on the court for this organization, so I wish them luck for the future,” Dirk Nowitzki said today after practice. “Hopefully the fans will give them a warm welcome. I think they deserve it after what they’ve done here for these couple years. It will be good to see them and hopefully they have a good game, but the Mavericks can win.”

Trenton Hassell and Moe Ager are also returning. Those four were shipped to New Jersey (along with a semi-retired Keith Van Horn) as part of the mammoth Jason Kidd trade last month. Harris has looked sharp since coming back from his foot injury, while Diop’s playing time has fluctuated.

“They’re happy to be playing and having an opportunity to play,” Josh Howard said. “I’m happy that they are, but I know they miss the city.”

Howard has spoken to several times to his former teammates. He expects them to be sufficiently motivated, but said that’s not what tomorrow is all about.

“Those guys are doing what they have to do,” he said. “It’s a job. I could have easily been one of those guys that got traded, but after a while you have a job to do and that’s what they’re doing.”

And don’t forget, Howard and his current teammates are plenty motivated to end a three-game losing skid and start building some momentum with 20 games left in the regular season. Houston snapped the Mavs’ 12-game home winning streak last night.

“We have to protect our home court,” Howard said. “We had a rough loss last night. We can’t let those guys come in here and beat us. That’ll give them extra bragging rights.”

Get a preview of the Nets in the today’s notebook at

Thursday, March 6, 2008

Notables from 113-98 loss to Rockets

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: The game was tied at 55 with 10:13 to go in the 3rd quarter. From that point, Houston went on a 30-13 run. At the 47.6 mark of the period, Houston led 85-68.

• Dirk Nowitzki missed tonight’s game to an NBA suspension.
• Into tonight, the Mavs had won 6 straight over the Rockets and 5 consecutive games at the AAC.
• For the first time in 13 games (11/4/06), the Rockets scored more than 100 points against the Mavs. Over the last 10 games vs. DAL, the Rockets had averaged just 85.8 points per game.
• Houston extended their franchise-long winning streak to 17 games. The Rockets have won their last 8 games by at least 10 points.
• Dallas’ 12-game home win streak was snapped tonight. The Mavs had not lost at home since falling to CLE, 81-88 (12/27).
• Tonight’s was the worst home loss of the season (lost by 13, 109-122, to DEN on 12/6).
Houston’s Rafer Alston scored a season-high 24 points (10-21 FGs, 2-7 3FGs, 2-2 FTs). His previous high was 23 vs. SAC (2/13).
• Tonight’s attendance was 20,315 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 262 consecutive regular season games at AAC and 300 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 are listless in loss to Rockets

The suggestion was made by a respected team insider that the Mavericks were playing their most important game of the season Thursday night.

Some of his reasons:
• A win would snap a two-game losing streak to open a critical five-game stand at American Airlines Center.
• A win would snap Houston’s franchise-record 16-game winning streak and extend the Mavs’ home streak to 13.
• A win would also sweep the series with the Rockets, providing a mental edge against a possible playoff opponent.
• A win without Dirk Nowitzki would also big a confidence boost for a team in search of momentum.
• A win would also keep a one-game cushion in the loss column over eighth-place Golden State in the Western Conference standings.

So what does a loss mean? At this point, it’s anyone’s guess, but the immediate fallout from the 113-98 setback to Houston wasn’t pretty. The Mavs vowed before the game that they needed to get on a roll and take command of their destiny, much as the Rockets have the last five weeks.

“They’re playing with a lot of confidence right now,” Avery Johnson said. “We don’t have a swagger yet. We better get one pretty soon.”

Two of the main attractions – Nowitzki and Yao Ming – were sidelined and the reasons why were as different as how each team dealt with each absence. The Rockets haven’t missed a beat without their All-Star center, winning their last five since his foot injury to extend their run to 17.

Are the Mavs feeling pressure to turn it around? Devin Harris and the New Jersey Nets are on tap Saturday.

“Well, yeah, it’s evident and we have to have a big performance to snap out of this thing and everyone has to look at themselves and see what each individual can do better within the team concept and we have to get in rolling,” said Jason Terry, scoreless in the second half after netting 17 points in the first.

Read the rest of this story and get additional coverage at

Bass making first Mavs start

Brandon Bass is making his first start with the Mavs in place of Dirk Nowitzki. The rugged power forward plays a game that can’t be confused with Nowitzki’s, so Bass won’t try to be the MVP.

“I’m not thinking about it too much,” Bass said. “I’m just going to go out and play. It’s not going to be Dirk. It’s going to be Brandon Bass in my role, just the same as when I come off the bench. Give us my little spark on defense and offense.”

Avery Johnson added during pregame that Devean George, Juwan Howard and Malik Allen should figure into the mix tonight. Johnson didn’t have to give Bass a pep talk before the game. Bass said he didn’t need the extra pressure.

“I definitely feel more comfortable,” Bass said.

Nowitzki's take on his suspension

Dirk Nowitzki wasn’t surprised by the one-game suspension that followed Monday’s takedown of Andrei Kirilenko. Addressing the league punishment at today’s shootaround, Nowitzki thought the league office made up its mind before even talking to him yesterday morning.

“That’s why they review stuff and they have the right to do whatever they want,” he said. “To me the guys at the NBA that make the decision, they never played the sport in their lives. They don’t know what it is, they don’t how it feels like to be out there and get caught in the air, so they really don’t know what’s going on in a player’s head.”

Nowitzki wasn’t sure what the deciding factor was in the league’s ruling.

“I guess they were saying I grabbed him by the neck and threw him down,” he said. “That’s not what happened. It may look on film like that because I lost my balance and the only place I could grab him was around the neck and everything happened so quick. If they think that was intentional, then that’s what they think. Like I said, they never played this game in their lives.”

Though he hates to lose the reigning MVP, Avery Johnson did put the suspension in some perspective.

“Definitely wasn’t trying to injure him,” Johnson said. “We’re a much more physical team than what we used to be, but we don’t want to injure anybody. That’s the league decision and I guess if one of our players were in that situation, we probably would want the same thing to happen.”

Nowitzki spoke with a league security official once before practice yesterday. The league notified assistant general manager Keith Grant of the suspension without talking to Nowitzki again.

“They didn’t feel the need to talk me again, so I figure why even bother calling them in the morning and tell my story if this is going to happen anyway,” Nowitzki said. “I think they already had their mind made up, so it’s really for nothing.”

Nowitzki’s frustration with the “hearing” process was obvious. Unlike other sports, the NBA doesn’t grant appeals after suspensions are announced. He’s sitting out tonight’s visit from the streaking Rockets and will be back for New Jersey on Saturday.

“I got the hearing, but I figured they already had their mind made up,” Nowitzki continued. “I don’t know why they waited until yesterday, too. They could have contacted me Tuesday, so I don’t know what they do in that office, but I’m going to take the suspension and move on.”

As he explained Monday night, Nowitzki wasn’t trying to hurt Kirilenko. He just got caught up in the air after the Russian pump-faked under the basket, and his arm came down across his neck. Kirilenko fell on his right hip and was in obvious pain. He was later taken to the hospital for further tests.

“Just a bad, bad feeling,” Nowitzki said. “First of all, he’s a fellow European. I know him very well. We played against each other growing up, so I have a lot of respect for him. I don’t play ever to hurt people. I think everybody knows that.

“It’s just an unfortunate incident. As soon he got up, I walked over there and wanted to know if he’s OK, but he couldn’t really say much to me. At halftime I went up to their trainer that I know and asked him how he’s doing. I felt bad, but plays like that happen in this league. You have athletes going at each other at 100 mph and everybody is going fast and playing hard, and stuff happens.”

Nowitzki did add: “The unfortunate part was that Kirilenko jumped up, too. If he would have stayed on the ground and then I would have just landed awkward on his back, I would have just grabbed him and everything [would have been] OK.”

Since he can’t be at American Airlines Center tonight for the start of the key five-game homestand, Nowitzki joked he may watch the game at a bar with fans. Don’t get too excited. He’ll catch the game from the comforts of home.

Replacing the MVP in the lineup won’t be easy. Johnson has a platoon of Brandon Bass, Devean George, Malik Allen and Juwan Howard available. Johnson also said Erick Dampier could expect a few more touches.

“We’ll have to do it by committee,” Johnson said.

Josh Howard: “Start of our run right here”

The red-hot Rockets bring a franchise-record 16-game winning streak into American Airlines Center tonight, with the last four wins coming without the out-for-the-season Yao Ming. The Mavs have dropped two straight and three of four, and took a blow yesterday with Dirk Nowitzki’s one-game suspension.

Houston begins a stretch of nine out of 10 at home, and the Mavs know need to get something going. They’re seventh in the Western Conference, having been leapfrogged by Houston in the standings.

“They’ve got something going, but they’re coming up here to Dallas and we’re a great home team,” Josh Howard said. “We don’t back down from any challenge. This is going to be the start of our run right here.”

Wednesday, March 5, 2008

Chance to rebound & bond on homestand

There’s obviously frustration dissecting the last three losses against three of the top four seeds in the rugged Western Conference. The Mavericks held fourth-quarter leads against the Spurs, Lakers and Jazz before falling short.

“It’s obviously a little frustrating,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “We’d love to win those games.”

But there’s also another way to look at it. The Mavs did hold fourth-quarter leads against Spurs, Lakers and Jazz. Having a chance to win, especially on the road, for a team in transition can’t be discounted. The cynic may say it’s looking through blue-colored glasses, but the Mavs were in position late in each of those games.

“We’re right there,” said point guard Jason Kidd, eight games into his new gig. “We’re right there. When you look at the schedule, we fought down to almost the last possession in a lot of these games. Unfortunately, we don’t like to lose, but we have to look at what we did right and also what we did wrong.”

Some of what went wrong isn’t exactly blatant. The missed free throws and turnovers are obvious factors, but there’s also the issue of largely unseen errors dealing with timing and positioning. Kidd is a directing an offense – and new teammates – on the fly. If just one person is a little unsure of a play, it can throw off everyone’s rhythm.

“Maybe we need to get used to each other a little more,” Nowitzki said. “If you want to win big games on the road, you’ve got to be one unit and everybody has got to know what the other man is doing on both ends of the floor. One little mistake down the stretch can cost you a game against those good teams.

“It’ll take a couple more games to complete what we’re doing [and] Jason getting all the defensive calls right. While he’s out there, you get tricks, things thrown at you and you’ve got to react like that and I don’t think it’s all natural yet.”

Read the rest of this note and get a Rockets’ preview in today’s notebook at

Lue won't debut vs. Rockets

New backup point guard Tyronn Lue, signed Tuesday night, went through a limited practice Wednesday and didn’t take part in contact drills. He won’t be in uniform against Houston.

“Once we can get him into the fold, we hope to just have a veteran point guard,” Avery Johnson said. “Somebody with a lot of playoff experience and somebody who can make a shot at that position. This will help us to keep [Jason Terry] at the 2-guard spot, which we love right now. It will get us another ball handler, another experienced player in the back court position.”

Nowitzki suspended for Kirilenko flagrant

Dirk Nowitzki won’t be on the floor for Houston’s visit to American Airlines Center tomorrow night. The Mavs’ leading scorer and rebounder was suspended one game without pay for his Flagrant Foul against Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko.

The flagrant foul was upgraded from a Penalty One to a Penalty Two, NBA executive vice president Stu Jackson announced today. The incident occurred with 7:04 remaining in the first period of the Mavs’ 116-110 loss at Utah on Monday. The Rockets are also down a big man, with Yao Ming (foot surgery) out for the season.

“We have a lot of big bodies,” Avery Johnson said. “Obviously, nobody is like Dirk. We have to have somebody step up for us.”

Look for an extra serving of Devean George and Brandon Bass, with Malik Allen and Juwan Howard worked into the mix.

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

Lue officially signs with Mavs

Tyronn Lue signed with the Mavericks for the rest of the season just minutes ago. The veteran point guard will be at tomorrow’s practice and could be in uniform Thursday against Houston at American Airlines Center.

Avery Johnson and Jason Terry both addressed Lue’s addition last night at Utah. Read about it below or in the Mavs-Jazz notebook at

Here are the details from the press release announcing the signing: Lue (6-0, 175) played 33 games for Atlanta this season and averaged 6.8 points and 1.8 assists in 17.1 minutes. On February 16, he was traded from Atlanta to Sacramento, along with guard Anthony Johnson, centers Sheldon Williams and Lorenzen Wright and a 2008 second round draft choice, but never saw action with the Kings due to a left calf strain.

The 10-year pro has career averages of 9.1 points, 3.4 assists and 1.8 rebounds while shooting 43.6% from the field in 493 total games with five different teams (Los Angeles Lakers, Washington, Orlando, Houston and Atlanta).

Last season, Lue had the best scoring season of his career as he averaged 11.4 points, along with 3.6 assists, 1.9 rebounds and 0.4 steals in 26.6 minutes per game with the Hawks. He won NBA Championships with the L.A. Lakers in 2000 and 2001.

Western Conference Call

Sports are riddled with curses but there are few associated with the NBA although the 1986 NBA Draft had more than its fair share of tragedy and busts. However, maybe the Sports Illustrated cover jinx has brought its hex to the NBA.

Those who follow the NBA as does the SI article saw the inherent risks in the trade and anticipated possible negatives. But rational thought never stopped a good sports curse debate and the Mavs are just 4-4 since the trade.

Interestingly, the re-acquisition of Kidd who was drafted by the Mavs in 1994 also brings together three members (Kidd, Juwan Howard and Eddie Jones) all selected in the top ten of that draft class.

The other debate surrounding the Kidd trade was that it was prompted by the recent slew of Western Conference power moves. Head Coach Avery Johnson, however, downplayed that notion.

The Mavs though are rebuilding on the run. The team added a big that they lost in DeSagana Diop in the Kidd trade with signing Jamaal Magloire. In addition, the Mavs picked up Tyronn Lue to back up Kidd at the point guard.

Keep up with the rest of the Mavs’ neighbors in the Conference Call West on

Josh Howard's Celebrity Bowling Tourney

Reminder, The Josh Howard Foundation will host its first annual celebrity bowling event tomorrow, March 5th, from 6:30 p.m. - 9:30 p.m. at 300 Dallas Bowling Center in Addison (3805 Beltline Rd., Addison, TX 75001).

"I am very excited to be hosting my first bowling tournament in Dallas," Howard said. "Bowling is one of my favorite things to do and it's great to be able to combine one of my hobbies with an opportunity to raise money to make a difference in my community."
Team entry fees are $3,000 and consist of 5 players. There will be a VIP draft party to bid on Howard and his celebrity friends to be the 6th member of the bowling team. All bowlers will receive a bowling shirt, goodie bag and team photo, along with food and drinks.
Anyone interested in purchasing a team can contact Wayne Watts at 972-872-1751 or

Mavs Kids Club: “Think About Your Drink”

In a continuing effort to promote the importance for children to get three servings of dairy foods (milk, cheese or yogurt) daily, the Mavs Kids Club, Three-A-Day and Borden are giving one Metroplex child the chanceto have breakfast with Mavs guard Jason Terry.

The winner of the “Think About Your Drink” sweepstakes will receive breakfast at American Airlines Center for five friends and Terry, along with a one-year supply of Borden milk.

“Low-fat and non-fat milk and dairy foods are among the most recent Dietary Guidelines Food Groups to Encourage, 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 Borden milk, cheese and yogurt ensures they receive the vitamins and minerals they need to be fit and healthy while taking in the appropriate amount of calories. Drinking Borden milk with meals provides calcium and eight other nutrients to help build strong bones and healthy bodies.”

The contest is underway. Children ages 6-12 can obtain an entry form at the Borden display in participating Metroplex Albertsons. Entries are due by March 21, 2008. A full list of rules is available on

Dirk feels for Kirilenko

Dirk Nowitzki scored 23 on a night when he was hounded by boos after a first-quarter takedown of Andrei Kirilenko. Already disliked in these parts for his infamous “Utah is a bad city” remark years ago, Nowitzki’s flagrant foul five minutes into the game eventually sent Kirilenko to the hospital.

Kirilenko had the ball under the basket and hesitated slightly before taking it up. Nowitzki mistimed his block attempt and whipped his right arm across Kirilenko’s neck. The Russian fell on his right hip and hobbled to the locker room for X-rays, which were inconclusive. He was wheeled out of the arena and taken to a local hospital for further tests.

“Tough situation,” Nowitzki said. “He pump-faked me under the hoop and I left my feet and I didn’t want to give up the ‘and 1,’ so I tried to grab him and unfortunately grabbed him around the neck. Things went so fast.”

Nowitzki felt bad about the incident and added: “Hopefully, he’ll be OK.”

According to reports out of Utah, the X-rays were negative and Kirilenko was scheduled to undergo an MRI exam today.

Monday, March 3, 2008

Comeback falls short in Utah

SALT LAKE CITY – The Mavericks came out of losses at San Antonio and the Los Angeles Lakers knowing they competed. Avery Johnson reemphasized as much before squaring off with another Western Conference heavyweight Monday night.

“We’re competing at a high level,” Johnson said about 90 minutes before tip-off against Utah. “We’re not backing down from anybody. We’re physical. We’re making hard fouls. We’re rebounding the basketball, so I would say the positive is we’re trying to hit first.

“We are the aggressors in a lot of ways, but we still have some breakdowns defensively and offensively that we’ll try to work through.”

Many of those breakdowns surfaced as the Jazz jumped out to a 25-6 lead reminiscent of its 16-0 spurt to open the game the last time these teams met at EnergySolutions Arena. Much as they did during that cold December night, the Mavs didn’t wilt.

Johnson’s crew methodically fought back and made it a ballgame. But they dropped another heartbreaker. The Mavs battled back from as much as 21 down to take a fourth-quarter lead before falling 116-110 on the back end of a brutal road back-to-back.

The Mavs (39-22) took their first lead of the game in the fourth quarter and held a 92-89 edge with 6 ½ minutes left. The Jazz, on the verge of their first home loss since Dec. 29, responded with a thundering 16-0 run that appeared to salt away the win.

Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd had other ideas. Several big baskets from the duo got the Mavs within striking distance, but Utah milked the clock successfully and made its free throws to ice the victory.

“We kept playing and fighting,” Kidd said. “In the second half we played better basketball. Made things a little tougher on them and worked the deficit down where we took the lead. It was anybody’s ballgame.

“We had a couple turnovers coming down the stretch and we missed some shots, but it was anybody’s ballgame until the end.”

Jones on the mend

Eddie Jones didn’t make the two-game road trip to rehab a sore knee. He’s expected to undergo an MRI exam this week.

“We’re just trying to move him forward,” Avery Johnson said. “He hasn’t been in the best shape this year and we need him to go to another level with his conditioning.”

Josh needs to slash

Josh Howard went into the Jazz game shooting 36.5 percent (31 of 85) in his last five games. Avery Johnson said he’s settling too much for jumpers and not getting to the rim. That point was reinforced in Monday morning’s film session.

“He’s just going to have to be more aggressive with the drive,” Johnson said. “They’re sitting on his jump shot, and he’s going to have to be more aggressive to dive, mix his game up more and pretty much do what got him into the league.”

Howard hasn’t seen the same spike in numbers as his frontcourt mate Dirk Nowitzki with Jason Kidd running the offense.

“He’s got his shots,” Johnson said of Howard. “Kidd is getting him the ball. The ball is just not going in the basket. Hopefully he can be a little bit more aggressive and the ball can go in the basket.”

Backing up Damp; Magloire debuts

Chief among Avery Johnson’s concerns, at least in relation to the bench, is finding a dependable body behind Erick Dampier. Jamaal Magloire, Malik Allen and Juwan Howard are the candidates.

“I’ve got to find a backup center, if it’s just for 10 minutes a night,” Johnson said. “Whomever it is.”

The job description is simple enough: Rebound and protect the paint. Magloire, a former All-Star and the only true center among the reserves, is confident he can do just that. In an effort to catch up, he recently bought a portable DVD player to watch extra film. He also makes sure to sit next to Howard on the bench.

“He’s been helping me with questions I have,” Magloire said. “Physically, I feel good. I’m working out twice a day. I’m just trying to get ready for whenever I’m called.”

He made his Mavs’ debut at the 4:07 mark of the first quarter against Utah. Magloire was inactive for his first two games and didn’t get off the bench in the Lakers’ loss.

Lue headed to Dallas

With the upcoming addition of Tyronn Lue, the Mavericks have put together the team they plan to take in the playoffs. The veteran point guard is coming on board as Jason Kidd’s backup and should sign Tuesday.

“He’s a nice addition and we look forward to having him at practice and playing in his first game,” Avery Johnson said before the Jazz game.

Considered a solid floor general if not the classic point guard, Lue provides an experienced backup behind Kidd and eases the load on starting shooting guard Jason Terry. Johnson had used Terry as Kidd’s primary backup, but Lue alleviates that issue.

“He gives us stability at the backup point guard position,” Terry said. “A guy who’s been in the Finals before, a veteran with experience who is not going to turn the ball over and he can hit the open shot.”

Lue (6-0, 175) has logged 493 games (173 starts) over 10 NBA seasons, with career averages of 9.1 points and 3.4 assists, and was part of two championship teams with the Lakers. The Nebraska product is known for his quickness and he has a reputation as a solid locker room presence. The roster is at the 15-man maximum with Lue.

Sacramento released Lue last week clearing his way to join a contender in time for the postseason. Lue never played for the Kings after they acquired him in the Mike Bibby trade to Atlanta. Lue was nursing a calf injury, but he’s healthy now.

Since coming back from the All-Star break, the Mavs have completely revamped their point guard rotation and changed out a few pieces on the bench. The challenges for Johnson are considerable, though he’s not worried about the team’s mental state coming off tough losses at San Antonio and the Lakers.

“We don’t even want that spirit,” he said. “There’s no ‘beat you down’ here. We’re a positive team. We haven’t been together that long. We’ve been able to respond from some tough losses.”

He’s assimilating new players into the system, while trying to improve playoff positioning with just about 20 games left in the regular season. The Mavs began Monday in seventh place in the tight Western Conference race.

“We’re going to have to get going here soon,” Johnson said. “We’ve been laying the groundwork to really improve our season.”

Terry added: “Yesterday we were in fifth. Tomorrow we may be in fifth again. You know you’ve just got to win games, and win more than you lose. That’s what we’re focused on.”

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Following the Gasol lead?

LOS ANGELES – The suggestion has been made the Pau Gasol trade to the Lakers triggered the flurry of activity that reshaped the Western Conference. Avery Johnson downplayed that notion Sunday afternoon.

“It’s a different year,” he said. “I think everybody had a chance to do what they thought was in the best interest of their basketball team and it just so happened that it came post-Lakers trade. I know we had to do what’s best for us.

“I know Phoenix made a move. They did something that they felt was best for their team. Some teams didn’t make a major move. Maybe it was something a little subtle like the Spurs did with Kurt Thomas.”

Los Angeles entered the day virtually tied with San Antonio for the top seed in the conference, but Johnson wasn’t about to anoint the Lakers as the team to beat in the West.

“That remains to be seen,” Johnson added. “Once you have a chance to get to the Finals or have a serious run in the playoffs I think that’s going to really raise it. I think right now it’s just everybody is optimistic about their chances, but nobody has really had a chance to see what their team can do this year in the postseason.”

Ironically, the impact Gasol has had on the Lakers sounds a lot like Kidd’s on the Mavericks. Los Angeles has won 12 of 14 games since adding Gasol, a natural power forward starting at center with Andrew Bynum out.

“Now they’re a so much better passing team,” Johnson explained. “[Gasol is] a phenomenal passer, high basketball IQ, can finish in the paint, can shoot it. He was the best player on his team [in Memphis] and now coming over here obviously he’s not the best player, but to have that type of weapon come over has been very good. You can see it in the results.”

Terry bounced back from fall

Jason Terry banged his right shoulder on a hard fall with 8:14 left in the fourth quarter. He collided with Lakers guard Jordan Farmar on a long rebound, falling directly on the shoulder.

Terry winced in pain for several seconds before being escorted to the locker room. He returned less than two minutes later and played into overtime. It appeared Terry may have suffered a more serious injury, but he ended up playing 44 ½ minutes and scored 18.

“I felt something, but I just didn’t know what because it hadn’t happened before,” said Terry, who had the shoulder heavily iced after the game.

Kobe scores 52 as Mavs fall short in LA

LOS ANGELES – The Mavericks had one of the Western Conference’s best in their sights in the final few seconds for the second time in four days.

And for the second time, they fell just short.

Jason Kidd’s missed free throw with less than 10 seconds left in overtime enabled Kobe Bryant and the Lakers to close out their 108-104 victory Sunday afternoon. The Mavs (39-21) left the Staples Center for Utah knowing they once again had their chances.

“We were right there, but ‘right there’ in this league doesn’t get you anywhere,” said Dirk Nowitzki, one half of an epic duel with Bryant down the stretch. “You have to find a way to get those big stops. Somebody has to make the big shots so we win those games.

“Like I said, we had enough chances in both games. Just the little extra step is still missing. Hopefully we can keep working, keep improving, so we can win those big games on the road.”

Nowitzki scored a team-high 30, carrying the team in the fourth quarter and overtime with 21 points during that span. His dramatic 3-pointer with two seconds left in regulation, followed by a spirited verbal tirade, forced the extra session. But the reigning MVP was eventually upstaged by the one serenaded with “M-V-P” chants from the sellout crowd during his countless trips to the line.

Bryant’s season-high 52 points – the 22nd 50-point game of his career – were too much to overcome, especially considering the damage done when the clock was stopped. He took 27 free throws and made 20 – both totals more than the Mavs – and nailed his last 17. He scored 30 after the third period.

“We gave him a single look, then we double-teamed him, then we gave him a triple-team,” Avery Johnson said. “And he split the triple-team and scored. Obviously, he milked the free throw line on us tonight. And he just had it all going, but we tried to zone him, we tried to funnel him in the trap for a zone and he went the other way, so he didn’t cooperate on any of our defenses.

“He’s a great player. You can’t take anything away from him. He has these nights. Lots of these.”

Jet looking for clearance

Jason Terry is mired in a mini-slump going into today’s tip. He’s scored just 20 in the last three games and shot just 20 percent (3 of 15) in the last two.

More than the numbers, he just doesn’t look himself. He’s been unsure and tentative.

“He’s got to shoot,” Avery Johnson said. “Right now he’s thinking a little too much. He just needs to come off of screens and shoot. Sometimes he messes around a little bit too much in between thinking too much.

“We’re getting him great shots, I just think he needs to come off and shoot it. Sometimes he’s been open and he’s tried to pass. We don’t want him to get the Jason Kidd-itis. We want him to shoot.”

Allen auditioning for role

Casting director Avery Johnson has a couple of roles open on those occasions when he stretches out the rotation to 10. Malik Allen had a solid screen test Friday against the Kings with eight points (4-of-5 shooting) in 13 ½ minutes.

“We’ve got our eight-man rotation and we’re looking for that ninth and tenth guy, and he’s auditioning for it,” Johnson said from Hollywood, err, the Staples Center.

Allen doesn’t have Gary Oldman’s range, but his versatility is an asset. He can play both power forward and center behind Dirk Nowitzki and Erick Dampier, has a nice jumper and is a quick learner. He also isn’t afraid of working hard, a definite plus in Johnson’s book.

“That’s the bottom line,” Allen said. “Just play hard. If you do that a lot of things just kind of fall into place for you.”

Magloire active today against Lakers

After spending his first two games on the inactive roster, Jamaal Magloire will be one of the 12 available today against the Lakers. Avery Johnson, however, was noncommittal on the subject of playing time for the backup center.

“I’m not sure if he’s going to get in the game,” Johnson said.

It’s still a positive for Magloire, who hasn’t played in more than a month, but will be needed to battle the big bodies in the Western Conference. Antoine Wright, his former New Jersey teammate, will be inactive.