Saturday, April 19, 2008

Paul and Hornets draw first blood

NEW ORLEANS – The Mavericks wanted to come out swinging in Game 1 and connected … for a half. Chris Paul and the Hornets regrouped, hit back and drew first blood Saturday night.

New Orleans took a 1-0 series lead with a 104-92 victory before a raucous 17,446 fans at New Orleans Arena. The best-of-7 first-round slugfest resumes back on the same floor Tuesday.

The Mavs will spend the two days trying to figure out a way to slow down Paul, who single-handedly put the Hornets on his back in the second half, and regain their offensive poise. The MVP candidate scored 35 – 24 coming after the break – as New Orleans wiped out a 12-point deficit against a Mavericks team that lost its way.

“It’s one game,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “The playoffs are a game of adjustment. I thought we played a decent first half defensively, moved the ball some and got our running game going. In the second half you’ve got to look at what they did. Paul was phenomenal.”

For the second year in a row, the Mavs opened the postseason with a loss. Unlike last year against Golden State, homecourt advantage wasn’t lost after 48 minutes. A Game 2 victory would steal homecourt before the series shifts to American Airlines Center.

“We know this is going to be a long, grind-it-out series and fortunately there is a Game 2,” Mavs coach Avery Johnson said.

The Mavs were in position to get the Hornets’ first-ever Western Conference playoff game through two quarters. While the first half wasn’t particularly clean, the visitors did the better job of mucking it up. Displaying a physical edge to complement their playoff experience, the underdogs took a 12-point lead into the break. The Hornets struggled to get anyone going not named Paul.

Read the rest of this story and get more coverage of Game 1 at

Dirk sharing the load with Kidd

Dirk Nowitzki doesn’t have to be reminded of what happened in his last two playoffs series. There’s also no question of what his responsibility is to his team’s chances.

“I understand if we want to do some damage in the playoffs, I’ve got to play well,” he said. “I understand we as a team have to play well, but it starts with me.”

Nowitzki does have a more accomplished sidekick in Jason Kidd to help shoulder the load.

“Jason draws a lot of attention,” Avery Johnson said. “Jason is a perennial All-Star and because he’s a perennial All-Star, he draws a lot of attention. He can beat teams with the pass, he’s scoring more for us, so everybody’s not just focused in on Dirk.”

Looking to land a punch in Game 1

Game 1 is as good a time as any to steal homecourt advantage. If the Mavs are going to advance, they’ll have to win at least once in New Orleans.

“We’ve got to come out here and try to take a hard swing,” Avery Johnson said. “The first game on the road is always a game that’s up for grabs. A lot of times there’s a lot of pressure on the home team to try to get that game.

“We’re the seventh seed. They’re the team that’s been pretty consistent all year and they’ve had their same team together all year. We haven’t, so this game would be a good game to try to come out and take a hard swing and hopefully we’ll finish with one more point.”

What do the experts know?

A common theme tossed around this weekend is the Mavs being the pick of the “experts” to win this series. Naturally, they downplayed the notion.

“It’s total disrespect for New Orleans,” native son Avery Johnson said. “That’s what it is. A lot of people nationally, they don’t know what they’re talking about for the fact of the matter. Nobody has a crystal ball on who’s going to win, who’s going to lose. Nobody knows.

“All we know is we’re a seventh seed. They’ve had a terrific season. I don’t know what anyone would pick us anyway. They never pick us.”

The reigning MVP isn’t putting much stock in it, either.

“Can’t really worry about what the experts pick,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “They picked us last year to win some games and we lost in the first round. All that doesn’t matter now. It’s about how you perform in the playoffs. The regular season is done.

“Obviously, New Orleans has homecourt advantage. They’ve been great at home all year. We’ve got to find a way to steal one here. We haven’t been great on the road all season long. Hopefully, we can get it together and get some big stops down the stretch and find a way to contain [Chris] Paul somehow.”

Friday, April 18, 2008

Mavs up 1-0?

The opening game of a series usually involves a feeling-out process for both sides. The same holds true for a team in the playoffs for the first time in years, such as the Hornets.

And unless teams have a past playoff history (see: Spurs-Suns), it usually takes a game or two for the emotions and the intensity to get amped up. Postseason rivalries don’t happen overnight.

But the Mavs-Hornets matchup may have gotten a jumpstart Wednesday when they met to conclude the regular season. The Hornets were in position to possibly knock Dallas to the eighth seed with an 11-point lead before the Mavs rallied for a 13-point win.

“You can possibly look at that as the first game of the series, but we don’t get credit for it as a win,” Jerry Stackhouse said. “It’s one of things that just as we’re looking at it, they’re looking at it the same way. They’ll go back to the drawing board. The playoffs are about making adjustments.

“What happened in that game [Wednesday] night won’t necessarily be indicative of what will happen in Game 1 and definitely won’t be indicative what happens in latter games as the series goes on.”

Notes: Mavs in the playoffs

Need some hope? Well, the Mavs wouldn't be the first seventh seed to pull a first-round upset. Check this out along with some other playoff notables compliments of our top-notch media relations staff.

SPRINGTIME TRADITION: Dallas is making its eighth straight appearance in the NBA Playoffs and its 14th overall. This extends the longest streak in franchise history and is currently the second best in the NBA, trailing only San Antonio’s 11 consecutive postseasons. Dallas is the Western Conference’s seventh seed after finishing the season 51-31 and will face second-seeded New Orleans (56-26). Dallas has never faced the Hornets in the postseason.

ARE YOU EXPERIENCED: Dallas boasts a roster of eight players with Finals experience. Five of those players were members of the Mavericks 2006 Western Conference Championship team that was defeated 4-2 by the Miami Heat in the NBA Finals (Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier). The remaining three players reached the Finals with a different team (Jason Kidd: 2003 & 2003 with the New Jersey Nets, Devean George: 2000, 2001 & 2002 with the L.A. Lakers and Tyronn Lue: 2000 & 2001 with the L.A. Lakers). Both Devean George (three championships) and Tyronn Lue (two titles) own World Championship rings.

DIRK’S TIME OF YEAR: Dirk Nowitzki owns franchise playoff highs in points, field goals, free throws, rebounds, steals, blocks, games and starts. With 10 more 3-pointers, Nowitzki will also own bragging rights as the Mavericks postseason leader from behind-the-arc as well. Nowitzki has 100 and trails leader Michael Finley’s 109 postseason 3s.

NEW KID ON THE BLOCK: Dallas is one of the most playoff-experienced teams in the postseason. 14 Mavericks have seen action in the postseason. The one exception? Brandon Bass. Bass spent his first two seasons with the New Orleans Hornets before signing with the Mavericks as a free agent in the summer of 2007.

LUCKY NO. 7: Although unlikely, a seven-seed knocking off a two seed is not as uncommon as one may think. Seven-seeds hold an all-time record of 60-146 vs. two-seeds. Most recently, No. 7 New York defeated No. 2 Miami in the 1998 Playoffs. Furthermore, the Mavericks have first-hand experience with the seven-over-two upset. Assistant coach Mario Elie was a member of the 1992 Golden State Warriors that knocked off David Robinson’s second-seeded San Antonio Spurs, 3-1.

FIRST ROUND KNOCKOUTS: The Mavericks are 8-5 all-time in first-round series. Dallas won 3-2 vs. Seattle in 1984, 3-1 vs. Utah in 1986, 3-1 vs. Houston in 1988, 3-2 vs. Utah in 2001, 3-0 vs. Minnesota in 2002, 4-3 vs. Portland in 2003, 4-3 vs. Houston in 2005 and 4-0 vs. Memphis in 2006. The Mavericks lost 3-1 to Portland in 1985, 3-1 to Seattle in 1987, 3-0 to Portland in 1990, 4-1 to Sacramento in 2004 and 4-2 to Golden State in 2007. Dallas is 21-10 at home all-time in the first round and 11-19 on the road.

A BRIEF HISTORY OF DALLAS: In 13 playoff appearances, the Dallas Mavericks have made three Western Conference Finals appearances (1988, 2003, 2006) and advanced to the NBA Finals once (2006).

Game 1 Watch Party at Dave & Buster's

When: Saturday, April 19 vs. New Orleans Hornets

Time: Game starts at 6:00 PM

Location: Dave & Buster's on Walnut Hill @ 75-Central

Event details: Join the Mavs and watch the game on the D&B Big Screen in their Show Room. Come cheer the Mavs on with your favorite ManiAACs! There will be giveaways of tickets and other great merchandise.

Stack documentary airs this weekend

"Under the Lights: Jerry Stackhouse-Against All Odds" is scheduled to air on FSN-Southwest this Saturday, April 19th, at 9:30 pm, following the Rangers game and Rangers Live. A second airing is scheduled for Sunday, April 20th, at 2:00 pm.

The Stackhouse documentary was directed by independent film director Kirk Fraser. The program takes an inside look at the 2005-06 Mavericks season through the experiences of Stackhouse. It documents situations with his sore right knee, his family, their interaction, and how he lives off the court.

The documentary also includes a recent interview with Stackhouse.

Oklahoma City closer to Sonics

Taking a quick timeout from the playoffs with some news that has some relevance in these parts. Oklahoma City, the temporary home of the Hornets the previous two seasons, cleared another hurdle in its attempt to become a full-time NBA market. This just in from the league office:

The NBA Board of Governors today endorsed the recommendation of the NBA Relocation Committee and approved the move of the SuperSonics from Seattle to Oklahoma City for the 2008-09 season, subject to a resolution of the pending litigation between the Sonics and the city of Seattle that removes any requirement for the team to play at KeyArena for the next two seasons.

“The support for the NBA demonstrated by the fans, government leaders and business community of Oklahoma City over the last three years has been extraordinary,” said NBA Commissioner David Stern. “The Board of Governors is confident that the level of local support will result in success for the Sonics franchise in Oklahoma.”

The renamed Sonics would be the closest NBA franchise to the Mavericks.

What's the point? Kidd vs. Paul

NEW ORLEANS – Firsts form lessons. Jason Kidd’s first playoff experience had plenty quarterbacking the eighth-seeded Phoenix Suns against fellow Bay Area legend and close friend Gary Payton.

“I was just happy to be there,” Kidd said.

The Suns shocked No. 1 seed Seattle in the opening game 11 years ago. Kidd fared well in his maiden postseason voyage and Phoenix took the best-of-5 the distance before bowing out.

Kidd is the wily veteran now with 14 seasons and 100 playoff games under his belt. He’s widely considered the gold standard for today’s point guards. Perhaps the best of the new crop is New Orleans’ Chris Paul.

“Paul controls the ball so much that he’s the one that has all the poise and makes the plays, and he’s really the head of that team,” Jerry Stackhouse said. “The other guys just do what they do.”

Both the Hornets and Paul enter uncharted waters, as Kidd did more than a decade ago. These are the first playoffs for the MVP contender and the first for the franchise in four years. So it’s natural that most, if not all, eyes will focus first on the two All-NBA point guards.

“At the end of the day it’s two teams playing to figure out who can get to four first,” Kidd said in an attempt to downplay the matchup.

Read the rest of this story at

Thursday, April 17, 2008

Stack feels good about return

Jerry Stackhouse returned after a long absence with a groin injury last night with 16 minutes in a starting role. The veteran swingman will be needed in the playoffs.

“I feel good,” he said. “Obviously, I didn’t get long minutes last night. I think that was the best thing after coming back after nine games, and I didn’t have any [adverse] effects after last night’s game or today. That’s definitely a positive in my mind.”

Avery Johnson added that he has figured out his rotation going into the playoffs. Of course, he didn’t let on as to what it might be. “We have a conclusion,” he said slyly.

The only real question is whether Stackhouse will continue to start with Jason Kidd in the backcourt. Jason Terry, coming off last night’s 30-point performance, had started while Stackhouse was out.

Feeling no pressure

Upbeat and embracing the underdog role, the Mavericks gathered for their last organized meeting in Dallas before beginning their 2008 playoff journey. Thursday’s film session and walkthrough at American Airlines Center served as the first step in preparing for New Orleans.

The bracket says the Mavs aren’t the favorite. The second-seeded Hornets won the Southwest Division and five more regular-season games. The best-of-7 first round series opens with two games in New Orleans, beginning Saturday. (The Mavs will return home after Game 1 with the second game not until Tuesday night.)

It’s a different hat to wear, as Avery Johnson said. Despite an overwhelming advantage in playoff experience – it’s the first postseason for this version of the Hornets – the Mavs are taking the approach that not much is expected of them. They’re not the team that went to the NBA Finals or won 67 games.

Chris Paul and the Hornets can wear the hat of expectations.

“It’s a little different,” Dirk Nowitzki admitted. “The whole year was a little different for us than obviously last year. Lot of ups and downs and then we made a big trade and lost a lot of close games afterwards. It was a definitely a different feeling entering the postseason, but the last two weeks we won some big games and gained some confidence

“Hopefully, it will be a great playoff run. We’ll see what happens here in the next couple of weeks. It’s definitely different. Last year the pressure was on us, and this year we can kind of go out and play and have fun.”

Read the rest of this story at

Dirk's thoughts going into the playoffs

Dirk Nowitzki was the first to hold court with reporters after today’s film session at American Airlines Center. Here are some of the highlights:

On going in as an underdog: “It’s a little different. The whole year was a little different for us than obviously last year. Lot of ups and downs and then we made a big trade and lost a lot of close games afterwards. It was a definitely a different feeling entering the postseason, but the last two weeks we won some big games and gained some confidence. Hopefully it will be a great playoff run. We’ll see what happens here in the next couple of weeks. It’s definitely different. Last year the pressure was on us, and this year we can kind of go out and play and have fun.”

On it not being the typical 2-7 matchup: “Nothing is typical in the West this year. If you look at Phoenix is the sixth seed and has to play San Antonio in the first round. That’s probably one of the best first-round matchups ever, so nothing in the West is ordinary. Every matchup is going to be tough.”

On beating New Orleans last night: “It was big to win yesterday to get the confidence, set some momentum towards the playoffs and not be the eighth seed. I don’t think we wanted to start in LA [against the Lakers]. In the strong West, I think LA is still the favorite.”

On the change in priorities this season: “A couple weeks back, we were still trying to get homecourt advantage, get to that fourth seed, because everything was so tight. When we started losing all those close games and then I got hurt, we settled for just making the playoffs and had to make the big push to make it. Now I think it’s anybody’s game. In the playoffs, everything starts over. Whoever is going to play the basketball now is going to win.”

NBA News: Playoffs tip off this weekend

How important is Game 1 of a best-of-seven series? In the 363 best-of-seven series since the league's inaugural season in 1946-47, the team that has won the opening game has gone on to win 284 of 363 (.782) series. Not surprisingly, the team with homecourt advantage has fared well, with those teams having won 272 of 363 (.749) series. In the 15 postseason series last year, the Game 1 winner captured 11 series, with nine of those won by the team with homecourt advantage. Click here for the first round schedule.

CAN YOU REPEAT THAT? Since the NBA's inaugural season in 1946-47, 20 of 61 winners of The Finals have followed their championship seasons by repeating. Among the other 41 teams, nine lost in The Finals, 16 lost in the conference finals, nine lost in the conference semifinals, five lost in the first round and two failed to make the playoffs. The defending champion Spurs also won The Finals in 1999, 2003 and 2005. In the 2000 playoffs, the Spurs lost in the first round against the Suns 3-1; in 2004, the Lakers defeated them in the semifinals 4-2; and in 2006, San Antonio lost to the Mavericks in the semifinals 4-3.

IF AT FIRST ... Since 1946-47, nine of 61 runners-up in The Finals have followed their near-championship season by winning The Finals. Among the other 52 teams, 11 lost in The Finals, 10 lost in the conference finals, 18 lost in the conference semifinals, eight lost in the first round and five failed to make the playoffs.

Around the League
· NBA playoff rosters will feature 50 international players from 25 countries and territories on official rosters (active and inactive) for the 2007-08 NBA playoffs.
· Eleven teams won at least 50 games, the most ever. Prior to this season, the most 50-win teams in one season was 10, which occurred four times: 1993-94, 1996-97, 1997-98 and 2000-01.
· Thirteen teams averaged at least 100 points. The last time at least 13 teams averaged 100 points for the season was 1995-96 when 13 teams averaged triple digits.
· The league averaged 99.9 points, the highest average since the 1994-95 season (101.4 ppg), which also is the last time the league averaged 100 points for the season.
· Three teams averaged at least 110 points -- Golden State, Phoenix and Denver. The last time at least three teams averaged 110+ points was 1994-95 when three teams accomplished the feat.
· When the Celtics knocked off the Indiana Pacers on April 2, they tied the 1997-98 San Antonio Spurs for the largest one-year record improvement in NBA history. Boston then passed the Spurs for the biggest turnaround in NBA history on April 5 with a win over the Charlotte Bobcats. The Spurs enjoyed a +36 game turnaround in 1997-98. Boston enjoyed a +42 game turnaround this season.
· Cleveland's LeBron James averaged a league-leading 30.0 points to go along with 7.9 rebounds and 7.2 assists. Two other players -- Oscar Robertson and Michael Jordan -- have had seasons in which they averaged at least 30.0 points, 7.0 rebounds and seven assists. Jordan accomplished the feat for the 1988-89 season. Robertson had five such seasons (1960-61, 1961-62, 1963-64, 1965-66 and 1988-89).
· New Orleans' Chris Paul led the league in assists (11.6 apg) and steals (2.7 spg). Four players -- Slick Watts, Don Buse, Michael Ray Richardson and John Stockton -- have led the league in both categories for a season. Stockton, the last player to accomplish the feat, is the only one to do it twice (1988-89, 1991-92).

Series opens Saturday

New Orleans vs. Dallas Schedule

Game 1, Sat, April 19, Dallas at New Orleans, 6 pm, ESPN
Game 2, Tue, April 22, Dallas at New Orleans, 6 pm, TNT
Game 3, Fri, April 25, New Orleans at Dallas, 7 pm, ESPN
Game 4, Sun, April 27, New Orleans at Dallas, 8:30 pm, TNT
Game 5, Tue, April 29, Dallas at New Orleans, TBD, TBD
Game 6, Thu, May 1, New Orleans at Dallas, TBD, TBD
Game 7, Sat, May 3, Dallas at New Orleans, TBD , TNT

(All times CT)
* If necessary

Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Notables from 111-98 win vs. Hornets

TONIGHT’S KEY PLAY: New Orleans led 70-59 with 5:34 to go in the 3rd quarter. Dallas then went on a 32-8 run through the 9:20 mark of the 4th quarter. At the end of the run, Dallas led 91-78. Jason Terry scored 13 of Dallas’ 32 points in that stretch.

• Dallas’ record of 51-31 marks their 10th best regular season record in franchise history.
• Dallas secured the Western Conference’s 7th seed with their win tonight. They will face No. 2 seed New Orleans in the first round of the playoffs (Game 1 date/time TBD).
• Jason Kidd collected the 100th triple-double of his career tonight with a season-high tying 27 points, 10 rebounds, 10 assists. He ranks third on the NBA’s all-time triple-double list after surpassing Wilt Chamberlain last season. He trails only Oscar Robertson (181) and Magic Johnson (138). The triple-double marks his 13th of the season which is the most he has ever recorded in a single season. Kidd holds a career record of 72-28 when he posts a triple-double.
• Brandon Bass recorded the 3rd double-double of his career with 13 points, 12 rebounds.
With 30 points, Jason Terry single-handedly outscored the Hornets’ bench (24). The Mavs finished the season with an 11-2 record when Terry outscored the opposing bench.
• Tonight’s attendance was 20,473 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 276 consecutive regular season games at AAC and 313 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.

Kidd's 100th triple-double sets up rematch

It took long enough, but it’s finally been figured out. Being the last day of the regular season, there wasn’t much choice.

Bring on the Hornets.

Mr. Triple-Double Jason Kidd quarterbacked a second-half rally setting up a first-round rematch with New Orleans. The Mavericks sprinted past their Southwest Division rivals 111-98 Wednesday night before 20,473 fans at sold-out American Airlines Center. The first-round series begins Saturday in the heart of Louisiana.

“I don’t know if we sent a message,” Avery Johnson said. “Everybody was out there trying to win the game and all of their guys played their normal minutes. Our guys played our minutes.

“We kind of looked at our rotation that we’d like to move forward with. One thing that is still pretty unclear for us about our rotation. But, for the most part, it is what it is. Now, Saturday ... I guess we’ll open up in New Orleans.”

The Hornets (56-26) return to the playoffs after a three-year absence and for the first time as a Western Conference member. New Orleans claimed the Southwest title and the No. 2 seed. The Mavs (51-31) are seventh after entering the postseason as the top seed a year ago.

“We didn’t care who we played, to be honest with you,” New Orleans coach Byron Scott said. “We know Dallas is going to be tough in the first round, Denver would have been tough, so it really didn’t matter. Either way it goes it is going to be a heck of a series. We got our hands full with whatever team we were going to play, but now we know we’re going to play Dallas, so it’s going to be a tough series.”

The Mavs and Hornets split the four-game season series, with each team winning twice on its homecourt. New Orleans was 30-11 at home this season, including wins in 12 of its last 13 games. But the Hornets head into the playoffs having tasted defeat.

“This was a big win for us because we were in control of our own destiny,” Kidd said. “I’ve always thought of the last regular season game as a good stepping stone going into the playoffs and we wanted to keep our momentum going.”

Read the rest of this story and get more game coverage at

Johnson: Season has been gratifying

Some may view the trials and tribulations of this season as taxing. Avery Johnson isn’t one of those guys. This season hasn’t been easy by any stretch, but that may be the reason it’s special.

“This season has been just as gratifying, this regular season, as some of the others because the Western Conference has been one of the most diverse,” Johnson said. “The parity has been greater than I’ve ever seen it. The intensity to win in the last month of the season has been as great as I’ve seen it, the last six weeks really.

“This 50, hopefully 51 wins, has been gratifying in a lot of ways because we’ve been through a lot this year and we still made it in and have a shot once the playoffs start to win a championship like the other eight teams in the West.”

Stack back and starting

Jerry Stackhouse is not only back after a nine-game absence with a strained right groin, he’s back in the starting lineup. Jason Terry had been starting with Jason Kidd in the backcourt.

Stackhouse just went through a rigorous pregame routine to loosen up. Avery Johnson initially went with Stackhouse in the starting lineup to get more size in the backcourt.

The inactive list for the last game of the regular season: Antoine Wright, Jamaal Magloire and JJ Barea.

Jones: No pressure on the Hornets

The mind-set of the Hornets going into the playoffs should be one of fearlessness. At least that’s the opinion of Eddie Jones, who owns 78 games of postseason experience.

“When you’re young you have no idea of what it is, so you don’t fear it,” Jones said before tip tonight.

He did add that the caliber of the player has something to do with it. Those already with ice water running through their veins are more likely to rise to the occasion than wilt under pressure.

“Ain’t no pressure on that team,” Jones continued. “What kind of pressure is on that team? No one expects them to come out and go to the Finals.”

So does tonight’s game mean anything extra? Can a message be sent since these teams can hook up again this weekend?

“I hope it don’t for us,” he said. “What we need to do is play as best as possible. I know we can play this team again. We want to get back to playing good basketball.”

From one point guard to another

Avery Johnson knows a thing or two about being a point guard. He’s part of the chorus touting New Orleans’ Chris Paul, who’s in this third year, as a real MVP candidate.

“He’s really a mature player for his age and he can do it all,” Johnson said. “He can shoot the 3, he can penetrate, he gets steals, he’s very, very confident. He’s an MVP candidate this year. They depend on him quite a bit.

“Again, he’s very heady, very knowledgeable of the game, can beat you in-between, at the basket, he gets to the free throw line, just causes havoc. And if you have to play against him in a 7-game series, I don’t think the opposing head coach is going to get much sleep.”

Paul and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant figure to be the leading contenders to succeed Dirk Nowitzki as MVP.

Making progress since Kidd trade

Are the Mavs a better team going into the regular season finale tonight than two months ago when the Jason Kidd trade went down? Avery Johnson seems to think so.

“I can’t really put a percentage on it, but on a scale from 1 to 10, we were probably a 3 or 4 early on and we’re probably somewhere above a 7,” he said. “So we’ve made some progress there. Guys feel a little bit more comfortable than what we were back then eight weeks ago or so.

“We’ve done the best we can with what we’ve had in our own control. The men have really tried, through every film session and practice, they’ve really tried to get better. We’ve seen us get better over the last week or two.”

The season can end on a high tonight by beating Southwest Division champ New Orleans, which would also set up a rematch with the Hornets in the first round. That series would start this weekend back in Johnson’s hometown.

NBA Playoff Seeding Scenarios

(Higher Seeded team has homecourt in first round unless otherwise indicated)
1. if Houston and San Antonio win:
3-San Antonio
5-Houston (homecourt)

2. if Houston, Utah and Phoenix win:
5-Houston (homecourt)
6-San Antonio

3. if Utah wins and Phoenix loses:
4-San Antonio

4. If San Antonio and Phoenix wins and Houston loses:
3-San Antonio
5-Phoenix (homecourt)

5. If San Antonio wins and Houston and Phoenix lose::
3-San Antonio

6. If Utah and Phoenix wins and Houston loses:
5-San Antonio

B. DALLAS-DENVER (Seeds 7 to 8)
1. If Dallas wins or Denver loses:

2. if Denver wins AND Dallas loses:

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Party on the AT&T Plaza

What: Party on the AT&T Plaza

When: Wednesday, immediately following the Mavs vs. Hornets

Where: AT&T Plaza (south side of American Airlines Center)

More Info: The Mavs will host an end of the regular season party on the AT&T Plaza immediately following the Mavs vs. Hornets contest. Le Freak, a disco cover band, will perform on the main stage with Mavs correspondents Ali D and DJ Ro Parrish hosting the party.

Also taking place will be the Championship Round of the "Guitar Hero Challenge," presented by GameStop. Over the last three weeks, video game aficionados have had the chance to show off their skills and play the game under tournament conditions to advance to the finale.

Six finalists will compete in front of three celebrity judges, including Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Mavs play-by-play announcer Mark Followill and Soda from Le Freak, for the chance to win the Dallas Mavericks "Guitar Hero Challenge" grand prize - the chance to play "Guitar Hero III: Legends of the Rock" during a quarter break at a First Round Playoff game, two-tickets to the game, a Guitar Hero Game pack and an autographed Mavs authentic jersey.

The contestants will be judged on Rockmanship – how does the contestant rock on stage; Style - does the contestant look the part; and Performance - how well did the contestant play the game.

Guitar Hero consoles will also be open for fans to play during the party and concessions will be sold at the beer garden.

Party on the AT&T Plaza was held every home game this season with different entertainment elements occurring including performances by Oscar-winning rap artists Three 6 Mafia, Mavs ManiAACs and Mavs Drumline, along with the popular painted fan contest and opportunities for fans to win tickets and autographed memorabilia.

Much still at stake; Hornets clinch 2nd

If the NBA campaign is a marathon – it’s a popular metaphor – we’ve passed Mile Marker 26. The finish line is a mere 385 yards or, in this case, one game away.

The Mavericks (50-31) close out the 82-game march of attrition Wednesday night with New Orleans visiting American Airlines Center. The Southwest Division matchup has definite playoff seeding implications and possible psychological ones on the last day of the regular season.

The Hornets (56-25) beat the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday to nail down the division title and the No. 2 seed. The Los Angeles Lakers locked up the top spot with a victory over Sacramento. The Hornets can still send the Mavs tumbling to eighth.

The Mavs can sew up the No. 7 seed by beating New Orleans or if Denver falls to Memphis. Nuggets-Grizzlies will tip off two hours after Mavs-Hornets at 6 p.m. CT.

So the Mavs can land either seventh or eighth and will play either the Lakers or New Orleans. Avery Johnson took the approach Tuesday that New Orleans was the more probable scenario. There won’t be anything to hide in the Game No. 82.

“Everybody knows each other’s plays,” Johnson said. “You still have to stop it. It’s just the way it is during this time of the year. We’ve played New Orleans three times already this year. When we play against them in the playoffs, it’s going to be pick and rolls with Chris Paul and [Peja] Stojakovic is going to be shooting the basketball from Slovenia somewhere and we’re going to have to stop them.”

As expected, the Wild West is going down to the last day.

“We’ve never had so many trades, that’s the reason why we’ve never seen anything like this,” TNT analyst Charles Barkley said. “The Dallas Mavericks go out and get a Hall of Famer in Jason Kidd. The Phoenix Suns go out and get the most dominant center in the last 20 years in Shaquille O’Neal. I don’t know what they are doing in Memphis, they gave up an All-Star [Pau Gasol] to go with Kobe Bryant, who’s the best player in the NBA.

“I can’t remember the last time we had this many great players traded this late in the season. That’s what made it so interesting. It’s going to be fun to watch.”

Read the rest of this notebook with a Hornets preview at

There Can Only Be One

There Can Only Be One” is designed to bring to life the dedication, desire, and sacrifice that create the intense emotions and drama of one of sport's premier postseason events: the NBA Playoffs & The Finals.

A breadth of players from every playoff team emphasize a team-oriented mindset and knowledge that there can only be one team that emerges -- each night, each series, and ultimately an NBA Championship:

“We’re gonna’ win, yeah. That’s not me bragging, that’s me believing. That’s me believing in myself …and my teammates.”

Directed by the husband and wife team of Jonathan Dayton and Valerie Faris (Little Miss Sunshine), the campaign represents the depth of the entire playoffs story, and will adapt, narrow, intensify and refocus as the teams drop off and only two are left vying for the championship. The debut spots feature Kobe Bryant and Shaquille O'Neal speaking on “fear,” while LeBron James and Kevin Garnett discuss “the dream.” Each subsequent spot will be specific to one of the match-ups, and will feature one of three players from each team, face-to-face.

Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd recently filmed spots for the campaign.

Monday, April 14, 2008

Lost trip, New Orleans tip at 6

The Mavs had a day off after flying back from Seattle this morning. The team resumes practice tomorrow with the regular season coming to a close Wednesday with potential first-round opponent New Orleans coming to town.

Make note that the game time has been moved up to 6 p.m. to accommodate ESPN. The Mavs-Hornets are the first half of a nationally-televised doubleheader that ends with San Antonio-Utah.

The trip through the Pacific Northwest didn’t go well. The seventh seed would have been locked up with a win in either Portland or Seattle. Instead, losses to a pair of lottery-bound teams make the No. 8 a possibility.

“We played like we were just happy to be in the playoffs, not like we were trying to secure something,” Avery Johnson said last night. “We’re disappointed, but [the Sonics] deserved it.”

A night after the Blazers nearly shot 60 percent, the Sonics dominated inside despite not having an intimidating low-post presence. Seattle outscored the Mavs 48-24 in the paint and racked up seven 3-point play opportunities.

“We’ve got to get better defensively,” Jason Kidd said. “We gave up too many points in the paint and a lot of 3-point plays.”

Sunday, April 13, 2008

Sonics leave Seattle a winner

SEATTLE – The storybook ending was staring Jason Terry in the face exactly 23 feet and nine inches away. Sometimes storybooks get fumbled.

Terry found himself wide open with a chance to take the lead in the final minute against his hometown team, but he bobbled the ball first and, despite getting up a clean look, couldn’t get the dramatic ending the Mavericks were looking for in perhaps the last NBA game ever played in Seattle.

If the SuperSonics do indeed split for wheat-filled pastures, their last Seattle memory is a victory for a city and a team that has had few during the relocation saga of the last several years. The Sonics rallied late to upend the Mavs 99-95 Sunday night at Key Arena.

The Mavs (50-31) failed to lock down the No. 7 playoff seed in the Western Conference for the second consecutive night after clinching a playoff berth with Thursday’s win over Utah. Dallas still needs one win or Nuggets loss to clinch seventh with the regular season regular down to one game for each.

The Mavs host New Orleans on Wednesday at American Airlines Center. Denver (49-32) finishes with Memphis the same night, but Golden State (48-32) still remains in the playoff hunt. The Mavs and Nuggets can only be seventh or eighth. The Warriors can’t get above eighth.

“We’ve taken a deep breath after we beat Utah and we hadn’t had the same focus,” Avery Johnson said. “So we’ve got to get that focus back before the playoffs start whatever position that we end up in.”

More on the Sonics' fate

Several of the Mavs have strong ties to Seattle. Jason Terry grew up here, Avery Johnson started his career here and Paul Westphal coached here. All have expressed their dismay with the probable move.

“I believe in my heart that the city of Seattle deserves an NBA team,” Johnson said.

Terry plans to leave Key Arena with a memento from tonight. He’s not sure what he’ll be able to sneak out of the building, but he drafted an accomplice in Mark Cuban.

“Got Cuban working on it right now,” Terry said. “We’ll see what he comes up with.”

Westphal has spent much of pregame catching up with old friends from the organization. A blast from the past and current Seattle resident, James Donaldson, stopped by to chat with member of the Mavs traveling party, including assistant general manager and long-time friend Keith Grant.

Josh Howard to start vs. Sonics

Josh Howard is back in the starting lineup tonight and he’ll play without any minute restrictions. The same won’t be true for Dirk Nowitzki, who logged 40 minutes in last night’s loss at Portland.

“It was a good test for him,” Avery Johnson said, “but we don’t want to get him that high if we can avoid it.”

If there was any thought that Nowitzki was pushed hard last night, Johnson explained that the reigning MVP will have to play 40 minutes in the playoffs, so this was a good time to see if his ankle could handle it. Nowitzki recovered fine.

Jerry Stackhouse, as expected, is inactive tonight.

Sonic swan song

The bus ride over to Key Arena took a nostalgic turn with a hint of disappointment. Tonight could be the last NBA game ever in Seattle … or at least the last game for a long, long time.

The people of Seattle are resigned to the sad truth. Their beloved SuperSonics, a franchise with four decades of history, look to be Oklahoma City bound next season.

Without getting into the politics or ethics about what the true intentions were of the ownership group, there is no debating that Seattle was and still can be a great NBA city.

I did get a bit of good news after talking with an old friend who also happens to be in the Sonics front office. While the media and fans about 100 percent convinced the move is inevitable, my buddy said the feeling within the organization is 50-50.

I’ll take those odds. It’s about the best we can hope for.