Saturday, April 26, 2008

Mavs Playoff Central

An addition to is up: A special playoff website section which will be continuosly updated with all kinds of info and photos from the 2008 postseason run. Check in for the latest on game times and dates, ticket info, team news, contests, promotions and much more.

Students of the game

Chris Paul’s success is even more remarkable when you consider his age. Just ask Avery Johnson

“He’s come a long ways,” Johnson said. “At age 22 I was trying to pass a psychology research class and trying to graduate.”

Paul didn’t graduate from Wake Forest, but the young point guard is certainly a student of the game.

“He calls out all our plays,” Johnson continued. “He seems to know what I’m going to call before I call it, so obviously he watches a lot of film and he studies a lot. He’s way ahead of a lot of young men. He has a lot of wisdom beyond his years.”

So how did Johnson do in that research class? He squeezed out a B from a very tough professor.

“And she was anti-sports, so she was tough on me.”

Stack isn't right just yet

Jerry Stackhouse obviously isn’t all the way back from the strained right groin that cost the valuable swingman nine games late in the regular season. After starting the first two games of the series, Stack came off the bench in Game 3 and went scoreless in seven minutes.

“He didn’t get many minutes last night,” Avery Johnson said. “We worked him pretty good today. We hope to get some carryover in the game tomorrow, but nobody is really going to play well in five or six minutes.”

Johnson is pleased with his current rotation – only seven logged double-digit minutes Friday – but Stackhouse isn’t necessarily done in this series.

“He’s not where he needs to be in conditioning and timing, but Stack can have games where we can come out and get the best of the opponent and hopefully it will happen,” Johnson added. “But I think we’ve got to create better opportunities for him. He hasn’t had as much space.”

Aggressive and physical pays off

The distractions of the last few days didn’t carry over to the court in Game 3. Instead of focusing on the circus around them, the Mavericks zeroed in on what happens between the lines.

This first-round clash with New Orleans is about basketball and the Mavs got back to playing some with their season on the brink. Avery Johnson’s team isn’t out of the woods yet, but following up Friday’s 97-87 victory with another aggressive effort would give the Mavs a fighting chance Sunday.

“We’ll just keep teaching and challenging, encouraging, prodding, hugging, whatever it takes,” Johnson said Saturday after practice. “They had a chance to see the difference between Game 2 and this game, and they liked more of what they saw in this game. Now it’s just a matter of coming out and trying to get better. We still think we can get better.”

If they do get better in Game 4 at American Airlines Center, the series could be knotted up. Getting back to even would turn the best-of-7 into a best-of-3, with two of the three potential games on the Hornets’ floor. But the only concern for the Mavs at the moment is protecting their hardwood once again.

“Everyone has written us off and said the series is over,” Jason Kidd said. “We feel that there is a lot of basketball to be played. And we can take a page from New Orleans and understand that they protected their home court, and we have to do the same and try to tie this series at 2-2.”

Protection has become a key as the series begins to get a little chippy. Dirk Nowitzki was involved in incidents with Tyson Chandler and David West in New Orleans. Game 3 featured Chris Paul shoving Nowitzki in the first quarter – a foul wasn’t called – and Erick Dampier’s flagrant-inducing half-tackle of Paul in the fourth.

Read the rest of this story at

Quotes after last night's win

Head Coach Avery Johnson
What did you tell Jason Terry for him to play good defense against Chris Paul? “Jet was highly motivated like all of our men, and fortunately (Chris) Paul missed some shots tonight, but I thought Jet had a lot of energy and it takes a lot of energy to attempt to guard Paul. We brought a lot of energy to our defense and we simplified pretty much every single thing we were doing against him.”

Attacking the rim and going to the line 38 times: “We think we have to be aggressive, sometimes overly aggressive if you’re going to make strong moves and during this time of the season that’s what’s going to get rewarded. You’re not going to get rewarded for shooting fall away three’s. You’ve got to make strong physical moves and I thought we did that tonight.”

Jason Terry in the starting lineup: “More than anything tonight the men hustled tonight and rebounded the basketball and we were physical tonight. This is the first time in the series where we have actually been really physical on both ends of the floor so I think more than a lineup change I just thought our men were really physical tonight.”

Dirk’s overall performance: “We tried to put him in situations where he was a little bit closer to the basket. Dirk’s one of the best rebounders in the league and he was mixing it up in there and was really making strong contact.”

Jason Kidd
“It was good to get one under our belt here at home. Everybody played well, everybody pitched in and that’s the way we have to play for 48 minutes.”

“We knew that we didn’t play well in New Orleans and we’re a veteran ball club and much as everyone has written us off and said the series is over, we feel that there is a lot of basketball to be played and we can take a page from New Orleans and understand that they protected their home court and we have to do the same and try to tie this series at 2-2.”

Defending Chris Paul: “We want to make him take tough shots and then on the other end we try to make him work a little bit too. We’re just trying to take some of that energy away from him and make him work on both ends of the floor.”

“For us it’s been the third quarter in this series. No matter if we’ve had the lead or not, we’ve come out kind of flat and tonight we were aggressive, took the ball strong to the basket and trying to get to the line and we did that tonight.”

Jason Terry
Your role for this team when you start: “The thing about me in the starting lineup is I get a chance to set the tempo, set the tone for us on both ends of the floor; getting out in transition and defensively picking up guys in the backcourt and getting out in the passing lanes just whatever I can do to be a factor out there. We did a good job of that tonight, but it’s only one game and we have to come back here on Sunday and really have a great defensive performance.”

Defending Chris Paul: “We’re just trying to make it as hard as possible for him, contest his shots and see what happens. He’s a great player and you are not going to stop him, but as long as we limit the guys around him and not let him get 30 points, 20 assists then we put ourselves in a good position to win and that’s what we did tonight.”

Energy of being at home: “When you come home and the fans are behind you and you just have another level and this is just one game and we’re not going to get too excited. We need to come out with the same focus, the same intensity and have another great effort on Sunday night.”

Dirk’s leadership: “He’s been great. He’s been great all season long actually. He’s been a lot more vocal and he’s shown a lot of enthusiasm when someone else makes a good play and that’s all part of being a leader.”

Friday, April 25, 2008

Notables from 97-87 win vs. Hornets

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: Dallas used an 18-8 run over the last 6:57 of the 2nd quarter to secure a 47-40 lead going into halftime. The Mavericks established a lead during the run and never relinquished it.

• Dirk Nowitzki recorded his 2nd postseason double-double with a game-high 32 points (11-20 FGs, 1-4 3FGs, 9-10 FTs) and 19 rebounds (18 DR). The 30-point, 15-rebound performance was the 8th of his postseason career. The Mavericks improved to 7-1 when Nowitzki scores at least 30 and comes down with at least 15 rebounds.
• Jason Terry started his first game of the postseason (in place of Jerry Stackhouse) and finished with 22 points (8-18 FGs, 3-8 3FGs, 3-4 FTs) and 6 assists.
• New Orleans’ Jannero Pargo scored a playoff career-high 30 points (12-20 FGs, 4-7 3FGs, 2-2 FTs). His previous high was 18 points @ WAS (5/2/05).
• New Orleans’ Chris Paul recorded his 3rd straight postseason double-double with 16 points and 10 assists.
• In the first 2 games of the series, Dallas allowed 42 points in the paint. Tonight, the Mavs held the Hornets to 26 points in the paint.
• New Orleans now leads the best-of-seven series, 2-1.
• Tonight’s attendance was 20,839 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 276 consecutive regular season games at AAC and 314 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 make it a series again

The playoffs finally began for the Mavericks. After a pair of non-postseason efforts, the first-round series with the Hornets became a series after the Mavs cleaned up 97-87 Friday night at American Airlines Center.

The two blowout losses in New Orleans were long forgotten in Game 3, as the Mavs reversed several troubling trends. The Hornets still lead two games to one, but the best-of-7 can’t be any closer after three games. The Mavs can square it up back on their homecourt Sunday.

“I’m waiting for the series to really get going,” Mavs coach Avery Johnson said, “and hopefully keep improving for our guys.”

The Hornets have yet to taste victory inside of American Airlines Center, dropping to 0-12, and haven’t won in Dallas in a decade. The latest Mavs’ triumph followed a recipe that went missing in the Big Easy.

A lineup change elevating Jason Terry back into the starting five helped ignite the offense and defense. After a pair of performances best described as other-worldly, the budding legend of Chris Paul hit a speed bump. And Dirk Nowitzki kept right on trucking.

“The energy was great in the building for us,” said Nowitzki, who scored a game-high 32. “The fans got us hyped early.

“Our defense was a lot better. We were scrambling, going after loose balls and once we got the rebound, [Jason] Kidd was off to the races.”

Read the rest and get more game coverage at

Jet gets the starting nod over Stack

Well, Juwan Howard isn’t starting at point guard tonight. Jason Kidd will have a different backcourt mate, as Jason Terry replaces Jerry Stackhouse as part of the opening five. The Mavs haven't been able to generate much offense from the 2-guard spot in this series.

In another twist, JJ Barea is part of the 12-man roster. Will the speedy backup guard get minutes against Chris Paul? We’ll see. The inactive list: Jamaal Magloire, Tyronn Lue and Antoine Wright.

These playoffs differ from last two

Two disappointing playoff endings don’t necessarily mean two disappointing playoff runs. Avery Johnson explained the distinction when asked to assess the difference in preparation for the Finals season of 2006 and last year’s first-round upset.

“That’s a deal where you have the two best teams in basketball,” Johnson said the matchup with Miami two years ago. “Somebody is going to lose and for a year we heard how that was such a bad thing. Last year was bad. To do what we did in the regular season and not be able to carry over into the playoffs, that wasn’t all that good.

“This year we’re in a different situation. We’re a seventh seed, we’re a team that’s a different team now than what we were earlier in the season, but at the same time we’ve been down before. We have a few guys on our team that were here when we were down 0-2 after losing two at home, so that’s a reference point. Most of guys have had some different experiences, and hopefully we can rely on some of those experiences and it can be a sense of motivation.”

GAC moved inside AAC

ESPN’s Galloway and Company is now broadcasting live from inside the AAC due to the rain. Fans who want to brave the wet stuff can still come early and enjoy food, drinks and prize giveaways leading up to the 7 p.m. tip-off.

The Party On The Plaza is still set to go off at 5pm. The parties will happen at every home game and feature emcee Ali D, with music provided by Ro Parrish. There are also performances by the Mavs ManiAACs and Drumline, interactive games and activities, the Rowdy Proud Loud painted fan contest, ticket and prize giveaways, and much more.

Josh Howard Basketball Camp

The Josh Howard Foundation is proud to announce “The First Annual Josh Howard Basketball Camp” in Dallas. The camp will be June 23-27. The camp is open to the first 200 kids who sign up. The camp serves as a fundraiser for the Josh Howard Foundation.

When: Monday, June 23-Friday, June 27
Time: 9 am - 4 pm (Lunch will be provided)
Cost: $210 before May 19 and $260 from May 20 - June 23
Location: The Sportsplex at Valley View (5702 Alpha Road, Dallas, TX 75240)

Payments can be made in the form of cashier’s check or money order (payable to the Josh Howard Foundation) and mailed to: The Josh Howard Foundation, PO Box 701953, Dallas, TX 75370

Campers will receive a jersey and a t-shirt. Station work includes shooting, defense, ball handling, rebounding, passing, strength, agility and life skills. The camp also features guest appearances from NBA players and coaches, 5-on-5 competition, and daily competition for chances to win awards and prizes

There are also opportunities to sponsor kids for camp. It’s $260 for kids in need to attend. The donation is tax deductible for sponsored kids. For more info on the camp, email:

Avery: The men are ready

Avery Johnson appeared relaxed and in good spirits this morning with the most important game of the season looming tonight. Asked about any lineup changes he might have in store, the General quipped: “We’re going to start Damp at small forward and Juwan at point guard, Howard that is.”

Here are a few more of his musings after shootaround:

Mind-set going into Game 3: “We’re ready to go and the men are clear on what we’re doing. Minds are free and bodies are ready and we’re back home, and hopefully a combination of all of those things and New Orleans maybe not showing up. Maybe they’ll stay at the hotel. That’ll help us.”

Changes needed: “The way you turn things around, we have to be much more physical, much more alert, hustle a little bit more, be much more efficient on offense and try to make things just more difficult on them. I think they’ve had it too easy pretty much the whole series.”

Two-day break too long: “Not really. I think we needed that time. We needed to go back and take a look at a few things. That’s what the playoffs are all about. I’m kind of glad at the same time going back at looking at it that we had the two days in between. I think for our basketball club I think that’s going to be very beneficial for us. We were able to get our legs back on one day and then have a good practice, and now let’s just come out and play ball.”

Difference between home and road performance: “I don’t think anybody in the NBA has really kicked butt as much this year as they have in the past on the road, except for Boston probably. There seem to be pretty good home teams this year.”

Playing at the right pace: “When we need to be patient, we haven’t been patient at all in this series. We’ve kind of been in a hurry. You can play at a fast pace, but when you’re in hurry and you don’t really change gears, especially on the off end, we’re not as effective.”

History on their side

The Mavs do have some history on their side. Not only did Johnson’s 2005 squad rally from a two-game deficit to beat Houston – and both of those losses were in Dallas – but Game 3 success usually follows for teams down 0-2.

Going into the 2008 playoffs, teams that were down 2-0 in a best-of-7 series went 121-83 in the third game. Nineteen teams recovered to win the series, including Utah and Cleveland last year. So the Mavs aren’t facing the impossible.

“The guys are focused,” Josh Howard said. “We know we have to take care of homecourt. We can’t go back to New Orleans down 3-1. We’ve got to get these two wins.”

Again, if the past is any guide, the Mavs have to feel confident. The Hornets haven’t won in Dallas since a 94-92 victory on Jan. 24, 1998 at Reunion Arena. They’ve never won at the American Airlines Center, going 0-11.

“We’re a good home team,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “We beat some great teams here at home, so we should be confident that we can win big games here with our home crowd. That run we had at the end [of the season], we beat some tough teams, we beat Phoenix at Phoenix in a tough setting, so we should be confident we can win this game.”

Thursday, April 24, 2008

The Show needs to show

Josh Howard hasn’t gotten off the playoff start he imagined. Like the rest of the team, he’s trying not to press with the postseason at critical mass.

“I don’t think you should try to do anything out of the ordinary,” he said. “I learned that my first in the playoffs, where I didn’t even play, trying to do extra stuff. You’ve got to be yourself no matter what the situation is.”

Howard’s shot hasn’t been falling (27 percent) and he’s scoring just 13.5 points through two games. His struggles mirror those of the team.

“I have to play well, not necessarily the scoring,” he said. “We have enough scoring options on the team. I just have to contribute on the other end, rebounding, guarding the best offensive player on the other team, anything, I’m going to do it.”

The Hornets have done an impressive job of limiting Dirk Nowitzki’s supporting cast. The Mavs likely won’t advance without Howard being his usual chaotic force at both ends.

“Josh has to continue to mix up his game,” Avery Johnson said. “He’ll keep getting the ball. We need for him to get double-figure attempts, but again just mixing it up, driving, in-between game.

“But more than that, historically what we’ve tried to do is when a guy’s shot is not going in the basket, focus on playing better defense. Let’s play better defense against Stojakovic and Paul, maybe get a steal, get some easy baskets here and there.”

Game 3 is almost like Game 7

It’s not exactly a Game 7 tomorrow night, but it feels pretty darn close. The series picks up in Dallas with the first of two games at American Airlines Center with New Orleans up 2-0.

“You never want to go down 0-3 in a series,” Dirk Nowitzki said today after practice. “You don’t want to lose at home in the playoffs, so it’s a huge game. The only difference is in a Game 7, if you lose, you’re done. In Game 3, you’re not, but it’s going to be extremely difficult to come back from an 0-3 deficit, so you don’t want to even get yourself in that position.

“Hopefully, everybody is fired up tomorrow and we get the crowd involved early and a good start and we’ll be in a good shape.”

Now is not the time to feel any extra pressure, according to Avery Johnson.

“Historically, when we’ve been tight, we’re not good,” he said. “When we’re relaxed and focused, and I know the difference with our ballclub, we can be pretty good.

“You’re not going to win it in the first minute. Even though this is a results-driven business and game, when we focus more on details, whatever those minute details are that can turn into really huge rewards for us, we’re a pretty good team.”

Nowitzki also said there’s no time to let the disappointment of the first two games linger.

“This is the NBA,” he said. “You’ve got to learn how to put losses behind, even though they’re disappointing and frustrating and the effort wasn’t great, but we’ve got to look forward to Game 3 and let it all hang out.

“Have some fun out there, let the crowd carry us and hopefully get on that board and make it a series. That’s all we’re looking forward to is that one game, that Game 3, and hopefully get a win there and then look forward.”

Fan Fun for the Playoffs

Mavs Blue Zone
The Mavs need fans to show their support and wear blue to every home playoff game! The official blue 2008 Playoffs t-shirt is available at a special offer of Buy One Get One Free for the first round of the playoffs. The t-shirt can be purchased at, the “Ultimate Fan Shop” at NorthPark Center, or American Airlines Center Fan Shop.

Rowdy Proud Loud Day hosted at Academy Sports & Outdoors
Thursday, April 24th 4-6pm, 8050 Forest Lane, Dallas, 75243
Join Academy and adidas in celebrating the Mavericks homecoming with the Dallas Mavericks Dancers, Mavs ManiAACs, Champ and the Mavs Street Team! They will be signing autographs and conducting a drawing for player autographed merchandise. 106.1 KISS FM’s KISS KREW will also be on site with KISS gear and prizes to give away.

Party on the AT&T Plaza
Prior to all home games, the Mavs will host pregame parties at the AT&T Plaza located on the south side of American Airlines Center starting two hours before tip-off. The parties will feature emcee Ali D, music provided by Ro Parrish, performances by the Mavs ManiAACs and Drumline, interactive games and activities, the Rowdy Proud Loud painted fan contest, ticket and prize giveaways, and much more!

ESPN’s Galloway and Company will broadcast live from the Party on the AT&T Plaza Friday, April 25th from 2-6 p.m. Fans can come early and enjoy food, drinks, and prize giveaways leading up to the 7 p.m. tip-off.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Geometry vs. CP3

No one wearing blue in this series is as fast as Chris Paul. That doesn’t mean CP3 can’t be contained. When the trap comes, especially from big guys like Dirk Nowitzki and Erick Dampier, it has to done smarter.

“It’s being able to have Dirk or Dampier look at the angles a little bit better,” Jason Kidd said. “Dirk probably feels he’s fast, but unfortunately Chris is probably a little bit faster. We have to get Dirk to understand a little bit about geometry and look at maybe an angle or two.”

Paul knows what to do against double-teams, but it’s still possible to get the ball out of his hands and beat New Orleans. The Hornets weren’t undefeated, after all.

“He’s tough. He’s been doing that pretty much all season,” Nowitzki said. “That’s why he’s an MVP candidate. That’s why they are the No. 2 seed in the tough West, because he’s been great. We actually tried to double-team him some off the pick-and-roll yesterday, but he’s just so quick that the big guys, me and Damp, had a tough time double-teaming him in the open court. He’s just so quick. He just beats both of us around and then he hit the open shooters, he hit the floater in the lane, he hit the pull-ups, so that really didn’t work out the way we wanted to.

“But we’ve just got to contest open shots a little harder and make it harder on them to get in the lane, find the shooters in transition. Their shooters really spread the floor in transition yesterday. They had us going in both directions. Paul had his game going and the shooters were spotting up and making everything. We’ve got to take some of it away a little bit.”

How fast is Paul? Think Allen Iverson.

“He’s one of the fastest,” Kidd said. “He’s right up there with AI and those guys. For me it’s just a matter of understanding the angles, too, and making it tough on him at both ends. He’s had a heck of a series and a heck of a season, so it’s just a matter of us making it tough and going from there.”

Jet: Not the time to get frustrated

Jason Terry is the eternal optimist. So it shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone that he showed up to talk to reporters with a smile stretched across his face.

“I am smiling because we are back home where we are loved, away from all of that voodoo down there in New Orleans,” he cracked. “More importantly, we have another opportunity come out and change the momentum of this series with a win. That is where our sole focus is.”

Has the team’s confidence waned any after two brutal losses?

“Not at all,” he countered. “This is a building where we have great success. We know our fans are behind us. We know that other team over there is a great team, but we are going to put our best foot forward and go after them.”

Terry admitted that frustration crept into the locker room against the Warriors a year ago.

“We learned from that,” he said. “I thought last year at this same point in the series with Golden State, we got kind of frustrated and we did not play well frustrated. This year it’s a whole different mindset. We realize we have a great opportunity now to get back in this series at home.”

Is Kidd comfortable leading?

Though it’s been more than two months since the trade, the question remains: Is Jason Kidd comfortable running this team ... on and off the court?

“Since we’ve changed the team, we’ve had some highs and lows, and some ups and downs, and that’s what happens,” Avery Johnson said. “It’s not like we’ve been playing together for three years and he’s been in the program for three years. There are still certain things that he still tries to figure out and that’s why we tried to eliminate a whole heck of a lot of things so that he can just go out there and play.

“We don’t want to give up on anything we’ve done yet. I know a lot of people are counting us out. The same people that, by the way, picked us to win the series. I just hope they make up their mind.”

Kidd hasn’t fared well against his much younger and quicker counterpart. But he’s doesn’t need to put up Chris Paul stats for the Mavs to win. Kidd needs to do more within his game.

“I’m playing my game,” he said. “I just have to look to be a little bit more aggressive, put a little bit more pressure on their defense, and be involved offensively and defensively a lot more, and go from there.”

Kidd knows why he came back to Dallas.

“It’s to win playoff games,” he said. “Right now we haven’t done that, but that’s the challenge. This is the fun part. This is why I love to play this game. We still have great opportunities as a team to turn this thing around.”

Kidd admitted the team has to do a better job of executing Johnson’s gameplan. They also have to play with more passion and pride, and have fun while they’re doing it. But as far as being the one to rally the troops in the locker room, Kidd isn’t at that stage yet.

“We have enough guys in the locker room who will talk,” Kidd said. “There’ll be a point in time if I have to say something, I’ll say something, but right now it’s just more or less to go out there and execute the gameplan, and put my teammates in a position to be successful.”

Dirk: Time to regroup

Dirk Nowitzki turned philosophical when asked about where his team stands after two washout games in the Big Easy.

“Not a great spot to be in right now,” he said. “We definitely wanted to get one there and come here with a tied series. In basketball and life, it doesn’t always work out the way you want it to, so just a disappointing effort.

“So we’ve got to come out and establish ourselves early, be a little more physical, have a lot more presence about ourselves on both ends of the floor. Hopefully the crowd will carry us through. We need to get on the board to make it a series. So Friday is a biggie.”

Nowitzki knows, as does everyone else, that he can’t do it alone. The contributions from Josh Howard, Jason Terry and Jason Kidd haven’t matched Nowitzki’s efforts.

“We all know if we want to win this series, if we want to accomplish something in these playoffs, we have to play at a high level, we have to play together at both ends of the floor,” he said. “We have to play in attack mode. There will always be nights when somebody’s shot isn’t there, they don’t have a great rhythm, but you’ve got to keep playing hard, keep plying together as a team.

“It didn’t look great there yesterday, but hopefully these two days will help us regroup a little bit and get everybody fired up again, get our heads up. It’s not the time to give in now. It’s time to come out swinging. Hopefully we’ll have a great effort Friday, get on the board and make it a series.”

Time to get angry and hit back

Avery Johnson addressed the media not long ago after the team met at American Airlines Center. The General sensed anger from his squad when they walked through the door. The question now is can they transform that anger into something useful for Friday’s Game 3 at American Airlines Center?

“The guys are not happy with the way they’ve played,” Johnson said. “They came in this morning and I saw some angry looks, but I hope we take that disappointment and controlled anger into practice tomorrow and iron out a couple of things and then take it out on our opponents.

“Where we are right now, it’s nobody’s fault but ours. Not the referees. Nothing like that. We have to play better. We can’t complain when we don’t get calls. We just have to be tough-minded and physical and we’ll try to do everything to encourage and challenge them to get to that point.”

Johnson also took the blame for the 0-2 hole.

“I take full responsibility about everything and that’s my job,” he said. “But at the same time, if we have a gameplan, we have to have a high level of concentration and we have to have a high of physicality, which I haven’t seen yet. We’ll get there and we’ll keep prodding them and cheering them on and challenging and doing all that we do to try to get the team ready to play. I’m excited about this game on Friday. I wish Friday was tomorrow.”

Johnson said he saw that level of physicality in late season wins over Golden State and Utah. The Mavs also roughed up New Orleans in that last game of the season. He hasn’t seen it since.

“All they’ve really done is protected their homecourt,” Johnson said. “The series doesn’t really get good until somebody wins on the other’s homecourt. If you look at our last couple of games here at home against the Utahs and the Golden States and some of the better teams in the league, we’ve fared pretty good.

“We weren’t so good for a while, but we fared pretty good and that’s what we’ve got to do. Now we can’t bank on that. It’s not going to happen unless we come out here and hit somebody.”

Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Hornets move out to 2-0 lead

NEW ORLEANS – The Mavericks were in this position once before under Avery Johnson. In fact, it was worse.

The General’s first playoff experience as an NBA head coach began with back-to-back losses at home to Houston. The series seemed lost.

Those Mavs would come back in 2005, eventually routing the Rockets by 40 in Game 7. These Mavs are staring at the same mountain after dropping Game 2 to the Hornets, 127-103, Tuesday night at New Orleans Arena.

The first-round best-of-7 reconvenes in Dallas for the next two games starting Friday with Game 3. New Orleans is up 2-0 thanks to the brilliance of Chris Paul and the Mavs’ inability to generate scoring opportunities for anyone other than Dirk Nowitzki.

If the Mavs wanted to get the ball out of Paul’s hands early, they did a good job. Trouble was Paul put the ball in the hands of others to score. He had eight assists in the first quarter – just two less than his Game 1 output. Several dishes found his high-flying center Tyson Chandler at the rim.

Not that Paul didn’t want to score. The 6-foot speed demon ended the first quarter with another buzzer beater – he did the same at the end of the same quarter in Game 1 – to give New Orleans a 10-point difference (39-29) going into the second. Paul dipped around Nowitzki to swish a one-handed floater from the corner.

The lead would continue to grow, as the Hornets took a 16-point edge into the break. New Orleans extended it to 25 in the third quarter during a flurry of crowd-erupting 3-pointers and relentless drives, before settling on a 99-79 advantage after three periods.

The Mavs couldn’t make much of a dent in the deficit in the fourth. Johnson’s team got it down to 16 a few times, but Paul and Co. kept a comfortable cushion throughout the quarter. Dallas has dropped all four meetings in New Orleans this season, including two in the regular.

Paul followed up his 35-point, 10-assist playoff debut with another dominating effort. He finished with 32 points, 17 assists, five rebounds and three steals in 39 kinetic minutes. It didn’t matter what defense or what defender the Mavs tried. Paul found a way to beat them all.

Paul had plenty of support. David West (27 points) and Peja Stojakovic (22) and were two of the other five in double figures, as the Hornets shot better than 60 percent for the game. Nowitzki (27 points) couldn’t say the same. Brandon Bass (19 points) did have a second-half spurt, but those who share the lion’s share of responsibility with Nowitzki weren’t nearly as effective.

Jason Kidd, Josh Howard and Jason Terry didn’t make an impact on the game, especially when the outcome was still somewhat in doubt. The same was true in Game 1. The trick is figuring out a way to turn that around before Game 3.

Come out strong & Lue out

Taking the fight to the Hornets is the focus tonight. The Mavs lost their aggressiveness in the second half of Game 1.

“You can’t ever play on your heels,” Avery Johnson said. “You can’t play 22 minutes of a 48-minute playoff game. It’s not going to cut it.

“Now we understand what we need to do and it’s still not going to be an easy task. New Orleans is the No. 2 seed for a reason, so we have to come out and play really well to have a chance to win.”

A win means the homecourt edge and the Hornets have not won in Dallas in a decade.

“You can’t just depend on what historically we’ve done at home,” Johnson said. “That’s all in the past. This game is a very winnable game if we play right and play longer than we did the first game. If we can do that then we’ll have a shot at winning. Whatever happens, win or win, we’ll have a shot at the next one.”

Johnson won’t have Tyronn Lue tonight. The backup point guard is out with lower back tightness. He’ll join Jamaal Magloire and JJ Barea on the inactive list.

Mavs need Jet to take flight

Jason Terry averaged a team-high 22 points against New Orleans during the regular season, including a 30 in Wednesday’s finale. He scored just eight in Game 1.

Getting Terry more involved is another subplot to Game 2. And if you ask Josh Howard, Terry is the storyline.

“He’s the key to the whole series, as far as what he’s done to New Orleans in the regular season,” Howard said. “If we get him more shots and good looks, I think it’ll be better for us.”

Terry said the key for him and the Mavs is the running game. Getting out in transition means more easy baskets and less reliance on halfcourt sets.

Terry also isn’t putting any extra pressure on himself.

“No pressure at all,” he said. “My job is clear as day – come out and be aggressive, put points on the board and defensively help control Chris Paul.”

The Hornets did a good job of limiting Terry’s scoring chances.

“You still have to maintain your aggressiveness,” he said. “You can’t say, ‘Oh, they’re going to take me out of this series.’ I’m not that player anyway. I’m the type of guy that has to be involved and I will look to be involved tonight.”

Howard and Paul are friendly rivals

Winston-Salem went all out promoting the All-Star candidacies of favorite sons Josh Howard and Chris Paul. Folks in North Carolina are probably split on this series.

Howard made sure to say today that there “ain’t no rivalry” with Paul. The two Wake Forest products are good friends and talk often during the season. If anything, Howard said, people back home are proud to see both in the playoffs.

“Somebody is going to be home early this summer, one of the two,” Howard joked. “That’s all I can tell you.”

Howard first played against Paul in a pickup game at Wake. Howard was in college, while Paul was either a sophomore or junior in high school. Howard knew Paul’s older brother.

As for turning his left ankle early in the third quarter of Game 1, Howard said it didn’t bother him much in the second half. “A little stiff, but it’s nothing,” he said.

By the way, Howard has picked up the nickname “The Show,” a nod to his all-around game. Check out more at his official site:

Is Game 2 a must-win?

A repeat of the first half of Game 1, actually repeating it twice, would work out just fine for Avery Johnson. The Mavs can steal homecourt from Chris Paul and the Hornets tonight in Game 2 at New Orleans Arena.

“Early on I’d like to see us get some stops and run and hope get the ball to the basket, score some points in the paint,” Johnson said. “I’d like to see us do a much better job than what we did on Paul, individual defense, team defense. I’d like to see us do a better job on the boards. I thought we had a lot of enthusiasm to start the game. We just couldn’t sustain it.”

Johnson stopped short of calling it a must-win situation.

“It’s a seven-game series,” he said. “We’re going to do our best and hopefully our best will be good enough to finish with one more point. But if not, we’ll keep fighting and get ready for the next one.”

His players, though, took the more immediate approach. Going back to Dallas down 0-2 isn’t in their plans.

“Every game is a must-win,” Jason Terry said. “If you don’t, you’re going to make sure you get it the next time out. We’ve done of a great job of game-planning for this one and we will be ready to play. It’ll be on the players to go out and execute.”

Josh Howard added: “If we win a game here and go home and play two and get those two, it’ll be big, so, yeah, I’d call it a must-win.”

Jason Kidd's site relaunch

The folks over at announced a new relaunch of the Kidd's official web site. Check out news on Kidd, his foundation, the Mavs' playoff run and more.

They've done a nice job. Check it out.

Game 2 Watch Party at Dave & Buster's

When: Tuesday, April 22 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.

Monday, April 21, 2008

It's not all about Paul

For all the talk about what the Mavericks have to do to stop Chris Paul, there’s also another side to that coin. Don’t stop yourselves.

The second half of Game 1 was a clinic of what not to do. Ball movement trickled to a standstill resulting in contested shots launched to beat the shot clock. The Hornets and Paul happily capitalized.

“Whatever changes we need to make, we need the ball to go in the basket more than 33 percent of the time,” Avery Johnson said Monday. “If the ball can go in the basket more than 33 percent of the time and we can get back to our normal offensive production, then we think that will help our defense.”

The offense starts with Jason Kidd, but the point guard and Dirk Nowitzki aren’t solely responsible for producing baskets. Josh Howard needs to remain in attack mode, especially when his jumper isn’t falling. Jason Terry and Jerry Stackhouse could also loosen the defense up, and some of the double teams against Nowitzki.

“We’ve got to get everybody touching the ball, swinging it,” Kidd. “It got a little sticky there where we were holding it and then when we were passing it with four seconds left on the shot clock and somebody had to take a jump shot.”

The numbers from the final two quarters of the opener read like a horror story. The Mavs shot 25 percent (9 of 36), had one bucket in the paint, turned it over nine times and scored just 40.

“We’ve got to keep doing what we were doing in the first half, more consistent for a longer period of time,” said Nowitzki, who scored 31. “The second half there were a lot of breakdowns there and offensively we couldn’t get going.”

The ring is the thing

Avery Johnson showed up for his afternoon press briefly in the lobby of the team hotel wearing his 1999 NBA Championship ring won in San Antonio on his right hand. It’s hardly a subtle message.

Johnson won’t be flashing the bling alone in Game 2. The entire coaching staff is doing the same. Assistant coaches Paul Westphal, Joe Prunty and Mario Elie have also been part of championship teams. Westphal (Boston) and Elie (Houston and San Antonio) won titles as players, while Prunty (San Antonio) won several as an assistant.

Devean George and Tyronn Lue also own rings, having won multiple titles with the Lakers. Don’t count on those rings coming out of storage for the pregame layup line.

Dirk needed a (bulky) wing man

Enforcers used to be part of the NBA game. The dying breed included guys like Rick Mahorn, Charles Oakley and Anthony Mason not that long ago.

The league has cleaned up the game, so the days of the punishing bruiser are gone. But that doesn’t mean guys can’t stand up for a teammate when the time comes.

Avery Johnson would have liked a certain big body to throw his weight around when Dirk Nowitzki and David West traded technicals at the end of Game 1.

“We need players to not back down from anybody,” Johnson said. “That’s what the playoffs are all about. More than Dirk doing something about it, I would have liked for somebody else on the team, preferably in the center position, to do something about it.”

Did he mean Erick Dampier or Brandon Bass? Dampier wasn’t in the game during the altercation. Bass was.

Johnson: “Was that clear enough?” We’re not sure.

More on the Dirk-West double-T

The double-technical against Dirk Nowitzki and David West generated quite a bit of scrutiny. The penalty was assessed after the two power forwards got tangled up late in the fourth quarter – Nowitzki split West’s lip followed by West tapping his hand on Nowitzki’s face a couple of times.

“It’s a cop-out call,” Nowitzki said. “If two guys get into each other, it’s always a double-technical. That’s the nature of the league. The league tries to take all the physical plays and confrontations out of it.”

Nowitzki didn’t retaliate because he thought only West would get a ‘T.’ Tyson Chandler picked up a technical for shoving Nowitzki to the court in the third quarter.

The guys on TNT had plenty to say about the Nowitzki-West dust-up.

Charles Barkley: “I love Dirk Nowitzki, he’s a great player, but [the Hornets] are saying to you, ‘We think you are soft.’ That’s what it means. You have to slap his hand down and the Mavs have to say, ‘You can’t do that.’”

Magic Johnson: “I’m from the 80’s where something had to happen. Dirk, you have to do something or a teammate has got to do something. You can’t let a man, not in the playoffs, put his hands up on your face.”

The CP3 Rules

The coaching staff didn’t invent a new defense to control Chris Paul during the break between Game 1 and 2. It’s just a matter of following the gameplan and constantly applying pressure on the MVP candidate.

“We have a couple of ideas,” Avery Johnson said. “Whatever we do, we have to do it effectively and efficiently. He’s a heck of a player. He’s been doing it to everybody all year. We have some ideas. We’re not going to give away our scouting report, but we have to make him work on both ends.”

Considering his quickness and ability to create, team defense becomes more critical against Paul. He spent most of the second half of Game 1 in the paint.

“You’d like to get more help involved, but it’s not as easy,” Jason Kidd said. “He’s a very talented player, he’s seen it all, he understands the different defenses that are thrown at him, so in that second half he took advantage of the pick-and-roll and carried his team to victory.”

Ending the road drought

The playoff losing streak on the road has reached seven for the Mavs. The last win – Game 6 of the 2006 Western Conference finals at Phoenix – clinched the NBA Finals trip. Since then, they’ve lost three at Miami, three at Golden State and the opener of this series.

“We’re confident we can win on the road,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “We just have to go out and do it. Obviously, the team that loses always has to go back and look at some stuff and adjust and they’re probably ready for our adjustments.

“The playoffs are a game of adjustments. Hopefully, this is still going to be a long series. We still have a chance to get that split there. We’ve just got to get Game 2.”

They won’t advance without at least one win in New Orleans. Avery Johnson doesn’t put much stock in the streak, noting those previous six losses were without Jason Kidd.

“This team is 0-1 on the road and that’s the way we’re looking at it,” Johnson said. “We’ll try to even it up on Tuesday.”

Jet third in voting for Sixth Man

Jason Terry placed third in voting for the NBA Sixth Man Award, the league announced today. Manu Ginobili of the San Antonio Spurs won the honor as the league’s best player in a reserve role for the 2007-08 season.

Ginobili received 615 out of a possible 620 points, including 123 of a possible 124 first-place votes, from a panel of 124 sportswriters and broadcasters throughout the United States and Canada. Leandro Barbosa of the Phoenix Suns finished second with 283 points and Terry of the Dallas Mavericks finished third with 44 points.

In order to be eligible for this award, players had to have come off the bench in more games than they started. Players were awarded five points for each first-place vote, three points for each second-place vote and one point for each third-place vote.

Sunday, April 20, 2008

Adversity nothing to fear

Adversity and the Mavericks haven’t left each other’s side much this season. Breakups don’t last long. They always find a way to get back together.

So it shouldn’t come as a shock that warning sirens are sounding after Game 1. The Mavs squandered a double-digit halftime lead, as the Chris Paul-led Hornets roared back to post a 104-92 victory in opener of the best-of-7 series.

Dropping one game on the New Orleans’ homecourt is hardly a cause for panic. Far worse had been dealt with.

“I love adversity,” Mavs coach Avery Johnson said. “That’s just my whole deal. It’s not that I’m always looking for it, but when it comes, I like to hit adversity right in the face. I think when you love adversity and you have a lot of courage under fire, when you’re in some adverse situations, it tells you a lot about yourself.

“It can help build confidence, so even though it appears to be challenging, and it has been, I think a lot of great things have come out of this season. We’ve found out a lot more about ourselves, we found out a lot more about our players and it’s been a different kind of year.”

What did those players find out about themselves?

“We were a weak team mentally, as far as when we faced adversity,” Jason Terry said. “I think we’ve gotten stronger and stronger as the years went on. You add a guy like Jason Kidd and it obviously helps in that department, a guy who’s seen it all, been to the Finals and been in adverse situations. We’ve learned tremendously and grown.”

Read the rest of this story at

Howard on Game 1 defense & his game

After putting the clamps on the Hornets in the first half, and keeping Chris Paul pretty much in check, the second half wasn’t pretty for the Mavs, who led 52-40 at the break.

Paul scored 24 of his game-high 35 after halftime, including 15 in the momentum-turning third quarter. New Orleans won the second half 64-40.

“We didn’t play great second half defense,” Josh Howard said. “Paul is an offensive player so you know he’s going to get his baskets for the most part. We knew they were coming back. It’s what they’ve been doing all season. We’ve just got to play better in the second half.”

Howard knows the same is true for him. After scoring 15 in the first half, he added just two more. Those points came on free throws after he turned his left ankle early in the third. He continued to play, but didn’t make a shot the rest of the game.

“I’m not worried about my shot,” Howard said. “We’re just trying to win games, man. I’m going to do what I’ve got to do to win. I don’t give a damn if I’m shooting 5-for-20 or 7-for-7. I just want to win the game.”