The Dallas Mavericks take the court at the American Airlines Center for the second time this week as they host the Phoenix Suns for another round of preseason basketball. This isn’t your older, slightly weirder older brother’s Phoenix Suns squad. Steve Nash and Grant Hill are out of the mix as the team is now led by Goran Dragic, Marcin Gortat and Luis Scola.
Here are some things of note to set the table for the game against the Suns.
The Suns snapped an eight-game losing streak against the Mavericks in the regular season with a 96-94 win at home on 3/8/12. It was the Suns’ longest losing streak against any NBA team in 14 years, since they lost eight in a row to the Lakers from November 1995 to January 1998. Dallas has taken 13 of the last 16 meetings with Phoenix. To further display the domination, the Mavericks have also won nine straight and 21 of the last 26 games they’ve played against Phoenix at home. The Suns have gone without a win at the American Airlines Center since 3/14/07, when they grabbed a 129-127 double-overtime victory.
Shawn Marion scored a season-high 29 points against Phoenix on 1/23/12. It tied his highest scoring game as a Maverick (29 in Minnesota against the Timberwolves on 3/8/10). Marion averaged a team-high 18.5 points/game, 6.0 rebounds/game, 2.3 assists/game and 29.3 minutes/game in four games against Phoenix last season.
It’s a Small World:
Shawn Marion was drafted by the Suns in 1999 and played in Phoenix from 1999-2008. He was named a Western Conference All-Star on four different occasions as a member of the Suns (2003, 2005, 2006, 2007). Vince Carter played 51 games for the Suns during the 2010-11 season, averaging 13.5 points. He signed with Dallas three days after he was waived by Phoenix. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle coached Suns center Jermaine O’Neal (yes, he’s still in the league) for three seasons in Indiana from 2003-06.
Luis Scola was a target for the Mavericks during the amnesty bidding process. The Suns ultimately won the bidding war for Scola’s services. Goran Dragic was a potential free agent target for the Mavericks during this past offseason. Depending on who you ask, many questioned whether or not Dragic could handle the full time responsibility of being the starting point guard for a team with championship aspirations. Marcin Gortat was this close to becoming a Maverick. As a restricted free agent, Gortat signed an offer sheet for five years and $34 million with the Mavericks. The Orlando Magic (foolishly) prevented Gortat from going to Dallas as they matched the offer sheet. He was traded to the Suns a year later.
Delonte West will be back with the Mavericks after a one-day suspension after performing conduct deemed detrimental to the team. In his unique way, West told members of the media how things went down. “Uncle Ricky handled the situation, you know what I mean?” West said after Wednesday’s shootaround. “We went and had a talk, and we came right back to the barbecue.” Coach Rick Carlisle alluded to the fact that West is a different kind of cat. He suggested that most players run on gas while West runs on diesel. “There was an outstanding issue, and we needed to talk about it,” Carlisle said. “He needed to refocus, and he’s in the process of doing that. It’s going to be work. It’s going to be daily work for him to do that, and I’ve got to help him and our organization is going to help him, too. It’s not that big a deal.”
“I wouldn’t call Delonte high maintenance,” Mark Cuban said. “Delonte is Delonte maintenance. He’s his unique brand of maintenance, but we’re used to it.” Cuban called the situation a “non event.” Cuban went on to say that Delonte is such a competitor that sometimes it gets the best of him and that’s what led to his one-day suspension. That being said, Cuban made sure to note why Delonte was brought back to the team this season. “When it’s time to hunt, he’s the dog you want out there hunting for you,” Cuban said. “He’s a guy that you want in the foxhole with you. He’s a warrior, and guys love that.”
Dirk Nowitzki will once again sit out as he battles through a sore right knee. Dirk got additional work today as he was seen working out on the elliptical next to Mark Cuban. Unlike Cuban, Dirk didn’t want to speak to the media as he was working out. Roddy Beaubois will also sit out due to a sprained left ankle. Carlisle said that the young guard is improving and they’re hoping to get a couple of practices under his belt before trying to play on Saturday night in Atlanta against the Hawks. The big problem is Beaubois doesn’t need a belt when he’s playing basketball. Basketball shorts come with a drawstring. So, I guess the Mavericks are hoping to get a couple of practices under his drawstring before Saturday.
Improvement ranks higher than wins in the preseason, according to coach Carlisle. “You want to win, but you look at the progress or lack of progress in certain areas and address it,” Carlisle said. He also said that the transition from the first half into the second half of the Houston game was a good sign and that they’re looking for a strong start against Phoenix.
Carlisle said that Vince Carter and Shawn Marion have emerged as two new leaders for the team this year. With Jason Kidd and Jason Terry leaving, Carlisle said that those two players have been up for whatever he’s asked of them. “They’ve been phenomenal with their approach and their example that they’ve set,” Carlisle said. “It’s been great to see.”