The Dallas Mavericks (12-16) head up I-35 to take on the Oklahoma City Thunder (21-6). Okay, they didn’t drive up I-35 to Oklahoma City. The team went up to Oklahoma City on their fancy team plane but you get the idea that it’s not that far of a trip for the Mavericks. This will be game No. 2 for Dirk Nowitzki this season. He made his season debut at San Antonio on Dec. 23, after missing Dallas’ first 27 games recovering from arthroscopic right knee surgery. Nowitzki appeared as a reserve, he entered the game at the 6:28 mark of the first quarter, and recorded eight points and six rebounds in 20 minutes. Nowitzki came off the bench for the first time since Feb. 5, 2010 at Minnesota. The Mavericks went 12-15 in their first 27 games without Nowitzki in the lineup. Dallas is now 36-36 all-time when he doesn’t play.
Dirk is expected to come off the bench again against the Thunder as he continues to get back into game shape. Speaking of getting back into shape, the Mavericks are looking to get back in shape as they’re currently on a three-game losing streak. This is the fourth time this season they’ve been on a three-game losing streak. A loss against the Thunder would mark the Mavericks’ first four-game losing streak of the season.
Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Thunder.
Read more of this article »
The classic rivalry continues as the Dallas Mavericks (12-15) challenge the San Antonio Spurs (20-8) in San Antonio. History has shown that these two teams usually find a way to make the in-state matchup one to remember, no matter what is going on between the two teams. The Mavericks will have to adjust at the point guard position with Derek Fisher being granted his release from the team on Saturday.
After dealing with injury issues to Kawhi Leonard, Stephen Jackson and Manu Ginobili, it appears the Spurs will go into the game with a full compliment of healthy players. According to reports, Brandan Wright (right ankle) and Elton Brand (groin) participated somewhat in shootaround. Their status are still in up in the air in regards to participating in the game against the Spurs. The Mavericks announced that they have signed free agent guard/forward Chris Douglas-Roberts. He is the fifth player this season that has been called up from the D-League.
Douglas-Roberts (6-7, 210) has played in 11 games (all starts) for the Mavericks’ D-League affiliate Texas Legends this season, and has averaged a league-high 22.5 points, 5.3 rebounds, 4.5 assists and 1.9 steals in 38.5 minutes per game. In those 11 contests, he has shot 49.4 percent from the field, 39.5 percent from 3-point range and 90.4 percent from the line. The 6-7 guard/forward spent the 2012 training camp with the Los Angeles Lakers, where he averaged 4.0 points and 8.3 minutes in four games. He played for Virtus Bologna of the Italian League in 2011-12. Douglas-Roberts has joined the Mavericks in San Antonio, but it is still unknown in regards to whether or not he will make his debut against the Spurs.
Here are the notes for the game between the Mavericks and the Spurs.
Read more of this article »
The Derek Fisher has ended. Marc Stein of ESPN.com broke the story that the Mavericks agreed to release Fisher at his request. Fisher averaged 8.6 points, 3.6 assists and 25.4 minutes in nine games (all starts) for Dallas this season. What’s intriguing is the fact that, according to sources, the move to let Fisher go had actually been in the works for a few days, but the Mavericks asked Fisher to stay with the team until another point guard could be secured. Fisher agreed to stay, but ultimately got injured in the game against the Philadelphia 76ers. Does agreeing to let Fisher go mean that another point guard is in the mix or the Mavericks have finally seen enough of Dominique Jones and/or Darren Collison to no longer need a security blanket like Fisher go.
Here were part of Fisher’s comments on the first day he arrived in Dallas: “This is not a pit stop. This is not kind of the final whatever before I decide to retire soon. I’m here to give everything I have to help this team right now and continue to build as we go through this season.”
In a statement he issued, he said:
With this news and the difficulty I have been having being away from my family, I have asked the organization to waive me so I can return home.
“(Mavericks owner) Mark Cuban has been extremely supportive and has granted me this request. I cannot say enough good things about this organization. From Mark, to Coach (Rick) Carlisle, to the players on the Mavericks’ team, I sincerely thank them for the opportunity.
“I have made decisions in the past, leaving money and opportunity on the table, and I will need to do that again. My family is my priority and that is where I choose to be. I won’t close the possibility that I will play again, however for now my family and being close to them remains the priority.”
Stein also reports that sources indicate that the Mavericks will call up Chris Douglas-Roberts from the Frisco-based Texas Legends to replace Fisher and take up the 15th spot on the roster. What does this all mean?
Read more of this article »
Box Score — Play-by-Play — Shot Chart — GameFlow
You know the drill. The Difference is a quick-hitting (or in this case, day after) reflection on the game that was, with one bullet for every point in the final margin.
- 12 it is. The streak had to stop somewhere, and unfortunately it folded along with an early 20-point Dallas lead. The Mavs should have had this win squared away, but the inevitable Bucks run was far more damaging than anyone could have anticipated. Dallas’ offense came and went, but it was the defensive concessions in the third quarter that marked the Mavs’ fate. Despite being the worst offensive team in the league, the Bucks shot 61.1% (including 75% from three) and attempted 11 free throws in the third, putting up 32 and completely tilting the game in the process. Brandon Jennings’ 10 points and three assists in the third led the Bucks, but Chris Douglas-Roberts’ seven points (on 2-2 FG and 3-4 FT) were just as instrumental. Both players made incredible plays, but their success was allowed by a defense that failed to protect the paint, fouled too often, and ceded the three-point line.
- Andrew Bogut (21 points, 10-12 FG, 14 rebounds, two blocks) was absolutely tremendous, and he brutalized the Mavs’ interior defense. Neither Tyson Chandler nor Brendan Haywood could effectively defend or box out Bogut, and yet the Bucks center’s offensive impact still paled in comparison to his defensive influence. Bogut only recorded two blocks, but he seemingly altered every attempt in the paint. He made the drives of Jason Terry and J.J. Barea particularly uncomfortable, but his defense was more far-reaching than merely challenging layups. Hands down the best player on the floor.
- That would mark one of the first times during the Mavs’ win streak that such an honor wasn’t bestowed on Dirk Nowitzki (30 points, 12-24 FG, 3-6 3FG, seven rebounds). Dirk was his typically magnificent self, but even Nowitzki’s terrific offensive night and nice defensive effort stood dwarfed by Bogut’s two-way dominance. It seems silly to ask more of Dirk than the 30 points on 50% shooting he so skillfully offered, but that’s what Dallas needed. Those four points needed to come from somewhere, and while Caron Butler (4-11 FG), Jason Terry (3-8 FG), and Brendan Haywood (0-4 FT, after Scott Skiles opted to intentionally foul Haywood in the fourth) provide easy scapegoats, Nowitzki has conditioned us to expect the improbable. This is the first time in six games that Nowitzki shot only 50% from the field. In four of those six contests he shot at least 66.7%. Dirk has been on an unearthly tear, but was unfortunately mortal on just a few too many attempts tonight.
- The ball movement in this one should be a point of pride for the Mavs, as they totaled 28 assists on 37 field goals. Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, and J.J. Barea all had some inspired finds, and though the offense peaked in the first quarter, all three ball-handlers continued to work for optimal shot attempts. There were faulty judgment calls all around, but the positives of Dallas’ passing far outweighed any potential negatives. Turnovers can be costly — and they occasionally were, such as Bogut’s steal and go-ahead dunk with 5:37 remaining in the fourth quarter — but the Mavs’ offense performed at a respectable level in spite of their miscues.
- Apparently the Mavs were offered a lottery pick for Rodrigue Beaubois last night, but didn’t even flirt with the idea. Good move; even though I think this draft class is pretty deep with contributing talent, there really aren’t many prospects with star potential. Beaubois has that, and do give that up this early in Beaubois’ career for some mid-summer excitement would be a shame.
- Dominique Jones described his game to the Dallas media after being drafted (via Jeff Caplan of ESPN Dallas): “Just getting in the lane, strong body, getting contact, and-1s. And, I feel like the D-Wade style, which is transition, getting out in transition, one-on-one transition, you know, basically being unguardable.” (Emphasis mine.)
- Kelly Dwyer of Ball Don’t Lie graded the Mavs with a C, but does concede that Jones could become an immediate factor: “Jones seems like a weird fit, because doesn’t Rodrique Beaubois already provide the same services? And that’s assuming Jones’ best case scenario comes through. Even if he is a bit superfluous, Dallas can use all the depth it can get at this point, so cheers to them for paying the cash to pull in a possible rotation contributor.”
- Who knew Mark Cuban and Michael Heisley were best buds?
- Greg Auman of the St. Petersberg Times: “Jones, a 6-foot-5 guard who led the Big East in scoring as a junior, became the Bulls’ first NBA first-round pick, taken by the Grizzlies at No. 25. Barely 20 minutes later, word had spread that the Grizzlies had drafted Jones on behalf of the Mavericks. And Dallas is where his NBA career will begin. ‘The emotions come out because you’ve got your foot in the door. This is just my beginning,’ said Jones, who walked through a crowd of supporters and laid his head on the hood of his Chevy Tahoe, overcome by a dream come true. Jones could have spent draft night in New York, where picks dressed in new suits smile for ESPN cameras, but he chose to stay in Lake Wales, proud of his roots in this small town in Polk County.”
- A report that David Wesley will be a coach for the Texas Legends.
- Jones again, this time responding to the Mavs paying $3 million just to pick him (via Tim MacMahon of ESPN Dallas): “That must mean they have some high expectations, and I don’t like letting people down.”
- According to the tremendous @mavstats, Dominique was the only player in the country to average 21 points, six rebounds and three assists last season.
- Don’t get too attached to that 2013 second rounder the Mavs acquired in exchange for the draft rights for Solomon Alabi. Donnie Nelson thinks it could make for a nice topping for an off-season trade. I certainly hope so, because Alabi seems like the kind of project the Mavs could have used. Then again, maybe Toronto was where he was supposed to be all along.
- Mary Buckhelt has a cool feature on ESPN.com about the various LeBron anthems being written this off-season, including “The Bron Bron Song (C’mon LeBron)” by ESPN Radio’s own Ben Rogers (he of the Ben & Skin Show). In the extremely slim chance that you haven’t heard it yet, check out Ben’s ditty at LeBrontotheMavs.com.
- Per Kevin Pelton’s similarity scores at Basketball Prospectus, the player most similar to Dominique Jones (in terms of production) at his age was Chris Douglas-Roberts. Not too bad.
- Video proof that Rick Carlisle wears shorts. Oh, and a nice walk-and-talk with Donnie Nelson.
- Brendan Haywood on the differences in coverage between the Mavs and the Wizards (via Todd Archer of the Dallas Morning News): “The difference for us a lot of times on a side screen-and-roll we used to call blue or icing, which means we tried to keep the ball on the same side of the court. They, I mean Dallas is more of a ‘show’ team. They’ll show on a screen-and-roll and try to impact the ball a little more. It’s a little different for me. That and zone coverages are different for me too.”
- Former Mav Jerry Stackhouse apparently reached out to Chris Douglas-Roberts to console him on the Nets’ losing ways. Stack was always kind of a complicated character; he was tough on the court and when receiving clear opposition, but by all means a caring individual capable of tremendous personal acts. It’s hard to reconcile all of that with the shot-happy near-burden he aged into (especially when considering his earlier stardom), but in spite of everything that happened at the end of Stack’s career with the Mavs, it’s important that we keep a full view of him and his exploits, both good and bad.
- SLAM’s Tzvi Twersky has a nice interview with Caron Butler up, with a lot from Caron on the Mavs and the city of Dallas itself. Here’s Butler on what he was told to do coming in by Rick Carlisle: “Coach told me to be as aggressive as possible. Told me to stay aggressive, to not switch up anything. He keeps telling me to remain aggressive at all times, to not second-guess anything. And that’s the type of encouragement you need from a coach. And we’re learning everything on the fly. I went out there and played— myself, Brendan [Haywood] and DeShawn [Stevenson]—after landing in the city and not being able to practice because of trade waivers and stuff wasn’t clear. So we just walked on the court and basically played pickup ball. So we’re learning the offense on the fly, and so far so good.”
- Mark Cuban doesn’t quite seem content with the current collective bargaining model.
- Rick Carlisle’s reaction to the news that Josh Howard will miss the rest of the season with a torn ACL (via Tim MacMahon): “That’s terrible. Circumstances that happen in this sport and just the timing of things is crazy. I’m very disappointed obviously for him. He’s not deserving of that kind of luck at this point.”
- If Zydrunas Ilgauskas wasn’t determined to go back to Cleveland 30 days after his buyout is finalized, Dallas would probably have a decent shot of signing him — Z and Donnie Nelson have history from when Donnie was with the Lithuanian national team.
- Kelly Dwyer on the decidedly awful game last night: “This was one of Dallas’ worst games of the season, and somehow they still managed to win in a walk.”
Any and every Mavs-Nets game presents an obvious platform to re-examine the Kidd-Harris trade. I get that. But what it shouldn’t present is a trade framework in which one team must win and the other must lose. That’s not what any trade is about, much less the exchange of a high profile, Hall of Fame point guard and a young up and coming star.
The fact that New Jersey is, at the moment, drowning in a sea of futility, is more or less irrelevant. Devin Harris is no longer a Mav, and while I still wish him the best and like to watch him succeed (as well as tons of other likable players on that Nets roster), it’s not really Dallas’ problem anymore. Rather than point out the fact that Jason Kidd is playing better basketball than Devin Harris is this season, can’t we just praise Kidd for rebounding, shooting, and passing the ball like age doesn’t mean a damn thing? Rather than point out the Mavs’ far superior record to the Nets (which was a given, in my mind), can’t we simply appreciate the Mavs’ early successes, both offensively and defensively? The conflict between the Mavs and Nets is so artificial that it’s ridiculous, as the only source of contention seems to be the anxiety of the fan base here in Dallas.
The Kidd-Harris trade was not about making New Jersey a bad team, and it shouldn’t matter much from a Mavs-centric perspective that they are. The intrigue of a historically bad start is understandable for fans of the league and the game, but it doesn’t for one second change the value Dallas received in the deal. As of this very second, the trade is probably a win for Dallas. Kidd is playing truly inspired basketball, and he’s been a crucial part of the Mavs’ current roll. There’s simply no way that the offense functions so smoothly with the ball in Harris’ hands, even if his presence does create match-up problems and provide additional scoring. That isn’t a slight against Devin, just the acknowledgment that Kidd is a different kind of point guard whose talents make more sense in the context of this Maverick team.
The Nets didn’t sign on the dotted line with the intention of getting better today, or even tomorrow. That much is certain when you trade a point guard of Kidd’s caliber for a younger, developing talent and a pair of first round picks. One of those picks has already borne fruit in the form of Ryan Anderson. While that may not seem like much, Stan Van Gundy has made the claim that Anderson’s involvement in the Vince Carter trade was required for the swap to come to pass. That trade not only brought in Courtney Lee, a solid shooting guard with a future as a role player at the very least, but also gave the Nets all kinds of cap flexibility going forward. So the Kidd deal not only brought in the point guard of the future, but cleared cap space, brought in additional young talent that complements the core, and still adds the unknown benefit of a 2010 first rounder. To me, that’s not a loss for the Nets, regardless of what their record looks like.
We’re talking about basketball, and the natural inclination is to treat any team interaction as a contest. But to deem one team a winner does not make the other a loser. Though the jury seems to be changing its verdict on the Mavs’ side of the deal (and the new contract he signed this summer, for that matter), that doesn’t change the fact that the Nets desperately needed to reload and restructure their team. And for what it’s worth, they’ve assembled a strong group of young pieces. Harris remains one of the best young point guards in the NBA. Courtney Lee, Chris Douglas-Roberts, and Terrence Williams provide the Nets with all kinds of options at the wing offensively (Lee’s 3-point shooting, CDR’s mid-range game, Williams’ slashing and ball-handling abilities), and plenty of weapons defensively. Brook Lopez looks has already figured out what it takes to be a NBA center, even if he didn’t show it against the Mavs. And Yi Jianlian…well, he’ll always have that magical workout against the chairs. I know things in Jersey are dour right now, but with new ownership, a big move on the way, plenty of young talent, and tons of cap space, this team is doing the rebuilding thing right.