Heard It Through the Grapevine

Posted by Rob Mahoney on January 15, 2010 under xOther | Read the First Comment

  • For those of you that weren’t up late watching Cavs-Jazz, you missed out. You really, really missed out.
  • It was touch and go there for awhile, but Shawne Williams’ NBA career has officially flat-lined.
  • Kurt from Forum Blue and Gold chimes in on the chances the Western Conference quasi-contenders have of challenging the Lakers. Here’s his take on Dallas: “They see themselves as close — they do have the second best record in the West — but serious questions remain if they could get out of the second round of the playoffs, let alone their match up issues with the Lakers. Last night was just another piece of evidence that the Lakers have their number.”
  • Rick Carlisle on the new starting lineup, featuring Josh Howard in his rightful place as the starting 2 (via Eddie Sefko): “Offensively, we’ve looked at a different lineup and that’s going to come…We did a lot more good things offensively than our final numbers indicate…That group hasn’t played together that much. During Josh’s second comeback period, he was playing a lot with the second group. This is another period we’re going to have to work through.”
  • Two great finds, courtesy of DOH. The first is of SLAM Online ace Lang Whitaker, who took a turn as an A Season on the Brink/Seven Seconds or Less-style embedded writer with the Atlanta Hawks. Very, very cool, and especially relevant because the Hawks happened to be playing the Dallas Mavericks during Whitaker’s time with the team. Get a glimpse of some behind-the-scenes prep work against the Mavs, just how highly other teams thought of Rodrigue Beaubois earlier in the season, and some assorted thoughts on the game itself.
  • The second is a piece from NBA.com’s Fran Blinebury. Kobe Bryant was asked to reflect a bit on Dirk Nowitzki in light of Dirk’s 20,000 career points, and he had plenty to say (forgive me for the lengthy quote, but it’s good stuff): “But who sees and understands more than an opposite number in a different color jersey, the player most often regarded as the fiercest competitor in the game today? ‘He’s tough,’ said the Lakers’ Kobe Bryant. ‘That’s what I like about him. He’s not a punk. A lot of superstar players don’t like to get touched. They’re kind of finicky about how they go about things. Dirk’s nasty and that’s what I like about him. He’ll take the gloves off and go at it.’ That’s a far cry from the early days of a career that had him labeled as “soft” and had Nowitzki known as Irk — no D. Over the course of his career, Nowitzki has developed into a solid team defender, become the Mavs’ unquestioned team leader and has staked his claim as the best international player to jump straight to the pro ranks in the NBA. Nigerian Hakeem Olajuwon spent three years learning the ropes at the University of Houston before stepping into the NBA and Argentine Manu Ginobili honed his game for two years in the Italian League before joining the San Antonio Spurs…’It’s tough to argue that he’s not the best international player ever,’ said Bryant. ‘We’re gonna try to make a case when it’s all said and done for [Spaniard] Pau Gasol years from now. But Dirk is phenomenal right now…If you look at some of the games that he’s had against great players, it’s amazing. I think his coming out party years ago was against [Kevin] Garnett. Garnett is a phenomenal player and Dirk was putting up 35 and 20 rebounds. That’s ridiculous. I’m looking at that like, ‘Whoa, Garnett’s one of the best defensive players ever and [Dirk] torched him.’ ‘…’Dirk’s not gonna back down. I like that,’ Bryant said. ‘He’s not soft. Oh, no.’…Though he grew up trying to emulate the all-around skills of Scottie Pippen, because he’s blond and tall and white and can shoot with either hand, from the time he entered the league Nowitzki has always drawn the comparisons to the legendary Larry Bird. ‘They’re very different actually,’ Bryant said. ‘The similarity is that they’re big guys that can shoot. But I think that’s where it ends. Bird with the Celtics, they ran a lot of things through him to facilitate things for others. In Dallas they use Dirk more as a striker…Hopefully the fans in Dallas can appreciate what they watch — a 7-footer that can put the ball on the floor, can shoot it from the outside, can post. Dirk’s a rare breed, man. A rare breed.’”
  • Josh Howard on the Mavs’ defense of late (via Eddie Sefko): “We’ve been slipping…It’s a matter of us willing it on ourselves and not just depending on the coaching staff to get us going. It’s all about us doing it.”