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Thursday, December 23, 2004

Two Routs, a Tank and a Sour Kraut

Just listened to the Hawks crush the Mavs. This is what it sounded like on the radio: "Mavs turn the ball over ... and another spectacular Hawk slam dunk!" Looking at the boxscore, the Mavs shot .375 from the arc in hitting 9 treys and they made 25 FT's on .806 shooting from the stripe. Good numbers for such a bad result. The 24 turnovers are what killed them - easy transition baskets for the Hawks and wasted possessions for the Mavs. Giving up 17 offensive rebs didn't help either.

So, the Mavs end up going 3-2 on Franz' 5-game challenge to show us something. Meh. Actually, had the Chicago kids not gifted the Mavs a 'W' it woulda been 2-3 instead. Double meh. So, for anybody that watched the Hawks game, which of the two Hawk Josh's will the Mavs regret most for selecting Devin Harris instead? [I'm bad]

I'm sure you've seen the frequent mentions tagged to the end of Mav game recaps this season regarding the consecutive game streak of made 3-pointers. Including the Hawk loss, the Mavs have now made a 3-pointer in 473 straight games. I got curious about whose fault it was 474 games ago that the counter got zeroed-out thus facilitating the streak's birth. So, I counted backwards [with Patricia's help] to February 26, 1999. This was the strike-shortened season and the Mavs were in Utah for their 9th game in just 12 exhausting days. I think you can smell what's coming, but allow Patricia to tell you herself ...

Dallas at Utah (February 26)

The Mavs came in with a game plan for the 2nd game of 3 in a row, and it wasn't pretty. Dallas had a brief lead at 10-9 with 6:30 left. Utah went on a 10-2 run. Utah led 19-14 after 1. Utah led 31-23 with 8 minutes remaining and went on an 11-1 run to go up 42-24 with 4:30. The tank was on as Dirk Nowitzki was the only starter to play in the quarter. Utah led 52-34 at the half. The Mavs were ice cold and only shot 4-18 FG in the quarter. The blowout continued in the 3rd quarter as A.C. Green, Shawn Bradley, Michael Finley, Steve Nash, and Gary Trent did not play in the 2nd half. Utah led 68-44 after 3. Dallas shot a woeful 2-15 FG in the quarter. The Dallas reserves did manage to pull Utah's lead into the teens in the 4th quarter, but were unable to get closer than 13. Utah won 80-65.

Dallas shot a pathetic 29.4% FG (20-68) including 0-8 for 3-pointers.


Jerry Sloan: "I'm offended sometimes when we play like the game is a joke. Some people may say that's old fashioned and demanding and all those things, but we have to play like we are interested and want to be here."

Sloan: "People don't want to see games like this. I've been in this league since 1965, and I've always thought it was important to do the job."

Bryon Russell: "Dallas didn't come to play tonight, but we did our job. They didn't present a challenge, but a W is a W."

Russell: "I don't think Dallas came to play at all. They didn't have any intention of trying to beat us, and that's too bad."

Don Nelson: "We tried to get some rhythm for the guys that didn't play and to rest my starters. I was hoping to stay competitive and stay in the game, but that didn't happen. So we did the next best thing and played the game out."

Nelson: "It was a game that I thought we had to be careful of. I don't want to burn up all of the starters and then not have anything left for tomorrow."

Nelson: "I used this as a game to hope that our reserves could keep it close, and have a chance to insert the starters back in. But when that didn't happen, I made the decision that I'm just going to let the reserves play it out and hope that they can get a good feel to their game."

Samaki Walker: "We couldn't get it going. Of course, we played a lot of reserves tonight. Who knows, there's no saying that if we kept our starters in we could have come back."

Michael Finley: "After the first quarter I kind of figured what our coach was going to do. He felt like he could give his major minute guys a rest and go out and try to win tomorrow."

Finley: "[Nelson's] philosophy basically was to pretty much save the guys that were getting major minutes for [tonight], being that we have to compete in a back-to-back-to-back. So I understand."

Ahhhhh, the infamous 'Tank Game' at Utah. So, it was Nellie's fault the 'made-3' counter got zeroed-out long ago. LOL. Of course, it's probably also Nellie's fault the streak has lasted 473 games now considering his offense isn't shy to step behind the arc and launch one. Sloan did not sound happy with Nellie's ploy, did he? Thanks again, PB.

After the Knick rout, I hoped that Lang Whitaker would have some decent comments considering the Slam Magazine offices are just around the corner from MSG. He did go, but didn't stay very long ...

See, my plan for today was to go to last night's Knicks/Mavericks game and to write a report about it for The Links today.

And then the game happened.

Did you see the highlights? Did you read the game reports? Ugh. That's about the best thing I can say. The Knicks started the game with consecutive airballs from Nazr Muhammad. And then things went downhill.

Before the game, I caught up with my man Jason Terry, who escaped from Atlanta and is now the starting point guard for one of the best teams in the League. We talked as he put on his five pairs of socks (which takes longer than you might think), and as we chatted his eyes were glued to a TV showing tape of the Knicks and the Jazz from Sunday. Avery Johnson then entered the room, and JT grabbed him as he walked past.

"Hey General, General," Jason said, "I was watching how the Knicks play the pick and roll, and I think we could use that hawk cut against them and get Dirk some easy looks."

Avery thought for a moment, then replied, "Well, I'd like to see us do that then. I'd also like us to use the other screen for that. I'll mention it to them," the Little General said, I suppose referring to the coaching staff.

I asked Jason if Avery was coaching that night.

"We don't know," he said.

What do you mean you don't know?

"We don't know before the game who's coaching. That last game he coached, we didn't know until the game started that he was coaching."

How'd you figure it out?

"We saw who was making the substitutions."

Which every player will notice, of course.

Anyway, whatever they were doing, it was working just fine. The Knicks looked drunk, like they'd spent too much time with Omar at our holiday party a few nights ago. And Dirk Nowitzki was amazing, draining threes from the wings, not even touch the rims. Josh Howard was also playing at full speed, going for 26 and 16, combining hustle with basketball smarts -- on one fast break, J-Ho was running down the wing and he got to the basket before Jason Terry got in front of the rim, so J-Ho ran backwards three steps and then back forward, correcting the spacing and getting himself an open basket.

I left at halftime, with the Knicks losing by 39. That's not a typo.

Sounds like a real tight ship, eh? The Mav coach = whoever is making the subs that night. Wonderful. Next you're gonna tell me that the franchise player is still questioning the owner's decision to jettison perhaps the league's best PG. Oh, snap ...

Dirk: Dealing with the changes

Nowitzki angry about his boss and unsuccessful experiments by the Mavericks

by Stefanie Boewe - Die Welt

Dallas/Berlin - The practice lasted three hours, and it had the character of a punitive action. Don Nelson, coach of the Dallas Mavericks, drew conclusions from the last weak performances of his players - and yet again reconstructed his team.

Jason Terry will immediately replace Darrell Armstrong as budgetary point guard and will thus become a regular co-player of German basketball star Dirk Nowitzki in the North American professional league NBA; again a new experiment by the Texans, who after seven weeks and with only 15 victories in 24 games, despite all their championship ambitions, only appear at sixth place in the Western Conference.

With great concern and a certain resignation, Dirk Nowitzki (26) eyes the continuous work of change. In the past three years the Mavericks changed the squad drastically each time, but this season Dallas registered seven entries: "It's already tough with so many new people," Nowitzki deplores the missing coordination, "especially as a point guard it isn't easy to play for Don Nelson. Nellie has a very, very difficult system. I think that it's still a very long way, until we're where we want to be," the national player says and warns: "If we keep playing like before, then it's an even longer way to the playoffs."

Above all, the surprising discarding of Steve Nash from the guard position in October took Nowitzki by surprise. While in the NBA the motto generally prevails that championship crews must grow together slowly and be developed carefully, the ambitious Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, with his quick draws, time and again appears to be the biggest opponent of his own team.

"In the past years it was always our strength that at least the most important players, Michael Finley, Steve Nash and I, were always together and the new ones always only came in around us," analyzes Nowitzki. "If the most important players stay together, then the rest can adapt to the game relatively quickly, but now in the important guard position we have three new players who all don't yet know our system right and can't execute it right."

Nowitzki opposed Cuban's personnel decisions, above all, because the fired Nash dashes from one victory to the next with his new team, the Phoenix Suns, and leads the NBA; in November Nash was named Player of the Month. "For everyone here it's very painful," Nowitzki says crossly, "when we see how Steve is playing for a great season in Phoenix. Naturally we could really use that very well too. But we have to get along now with what we have."

In addition the Mavericks have another problem: At beginning of season new rules went into effect, according to which even small fouls are punished immediately - a rule which, quickly, profits light and mobile players. Big, massive and thus ponderous athletes get along worse with the new regulation.

In defiance of the general trend, the Texans meanwhile built in bulk with player purchases, and with center Erick Dampier made a veritable mistake. In the meantime the Mavericks tried to use their lighter participants more powerfully but the victories didn't adjust accordingly. The home clouds fell at the same time: While the Mavericks had lost only five games altogether in the American Airlines Center last season, they have already lost six times this year in 13 home games. "That is very, very frustrating," Nowitzki says.

As second on the NBA top scorer list the W├╝rzburger can at least be content with his own achievement - meanwhile it doesn't make him happy. "What use is it to me, if I make a lot of points and the team still doesn't win?"

Not my translation. Sorry for the clunky way it read, but y'all probably got the gist. I'm sure the German press is hyping Dirk's lack of conviction a tad, but it's never good to hear that the franchise player is harboring doubts. Keep an eye on Dirk's chin if the Mav mediocrity continues.

Ran across an interesting article in the Israeli press about the Russian team for which former Mav interests Oggy Askrabic and Jan Steffanson now play. Some of the St. Petersburg coach's comments make me think that Jan is still in the Mav's plans. Whoop-de-dam-doo.

I've been a Monty Python fan for over 30 years now. John Cleese was always my favorite, and his Fawlty Towers sit-com was perhaps the best ever made. For any other Cleese fans, did you know he has his own website? Neither did I.

During my college daze I discovered Kurt Vonnegut, read all his books. 'Be nice to people' was his basic message, hard not to disagree with the boy. I hadn't read any Vonnegut in probably 15 years when I ran across an essay of his the other day. He still fights the good fight, but that is one crotchety pessimistic old man, Jack. Decent read if you're a fan.

And speaking of fans, EVERYBODY should be a Dread Zeppelin fan ... here's why. I actually saw them live about 15 years ago. It was an outdoor afternoon beer chug at a cement park in downtown Houston. Who knew I was witnessing greatness?

This just in ... the Houston Rockets just lost to the lowly expansion Charlotte Bobcats for the 2nd time in 5 days. The Bobcats get their first-ever road victory ... and another Angel gets it's wings.


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October 10, 2005 at 9:26 PM  
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