Tag Archives: Dallas Mavericks

3-pointer: Mavs’ guards come up small on big stage

DALLAS – Mark Cuban has insisted since their arrival this summer that he’s looking for reasons to commit to Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo as the backcourt of the Mavericks’ future.

The film from Sunday’s loss to the Los Angeles Lakers certainly won’t help make a case for locking up the 25-year-old guards to long-term deals this offseason.

Frankly, Mayo and Collison got dominated by a pair of future Hall of Famers. Kobe Bryant was brilliant, lighting up the Mavs for 38 points, 12 rebounds and seven assists. Steve Nash made the Mavs pay when they did double Bryant, hitting 4-of-5 3-pointers during a 20-point performance.

Mayo and Collison, on the other hand, combined for only 15 points on 5-of-20 shooting and six assists.

“It was a tough one for our backcourt today in a big game like that on a big stage,” said Dirk Nowitzki, whose 30 points and 13 rebounds were wasted by the Mavs.

Mayo, the Mavs’ leading scorer this season, had more turnovers (three) than buckets (2-of-9 from the floor) and allowed his frustration to get the best of him when he picked up a critical technical foul with 3:04 remaining. Mayo, who missed a contested 3 that could have tied the game with 4.9 seconds remaining, uncharacteristically avoided the media after the loss.

Collison, whose improvement has been a major reason the Mavs won 12 of 18 games entering Sunday, was only 3-of-11 from the floor. He sat all but 2:04 of the fourth quarter, when coach Rick Carlisle opted to play 37-year-old journeyman Mike James at point guard.

“You wish all our games could be perfect and we all play well,” Collison said. “But this (wasn’t) one of those games. We understand that. We’re taking it hard right now. We just got to continue to get better.”

The message from veterans such as Nowitzki and Vince Carter: The young guards have to learn from this loss and get over it immediately.

“Stay with it,” Carter said. “You’re going to have ups and downs. That’s just the way it goes.

“They know and understand their importance to this team. They’ve done great things for us. Of course, you want everybody to have a great game each and every night. That’s just not going to happen. That’s not the way it goes. We’ve just got to fight through it.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ frustrating loss:

1. Kobe schools Crowder: Matchups don’t get much more lopsided than a second-round rookie defending the fifth-leading scorer in NBA history. Kobe Bryant vs. Jae Crowder went about as anticipated.

And that was despite smothering defense by Crowder.

Bryant’s 38-point performance was highlighted by hitting high degree-of-difficulty jumpers over Crowder on three consecutive possessions in the fourth quarter. That spree featured with a 26-foot 3-pointer, a midrange jumper after several moves and a heat-check turnaround 20-footer.

“What could I have done to make him not hit that shot?” Crowder recalled thinking. “I’m giving him all I’ve got. He’s giving you multiple moves and hitting tough fadeaway shots, and it’s hard to guard that. At the same time, I’m trying to make it difficult before the shot goes up. I felt like I did, but he had it going.”

2. T’d off: Two technical fouls in the final 5:48 played a critical role in the four-point loss.

Nowitzki got hit with a technical after angrily punching the air in protest of a no-call with 5:48 remaining. He had missed a jumper on a possession that featured a lot of contact from Metta World Peace, whom Nowitzki accused of “having me in a bear hug” for much of the fourth quarter.

“I got fouled and on top of it they hit me with a T,” Nowitzki said, “so that was a tough sequence there.”

Mayo was called for a technical after expressing his displeasure with a foul called on him with 3:04 remaining. He felt he successfully challenged Bryant’s missed fast-break layup without fouling.

Coach Rick Carlisle understands his players’ frustration, but he doesn’t excuse their technical.

“We’ve got to avoid them. Simple as that,” Carlisle said. “Our guys know it. But those are things we’ll continue to talk about because we’re going to be in those positions again.”

3. Kaman contributes: Center Chris Kaman gave the Mavs eight quality minutes in his return after missing the previous 10 games with a concussion. He scored four points and grabbed four rebounds, and the Mavs outscored the Lakers by eight with Kaman on the floor.

“I just felt a little out of sorts in there,” said Kaman, who played most of his minutes matched up against Dwight Howard in the fourth quarter. “I felt like, what am I doing? I haven’t played in so long. It was kind of weird. But as it went on a little, I started feeling a little more comfortable.

“Just trying to get back in the flow is difficult. Guys almost forget about who you are and what you can do. I just feel like I was out there trying to get back through the motions in the swing of things and get more comfortable on the floor.”

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4694601/3-pointer-mavs-guards-come-up-small-on-big-stage

Kobe to Mark Cuban: ‘Amnesty THAT’

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DALLAS — Be careful what you wish for, Mark Cuban.

You say you miss the days of witty repartee with Phil Jackson and Shaquille O’Neal? Want another high-profile Laker with whom to go back-and-forth?

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OK, Kobe Bryant is game. But the Black Mamba doesn’t play nice. And he’s hell to deal with when he’s mad, a mode he promises to be in throughout the rest of the season and what he predicts will be a long Lakers playoff run, picking up motivational ammunition from Cuban’s mouth this week.

“Amnesty THAT,” Kobe tweeted Sunday afternoon.

Doesn’t sound like Kobe wanted to hear about hypotheticals, huh?

What more needed to be said after the living legend put up 38 points, 12 rebounds and 7 assists to lead the Los Angeles Lakers to a 103-99 win over the Dallas Mavericks in a game that was critical to both proud franchises’ playoff hopes?

Those actions spoke loudly, especially while Bryant scored 14 points with a high-degree-of-difficulty, including 5-of-5 shooting in the fourth quarter to allow the Lakers to pull out the win.

“They should have listened to Cuban and amnestied him this morning,” Dirk Nowitzki kidded after his 30-point, 13-rebound performance was overshadowed by a Kobe classic.

Oh, Kobe did throw one verbal jab at Cuban after his dominant performance in Dallas.

“We’ve always kind of marched to the beat of our own drum, but I’m sure if [Cuban] wants to amnesty Dirk, that’s something we’ll entertain,” Kobe said, essentially offering his fellow future Hall of Famer a spot on the Lakers’ roster next season.

Of course, the thought of Cuban using the amnesty clause to cut ties with Dirk is preposterous (and impossible after the Mavs used the one-time clause to dump Brendan Haywood last offseason). Just like it’s laughable to even imagine the Lakers avoiding a massive luxury-tax bill by slashing Kobe’s $30.5 million salary this summer.

But there was Cuban making that hypothetical suggestion during a Friday appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM. He claimed Sunday that he simply used the league’s highest payroll and highest-paid player as an example in a discussion about the collective bargaining agreement, but that comment came in response to a question about whether Cuban was surprised by the state of the Lakers.

Gee whiz, it’s such a stretch to think Cuban just wanted to get under the skin of the NBA’s glamour franchise, right?

The Mavs’ brash billionaire owner readily admits that verbal sparring ranks among his favorite pastimes. And high-profile Lakers have been among his favorite sparring partners over the years.

This falls right in line with the “Shaq Albert” video and referring to Jackson as Jeanie Buss’ “boy toy.”

Well, it’s on a much higher intellectual level than those digs — just try calculating the luxury tax that kicks in next season — but it’s another classic Cuban shot at the Lakers.

And this one backfired.

“Nice to know there is a least one team and their players, outside of the Mavs, that listen to everything I say,” Cuban wrote in one tweet Sunday evening.

He then added another: “But I do have to give props to @kobebryant for a great tweet. #Welldone.”

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4694594/kobe-bryant-to-mark-cuban-amnesty-that

Mavericks looking to escape ninth hole in West

Mark Cuban predicted this summer that there would be chemistry problems for the loaded Los Angeles Lakers and pretty much openly prayed to the basketball gods that the NBA’s glamour team would “suck.”

However, if you had promised Cuban before the season started that his Dallas Mavericks would be only one game behind L.A. when the Lakers came to town Sunday, he surely would have been pleased.

Well, that is indeed the situation with the Lakers arriving at the American Airlines Center for an ABC afternoon matinee (noon CT; ESPN Radio pregame show at 11 a.m. CT). Ninth place in the Western Conference is at stake!

That’s right — the two franchises that have combined to hoist the Larry O’Brien Trophy three of the past four summers are fighting for the spot that would get the fewest ping pong ball combinations in the draft lottery. Oh, how the mighty have fallen.

Of course, the Lakers and Mavs still harbor much bigger hopes. They’re both planning to make a playoff push, with the eighth-seeded Houston Rockets 3 games ahead of the Lakers and 4 up on the Mavs.

If the Lakers and Mavs both fail, this would be the first postseason not to feature either franchise since 1993-94, when Dallas won a grand total of 13 games and L.A. went through three coaches.

That ain’t happening, according to Kobe Bryant. The five-time champion recently issued a guarantee that the Lakers would be busy in late April — and perhaps beyond.

“It’s not a question of if we make the playoffs,” Bryant insisted to Sports Illustrated. “We will. And when we get there, I have no fear of anyone.”

Dirk Nowitzki, the 11-time All-Star and (currently hairy) face of the Mavs’ franchise, isn’t nearly as bold with his forecast of Dallas’ immediate future. The Mavs have a much more modest goal at the moment: Get back to .500 so they can finally shave those bushy beards Dirk and a handful of teammates have been growing since they made a pact last month.

“We’re gonna keep pushing, gonna keep fighting,” Nowitzki often says, which has more or less become the Mavs’ mantra.

Frankly, the Mavs’ struggles can’t be considered a surprise. Nowitzki and Shawn Marion are the only pieces remaining from the cast that swept Phil Jackson into retirement in 2011, roaring past the two-time defending champ Lakers in the West semifinals en route to a long-awaited championship parade in downtown Dallas. There hasn’t been much joy in Mavs-land since that glorious run.

After studying the new collective bargaining agreement, Cuban opted for the unpopular tactic of letting key championship pieces such as Tyson Chandler leave in free agency, making financial flexibility a priority over keeping an aging team together.

(That dastardly CBA prompted Cuban, who loves to prick the purple-and-gold, to oh-so-helpfully, hypothetically suggest Friday that the Lakers use the amnesty clause on Kobe this summer to avoid the large luxury-tax spikes that loom next season. That was received in Southern California about as well as a monsoon.)

Dallas’ title-team leftovers were swept in the first round last spring, and the Mavs settled for putting together a potluck supporting cast consisting of one-year deals and expiring contracts after whiffing on Deron Williams while Cuban filmed “Shark Tank” this summer. The Mavs were expected to have to scrap for a playoff spot even before Nowitzki needed his right knee scoped in October, an operation that ended up sidelining him for the season’s first 27 games, putting Dallas’ dozen-year postseason streak in serious jeopardy.

But the Mavs will have enough cap space this summer to make Dwight Howard the face of the franchise’s future should the perennial All-NBA big man decide the Lakers life isn’t for him — and picks Dallas over other potential destinations such as Houston and his hometown Atlanta. That actually seems like a distinct possibility after all the Kobe-Dwight drama during the Lakers’ sorry first half of the season.

Aside from Cuban’s snarky comments about potential chemistry issues, it was widely assumed that the Lakers would be a West power after they won the summer, pulling off deals to land a pair of future Hall of Famers in Howard and Steve Nash. The fact that the Lakers have been a $100-million mess has stunned folks around the league.

“They’ve had some issues — everybody’s following them — but I still think they’re so talented,” Nowitzki said. “I still think they’re going to make a run at it.”

Maybe the Lakers’ run has already started, as L.A. has won 10 of its past 14 games, providing some positivity to the ongoing soap opera.

The Mavs, meanwhile, have had a nice little run in relative anonymity, going 12-6 since their 13-23 start.

Two proud franchises meet Sunday with ninth place at stake and they’ve had to make recent progress to make this game that meaningful.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4694582/mavericks-looking-to-escape-ninth-hole-in-west

Rapid Reaction: Mavericks 104, Hornets 100

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How it happened: After struggling to score for most of the fourth quarter, the Dallas Mavericks pulled off a stunning comeback in the final minute.

Hornets forward Ryan Anderson’s 3-pointer with a little less than a minute remaining felt like a dagger, stretching New Orleans’ lead to four points. Considering that Dallas had scored a grand total of two points over the previous six-plus minutes, that seemed like an insurmountable deficit.

However, the Mavs held the Hornets scoreless the rest of the game and made 3-pointers on the next two possessions. Mike James’ corner 3 cut the lead to one point, and Vince Carter’s long ball from the right wing gave the Mavs the lead for good with 6.5 seconds remaining.

Darren Collison sealed the win by making a pair of free throws with three seconds remaining.

Carter, the Mavs’ scorching-hot sixth man, scored 22 points on 7-of-13 shooting, including 5-of-7 from 3-point range. Dirk Nowitzki finished with 25 points — one shy of his season high — on 10-of-17 shooting.

It’s the first time this season that the Mavs have trailed in the final minute and won.

What it means: The Mavs managed to pull out a must-win game in a building that has not been kind to them. The come-from-behind win kept the Mavs 4½ games behind the eighth-place Houston Rockets, who beat the Brooklyn Nets on Friday night. It’s the fifth win in the past six games for the 25-29 Mavs, who had lost 12 of their previous 13 games at New Orleans Arena, including the playoffs.

Play of the game: Carter got the ball on the right wing, faced up against New Orleans forward Jason Smith, jab-stepped and launched a 3-pointer that splashed through the net to give the Mavs a 102-100 lead with 6.5 seconds remaining.

Stat of the night: Carter moved past Gary Payton into 28th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list with an and-1 putback late in the first quarter. Carter, who has 21,832 career points, also has passed Hal Greer and Larry Bird this season, and has a chance to catch Clyde Drexler (22,195) before the season ends.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4694563/rapid-reaction-mavericks-104-hornets-100

3-pointer: Vince Carter’s groove continues with game-winner

You don’t rank among the all-time leading scorers in NBA history without hitting a lot of big buckets.

Vince Carter added to his list during Friday night’s comeback win over the New Orleans Hornets, when he moved past Gary Payton into 28th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.

Carter passed Payton with an and-1 putback late in the first quarter, but the shot that Mavs fans will be buzzing about until for the next 36 hours or so was his game-winning 3-pointer with 6.5 seconds remaining. With Hornets 7-footer Jason Smith switched onto him, Carter jab-stepped to create some space and fired from the right wing, swishing his fifth 3-pointer of the night to cap his 22-point performance.

“I’ve never been afraid to take the big shot,” Carter told reporters. “I’m not afraid of the consequences, good or bad. I just throw all that stuff out the window. I’ve been in the position before.”

Carter, who has 21,832 career points, had been in that position plenty of times during his days as an eight-time All-Star. But he’d never been in the sixth man role on a regular basis until this season.

The 36-year-old Carter has thrived as a reserve, serving as an example of unselfishness while averaging 13.2 points and playing surprisingly gritty, effective defense. He’ll still occasionally throw down a “Half Man, Half Amazing” kind of highlight dunk, but Carter is most dangerous behind the 3-point arc these days, shooting 41.4 percent from long distance this season after going 19-of-30 over the last four games.

He’s performed like a Sixth Man of the Year candidate for the last month and a half, averaging 15.8 points and putting up a plus-minus of +191 while the Mavs have won 11 of 17 games to keep their slim playoff hopes alive.

“The way Vince has re-invented himself with us as an off-the-bench instant offense, playmaker, defender, all-around guy I think validates him as a Hall of Fame candidate,” coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “He’s an eight-time All-Star. Guys that have the kind of longevity that he’s had and can adjust their game to help a team win are guys that get in.

“I think he’ll get in anyway. I don’t know of an eight-time All-Star that didn’t make the Hall of Fame, but what he’s doing right now validates it.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ must-win comeback Friday night:

1. Dirk’s work: Believe it or not, this marked the first time all season that the Mavs won a game in which Dirk Nowitzki scored 20-plus points.

It’s an awfully small sample size after Nowitzki missed the first 27 games following arthroscopic knee surgery and has struggled to regain his Hall of Fame form, but the Mavs were 0-4 when their $20 million man put up at least 20 points.

That strange streak ended with the Mavs’ last-minute rally against the Hornets. Nowitzki scored 25 points – one shy of his season high – on 10-of-17 shooting.

There’s plenty of reason to believe that Nowitzki can be a 20-ppg scorer the rest of the season. He’s averaging 19.5 points on 52.8 percent shooting over the last four games despite an off night in Wednesday’s win over Orlando.

2. Block party: The Mavs set a franchise record with 17 blocks against the Hornets, with rookie center Bernard James swatting seven shots in only 15 minutes.

The 6-foot-10, 240-pound James is the Mavs’ best rim protector, averaging 4.2 blocks per 48 minutes.

“That’s one of the things I can do really well,” said James, a second-round pick who also had four points on 2-of-2 shooting and six rebounds against the Hornets. “Tonight, I just tried to protect the rim and help out as much as I could. A couple of times, I got caught helping too much. I’m still kind of figuring things out.”

3. Phenomenal finish: The Mavs have lost plenty of heartbreakers this season, but this marked the first time they won a game that they trailed in the final minute.

Dallas erased a four-point deficit in the final 42 seconds with back-to-back 3s by Mike James and Carter. They also held the Hornets scoreless in the final 55 seconds, with O.J. Mayo essentially sealing the win by coming up with a loose ball and tossing it off Eric Gordon’s leg and out of bounds.

“It was as big as it gets,” Carlisle said. “Down four with a minute to go, the great thing was no one ever wavered or lost belief. The guys kept battling.”

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4694577/3-pointer-vince-carters-groove-continues-with-game-winner

Mark Cuban: Mavs almost traded for ‘high-dollar’ guys

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The trade market went from “surprisingly quiet” to “crazy” for the Mavericks in a matter of hours, according to Mark Cuban.

PODCAST The day after the NBA trade deadline, Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban joins The Ben Skin Show to talk about the trades made and the Mavericks’ future.

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The quiet comment came on the eve of the deadline. The crazy talk came the day after, with Cuban claiming that talks heated up for the Mavs in the hours before Thursday afternoon’s deadline.

The Mavs ended up only making a minor deal, sending Dahntay Jones to Atlanta for Anthony Morrow. At one point, however, Cuban says he thought the Mavs would be pulling the trigger on a blockbuster deal at the deadline.

“It was crazy,” Cuban said Friday on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM’s “Ben and Skin Show.” “We thought we had a bunch of things done, literally a bunch of things done. We had teams get cold feet at the last minute. … Things that would have used cap room next year, would have had money next year, that were high-dollar guys, difference-maker guys.”

Cuban declined to discuss specifics, saying that he takes great pride if keeping trade discussions confidential.

Cuban’s comments are somewhat contradictory to those made by president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson after the deadline. Nelson indicated that it was the Mavs’ decision not to act on any trade proposals that would have required Dallas to sacrifice space under the salary cap this summer.

“Yes, we had some of those conversations,” Nelson said. “At the end of the day, we chose to keep our flexibility.”

Cuban and Nelson were on the same page when it came to the possibility of the Mavs being sellers in this season’s trade market. They both made it clear that there was no temptation to trade quality veterans such as Vince Carter or Shawn Marion.

“We weren’t willing to be a seller,” Cuban said. “We could have been, but I wasn’t willing to be a seller. Because I wasn’t willing to give up and there wasn’t anything (of value) that we were going to get back.”

The Mavs are committed to making a push for the playoffs despite their slim odds. Dallas remains 4 games behind the eighth-place Houston Rockets despite going 10-6 since Jan. 10.

“It’s important for us again to not jolt this team with major change because we are in a playoff push and we are starting to play pretty darn good basketball,” Nelson said. “So we didn’t really want to mess around with the core. That was pretty evident from the outset. We feel that we accomplished that and addressed an area of need.

“We think that with Big Blondie (Dirk Nowitzki) back, we’re playing pretty good basketball. Let’s give it what for and see what happens.”

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4694553/mark-cuban-mavs-almost-traded-for-high-dollar-difference-maker-guys