Tag Archives: Dallas Mavericks

Mavs try to end misery vs. West’s best

DALLAS – There’s no nice way to put it: The Mavericks have been miserable against the West’s best.

Dallas has lost 13 of 14 games against the conference’s top five teams, including 0-11 against the top four seeds. Six of those losses came by double figures, five by 20-plus points.

That’s a trend the Mavs have an opportunity to end with the 48-22 Los Angeles Clippers in town tonight.

“It’s time,” Shawn Marion said. “We’ve been right there scratching at the door of a lot of these best teams in the Western Conference. It’s time. We’re starting to get our continuity a little better and our defensive principles down. Gotta make it happen.”

Marion makes a legitimate point. The Mavs’ two meetings with elite West teams this month could have gone either way. Vince Carter’s 3-pointer at the buzzer rimmed out at the buzzer in a 92-91 loss to the San Antonio Spurs. The score was tied with a minute remaining in a 107-101 loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder.

But close doesn’t count for a team fighting to get into the playoffs for the 13th consecutive season. For the Mavs to beat the odds and punch their postseason ticket, they must have some success against the West’s best, considering the 12 games left on the schedule include tonight’s meeting with the Clippers, home and road games against the Denver Nuggets and a home game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

“We can be playing a college team – we need the win,” Carter said. “I think records really at this point go out the window because whether they’re the best team or the worst team, we have to win. We have to find a way.

“We have, what, 12 games? It’s a small window. The games are so important. It can’t matter what it says on the opponent’s jersey.”

The Mavs have kept playoff hopes alive by going 21-13 since being a dozen-year-low of 10 games under .500. That’s the fifth best record in the West during that span. After eight wins in 11 games, the Mavs find themselves only a game and a half behind the eighth-place Los Angeles Lakers, losers of three in a row.

Coach Rick Carlisle acknowledges the Mavs’ lack of success against the West’s best, but it doesn’t do him any good to think about what’s already happened. He’d rather discuss the two days of meticulous preparation for the Clippers, focusing on details such as ball security and boxing out against their freakishly athletic foe.

“Right now, we need to win one game,” Carlisle said, “and that’s tonight. “

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4695212/mavs-try-to-end-misery-vs-wests-best

His scoring is down, but O.J. Mayo getting the point

DALLAS — If you judge just by scoring average, March has been O.J. Mayo’s worst month by far in a Mavericks uniform. Yet coach Rick Carlisle considers Mayo a much-improved player.

The fact that Mayo is averaging only 12.8 points per game this month – a drastic drop from the 17.9 he averaged before the All-Star break – doesn’t concern Carlisle at all. While Mayo is taking a lot fewer shots, this has been his most efficient month.

In 13 March games, Mayo is shooting 49.6 percent from the floor and 53.5 percent from 3-point range, both his best marks for a month this season. He’s also dishing out 4.8 assists per game, his second-highest total for a month, and has slashed his turnovers to a season-low 1.5 a night.

Carlisle considers all that to be evidence that Mayo has received his message.

“Generally, our team functions better when he plays an efficient all-around game,” Carlisle said. “There are nights when we need him to step up his scoring, but it’s not a situation where he needs to come into each game thinking he’s got to score 20 or 25. It’s just not like that. And I think when he’s in an all-around-play and ball-movement mode and finding people, he does a really nice job of playmaking.

“That’s a big part of our game because he’s always going to be aggressive to score, and when the shots are there he takes them. When he sees both the shot opportunities and the teammates, that’s when we’re in business.”

Mayo is no longer the Mavs’ leading scorer this season. His averaged has dropped to 16.51 points per game, three-hundredths of a point behind Dirk Nowitzki.

A selfish player would see his scoring average drop and make hunting for shots a priority. That’s especially true with Mayo set to hit the free agent market again this summer, assuming he declines his option to make $4.2 million in the second season of his contract and looks for a long-term deal.

The 25-year-old Mayo, however, has shown the maturity to not force things within the Mavs’ flow offense.

He’s improved “massively” as a facilitator this season, according to Carlisle, who criticized Mayo after a five-turnover outing against Milwaukee a month ago. Carlisle, who has given large helpings of tough love to Mayo all season, declared then that Mayo “was not a creator” and needed to keep the game simple.

Since then? Mayo has consistently made simple, smart passes.

“He’s improved his recognition of the overall game, he’s improved his recognition in pick-and-rolls, being able to see the shot opportunity or the teammate on the roll or the pop,” Carlisle said. “He works hard at it and he wants to be really good.”

Would Mayo prefer for the Mavs to run more plays with pindowns or screens designed to get him shots? Sure, probably. But Mayo wants to win, and if that means moving the ball instead of shooting it, he’s more than willing to do it.

“I’m a scorer and can shoot the ball a little bit, but I like to be a playmaker,” Mayo said. “I like to try to take what the defense gives you and not just concentrate on scoring the ball. Find other guys.

“Just try to play the game the right way.”

His coach recognizes that Mayo has made major strides. The stats reflect it, too, if you dig deeper than points per game.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4695204/his-scoring-is-down-but-o-j-mayo-getting-the-point

Justin Dentmon signs 10-day contract with Mavs

Tags:

NBA, Dallas Mavericks, Justin Dentmon

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4695201/justin-dentmon-signs-10-day-contract-with-mavs

37-year-old Mike James ‘like a kid in a candy store’

DALLAS — You can consider the fact that the Dallas Mavericks‘ starting point guard is a 37-year-old dude who had played a total of 15 games in the previous three NBA seasons and had to beg for a D-League audition a few months ago as proof of just how far this proud franchise has fallen.

Just know that the Mavs are 8-3 since inserting Mike James into the starting lineup.

As a result, with a dozen games to go in the regular season, Dallas has a reasonable chance to contend for the West’s last playoff spot. James, who has played a key role in the Mavs pulling within two games of the eighth-seeded Los Angeles Lakers, is loving every minute of it.

“I’m like a little kid in a candy store,” James said with a wide smile after scoring a season-high 19 points — his most in a game since 2009 — and dishing out five assists in the Mavs’ 113-108 win over the Utah Jazz on Sunday. “People don’t understand how much fun I’m having out there.”

It’s a heck of a lot more fun than sitting at home and hoping the phone rings.

James, who didn’t make his NBA debut until he was 26, had to fight to get in the league in the first place. He managed to carve out a productive career — winning a championship ring as a Detroit Pistons reserve in 2004 and averaging 20.3 points per game for the Toronto Raptors a couple of seasons later — and he refuses to let it end.

Here he is with his 12th NBA team, having successfully lobbied for an audition with the D-League’s Texas Legends that lasted two games before the point guard-desperate Mavs called him up. He survived two 10-day contracts and has thrived as a starter, averaging 10.4 points and 4.8 assists in the past 11 games to help the Mavs get hot.

“They keep trying to tell me that I’m not able to play this game,” James said, still smiling. “They keep telling me that the game has passed me by. It’s not about proving nothing to no one, but it’s like, you know what? Because everyone keeps trying to tell me I can’t play this game no more, I’m out there having a great time.

“I’m out there doing something that I love doing, looking forward to tomorrow’s practice because I love working.”

While he’s in phenomenal shape for a man his age, James had to work himself back into NBA game shape after joining the Mavs. That, of course, is to be expected of a player who didn’t have a full-time job the previous three years and was out of the league for the entire 2010-11 season.

James’ shooting percentage looked like a mediocre utility man’s batting average for several weeks. It’s still only 36.5 percent overall, but James has hit 40 percent of his 3s this season, including 29 of 60 in March.

“Once he got his legs, you could just see he had more arc on his shot,” sixth man Vince Carter said. “He’s just been in an unreal rhythm for our team.”

James is far from a perfect point guard. He’s really a combo guard who is more comfortable scoring than distributing, which is why he took the brunt of the blame when Dirk Nowitzki‘s hot hand didn’t get fed nearly enough in the Mavs’ past two losses.

But the Mavs appreciate James’ fearless attitude. They respect the way he fights and love that he never shies away from a challenge, whether it’s taking a big shot, defending the opponent’s best guard or whatever else is necessary to keep the Mavs’ playoff hopes alive.

“He has a tremendous enthusiasm for the game, and he competes,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “He’s a competitor. He’s a gamer.

“The thing I like about him: He’s one of these guys that has great experience, and he has great confidence in himself. If there’s blunt things you need to say to him, you can be completely straightforward with him. He’ll take everything the right way, and he’ll keep battling his butt off.”

James had to battle his butt off to just get back into the league. He’s having a grand ol’ time helping the Mavs win now, as hard as it all is to believe.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4695189/37-year-old-mike-james-like-a-kid-in-a-candy-store

3-pointer: Jet grounded in AAC return

DALLAS – Jet never really got off the runway during his return to the American Airlines Center.

Jason Terry, the man coach Rick Carlisle refers to as Mavericks royalty, received a standing ovation when he checked into the game but never made much of an impact for the Boston Celtics. Playing in Dallas for the first time since essentially being forced to leave in free agency, Terry was held to eight points on 3-of-9 shooting and had as many turnovers as field goals.

“It was a good feeling, but I was solely locked in on the game,” Terry said of the warm welcome from Mavs fans. “It was good to see everyone, but I’m a Celtic now.”

It’s been a tough week for Terry. People are still buzzing about LeBron James’ and-1 dunk over him Monday. He went scoreless in Wednesday’s loss to the New Orleans Hornets. And he was a nonfactor against his former team, when he had about 100 friends and family members in the stands.

“We have great respect for Jet and what he can do in a game,” Carlisle said. “I think our guys just gave him the respect he deserves and really played him hard. They just tried to make it tough. He got some shots. I’m not going to say we shut him down or anything like that, but guys battled him all night and that’s what we needed to do.”

Terry exchanged postgame hugs with Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Carlisle and a few former teammates, but he wasn’t in a good mood after the Celtics’ third straight loss.

“All I was worried about was getting a win,” Terry said. “We have to end this road trip on a good note. Right now we’re just not getting it done.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ bounce-back game:

1. Dirk’s workload: Rick Carlisle considers Dirk Nowitzki’s recent low shot totals “an overblown conversation” – and Dirk concurs — but the coach posed one question when asked about the subject.

“Did he have more shots than Mike James?” Carlisle said.

Yep:

James – 2-7 FG, seven points, six assists

Dirk – 8-15 FG, 22 points

“That’s good. That’s good,” Carlisle said. “It’s an awareness that we have to have. You guys can all see what happens. When we slow down and start calling plays, teams lock into us. It’s a harder game for us to play because of how we’re set up. We have to have an awareness. We have to involve Dirk in as many things as we possibly can without having to call plays.

“A lot of attention is on the point guards for that, but really it’s a responsibility for everybody on that.”

A big part of it is on Nowitzki, especially when the Mavs succeed at pushing the pace.

“I ran to the box a little more early in transition,” he said. “That’s what I’ve got to do if things are not going well. When our flow is going well and we’re scoring, then I’m fine. We can swing it and pick and roll it. But if I feel like it’s getting into a hole a little bit, then maybe I just have to run to the box and demand the ball a little bit more.”

2. OJ vs. KG?: It’s nothing new for Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett, the league’s premier jaw-jacker, to exchange a little trash talk.

But O.J. Mayo got involved this time, stepping between the two (along with a ref) and telling Garnett, “Back off my man!” Not that Nowitzki noticed.

“He said he had my back,” Dirk said, “but I’ve got to look at the film to make sure he was actually there.”

As far as the KG-Dirk trash talk, Nowitzki called it “nothing” to some of the on-court conversations over the years between the two legends, power forwards who will get to the Hall of Fame with completely different games.

“He’s the man. He’s just a fierce competitor,” Nowitzki said. “We had a few words there, but actually if you go way back, we got into it more than it was today. That was the soft version.”

Nowitzki could have reminded Garnett of their lone playoff meeting, when the Mavs swept the T-Wolves in three games with 23-year-old Dirk putting up 30-15, 31-15 and 39-17, but it didn’t come up in the heat of Friday’s moment.

Mayo (10 points, nine assists) also managed to get the last word on Garnett. After hitting a dagger 3, a mismatched Mayo stole a pass intended for a posted-up Garnett with a little more than a minute remaining, then made sure KG knew about it.

3. Matrix reloaded: Welcome back, Shawn Marion.

After eight games out due to a strained calf, Marion was up to his old tricks, putting up 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in 31 minutes. He also was the key to keeping Paul Pierce (16 ponts) in check and guarded St. Patrick’s Day star Jeff Green (10 points) in spots.

“I was able to do a lot of things I normally do,” Marion said.

That’s good news to the Mavs, whose recent rebounding struggles turned around, beating the Celtics by double digits on the glass.

“We missed his abilities as a basketball player,” Carlisle said. “He’s one of our best athletes. His activity is something you can’t duplicate with any other normal player. He’s just a very unique guy.”

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4695170/3-pointer-jet-grounded-in-aac-return

Jason Terry still jawing about Heat hate

It’s fitting that on the day of his return to Dallas, Jason Terry discussed his hatred for the Heat.

Of course, that subject has been in the spotlight a lot recently, with Jet’s declaration that he’s not impressed by the Heat’s historic win streak and his co-starring role on LeBron James’ new poster.

“[It’s] not even LeBron personally. It’s just the Miami Heat. Is it the red and black? Maybe. I hate that color,” Terry told Boston radio station WEEI on Friday. “I just don’t like them. Let me tell you like this: It goes back to [the 2006 Finals]. And it doesn’t matter who’s in those Miami Heat uniforms. Let’s just be real: You’re up 2-0 and they come back and win four straight games and you lose the NBA Finals. So LeBron inherited something bigger than the matchup of he and I. It’s about the Miami Heat and that organization.”

Terry readily admitted a personal rivalry with James has blossomed, though.

“Hey, he picked his poison. They put him on me to shut me down in the NBA Finals in 2011 and he couldn’t get the job done,” Terry said. “Hopefully, he’ll have another chance this year in the Eastern Conference finals — or wherever we match up — but I’m telling you right now, I love us. I love the way we’re built. We miss [Rajon] Rondo, we miss [Jared] Sullinger, but with this team we have, we have a chance.”

I wouldn’t bet on Boston, but Terry has a history of backing up bold talk against King James.

Article source: http://espn.go.com/blog/dallas/mavericks/post/_/id/4695172/jason-terry-still-jawing-about-heat-hate