Archive for the ‘Dallas Mavericks’ Category

Peja Stojakovic

There should be no question that the Mavericks are the most overlooked team in the NBA right now. They have the league’s fourth-best record at 42-16 and they’ve won 15 of their last 16 games and yet nobody’s talking about them. Maybe they didn’t make a trade last week because they don’t feel like they need to.

The one Mav that most teams probably inquired about if they tried to make a deal was Rodrigue Beaubois, who is back from injury and will probably start tonight. Dallas is 4-0 since his return, and I’ll be curious to see why he’s considered so untouchable by the Mavericks and their fans.

Injury report

Toronto: Andrea Bargnani is questionable due to illness while Joey Dorsey is questionable due to back problems. I don’t exactly know what Bargnani’s illness is yet, but I’ll update this post if I get more info.

Dallas: Caron Butler is out for the season, but you probably already knew that.

Five questions

1. Are Raptors fans going to boo Peja Stojakovic for faking an injury so he wouldn’t have to actually earn the roughly $5 million he made when he was a Raptor?

2. Do you agree that the Mavs should try to trade for Steve Nash in the off-season, assuming they don’t win the championship this season?

3. Does anyone still think Andrea Bargnani and Dirk Nowitzki are comparable? In eight head-to-head matchups, Nowitzki averages 23.5 points, 8.1 rebounds ad 3.6 assists on 52.8 percent shooting while Bargnani averages 14.6 points, 4.3 rebounds and 0.8 assists on 43.6 percent shooting.

4. Do you think Rick Carlisle is nodding knowingly about the bullshit going on with the Detroit Pistons right now?

5. Can somebody tell me why NBA teams don’t use kickass bands instead of cheesy DJs for their arena music? See below for what I’m talking about.

Start time: 6:00 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet One
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, James Johnson, Amir Johnson, Andrea Bargnani
Dallas: Jason Kidd, Rodrigue Beaubois, Peja Stojakovic, Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler

Your pregame music is this Rage Against the Machine mashup by the George Mason University “Green Machine” band. I’m not trying to put Four Corners out of work, but how amazing would a band like this be at the Air Canada Centre?

Getty Images

No…seriously.

I could probably leave those two words as the entire recap, and people would find it understandable.

The last time the Raptors won in Dallas was 1999. Some decent, solid and pretty good Raptors teams have made attempts during the last decade, but all fell short. So with the Mavericks emerging as one of the best teams in the league this season, the Raptors being 10-20 and starting without Andrea Bargnani and Jose Calderon, I would have laughed in your face if you told me the Raps would be in this ball game, let alone would win it.

Yes, I know the Mavs were missing their best player and potential MVP candidate Dirk Nowitzki, but if you look at the active rosters coming into tonight’s game, the difference in talent was still incredible. (Jason Kidd has nearly five-times as many career starts as the entire Raptors starting lineup in Dallas had)

Like the night before in Memphis, Toronto got off to a good start and built up an early double-digit lead. The Raps were up 23-13 after one quarter, but it was the team’s resilient second quarter that left me impressed. The Mavs went on a 12-0 run in less than three minutes to tie the ballgame, but instead of collapsing as usual, the young Raptors responded.

Toronto employed the “bend, don’t break” mentality fans have been waiting to see, and survived the Mavericks’ run. In fact, the Raptors actually responded so well that they were up by 13 again just minutes later. Another Mavs run cut the lead to just six at halftime, but the Raptors were showing they could hang around, and then some.

After a first half of ugly basketball, you had to expect Dallas to pick up the pieces in the second half. But it never really happened. The Raptors came up with timely stops and timely buckets in the third quarter to hold a semi-comfortable five point lead heading into the fourth.

The bonehead play of the game came via Linas Kleiza, who was ejected in the third after arguing his way into two technicals. Kleiza was arguing a traveling call that replay showed he had no business fighting. The demoralizing part for the short-handed Raptors was that Kleiza had been the team’s leading scorer (with 16 points) up to that point.

Later, Jerryd Bayless rolled his left ankle for the second time in the ball game, while also appearing to injure his knee. So now the Raptors were trying to pull off a massive upset on the road without their best player, without their starting point guard, without their leading scorer on the night and without their backup point guard.

Some how, they found a way.

While he chucked up a few head-scratchers, Leandro Barbosa also hit a couple of big shots in the fourth quarter and did a nice job of knowing when to slow the offence down late in the game.

The Raptors deserve all of the credit for pulling out the win, but the Mavericks also deserve to be dumped on for allowing it to happen.

They had their opportunities to take control, but it seemed every time the Raptors gave them a glimmer of hope, the Mavs shot themselves in the foot by settling for questionable jumpers or throwing the ball away. I bet most of you would have assumed the story would be the other way around.

If you’re looking for one group of players, or one player in particular to heap praise on, then look no further than Ed Davis and the Raptors’ post players. Davis had a career night playing against one of his dad’s old teams, and the combination of Davis, Amir Johnson and Joey Dorsey was a formidable force inside. They battled in the post on every possession, on both ends of the floor. They kept loose balls alive and got their hands on 50-50 rebounds, and contributed to the Raptors 48-24 advantage in points in the paint.

It must be said though, that part of the reason Davis, Johnson and Dorsey were able to dominate inside was that the refs seemed to be letting them play for most of the night. There were a number of occasions when a play that would usually result in a Raptors foul was left uncalled, and I do believe it contributed to the upset.

Considering that the last time I wrote a recap, I had to write about a disgraceful effort at the ACC, this was a refreshing 750 words. Like I’ve said before, if we tear this young team apart (as we should) when the effort isn’t there, then we must credit them when they pull off gritty, inspiring results like this.

Raptors Player of the Game: Ed Davis – 31 Min, 17 Pts, 6-8 FG, 5-8 FT, 12 Reb, 3 Stl, 3 Blk

Mavericks Player of the Game: Jason Terry – 35 Min, 18 Pts, 8-19 FG, 2-8 3Pt, 0-1 FT, 4 Reb, 6 Ast

Goat of the Game: DeShawn Stevenson – 20 Min, 2 Pts, 1-5 FG, 0-3 3Pt, 2 Ast, 1 TO

Mark Cuban

If any NBA fanbase has a right to feel that their team is being disrespected, it’s the fans of the Dallas Mavericks. Quick, name your top four NBA championship favourites. Let me guess: Lakers, Celtics, Heat and Spurs, right? The Mavs are 24-5 and have the second-best record in the NBA, and yet I bet they wouldn’t make most people’s top four list.

One of the main reasons the Mavericks are off to such a hot start this season is the MVP-quality play of Dirk Nowitzki. As fate would have it, he’ll miss his first game of the season tonight after he sprained his knee in last night’s win over the Thunder. Without Dirk, the Mavs go from one of the elite teams in the league to probably just an above-average squad. Of course, that’s probably still good enough to beat the Raptors.

Injury report

Toronto: Andrea Bargnani is out, Sonny Weems is questionable, Amir Johnson is probable.

Dallas: Dirk will rest his knee and Rodrigue Beaubois is out indefinitely recovering from foot surgery.

Five questions

1. Are the Mavericks the hottest team in the league right now? They’ve won five straight and 17 of their last 18 games.

2. How different would the fortunes of the Mavericks and Raptors be this season if Michael Jordan hadn’t cancelled the trade that would have brought Tyson Chandler to Toronto instead of Dallas?

3. Without Andrea Bargnani, how will the Raptors score against a tough Mavericks defence that forces you to try to break their zone? Dallas allows their opponents a .434 FG% this season, tied for second-best in the league.

4. How much is Amir Johnson’s back affecting him? Since he scored 12 points in the first quarter of the Raptors’ Dec. 19 game against the Lakers before his back seized up, he’s gone 2-for-12 for four points in 68 minutes of playing time.

5. If the Mavericks ever win the NBA championship while David Stern is still the league commissioner, how drunk will Stern have to get before he presents the Larry O’Brien trophy to Mark Cuban?

Start time: 8:30 PM ET
Channel: Sportsnet One
Probable starting lineups
Toronto: Jose Calderon, DeMar DeRozan, Linas Kleiza, Joey Dorsey, Amir Johnson
Dallas: Jason Kidd, DeShawn Stevenson, Caron Butler, Shawn Marion, Tyson Chandler

Your pregame song for tonight is “If I Only Had a Brain” by MC 900ft Jesus. I just learned he was from Dallas, but besides his hometown, this is a fun video from the ’90s directed by Spike Jonze that you probably haven’t seen unless you’re around my age.