Dallas Mavericks: Sasha Pavlovic

Inside Skinny: Brewer would add to flexibility

March, 3, 2011
3/03/11
2:32
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If Corey Brewer clears waivers by 1:00 CST on Thursday he’ll sign a deal with the Dallas Mavericks and add yet another element to what is already the deepest team in the league. The question I keep getting asked is, ”what is his role?”

Rick Carlisle generally likes to play these things close to the vest, but based on the substitution patterns he’s employed for the last few months, best estimates would indicate that Brewer’s role for the remainder of this season will be as a part-time starter based on whomever Dallas is playing.

[+] EnlargeCorey Brewer
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty ImagesAdding Corey Brewer would allow the already deep Mavericks to give opposing teams even more matchup problems.
Where the Mavericks have really been sticking it to opponents since the team got Dirk Nowitzki back from injury in January has been with an absolutely dominant “second unit.”

Carlisle generally rolls it out like this: Dirk and the starting two-guard (used to be DeShawn Stevenson, now it’s Rodrigue Beaubois) go to the bench somewhere around midway through the first and are replaced by the dynamic duo of Shawn Marion and Jason Terry. They get their feet wet with Jason Kidd running the show and Tyson Chandler’s activity in the paint. When it’s time for J.J. Barea to replace Kidd, Carlisle generally brings Dirk back in, as well, replacing Peja Stojakovic and sliding Marion down to the small forward. Carlisle started this aspect of the pattern very early in the season, presumably to put a ridiculously dynamic offensive force in Dirk on the floor with Barea, who’s November and December struggles were epic. Somewhere in the mix Brendan Haywood or Ian Mahimni would get the call to spell Chandler depending on Chandler’s foul situation and the matchup.

That lineup, generally matched up against an assortment of bench players, has provided a first-half lift on numerous occasions in the past two months. In fact, Carlisle believes so much in that substitution pattern that the Mavericks literally brought in Sasha Pavlovic off the street and started him at small forward after a few games so that they could maintain the magic of bringing Marion and Jet in off the bench together. With Dallas having acquired Peja and feeling that he’d be a better option at the three than Pavlovic, they didn’t retain him after his second 10-day contract expired despite the fact that Dallas went 5-1 in his six starts.

What does this have to do with Corey Brewer?

When Dallas brought in Peja, I didn’t view him as a solution to their starting small forward woes, but rather as a specialist who’s ability to spread the floor could be critical during stretches when teams were loading up on Dirk in the half-court game. He would make things easier when the offense bogs. However, there would be several occasions where his limitations on defense could really hamper the Mavericks depending on the opponent. Brewer is quite possibly the exact opposite of Peja in every single conceivable way. What Brewer allows Dallas to do is match up better with certain teams who have a high–octane scoring option at the three that Peja would never be able to keep up with and not be forced to disrupt the highly effective bench roles and patterns this team already has firmly in place.

On nights where Dallas is faced with the difficult task of contending with a Kobe Bryant or a Kevin Durant, Brewer is your option. If they don’t feel like a Nic Batum or a Grant Hill will kill them, then Peja starts and keeps the floor properly spaced. They key to all this working is that the Mavs keep winning so that everyone stays content in their role. It was also critical that Brewer signs a multi-year deal so that he knows his playing time or lack thereof, depending on the opponent, doesn’t impact where he’ll be next year.

Brewer could also see minutes at the two, though that seems less likely considering the giant logjam in the backcourt that has already squeezed Stephenson out of the mix.

Dallas’ success is based on its options at every position and their ability to match up with anybody and play different styles of basketball. The championship blueprint they most closely resemble is that of the 2004 Detroit Pistons. But they weren’t quite equipped to defend the way those Pistons did despite being stronger offensively. Adding Brewer to the mix is a step toward shoring up that defense and making this team the real contender their record says they are.

Rick Carlisle's dilemma: Breaking in Roddy

February, 14, 2011
2/14/11
4:23
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DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks guard Roddy Beaubois might make his long-awaited debut Wednesday against the Sacramento Kings.

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"That’s what it’s looking like," center Tyson Chandler said. "The way he was moving [at practice] today and taking full contact and going through the full practice for the first time, he looked great."

Whether Beaubois returns Wednesday, Thursday or after All-Star Weekend, how should coach Rick Carlisle break in the youngster after a five-plus month layoff? Beaubois hasn't played in a game since the Summer League in July and he hasn't competed in an NBA game since April 29 in Game 6 of the first-round loss.

"So far so good," Beaubois said after Monday's practice. "It went well so it’s a good sign. I just need to keep going like this. It is going to be day-by-day. I'll practice [Tuesday] and then we’ll see how it goes and coach will make a decision."

Will Carlisle gradually work Beaubois in off the bench at the position Jason Terry is the sixth man, or immediately start him in place of DeShawn Stevenson? Terry seems to know what he would do.

"I think you put him out there and see what he’s got," Terry said. "It ain’t going to hurt. We only got 20-something games left in the regular season. We need to see now what this kid can do."

The Mavs have 28 games left and are just four games into integrating Peja Stojakovic into the starting lineup. The plan prior to Beaubois breaking his foot in August was presumably to start him at shooting guard and sprinkle him in at point guard. Whether he immediately takes over as a starter will be up to Carlisle, and he won't divulge that information until the league mandates he turn in his official lineup an hour or so before Wednesday's tipoff. Even then, Beaubois, of course, will have to be active.

Carlisle provided few clues into his thinking after Monday's practice, Beaubois' first full-on session that included five-on-five scrimmages and full contact. On one hand, Carlisle said he wants to maintain consistency within the rotation, which might suggest that he's reluctant to mess with the starting lineup again.

However, Carlisle later added this fact about Beaubois: "The thing about him that is exciting for us is the one thing he established last year is that he was an effective player at the 2-position with Jason Kidd," Carslisle said. "That was the one consistent thing that he established last year."

So interpret that any way you like.

But, also keep in mind that Carlisle likes to put players in the role he sees them in for the long haul. To keep Shawn Marionon the bench, Carlisle opted to start Sasha Pavlovic at small forward for the final six games he played with Dallas, and to immediatley start Stojakovic.

Of course, it's easier to plug in a veteran at a shallow position depth-wise, than a second-year guard who played 56 games as a rookie at a deep position.

Stevenson, whom Carlisle called a "god-send" Monday for his solid play after going from the 11th man to emergency starter in the second week of the season, realizes that his minutes will likely be scaled back to make room for Beaubois.

"Obviously, he’s going to get minutes. My minutes are going to come. That’s where you just have to be a professional," Stevenson said. "I’ve proved what I can do and if he gets the minutes, I’ve just got to be ready. In the West, we’ve got taller defenders so I might get in some games, or not. You never know what’s going to happen. You’ve just got to stay ready. It’s a part of the business."

And it certainly will be interesting to see how Carlisle plays his backcourt cards. Jason Kidd and Terry are going to get their 30 minutes. J.J. Barea has played brilliantly over the past four weeks or so and has averaged 25 minutes a game in February. Stevenson has certainly made a case, through good defense and 40 percent 3-point shooting to remain in the rotation.

Carlisle said he doesn't see the addition of Beaubois having much, if any, effect on minutes currently doled out to Terry and Barea. Terry said adding Beaubois this late into the season, even at a crowded position, is a good problem for Carlisle and the team to have.

"We’re all about team here," Terry said. "As long as it translates into wins for us, we don’t have a problem with it. Now, if he comes in and it’s affecting everybody, there might be a little rift here and there, but nothing we can’t work out. It’s a good problem to have."

Peja, Mavs like what they see in debut

February, 8, 2011
2/08/11
12:01
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DALLAS -- It took 17 seconds for Peja Stojakovic to see what life might be like playing for the Dallas Mavericks. Stojakovic got the pass and fired. He missed the open 15-footer on the Mavs' first possession, and his next two shots, both open 3-pointers, rattled out.

But Stojakovic, who took over as the starting small forward, said it was just a taste of what he expects to come.

"It’s a lot of ball movement," Stojakovic said, "and playing with guys like Jason [Kidd], Dirk [Nowitzki] and Jet [Jason Terry], we draw a lot of attention defensively and there’s definitely going to be a lot of good looks out there."

[+] EnlargePeja Stojakovic
AP Photo/LM OteroPeja Stojakovic's 20 minutes in his Mavs debut were the most he's played in a game since last March.
Stojakovic played a hearty 20 minutes through three quarters and scored eight points in his first game since being signed by the Mavs 15 days ago. He missed all but eight games this season with a left knee issue while playing for New Orleans and Toronto. Since his arrivial in Dallas, he has not participated in a full team practice in order to continue to rehab his knee and concentrate on conditioning.

During the last road trip, Stojakovic stayed and put in double time to be ready for this one.

"I was very pleased with his conditioning," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He’s been working the last 10 days extremely hard. Really, it’s been a training camp of sorts, double sessions, a lot of work on conditioning, defensive stuff, offensive stuff. NBA games are hard to simulate, but they did a good job of simulating it because he didn’t look particularly winded."

After the Mavs held on Monday, 99-96 for their ninth consecutive victory and Cleveland's record-setting 25th consecutive defeat, Stojakovic said his knee felt fine. It was his first game since Nov. 26 and the most minute's he's logged since March 8, 2010.

"It felt OK. This is what, my first contact in two months?" Stojakovic said. "My body responded well. now, as the days, we have more practices and games I’m going to get that feel for the game back and I think things are going to be much easier for me on the court."

The Mavs seemed to make it a point to get Stojakovic the ball early. He took four of his nine shots during the seven minutes he played in the first quarter. If his first three misses from the floor didn't reveal some obvious rust, his first missed free throw proved it. Stojakovic got his first bucket on his fourth shot attempt, a backdoor layup from Kidd.

He made his first 3-pointer on his fifth attempt to open the third quarter. After going 2-of-4 from the field in the third quarter and 1-of-3 from the arc in playing seven consecutive minutes in the third, Stojakovic's night was over.

He finished 3-of-9 overall and 1-of-6 from beyond the arc. He also had five rebounds, including one on the offensive end. Just as a comparison, Sasha Pavlovic, who played admirably in starting six of 10 games during two 10-day contracts, never had more than three rebounds in a game and twice scored more than eight points (11, twice).

"He’s going to be all right," Dirk Nowitzki said of Stojakovic. "He’s one of the best shooters in the world. It’s going to take him some time to get his rhythm back, but I’m not really worried about him. He’s going to have wide-open looks on the weakside as much as people have to pay attention to our strongside with myself, Jet, Kidd making plays. He’s going to have wide-open looks in the corner and he’s going to make his fair share of them."

That's what the Mavs are banking on.

Will Peja Stojakovic start tonight?

February, 7, 2011
2/07/11
1:23
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DALLAS -- If the plan is to eventually use the 6-foot-10 Peja Stojakovic as the starting small forward, will Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle go ahead and plug him in immediately?

Stojakovic will make his Mavs debut tonight against the woeful Cleveland Cavaliers. Stojakovic hasn't played since Nov. 26 and he's played in just eight games this season, averaging slightly more than 13 minutes in those games.

"He's worked hard, so he's ready to start playing a little bit," Carlisle said after Monday's morning shootaround. "He's as ready as he's going to be short of playing in a game. So tonight's the night we've got to get him out there a little bit."

Carlisle has often decided on a starting five by keeping the guys he wants coming 0ff the bench coming off the bench. That's why Shawn Marion hasn't just stepped in to replace Caron Butler, which woud have been a logical move. Carlisle prefers to utilize him in a reserve role paired with Jason Terry.

Marion, DeShawn Stevenson, Brian Cardinal and Sasha Pavlovic, no longer on the team after being waived following consecutive 10-day contracts, have filled in as the starting small forward.

In the last two games, Carlisle has been successful with a starting lineup that included J.J. Barea, who is playing the best basketball of the season, if not his career, at shooting guard and Stevenson at small forward.

But, even if Stojakovic isn't ready to log heavy minutes such as the 31 he averaged last season in 62 games with the New Orleans Hornets, Carlisle might as well set his starting five with 32 games remaining in the regular season.

Of course, there remains the issue of Roddy Beaubois' impending return and how he's introduced into the rotation.

But, that's not here yet. As for Stojakovic, if he's going to be this team's starting forward moving forward -- and that's not factoring in a potential trade -- then Carlisle might as well start him tonight against the Cavs.

"He can shoot the ball, we all know that," Jason Kidd said. "He's a competitor and a veteran guy, so he knows how to play. For us, we've got to use his strengths, get him in the fold and make him comfortable."

Pro's pro, Brian Cardinal ready for duty

February, 1, 2011
2/01/11
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Brian Cardinal ended January the way he began it, in the starting lineup and logging a 30-plus minute game, his only two of the season. On New Year's Day, Cardinal replaced the injured Dirk Nowitzki at power forward. On Monday night, Cardinal made his third start of the season, becoming the latest alternative to fill Caron Butler's vacancy at small forward.

Sasha Pavlovic had started the last six games, but the Dallas Mavericks bid farewell to him after his second 10-day contract expired after Saturday's game. Rather than break up his favored off-the-bench pairing of Shawn Marion and Jason Terry and move Marion back into the starting lineup, coach Rick Carlisle turned to Cardinal, the pro's pro.

"It’s a privilege to be here with the Mavs. It’s awesome to be here," said Cardinal, whose non-guaranteed contract was fully guaranteed last month. "Anything I can do to help us win, whether that’s diving on the floor for a loose ball or taking a charge, or trying to get a stop on defense, whatever I can do to help us win, I’m more than happy to do it."

Cardinal, 33, skipped over his specialty -- draining 3-pointers.

The 6-foot-8 forward hit his first two 3-point attempts in the opening five minutes of the game and then made another in the second quarter to move the Mavs within 45-40 after a sluggish start saw them fall behind the road winless Washington Wizards by 12 points.

Cardinal finished with nine points -- although he was just 1-of-6 from beyond the arc after making the quick two -- four rebounds, an assist and a block in 31 minutes. His fundamental dependability on defense and ability to can the 3-pointer might have earned him another start when the Mavs begin a three-game road trip at the New York Knicks on Wednesday night.

Carlisle said he could rotate starters at the small forward position at least until Peja Stojakovic make his Dallas debuts. Stojakovic will not make the three-game East Coast trip so his earliest action would be Monday's home game against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

No problem, Cardinal said.

"You just have to stay ready," Cardinal said. "It can be difficult when you’re not playing, but we’ve got a great group of guys here, a veteran group of guys and they keep everybody focused, everybody on their toes. It’s about staying professional, getting in early, staying late, getting your work in, and staying in shape and staying ready."

Why flexibility sent Sasha Pavlovic packing

February, 1, 2011
2/01/11
9:00
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Sasha Pavlovic did about all he could to stick with the Dallas Mavericks, but owner Mark Cuban said the eventual debuts of Peja Stojakovic and Roddy Beaubois would ultimately force Pavlovic to the end of the bench.

At that point, Cuban said, the flexibility of having an open roster spot to potentially make further alterations outweighed carrying -- and paying -- a player likely destined for the inactive list on a nightly basis.

"With Roddy and Peja back, whenever that happens, we’re going to have to already put someone else on the inactive list, and so there’s no point in just having somebody not to play," Cuban said. "And so, the flexibility is there for us. If somebody gets hurt we have flexibility to sign somebody and fill that role. And, if there’s a trade opportunity, or buyout opportunity, then there’s a chance, just like we did with Peja."

Pavlovic completed his second 10-day contract after Saturday's game. At that point the Mavs either had to sign him for the remainder of the season, meaning pay him, or waive him. They chose to say good-bye to a player that started the final six of the 10 games he played and helped to return a measure of stability to the rotation. The Mavs, who won their fifth in a row Monday, were 5-1 with Pavlovic in the starting lineup.

"You can sign him for the rest of the year and then release him, but that’s expensive," Cuban said. "So, if we end up needing him, and hopefully he hasn’t been picked up, we sign him then.

"On the flip side," Cuban said, "it would have been, ‘Aren’t you upset you kept [Pavlovic] when such-and-such became available?’"

Dallas, which now has 14 players under contract on the 15-man roster, can sign Pavlovic to a full contract at any time if they so choose. But, the Mavs are also busy assessing what other teams might do in terms of making players of interest available via trade or buyout. The NBA trade deadline is Feb. 24.

Cuban said the Mavs have not been granted permission to speak to any players currently under contract -- which suggests they have asked about players at the top of their wish list.

"We’ll be ready if the opportunity presents itself, like we always are," Cuban said. "We still have those [trade] exceptions and so it’s not just about signing. If somebody decides they want to break up the team and there’s somebody that fits, then there’s a unique opportunity there as well."

Brian Cardinal starts at small forward

January, 31, 2011
1/31/11
7:27
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DALLAS -- Brian Cardinal is the Mavericks' starting small forward.

At least for one night.

"Who starts each night could change -- possibly every game," said coach Rick Carlisle, who declined to reveal his starting lineup for tonight's game against the Wizards until the NBA-required 16 minutes until tipoff.

The Mavs are scrambling for a starting small forward after declining to sign Sasha Pavlovic for the rest of the season. Pavlovic had started the last six games while playing on 10-day contracts, but Mark Cuban and Co. opted for roster flexibility instead of keeping Pavlovic.

There is a strong possibility that Peja Stojakovic could become the Mavs' starter at small forward, but he won't make his Dallas debut for at least a week.

Shawn Marion gets the most minutes at small forward, but Carlisle prefers him in a reserve role as part of a sixth-men combo with Jason Terry.

Small forward: Pick a starter, any starter ...

January, 31, 2011
1/31/11
12:33
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DALLAS -- Who will Dallas Maverickscoach Rick Carlisle select to start at small forward now that Sasha Pavlovic is gone and Peja Stojakovic is at least a week away from playing?

In typical Carlisle fashion, he's withholding that information until NBA rules force him to officially turn in his lineup shortly before game time when the Mavs take on the Washington Wizards at 7:30 p.m.

"We've got a lot of options," Carlisle said. "We got options, everybody from [J.J] Barea, to [Brian] Cardinal to [Shawn] Marion. And, we could start [Ian] Mahinmi."

The obvious choice is to re-insert Marion into the starting lineup, but Carlisle is fond of pairing Marion and Jason Terry off the bench. That could mean a start for one of the other reserves on a low-minute basis.

"With this team [Washington], with their size and athleticism," Carlisle said. "I mean, a lot of possibilities on paper look like they could be effective."

How will post-Sasha, pre-Peja Mavs look?

January, 30, 2011
1/30/11
4:42
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DALLAS -- The Mavericks' season is breaking down into distinct segments of varying lengths and results. There was the opening blazing-hot segment, a 24-5 start to the season. Then came the the injury segment when Dirk Nowitzki and then Caron Butler went down and the team went rudderless. Figure that one at 14 games with the Mavs going 4-10.

Then there was the Sasha Pavlovic segment. During the course of two 10-day contracts that came to an end with the 6-foot-7 forward being waived after Saturday's win over Atlanta, his 10th game with the team, the Mavs trended toward a return to normalcy. Pavlovic started the last six games and the Mavs won five, including the final four.

The key was Pavlovic played well enough as a starter at small forward to allow the Mavs to move Shawn Marion back to a reserve role where he and Jason Terry have combined to give Dallas one of the more explosive benches in the league. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle clearly prefers the punch he gets off the bench when he subs in Terry and Marion as a pair.

"When we can have Jet and Marion off the bench, we just feel like that’s a positive for us; just seems to work well," Carlisle said. "DeShawn Stevenson, when he was starting at the 3 [small forward] during a certain period of time, he did fine, but his minutes were going up, up, up and it just helped to have another player [Pavlovic] that could step in there."

But, the Mavs' front office opted not to sign Pavlovic for the remainder of the season, which brings the team to yet another critical segment. Call this one the post-Sasha, pre-Peja segment. Pavlovic became expendable when the Mavs signed 6-10 veteran forward Peja Stojakovic last week. Only Stojakovic continues to try to rid himself of knee irritation that's limited him to just eight games this season.

"Where do we go from here?" Terry asked shortly after learning Pavlovic had been let go. "We don’t know, but I can imagine, Stojakovic, hopefully this means he’s going to be healthy and out there playing."

Not exactly. At least not yet.

Carlisle on Saturday said Stojakovic is not expected to join the team on its upcoming three-game road trip, which means he'll be out for at least the next four games starting Monday night as theMavs seek a 4-0 homestand against the Washington Wizards, who are 0-23 on the road.

That game starts this new segment because Marion will likely step back into a starting role, again throwing a wrench into Carlisle's rotation. Eventually, Stojakovic figures to take the starting spot. His return is close, he and the the team assure, but the actual time frame remains uncertain.

It's not the best timing to lose Pavlovic and have to wait for Stojakovic at a time when a team that couldn't score 90 points during the injury segment is suddenly moving the ball around famously and has averaged 106.3 points in the last three games.

"I think our chemistry now is starting to get back to where it was at the beginning of the season," center Tyson Chandler said after Saturday's win. "At the beginning of the season we were playing on a string. We knew everybody’s sweet spots. You knew exactly what guys were going to do on the floor without even thinking about it. When guys went out, it shook that up. It was difficult to rebound from because now you’ve got different guys stepping in."

And now, another adjustment heading into the post-Sasha, pre-Peja segment?

"Yeah," Chandler said. "Definitely."

Of course, this new segment will eventually transfer into the return-of-Roddy Beaubois segment ...

Coach votes for Sasha Pavlovic to stay

January, 29, 2011
1/29/11
7:23
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DALLAS -- The Mavericks will have to make a decision on whether to keep Sasha Pavlovic after tonight's game.

His second 1o-day contract expires tonight. The Mavs can either sign him for the rest of the season or let him go.

"I'm starting him," coach Rick Carlisle said, "so I think that pretty much says what I think."

However, Carlisle said the decision would be made by owner Mark Cuban and president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson. Carlisle also acknowledged that Pavlovic's performance -- he's averaging 5.6 points in 18 minutes while starting the last five games, four of which the Mavs have won -- isn't the only factor in the decision.

With Peja Stojakovic on the roster and soon to make his Dallas debut, the Mavs have a solid option as a starting small forward without removing Shawn Marion from his reserve role. It's possible that the Mavs' brass could decide that it's more important to have an open roster spot than the guy who has started the last five games at small forward.

Bench lifts offense in Mavs' time of need

January, 29, 2011
1/29/11
11:46
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DALLAS -- It's no coincidence that the Dallas Mavericks' bench has been on fire as the team has recorded consecutive season-highs of 112 and 111 points in their last two games.

Dallas' reserves have scored half of the team's two-game total, including 63 points in Tuesday's win over the Los Angeles Clippers and 49 in Thursday's win over the Houston Rockets. Jason Terry and J.J. Barea have provided 87 of 112 bench points, with Shawn Marion adding 20.

"Our team is structured to have a really good bench," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We need a lot of productivity from them. We need them to provide balance to our starters. We don’t necessarily start our five best players. So, when we sub, we expect to get better, at least offensively."

That the Mavs have recorded such high point totals when Dirk Nowitzki has not been shooting well since returning from a sprained right knee is even more indicitive of how critical bench scoring is to the Mavs' overall success.

The Mavs prefer to bring Terry and Marion off the bench and match them up against the opponents' second team. In a more traditional alignment, Terry would start at shooting guard and Marion would start at small forward. Instead, the Mavs have used DeShawn Stevenson at shooting guard, and recently Sasha Pavlovic (who will be playing in his final game of his second 10-day contract tonight against the Atlanta Hawks) at small forward in the wake of Caron Butler's season-ending knee injury.

Along with point guard Jason Kidd, the Mavs feature a most unusual starting five in which three players (Pavlovic, Stevenson) average 8.0 points or less, which obviously puts the burden on the bench to score points.

How much burden?

The Mavs are 22-7 when their bench outscores their opponent's, and they're just 8-8 when outscored.

According to ESPN Stats & Research, Dallas' bench (36.1 points a game) ranks fifth in the league in scoring behind Philadelphia (39.8), Detroit (39.1), Phoenix (37.3) and Denver (36.7).

Sasha Pavlovic is living for the moment

January, 29, 2011
1/29/11
8:10
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DALLAS -- Sasha Pavlovic truly is taking it one game at a time. That's life when you're on a 10-day contract. And tonight, Pavlovic's second 10-day contract expires after the Dallas Mavericks play the Atlanta Hawks.

Pavlovic will likely start his sixth consecutive game in his 10th appearance with the Mavs. And after the game he will know if he will be sticking around for the remainder of the season or looking for a new team (after two 10-day contracts teams must either sign the player for the remainder of the season or waive him).

"I don’t know if they’ll let me know before the game or after the game," Pavlovic said. "And, I’m not thinking about it, believe me."

Monday's signing of Peja Stojakovic, a fellow Yugoslavian-born forward and 3-point shooter, probably didn't help Pavlovic's cause.

If the news is bad, the Mavs probably won't break it to Pavlovic until after the game to ensure maximum effort and no hurt feelings during the game. Pavlovic has drawn mostly praise from coach Rick Carlisle. He's played decently with two big games among the nine. He scored 11 points in wins over the Lakers and Rockets. His other seven games have been more non-descript.

It certainly didn't help that he broke his nose in his fourth game against Detroit and then two days later against the Lakers, Derek Fisher knocked him in the nose in the opening minute, a player Pavlovic wasn't so sure was unintentional.

At any rate, Pavlovic will suit up tonight, likely not knowing if it's the last time.

"I’m not trying to think about it; I don’t want to think about it," Pavlovic said. "I just feel like I can always do more and I always try to do more. Like the game [Thursday] night, I think I can do better. The game before that I was bad and I think I can do a lot better than that. I just always try to improve myself."

Will Sasha Pavlovic stick for long haul?

January, 28, 2011
1/28/11
10:30
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DALLAS -- Sasha Pavlovic went from the street to NBA starter. Is it conceivable that he can go from NBA starter back to the street?

Yes, it is.

Is it likely? The Dallas Mavericks front office could be leaning in that direction after signing Peja Stojakovic on Monday. Pavlovic's second 10-day contract expires after Saturday's game. Donnie Nelson and Mark Cuban will then have to either sign him for the remainder of the season or waive him. Dallas might be more in favor of opening a roster spot for flexibility to make moves in the coming weeks.

Pavlovic signed his first 10-day contract on Jan. 10 in the wake of Caron Butler's season-ending knee injury. Four games in, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle plugged Pavlovic in as the starting small forward to move Shawn Marion back to his reserve role. Pavlovic, who has started five of the nine games he's played, scored 11 points in the big win over the Los Angeles Lakers on Jan. 19 to ensure his second 10-day contract.

The 6-foot-10 Stojakovic is a taller, more versatile and a more accomplished version of the 6-7 Pavlovic. Stojakovic figures to eat up a significant number of the minutes available at small forward along with Marion, making Pavlovic expendable. The one caveat is Stojakovic's lingering knee issue. He's played in just eight games this season and hasn't suited up since Nov. 26.

On Thursday, Carlisle said it would be "a while" before Stojakovic is ready to play. Later, one team source suggested a week to 10 days. If the Mavs part with Pavlovic it would leave them potentially shorthanded for a handful of games, yet that might not be enough to pursuade the club to keep him over opening a spot on the 15-man roster.

Pavlovic gave the Mavs something to ponder with his 11-point performance Thursday in the 111-106 win over the Houston Rockets. He played 22 minutes, knocked down 3-of-4 from beyond the arc and added two assists and a couple of steals.

The consistency, as might be expected coming in on a 10-day contract at mid-season, has not been there. Pavlovic scored 22 points and made 9-of-14 shots combined against the Lakers and Rockets. In the other seven games, he's scored 15 total points on 4-of-16 shooting.

Full effort returns and so does win column

January, 20, 2011
1/20/11
11:15
AM CT
DALLAS -- Sasha Pavlovic joined the Dallas Mavericks at one of the most awkward points of the Mark Cuban era, with team hit hard by injuries and the mounting losses at a level not seen in a decade.

After returning from a miserable four-game losing skid on the road that ended Monday and pushed the total losses to six in a row and nine in 11 games, Pavlovic said he saw characteristics emerge that must have led this team to that all-but-forgotten 24-5 start.

"Actually, I was surprised. They were losing and then we lost four games on the road and everybody was so positive in the locker room. They stick together and that's the key to get out of a struggle," said Pavlovic, who earned a second 10-day contract after scoring 11 points in his first start in Wednesday's skid-busting win over the Los Angeles Lakers. "This game like [last night's] against the Lakers is the perfect game to get out of a stretch like that. As long as we stay positive and play together we can beat anybody."

So add the Lakers to a tally board that includes the Boston Celtics, the San Antonio Spurs, the Oklahoma City Thunder, the Miami Heat and Orlando Magic. The Mavs are tied with the Spurs with an NBA-best 15 wins over teams with a winning record. Wednesday's 109-100 victory, in which Dallas scored 20 more points than it averaged in the previous 11 games, was the most important for obvious reasons.

"For a six-game losing streak I think everybody stayed positive," Dirk Nowitzki said. "I don’t think the attitude was down yesterday [at practice]. We had fun with each other still, so that was a good sign that nobody had their heads down. We understand that we have a veteran team and it’s only January. I think even the Lakers early lost five (four) games in a row. It was a tough little stretch, but hopefully this emotional win can get us back on track."

Yet, with all those big wins, it seems unfathomable, even with the injuries, that the Mavs' effort could sink as low as it did during a nearly three-week losing stretch that included lopsided loss to the Toronto Raptors, the Indiana Pacers, the Detroit Pistons and Memphis Grizzlies.

Where was Wednesday night's effort in those debacles? Even coach Rick Carlisle admitted to scratching his head.

"I think the guys would agree with that, and so you know we did it once, let’s do it twice in a row," Carlisle said. "And then let’s do it again because doing it from time to time isn’t going to solve things and our guys know that."

Their chance comes quickly, in a matter of hours at Chicago.

Wind, not knee, bigger issue for Dirk

January, 20, 2011
1/20/11
10:14
AM CT
DALLAS -- Over the past few days, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle consistently said that it's time for the club to pick up Dirk Nowitzki and not the other way around. That finally happened in Wednesday's 109-100 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in which Nowitzki was the team's fourth-leading scorer.

Try to find how many times that's happened in a victory over Dirk's career.

"That was an unbelievable win," Nowitzki said. "It didn't look good there in the first half, they had a 10, 12-point lead, but we had an amazing stretch there. I thought the end of the third, guys were just getting hot. Jet [Jason Terry] was amazing, Trix [Shawn Marion] was great, really defending, running around, getting layups. J-Kidd [Jason Kidd] was amazing, hitting 3s, hitting pull-ups off the dribble. Great team effort. Tyson [Chandler] battled. [Sasha] Pavlovic came through. The team really picked me up. I didn't have much going."

In just his third game back from a sprained right knee, Nowitzki logged 37 minutes, his high mark since returning. He got off to a slow start and never really got his shot going in a rapid-fire and emotionally charged game that tested his conditioning after the nine-game layoff. He finished with 14 points on 5-of-15 shooting, but happy to get out with a win that snapped the longest losing skid in more than a decade.

As for Dirk's knee, the 7-footer said his off night had nothing to do with his knee, which continues to feel better.

"I felt a little flat after three weeks of not playing. The knee is actually fine," Nowitzki said. "I did some good moves that I actually I wasn’t able to do the first two games so that is encouraging. It’s getting better and better as I’m playing so that so that’s really encouraging. The knee didn’t hold me back at all. My wind was gone there a little bit, but it’s going to take some time. Two-and-a-half weeks is a long time in this game, so I just have to work myself back and play back into it."

His conditioning will be put to the test with tonight's second game of a back-to-back at Chicago (7 p.m.).

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
19.1 4.2 1.9 33.7
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.4
AssistsR. Rondo 6.4
StealsM. Ellis 1.9
BlocksT. Chandler 1.2