Dallas Mavericks: NBA

Rapid Reaction: Spurs 109, Mavericks 103

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
8:45
PM CT


SAN ANTONIO -- The San Antonio Spurs are one win away from advancing to the second round after withstanding another comeback bid by the Dallas Mavericks, holding on for a 109-103 win in Game 5.

How it happened: Dirk Nowitzki’s first dominant stretch of the series wasn’t enough for the Mavs to make a comeback.

Not with Tiago Splitter and the Spurs lighting it up on the other end.

Nowitzki had by far his best performance of the series, finishing with 26 points and 15 rebounds. He had 14 points in the fourth quarter, in which he was 7-of-10 from the floor.

After a 3-pointer by Vince Carter cut the deficit to four points, Nowitzki had a wide-open, midrange jumper after getting Splitter to bite on a pump fake the next possession. A score would have cut the Spurs’ lead to two, but Nowitzki missed off the front iron.

Tony Parker, who led San Antonio with 23 points, hit a contested 3 on the ensuing possession to give the Spurs some breathing room.

Splitter, the Spurs’ defensive-minded center, slashed to the basket for layups a few times in the fourth quarter, when he scored nine of his 17 points. The Spurs had 30 points in the quarter, fighting off the Mavs’ furious comeback attempt.

Carter’s spectacular shooting kept the Mavs within striking distance most of the night. He finished with a game-high 28 points on 10-of-16 shooting, including 7-of-9 from 3-point range. Monta Ellis added 21 points, but only three Mavs finished in double figures.

The Spurs had five players with at least 15 points.

What it means: The eighth-seeded Mavs are on the verge of elimination as they return to Dallas for Game 6. The Spurs, who had the league’s best regular-season record, have seized the series lead by winning two straight games after Carter’s buzzer-beater in Game 3.

Play of the game: Parker’s 3-pointer with 1:52 remaining halted the Mavs’ momentum. Seconds after the Mavs had a shot to cut the deficit to two points, Parker pushed the Spurs’ lead to seven, making it a three-possession game.

Stat of the night: Carter’s previous playoff high as a Maverick was 13 points, which he matched midway through the second quarter. The last time Carter scored at least 28 in a playoff game was in the 2007 with the New Jersey Nets.

Cuban on Sterling: My house is glass

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
5:24
PM CT
SAN ANTONIO – Mavericks owner Mark Cuban colorfully declined to comment further on Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling’s lifetime ban for making racist comments.

“I went and looked at a picture of my house since I’m on the road and I saw that it was made out of a whole lot of glass,” Cuban said, “so I decided I don’t have anything more to say on the whole topic.”

On Monday night, Cuban expressed disgust with Sterling’s comments but called the possibility of forcing him out of the league “a slippery slope,” saying he feared the precedent that it could set. On Tuesday, Cuban tweeted that he fully supported and agreed with commissioner Adam Silver’s findings and decision on the Sterling scandal.

“It’s fully consistent,” Cuban said. “I don’t have anything more to say.”

3 Points: Revised Mavs-Spurs predictions

April, 30, 2014
Apr 30
12:00
PM CT
Dirk Nowitzki, Samuel Dalembert, Tiago SplitterJerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsDid the top-seeded Spurs sleep on the Mavericks entering their first-round series?
ESPNDallas.com columnist Jean-Jacques Taylor and MavsOutsider.com editor-in-chief Bryan Gutierrez will join me each week to run a three-man weave on a few questions on the minds of Mavs fans.

1. What's your revised series prediction?

Gutierrez: I would be somewhat shocked if this series doesn't go to a Game 7. This series has been the most entertaining one of the opening round of the playoffs. It would be fitting if the added drama of a Game 7 was included. Looking at the competitiveness of the series, it's uncanny to look at how volatile the series has been in terms of who has had control. If you're Dallas, you can easily make a case that you should be up 3-1 or even completed the sweep in the series. If you're San Antonio, you could make just as strong of a case that you should be up 3-1 in the series. It's been that close. I mentioned that this series would be death by paper cuts for the Mavs. A painful Game 7 loss would likely be the equivalent of that. I see a valiant fight, but I see the Mavs falling just short of pulling off the alleged upset.

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Taylor: Spurs in seven. The Mavs took the Spurs' best shot in Game 3 and 4 and each game still came down to the last 10 seconds. There's no reason to think they'll go away. They're hanging tough despite an inability to get consistent offense from Dirk Nowitzki.

MacMahon: Let the record reflect that I wasn’t certain the Mavs would make this trip to the River Walk when the series started. I thought a Spurs sweep was much more likely than this series going seven games. Well, I was wrong. Give the Mavs credit for making this series competitive and giving themselves a real chance to pull off what would be one of the most surprising upsets in NBA history. I still think the Spurs advance, but they’ll be pushed to the seven-game limit.

2. Why has Dirk Nowitzki struggled so much in this series?

Gutierrez: The Mavs have said it's a world of difference in their defensive scheming when they only have to concentrate on one opponent. That's a two-way street, working equally as strong for the Spurs with their approach towards defending Nowitzki. While no one is going to confuse him for Houston's underrated defensive anchor Omer Asik, Tiago Splitter has the right combination of height and athleticism to give Nowitzki fits. They're daring Nowitzki to operate off the dribble, leaving him with not many options as his bursts of athleticism just aren't there on a consistent basis. Heading into Game 5, Nowitzki has more field goal attempts (65) than points (64). If Dallas can't get Dirk Nowitzki going, it'll be in a world of trouble. Time is running out, and the Mavs need their star to crack San Antonio's defensive code.

Taylor: The Spurs have decided they're not going to let Dirk beat them. They've decided to take their chances with other players, which is actually a good strategy. When Dirk was 28, you could try all you wanted not to let him beat you and it wouldn't matter. That would also be the case a couple of years ago, when he led the Mavs to the title. At 35, though, he can't just impose his will on the game was he could in the past. There's no shame in that. They're not leaving him on the pick-and-roll, so he's not getting the clean looks he usually gets. And they've taken away the trail 3-pointer, too. When he moves onto the blocks, they're doubling him. This is why Gregg Popovich is one of the best coaches in the NBA.

MacMahon: Pop and Father Time are a tough one-two punch. Popovich has come up with a defensive scheme that exposes Nowitzki’s biggest weakness as a 35-year-old: He can no longer dominate off the dribble. Nowitzki might have been the best 7-foot iso player in NBA history during his prime, but he no longer has the quickness to score consistently when he puts the ball on the floor. He’s still a lethal jump shooter, but the Spurs have limited his good looks, daring him to try to win off the dribble.

(Read full post)

Dirk NowitzkiJerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsAmong key players in the Mavs-Spurs series, Dirk Nowitzki is the one who's yet to leave his mark.

DALLAS -- Several players in the Mavericks-Spurs series have Hall of Fame résumés and, one by one, they’ve flashed the greatness that should grant them basketball immortality in Springfield, Massachusetts.

With one exception.

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We’re still waiting for that great game, or even that great moment, from Dirk Nowitzki after the teams split their four contests.

Tim Duncan, widely considered the premier power forward in NBA history, dominated during the series opener. He scored 27 points, a third of which came during the fourth quarter, in the Spurs’ Game 1 win -- during which San Antonio fought back from a 10-point deficit.

Spurs point guard Tony Parker, a three-time champion and six-time All-Star, also delivered on Easter Sunday. He had 21 points and six assists in San Antonio’s first victory.

San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili, another three-time champ and arguably the best sixth man ever to fill that role, was the Spurs’ only real bright spot in Game 2 (27 points) and starred in their Game 4 win, scoring 23 points and dishing out five assists.

Ginobili would have been the Game 3 hero if Mavs sixth man Vince Carter, the No. 25 scorer in NBA history and an eight-time All-Star, had not one-upped him. Coming just 1.7 ticks after Ginobili’s go-ahead runner, Carter's buzzer-beating 3 from the deep-left corner is the series’ most memorable moment so far.

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DALLAS -- The lifetime ban of Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling handed down by NBA commissioner Adam Silver was applauded at the American Airlines Center.

“Decisive and correct,” Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “There’s no new commissioner in the history of sports who’s more prepared for this kind of moment and this kind of decision than Adam Silver. He’s been studying under the best commissioner, in my opinion, in the history of sports. He’s handled this thing extremely well, and it’s not an easy situation.”

Mavs owner Mark Cuban called the possibility of forcing Sterling out of the league “a slippery slope” on Monday night, expressing disgust with the racist comments attributed to Sterling but concern about the precedent that would be set by forcing him to sell the Clippers. However, Cuban tweeted his support of Silver’s decision during the commissioner’s press conference Tuesday afternoon.


Mavs sixth man Vince Carter, a 16-year veteran, expressed sadness that the Sterling situation has overshadowed the playoffs to this point and appreciation that the league can move on now.

“Glad it’s over,” Carter said. “It’s a tough situation. I think everybody had their individual feelings. It’s unfortunate somebody still thinks that way, like a lot of players have said. Something had to be done, especially [because there] is a game today. That decision needed to be made just so those guys [on the Clippers] can clear their mind and play the game and we can kind of move on from this.

(Read full post)

Dirk NowitzkiJerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsDirk Nowitzki is averaging only 16 points per game, shooting 38.5 percent from the floor in the series.
DALLAS -- He’s the sweetest-shooting 7-footer in NBA history, but the most memorable plays in Dirk Nowitzki’s career have come off the dribble.

Who could forget the future Hall of Famer’s two game-winning drives during the 2011 NBA Finals? He spun past Miami’s Chris Bosh and finished with a lefty finger roll to win Game 2. In Game 4, while batting a triple-digit temperature, the face of the Dallas Mavericks’ franchise mustered the energy to blow by Udonis Haslem with the game on the line to beat the Heat again.

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Or how about when Nowitzki left San Antonio Spurs defensive stopper Bruce Bowen in his dust en route to an OT-forcing, and-1 layup in the Mavs’ classic Game 7 win in the 2006 West semifinals?

Now, the Spurs are daring the dozen-time All-Star to drive. And his 35-year-old legs won’t let Dirk do it.

That, in a nutshell, is why Nowitzki’s numbers have been so pedestrian in this first-round series that’s knotted up after four games.

“I think they're forcing me to play off the dribble,” Nowitzki said after the Mavs’ Game 4 loss, when he scored a series-high 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting, marking the first time in his career he’s been held under 20 in four consecutive playoff games. “It's not any secret at this point I'm not the greatest driver anymore. They're just taking my airspace away. That's what the good teams have done over the last few years.”

(Read full post)

Marion up for Manu challenge

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
10:13
AM CT
DALLAS -- It has been a series of picking your poison for the Dallas Mavericks.

Their insistence on switching on pick-and-rolls has opened the door for San Antonio's Tim Duncan and Tony Parker to get theirs on offense. Making matters worse, Manu Ginobili, the final component to the Spurs' big three, has gone off as he scored a total of 62 points on 50 percent shooting over their last three games.

Spurs
Danny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty ImagesManu Ginobili has scored 62 points on 50 percent shooting during the last three games.
Ginobili's relentless attack off pick-and-rolls has stymied Dallas' defensive disposition. The Mavs are mindful and fearful of his ability to pass to the open teammate. His aggression has put Dallas on its heels much in the way the Mavs were when San Antonio imposed its will over Dallas in the previous matchups prior to this series.

"I thought most of his points came in the first half, I’ve got to admit," Mavs forward Dirk Nowitzki said. "In the second half I thought we did a better job, keeping him away from the rim a little better. We just had a bad second quarter. He was very good there. I thought in the second half, I thought we did a decent job on him.”

Nowitzki was right as Ginobili did his damange early on in Game 4 as he drove through the heart of Dallas' defense, scoring 15 of his 23 points in the first two quarters.

If the Mavs were able to slow Ginobili down in the second half, what led to that change?

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DALLAS -- The NBA playoffs are no place for moral victories, and coach Rick Carlisle really wasn’t in much of a mood to discuss his Dallas Mavericks’ courageous comeback attempt Monday night.

Carlisle was too focused on how Dallas could dig a 20-point hole against San Antonio -- and he was furious about it.

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“I was so disappointed with our no-show in the first half that it’s hard for me to mitigate it with fighting for 24 minutes out of 48 minutes in a game with this kind of meaning,” Carlisle said after the Spurs evened the series by holding on for a 93-89 win in Game 4. “I’m glad we showed that we were willing and able to fight in the second half, but the way we performed just competitively in the first half was inexcusable.”

The Mavs actually jumped out to a 12-2 lead, prompting San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich to speculate that Carlisle had the better pregame speech. But the rest of the first half was horrendous for the home crowd to watch.

After the Mavs made half of their first 10 shots, they were a hideous 7-of-31 from the floor during the rest of the half. But that wasn’t why Carlisle was bitter.

“Our first-half performance from a competitive standpoint was just not up to snuff,” Carlisle said.

He was disgusted by the Mavs’ defensive effort after San Antonio missed 10 of its first 11 shots. With sixth man Manu Ginobili carving up the Mavs, San Antonio was 20-of-29 the rest of the half, leaving Carlisle to mutter about how it “looked like they were able to do whatever they wanted to do.”

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Series even, but Mavs not scared of Spurs

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
1:21
AM CT
DALLAS -- A 10-game losing streak to the San Antonio Spurs didn’t strike any fear in the Dallas Mavericks, so the Mavs definitely weren’t going to let something like a little 20-point deficit faze them.

They made a furious comeback.

In the end, however, the Spurs evened the series 2-2 by withstanding the valiant rally, holding on for a 93-89 win in Monday night’s Game 4 at the American Airlines Center.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
AP Photo/Tony GutierrezDirk Nowitzki and the Mavericks are heading back to San Antonio with the confidence that they can win at AT&T Center again.
As the series heads back to San Antonio, the odds heavily favor the top-seeded Spurs, who regained home-court advantage when Dallas fell inches short -- if you measure it by the distance from which Monta Ellis’ potential game-tying layup missed its mark with 3.9 seconds remaining.

Make no mistake, the Mavs certainly aren’t scared of the big, bad Spurs, who were supposed to use this first-round series as a tune-up.

“We’ve always been underdogs to a certain degree,” Mavs forward Shawn Marion said. “Even when we won the championship, we were underdogs. Didn’t nobody pick us to win it.

“But we busted everybody’s ass, though, didn’t we?"

That’s true, although Marion and Dirk Nowitzki are the only two players remaining on the Mavs’ roster from the surprising title run of 2011. The Mavs missed the playoffs last season, snapping a dozen-year postseason streak, and had to scrap to claim the West’s final spot this year.

But the Mavs definitely don’t carry themselves like an 8-seed.

Maybe the Mavs had to fool themselves into believing they could compete with the Spurs before the series started. After all, that San Antonio winning streak in this Interstate 35 rivalry dated to Jason Kidd’s days playing point guard for the Mavs.

That swagger was legitimized in Game 1, even though the Mavs crumbled in crunch time. They gave themselves reason to really believe by building a 10-point lead with a little more than seven minutes remaining.

[+] EnlargeTony Parker and Manu Ginobili
Ron Jenkins/Fort Worth Star-Telegram/MCT via Getty ImagesTony Parker, Manu Ginobili and the rest of the Spurs realize this first-round series is far more risky than the cakewalk most expected for them.
The Mavs followed that up with a Game 2 rout, handing the Spurs their worst home playoff loss since a dominant Dallas effort in Game 2 of the 2006 Western semifinals. At that point, there was no doubt Dallas could make this series competitive.

“One thing I think the guys have done is looked past the past and how many we haven’t won,” said Mavs sixth man Vince Carter, whose miraculous buzzer-beating 3 from deep in the left corner lifted the Mavs to a Game 3 victory. “We realized that we have to play as hard as them, if not harder, to win.”

Dallas coach Rick Carlisle bitterly pointed out that the Mavs failed miserably to match the Spurs’ intensity in the first half Monday. He called the Mavs out for a “no-show in the first half.” And yet the Mavs found a way to add this game to the long list of heart-thumping finishes from around the NBA this postseason.

“All four games, we’re right there,” Nowitzki said after scoring his series-high 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting in Monday’s loss. “Gotta go down there with confidence and see what happens Wednesday.”

It’s a best-of-three series now, with the Spurs having the edge of getting two of those games, if necessary, at the AT&T Center, where a fan base that lives and dies with its lone big-time pro team will surely be worked into a frenzy.

That’s fine with the Mavs, who tied for the league’s fourth-best road record in the regular season and silenced the “Go Spurs, Go” chants during their last visit to the Alamo City.

They’d never admit it, but the Mavs might have entered the series hoping they could hang with the Spurs, who didn’t have to sweat much to sweep the four regular-season meetings between this Texas rivals. The Mavs know now that they can give the Spurs all they want and more, having proven it despite Nowitzki's being held to fewer than 20 points in four straight playoff games for the first time in his Hall of Fame career.

“We know the only thing we have to do is fight,” Ellis said. “If we fight and get stops and get out and run, we can beat anybody.”

Few believed the Mavs could beat the Spurs when the series tipped off on Easter. Four games later, it's clear the Spurs are in for a fight.

DeJuan Blair's play short but sweet

April, 29, 2014
Apr 29
1:13
AM CT
DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks tried valiantly to pull off another miracle in Game 4 of their first-round matchup against the San Antonio Spurs.

Once down 20 in the early portion of the third quarter, the Mavs battled back and took a stunning 83-82 lead with 3:51 left in the game. Dallas was fueled by third-string center DeJuan Blair as he rattled off 12 points and pulled down nine rebounds in the second half.

His night, however, ended abruptly.

[+] EnlargeDeJuan Blair
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

DeJuan Blair was just money before an ejection for a "hostile act" ended his night prematurely.

The Mavs were able to cause a turnover and a leaping Shawn Marion threw the ball blindly back in play in order to avoid returning the favor. Both Blair and Spurs center Tiago Splitter charged at the ball and the officials blew the whistle, calling a foul on Blair. The backup center ended up kicking his legs in disgust of the foul call and his left foot hit Splitter in the head. The officials looked at the video and ruled that a "hostile act" was made, forcing Blair to be ejected from the game.

"It was clearly a reaction to the call," Blair said. "Actually, I didn’t know because I was facing down there so they are going to judge off of what they do.”

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said his view was distorted, not allowing him to have the cleanest view of the action. But he gave the benefit of the doubt to the officials.

"Scott Foster is one of the best officials," Carlisle said. "If he said that there was a technical foul there and an ejection, then there probably was."

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Veteran forward Marion was asked if he had ever seen a hostile act called during a game.

"Hostile act," Marion questioned. "Is that a movie?"

Actually, a hostile act is in the league's rule book, in reference to Rule No. 13 -- Instant Replays, Section 1, a (4) in relation to replay triggers.

The rule book states that the officials can review the play if one player commits a hostile act against another player, resulting in the offending player being ejected from the game. An example would be when a player intentionally or recklessly harms or attempts to harm another player through the use of a punch, elbow, kick or blow to the head.
It remains to be seen if Blair will be given a suspension for the hostile act.

"I mean, it was an accident, so we'll see what happens," Blair said. "It wasn't intentional. I was just reacting to a call that I thought didn't go my way."

With his first career postseason double-double on 12 points and 11 rebounds, Blair clearly went in and gave the team energy and played tough defense. Unfortunately for the Mavs, he only played a total of 16 minutes.

The league will now decide if Blair will even get to suit up in Game 5.

Rapid Reaction: Spurs 93, Mavericks 89

April, 28, 2014
Apr 28
11:32
PM CT


DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks fell just short of pulling off the biggest comeback in franchise playoff history, but the San Antonio Spurs evened the series with a 93-89 win.

How it happened: The Mavs made a miraculous comeback but couldn’t complete the job.

Dallas had a chance to tie the score with 3.9 seconds remaining, but guard Monta Ellis’ layup rolled in and out. San Antonio’s Manu Ginobili, who scored a game-high 23 points off the bench, iced the win by making a pair of free throws.

The Spurs’ lead swelled to 20 less than three minutes into the third quarter after San Antonio stormed out of halftime with an 8-2 run. The Mavs immediately responded by busting out of a prolonged offensive funk with a 14-2 run and eventually pulled even with 6:23 remaining in the game.

Dallas third-string center DeJuan Blair, who fell out of San Antonio’s rotation last season, provided a massive spark during the Mavs’ comeback. The 6-foot-7, 270-pound banger had 12 points and 11 rebounds in 15 minutes despite a scoreless, one-rebound first half.

However, Blair was ejected with 3:08 remaining when referees ruled after review that his kick to Spurs’ center Tiago Splitter’s head was a hostile act. Blair kicked Splitter when both were on their backs after a Blair foul.

After Ginobili hit the technical free throw to tie it up, Splitter gave the Spurs the lead by sinking both of his shots from the line.

That set up a wild final few minutes for the second consecutive game in the series.

Ellis (20 points) drove to the basket after getting a handoff from Dirk Nowitzki for an and-1 layup with 52 seconds remaining, tying the score with the free throw. However, the Spurs regained the lead for good on the next possession with a 3-pointer by Boris Diaw, who had 17 points off the bench.

What it means: The top-seeded Spurs survived a scare to regain home-court advantage, evening the series at 2-2. The Mavs narrowly missed pulling off the biggest comeback in the franchise's playoff history, which remains a rally from 19 points down to win Game 5 of the 2003 Western Conference finals in San Antonio.

Play of the game: The Spurs’ French Connection hooked up for the go-ahead bucket with 32.9 seconds remaining. Running a pick-and-pop, point guard Tony Parker dished to reserve forward Diaw for a tiebreaking 3-pointer over Nowitzki.

Stat of the night: The Spurs are 53-1 in games they led going into the fourth quarter this season, including 25-0 on the road. The lone loss was by one point to the Portland Trail Blazers on Jan. 17.
DALLAS -- Players across the NBA are repulsed by racist comments attributed to Los Angeles Clippers owner Donald Sterling, and the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs are no exception.

“Disappointing, very disappointing,” Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki said. “I’m not sure if a guy like that is allowed to own a team in 2014.”

The Mavs and Spurs are both considering ways to indicate their displeasure with the Sterling situation and to show solidarity with other players around the league. The Clippers wore black socks and arm bands in their Game 4 loss to the Golden State Warriors, and players in the Houston Rockets-Portland Trail Blazers series followed suit with black socks in their Sunday night game.

“Unfortunately, we don’t have black socks right now,” Mavs forward Shawn Marion said. “We don’t wear them. We haven’t ever worn them since I’ve been here. We want to do something. We’re going to figure out something to do if we can’t get some socks.”

The Spurs wear black socks for every road game, but they could come up with another anti-Sterling gesture.

(Read full post)

Vince CarterKevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsVince Carter and the Mavs have moved on from his game-winning shot in the final second of Game 3.
DALLAS -- If Vince Carter had a $100 bill for every congratulatory text message and phone call he received after his Game 3 winning shot, it might match his $3.2 million salary this season.

The buzz about the buzzer-beating, tippy-toeing, deep-in-the-corner 3 continues, but Carter and the Mavs have moved on.

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If Carter and the Mavs were still floating in the air, they’d be setting themselves up for a crash landing. Their focus is firmly on trying to maintain home-court advantage in this series against the top-seeded Spurs, not celebrating Saturday’s miraculous win.

“It’s over with,” Carter said of Game 3. “We’ve gotten over it because it’s still a playoff game. It’s an important playoff game. We’re playing the best team in the league, in my opinion. We have no choice but to come ready or else we’re going to get our doors blown off tonight.”

Carter saw his shot several times while watching SportsCenter. Dozens of friends sent him links to the video, too.

However, Carter did not see the game-winner during the Mavs’ Sunday film session run by coach Rick Carlisle.

“He got to everything but that,” Carter said, smiling. “That’s cool.”

(Read full post)

Mavs 'stole' Game 3 with clutch execution

April, 28, 2014
Apr 28
10:00
AM CT
Vince CarterKevin Jairaj/USA TODAY SportsVince Carter's 3 won the game, and it was made possible by flawless execution down the stretch.
DALLAS -- Always one to call it like it is, Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki gave a definitive assessment of their Game 3 victory.

“We stole one,” Nowitzki said.

While the authorities likely won’t be called due to theft, the Mavs clearly got away from Game 3 with a huge victory, thanks to Vince Carter’s dramatic buzzer-beating shot. It took Carter’s theatrics, but it also took flawless execution down the stretch just to have the opportunity to steal the game away.

Boris Diaw hit a running jumper to give the San Antonio Spurs a 100-95 lead with 2:11 left in the game. The Mavs were in the midst of a drought of 3:24 which saw them score only one point and it seemed as if their offensive efficiency would abandon them for the remainder of the game.

Luckily for them, that wasn’t the case.

Dallas went on to score on its final six possessions, going 4-of-5 from the field for a total of 14 points. On the other end, San Antonio scored on four of its final five possessions, going 3-of-4 from the field for a total of eight points.

What’s shocking is that Dallas was able to close the game better than the best closing team in the league.

(Read full post)

DALLAS -- The sixth playoff series between the Dallas Mavericks and San Antonio Spurs feels like the good ol’ days to Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, or at least it did when he was giddy after a thrilling Game 3 win.

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"It felt like 2006 in that war that we fought down there," Cuban said, referring to the classic West semifinals that the Mavs won with a Game 7 victory in San Antonio.

Mavs star Dirk Nowitzki, one of five players to play in both series, isn’t so sure about that.

"I don’t feel like I did in 2006," Nowitzki said, half-joking about his advanced age. "But it’s a fun, fun playoff atmosphere, battling with that team that’s been through so many playoff battles. That’s really all. I’m not really thinking about eight years ago. I’m living in the moment."

We’ll all live in the moment when Game 4 tips off Monday night. For a moment, though, let’s look back at the past and see the similarities between these two Mavs-Spurs series through three games.

GAME 1
2006 -- Spurs 87, Mavs 85: Tim Duncan dominated, putting up 31 points and 13 rebounds as the Mavs played single coverage against him the vast majority of the night. Nowitzki had an off night, scoring 20 points but going only 8-of-20 from the floor while being harassed by Bruce Bowen. The Mavs couldn’t close out the Spurs because of a crunch-time offensive drought, going the final 4:07 without a field goal in a game that ended with Jerry Stackhouse air-balling a contested 3-point attempt.

2014 -- Spurs 90, Mavs 85: Duncan dominated, putting up 27 points as the Mavs played single coverage against him the vast majority of the night. Nowitzki had an off night, scoring 11 points and going 4-of-14 from the floor while being harassed by Tiago Splitter. The Mavs couldn’t close out the Spurs because of a crunch-time offensive drought, going 7:44 without a field goal in a game that ended with a meaningless layup by Devin Harris.

[+] EnlargeDevin Harris
D. Clarke Evans/NBAE via Getty ImagesNow in his second stint with the Mavs, Devin Harris is turning back the clock to replicate his impact on the 2006 series.
GAME 2
2006 -- Mavs 113, Spurs 91: Harris played a huge role in the Mavs evening the series, scoring 20 points on 7-of-12 shooting after being inserted into the starting lineup. Duncan had another big night with 28 points, but the other two members of the Spurs’ Big Three were nonfactors. The AT&T Center crowd was dismayed by all the whistle-blowing, with the Mavs getting 35 points off 43 free throws in the Spurs' biggest home playoff loss since Game 1 of the 1996 West semifinals.

2014 -- Mavs 113, Spurs 92: Harris played a huge role in the Mavs evening the series, scoring 18 points on 7-of-9 shooting off the bench. Manu Ginobili had a big night with 27 points, but the other two members of the Spurs’ Big Three were nonfactors. The AT&T Center crowd was dismayed by the Spurs' sloppiness, with the Mavs getting 33 points off 24 turnovers in the Spurs' biggest home playoff loss since Game 2 of the 2006 West semifinals.

GAME 3
2006 -- Mavs 104, Spurs 103: The Mavs seized control of the series with a one-point home win, pulling out the victory after a wild fourth quarter in which the lead changed hands several times. The game was decided by mistakes in the final moments, the most costly being a Ginobili turnover with two seconds remaining. The superstars -- Duncan (35 points, 12 rebounds) and Nowitzki (27 points, 15 rebounds) -- both had big games.

2014 -- Mavs 109, Spurs 108: The Mavs seized control of the series with a one-point home win, pulling out the victory after a wild fourth quarter in which the lead changed hands several times. The game was decided by spectacular shots in the final moments, with Vince Carter’s corner 3 at the buzzer one-upping Ginobili’s lefty runner 1.7 seconds earlier. The sidekicks -- Tony Parker (19 points, six assists) and Monta Ellis (29 points) -- both had big games.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
20.7 4.6 1.7 34.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.9
AssistsR. Rondo 8.8
StealsR. Rondo 1.8
BlocksT. Chandler 1.4