Dallas Mavericks: David West

ESPNDallas.com will compare the Mavericks and Clippers in five facets -- other than money -- that could play a role in Chris Paul's free agency decision in a one-per-day series: owners/front office, coaches, co-stars, supporting casts and franchise tradition. We'll focus on Dwight Howard next week.

The power forward’s production has dipped significantly after his award-winning 2010-11 season.

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ESPN NBA Insider Chad Ford joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett discuss the upcoming NBA draft and possible moves the Mavericks could make.

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That statement applies to both Dirk Nowitzki and Blake Griffin.

Nowitzki:

2010-11 – 23.0 ppg, 7.0 rpg
2011-12 – 21.6 ppg, 6.7 rpg
2012-13 – 17.3 ppg, 6.8 rpg

Griffin:

2010-11 – 22.5 ppg, 12.1 rpg
2011-12 – 20.7 ppg, 10.9 rpg
2012-13 – 18.0 ppg, 8.3 rpg

Dirk’s declining numbers are easily explained. He’s about to turn 35, dealt with knee issues the last two seasons and had serious point guard problems this year. With good health and a great point guard, Nowitzki returning to All-Star form certainly doesn’t seem to be a stretch.

PODCAST
Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the latest Mavericks news, Dirk Nowitzki and much more.

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What’s up with the 24-year-old Griffin’s regression since his Rookie of the Year campaign? You’d think such an elite athlete would be better after being paired with a premier point guard, but the evidence so far doesn’t support that theory.

“Lob City” has produced a lot of highlights, but the Chris Paul/Griffin pick-and-roll hasn’t been quite as lethal as anticipated. There have also been L.A. media rumblings about friction forming between the two Clippers cornerstones, with Paul supposedly growing weary of Griffin’s immaturity.

The CP3/Dirk pick-and-pop wouldn’t be nearly as flashy, but it’d be an efficient piece of art. Paul loved playing with a midrange-shooting machine of a power forward in New Orleans, dubbing David West as “The 18-foot Assassin.” There has never been a sweeter-shooting power forward than Nowitzki, whose calm competitiveness would also complement Paul’s fiery personality. (And there'd be no clash of egos with Dirk, who wants nothing more than to suddenly become the Mavs' second best player.)

Nowitzki has established himself as an elite closer and has consistently stepped up his game in the postseason. Griffin can make neither of those claims.

For all of Griffin’s athleticism, if Paul had to pick one of the power forwards for a playoff run, there’s little doubt it’d be Dirk at this point.

But CP3 has to be thinking about the long term this summer, and when comparing co-stars, that almost certainly tips the scales to the dude that’s more than a decade younger than his fellow power forward.

The finances could be a factor here, too. Dirk has declared that he'll take a massive pay cut when he re-signs with Dallas next summer, meaning the Mavs are guaranteed to have the cap space to pursue another star, while Griffin's max contract extension is about to kick in. But we'll wait until Thursday's installment to weigh the impact of the dollars difference.

EDGE: Clippers

No barber necessary after Mavs blown out

March, 28, 2013
3/28/13
11:53
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Dallas MavericksJerome Miron/USA TODAY SportsWith Thursday's loss, the Mavs now have at least two wins to make up before they can lose the beards.
DALLAS – The Indiana Pacers heard all the buzz about .500 beards and Omar the barber.

They made sure Omar’s clippers didn’t do any buzzing in the Dallas Mavericks’ locker room Thursday night.

PODCAST
Rick Carlisle joins Galloway & Company to discuss getting Dirk Nowitzki more involved in the Mavericks' game plan and much more.

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“We wanted to shut that s--- down,” big man Roy Hibbert said after the Pacers’ 103-78 blowout win, which guaranteed that the bearded Mavs won’t be shaving on this homestand.

During the Pacers’ morning meeting, coach Frank Vogel made a point to mention that the Mavs planned to have a barber at the American Airlines Center in preparation for a potential postgame shave for the six players who made a pact a couple of months ago to let their beards grow until Dallas’ record reached the break-even point.

That little tidbit was leaked to the media by shooting guard O.J. Mayo upon playful questioning following Tuesday night’s thrilling overtime win over the Los Angeles Clippers. He meant no harm, but it was convenient fodder for an opponent looking for a little extra juice on the second night of a back-to-back.

“I don’t think anything was meant by it as far as disrespect to how good the Pacers are,” Mavs center Elton Brand said. “We knew that wouldn’t be a cakewalk by any means. We knew that.”

Just in case there was any doubt, coach Rick Carlisle gave the Mavs a stern reminder after the morning shootaround. His message: You better be ready after all this talk about razors and barbers.

The Mavs hung in for a half, and then it got uglier than Dirk Nowitzki's neck hair. The Pacers outscored the Mavs by a 34-17 margin in the third quarter, when All-Star wing Paul George scored 13 of his game-high 24 points, and the Pacers rolled to the rout.

As Nowitzki so eloquently put it, the Pacers kicked the Mavs’ butts in every facet of the game.

Some facets were worse than others –- the 55-34 rebounding differential definitely stands out –- but this is as thorough a beating as the Mavs have taken in a while.

To be precise, they hadn’t lost by 25-plus points since March 3 in Houston. The Mavs had won nine of 12 games since that humiliation, putting them a win away from shaving before being pounded by the Pacers, who moved up to second place in the Eastern Conference with the win.

“I think a team like that blatantly brings out our weaknesses and shows our weaknesses,” said Nowitzki, whose 21 points on 10-of-20 shooting was one of the only things that went well for the Mavs. “That’s why they won. I don’t care if they didn’t want us to shave or not, but they’re a better team.”

That left the Mavs with a 35-37 record about two months after they started growing those beards, which they’re frankly tired of talking about now.

Carlisle started a personal ban on beard questions after addressing the issue with his team Thursday morning.

Mayo didn’t have much to say on the subject after the morning shootaround, either, and he didn’t address the media after his seven-point, 3-of-10 shooting outing in the loss.

Sixth man Vince Carter believes all the beard talk has grown out of control.

“The whole motivation of it was to really get everyone on board, and it’s been wonderful,” Carter said. “It’s kind of a little too magnified. They’re making a big deal about it now, as far as everything that’s been magnified the last couple of days.

“I’m glad everybody is on board. More than anything, the idea and concept was just to keep us all together. It’s done wonders. The longer the hair on the faces has grown, I think the more together we’ve been. After that was done, we’re here. It’s not about that anymore.”

It’s about fighting for a playoff berth, and the Mavs missed out on an opportunity to make up ground on the eighth-place Los Angeles Lakers, who are still a game and a half ahead of Dallas despite losing in Milwaukee.

The earliest the beards can get buzzed now is Tuesday night. If that happens, the Mavs will be in decent shape heading down the stretch.

It would require the Mavs to wrap up this six-game homestand with a win Saturday night against the Chicago Bulls, another bunch of East bullies, and then beat L.A. at the Staples Center.

“Hopefully they can get going and get rid of it,” Pacers power forward David West said, smiling. “None of them look good.”

The Mavs hadn’t looked this bad in a long time. And that had nothing to do with those beards.
DALLAS – As far as off nights go, it wasn’t a good one for the Dallas Mavericks.

PODCAST
Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the historical perspective of Miami's 27-game win streak, the Mavericks' playoff push, the job Rick Carlisle has done this season and if it's a good idea for the Mavs to shave their .500 beards.

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The Mavs’ two prime competitors for the West’s last playoff seed both won. The Los Angeles Lakers held on for a 120-117 win over the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Utah Jazz cruised to a 103-88 victory over the Phoenix Suns.

The Mavs woke up 1.5 games behind the eighth-seeded Lakers and a half-game behind the Jazz. Good thing scoreboard watching and standings studying aren’t pursuits that the Mavs consider worthy of their time and mental energy.

“We’ve all got to focus on what’s here in front of our nose and not look out into the wild blue yonder,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “If we do that, we’ll win our share. And if we’re supposed to get in, we’ll get in.”

The Mavs have plenty on their plate today anyway with the 45-27 Indiana Pacers in town.

The good news: Indiana is on the second half of a back-to-back, having won in Houston on Wednesday night. The Mavs have excelled at taking advantage of tired teams, going 12-2 at home against teams playing for the second consecutive night. However, the Pacers are pretty tough with no rest, as evidenced by their 13-7 record on the back end of back-to-backs.

All of the Pacers’ starters played at least 32 minutes last night, but reinforcements are reportedly on the way. According to the Indianapolis Star, Danny Granger and David West are expected to return from extended absences to face the Mavs.

Granger, who had emerged as the Pacers’ franchise player in recent years, has been out since March 6 due to soreness in his left knee and has missed all but five games this season. West, the former All-Star power forward, has missed the past six games with a lower back sprain.

UPDATE: The Pacers announced this afternoon that Granger will undergo season-ending knee surgery.

Offense bound to change, but will scoring increase?

July, 23, 2012
7/23/12
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The flow -- as in "flow" offense -- is gone. So what does it mean?

For starters, coach Rick Carlisle took back the keys to the offense when point guard Jason Kidd -- who has played 11 more seasons and has 9,902 more assists than the new Dallas Mavericks backcourt tandem of Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo -- walked out the door.

Then there's the addition of a 7-foot, low-post scoring threat in center Chris Kaman, and the solid mid-range game of power forward Elton Brand presumably off the bench. Neither player will win any foot races -- unless maybe they're racing Dirk Nowitzki -- so it figures that an offense that Kidd looked to push up the floor will take on a more methodical approach with Carlisle's fingers waving play calls in the air.

Collison has already expressed excitement about continuing the Mavs' pick-and-roll legacy with Nowitzki, and the offense figures to add an inside-out dimension that ultimately might not be too dissimilar from Collison's days playing with David West and Roy Hibbert with the Indiana Pacers, and Mayo's time with Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph with the Memphis Grizzlies.

The Mavs, Grizzlies and Pacers all shared some similarities last season. All three finished in the top 10 in defensive efficiency, according to Hoopdata.com. Yet, perhaps not as expected was the similarity in the statistic of pace, or the average number of possessions in a game. All three teams finished tied in the bottom half of the league at 93.5 possessions per game.

Indiana was the best of the three in offensive efficiency, ranking eighth in the league at 103.5 points per 100 possessions. Memphis and Dallas, which struggled all season to score, ranked 20th and 21st, respectively.

On paper, the Mavs' new lineup, which presumably features Collison and Mayo in the backcourt with Shawn Marion, Nowitzki and Kaman filling out the front court, have increased their firepower. Last season, Dallas' starting lineup included two virtual non-scoring threats in Kidd and center Brendan Haywood. Marion averaged just 10.6 points and neither starting shooting guard, Vince Carter and Delonte West, averaged more than 10.1 points.

Other than Nowitzki (21.6 ppg), no Mavs starter last season averaged more than Marion, and Marion's points came largely on slashes to the bucket and offensive rebounds. Dallas' starting five averaged just 53.7 points a game (and slightly less with West as the starter).

The projected starting five for next season stands to feature three new faces and, on paper, will yield more scoring threats.

Darren Collison embraces new challenges

July, 17, 2012
7/17/12
4:34
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The Dallas Mavericks have swapped out an aging Pac-10 backcourt with next-generation Pac-12 backcourt. Gone are Jason Kidd (Cal) and Jason Terry (Arizona). In are Darren Collison (UCLA) and O.J. Mayo (USC), a pair of 24-year-olds who are collectively 26 years younger than their predecessors.

Collison will fill the shoes (and the uniform No. 2?) vacated by Kidd when he chose to finish his career with the New York Knicks after a four-plus season-long second stint in Dallas. No one will mistake the 6-foot, 160-pound Collison's shifty point game for that of the 39-year-old, Hall of Fame-bound Kidd, who will go down as one of the great court visionaries and passers in league history.

PODCAST
New Mavs point guard Darren Collison talks about coming to Dallas, how he'll fit in with Dirk Nowitzki and more.

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Collison, though, said he's ready to start a new chapter of highly successful basketball in Dallas.

"It’s going to be an honor to step in his position and try to continue to do the same things that he brought to the table," Collison said Tuesday during an appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's "Coop and Nate." "It’s going to be difficult, but at the same time I feel like I’m my own player.

"I think what I bring to the table is my quickness and to play defense, too. I want to be able to pressure and create some tempo on the defensive end. I’m not so much worried about the offensive end, I think that’s going to take care of itself, but on the defensive end I want to be that energy guy. I think that’s when I can bring some different things to the table."

As for the offensive side, Collison said he's looking forward to getting back to a pick-and-roll system that he thrived in at New Orleans with David West. The last two seasons he's been immersed in more of an inside-out attack.

"That’s something me and Coach Carlisle spoke about. He spoke highly of J.J. Barea and his ability to get to the lane and he expressed how much he wants me to do the same," Collison said. "I couldn’t have asked for a better system. I think the pick-and-roll system is a system that suits me. Indiana, we had a little more of an inside-out game. We had some pick-and-rolls, but Dallas, here we run nothing but pick-and-rolls. That suits me. That’s something I did in new Orleans and that’s something I was accustomed to, so I have a chance to get back to that player I’m accustomed to in the system I’m about to embrace."

Collison said he's already started to look at film of his new teammates. He acknowledged it is going to take time to adjust, not only because he's new to the team, but because essentially the entire roster has been overhauled.

"I can’t tell you how quickly we’re going to start jelling together. At the same time, I can tell you that it’s going to take practice," Collison said. "We all want to win. We all want to have success in the playoffs, but it takes hard work just to get to the playoffs and it takes hard work to have that success in the playoffs. So I think the players that are around us, we’re new, and it's going to take us a little while to understand each other, our personnel on the court, but I’m already starting to watch film on these guys, get an early start. It’s going to be hard, but at the same time it can be done."


DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki finally looked like the dude who won the Finals MVP just a matter of months ago.

And the Mavs lost Friday night?!

“This season is rife with ironies,” coach Rick Carlisle said after the under-the-radar-contender Indiana Pacers walked out of the American Airlines Center with a convincing 98-87 win over the defending NBA champions.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
Jerome Miron/US PresswireDirk Nowitzki provided a glimpse of his old superstar self, scoring 20 points in the first half and finishing with 30 against the Pacers.
The Mavs boarded their charter flight to Cleveland with a two-game losing streak as baggage and mad as hell -- Shawn Marion actually used much more colorful language -- but Nowitzki’s performance at least provided a silver lining to an otherwise ugly outing.

A day after basketball coroner Charles Barkley signed Dirk’s death certificate as an elite go-to guy, declaring the face of the Mavs’ franchise another victim of Father Time, the big German’s game came back to life.

Nowitzki knocked down jumpers the midrange jumpers that have been the foundation of his Hall of Fame-caliber game for the previous 13 seasons. He hit a 3-pointer, which has been shockingly rare this season. Most encouraging of all, he had some success driving against rugged Indiana power forward David West ’s in-your-face defense.

But his season-high 30 points on 12-of-17 shooting wasn’t nearly enough.

“I’ve never liked big numbers in a loss. Never have,” Nowitzki said. “I’ve had 50 before and we lost and it doesn’t mean anything. But to me it’s good to know that the leg strength is coming back, the rhythm is coming back, but like I said, it doesn’t mean anything in a loss.”

It does mean there’s tangible hope that Nowitzki, who scored a total of only 28 points in the three games after his week-plus personal training camp/paid furlough, might get back in MVP mode soon.

It means the hard work Dirk has done recently with the Mavs’ staff and longtime mentor Holger Geschwindner might pay major immediate dividends.

“At some point, this kind of game was going to be a reality,” Carlisle said. “It was great to see because he was doing everything. He was shooting the ball, he was driving the ball, rebounding. Overall, he was very active. Very positive.”

And yet so very frustrating was that the Mavs couldn’t keep up with the Pacers even with a hot Nowitzki, whose offensive numbers for the season are the lowest since his rookie year.

Nowitzki had only his second 20-point performance since Jan. 4 by the midway point of the second quarter. Then he went quiet until the game was out of reach.

The Pacers limited Nowitzki to only two shots from the floor in the first 18-plus minutes of the second half. Indiana switched to a less aggressive pick-and-roll coverage, using a “short-show” technique that kept a man close to Nowitzki, to disrupt Dallas’ offensive rhythm and keep the Mavs out of transition.

The Mavs' offense went kaput when they stopped getting the rock to Nowitzki. Dallas scored only 34 points on 32.4 percent shooting in the second half, and those numbers were inflated during garbage time.

It was a rough reminder of the importance of Jason Kidd ’s role as a floor general.

“Without Kidd out there directing the ball it’s hard, and then finally there in the fourth quarter I just ran to the ball wherever it was,” Nowitzki said. “Just give it to me.”

Nowitzki scored eight essentially meaningless points in the final 5:29 of the game.

But maybe, just maybe, this game means the Metroplex’s favorite German is back.

Route 66: Easiest stretch of games

December, 6, 2011
12/06/11
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There aren't many portions of the 66-game schedule that can be described as "easy," mostly because of the frequency of games and because the Western Conference -- which accounts for 48 games -- is still pretty darn tough.

But there is a favorable stretch the Dallas Mavericks will need to take advantage of during the third week of January. It spans four games, three in a row at home, and all against teams that could well be below .500 and miss the playoffs.

Coming off a back-to-back, the fifth one of January before the 20th, the schedule takes a favorable turn with the next four games all coming with a day of rest in between.

Here's the breakdown:

Jan. 21 at New Orleans Hornets: There's a strong possibility the Hornets' two best players, Chris Paul and David West, will be playing elsewhere. West is one of the top three free agents on the market, and New Orleans is exploring trade possibilities for Paul, who can become a free agent next summer.

Jan. 23 vs. Phoenix Suns: Steve Nash and the Suns always give the Mavs a good run, but Nash is a year older, and these days he just doesn't have a lot of help.

Jan. 25 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: Ricky Rubio, meet Jason Kidd. The Wolves at least look to be heading in the right direction, and new coach Rick Adelman will have an interesting collection of talent playing the right way. Still, with the Mavs playing at home, this game needs to be checked off in the win column.

Jan. 27 vs. Utah Jazz: It still seems strange to list the Jazz as part of an easy stretch of games. But Jerry Sloan is gone, and so is Deron Williams. The Mavs typically have gotten the better of the Jazz in Dallas, and that should continue as the Mavs look ahead to a home game against San Antonio on the 29th.

Lockout levity: Those crazy Nuggets

November, 25, 2011
11/25/11
10:30
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Well, well, well, the owners and the players are have resumed negotiations and today looms as a critical period if the league is sincere about getting things up and running for a Christmas start.

We've heard the two sides have been close before and how'd that end? With phrases like "total breakdown of the collective bargaining process" and the scariest of all, "nuclear winter."

Maybe it will be just a few weeks of a nuclear autumn?

We'll find out over the course of the next few days. For now let's take a look at the latest Dallas Mavericks game gone down the tubes because of the lockout.

Today's canceled game: at Denver Nuggets

Game No.: 13

Mavs pretend record: 8-4

Last season's matchup: Who doesn't remember where they were on Feb. 10, 2010, when the Mavs stood 2:51 away from running their second long win streak of the season to 11 games on the home floor of the proud, but not all together bright, Denver Nuggets. The Mavs eased up just a bit too soon. The Nuggets rallied, Dirk Nowitzki amazingly missed a free throw to lead by just two and Aaron Afflalo, who scored 19 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter, dropped the incredible game-winner, a 19-foot jumper at the buzzer for the win. Carmelo Anthony had fouled after scoring 42 points and Chauncey Billups had 30. Jason Terry led the Mavs with 25 points and Tyson Chandler had 20 points and 11 boards. Nowitzki finished with 16 with one of those rare, low-scoring games. The Mavs then won their next eight games. Yet, who can forget April 6 as well when the new-look Nuggets came into Dallas and beat the Mavs when coach Rick Carlisle controversially rested Jason Kidd against a team they might face in the first round, and a team -- as Nuggets coach George Karl pointed out -- that wanted the Mavs.

What might have been: Things are always interesting when these two clubs meet. But, wow, this season would be a totally different story. Anthony and Billups both play in New York. Sixth man J.R. Smith is a free agent and might not be back. Impressive center Nene is one of the top three free agents with the Mavs' Chandler and New Orleans' David West. About the only thing that can be guaranteed in this matchup is a lot of scoring.

What's been missed: The Mavs have obviously missed getting their championship rings and raising the banner. Among the first 13 games canceled, four division games have been wiped out, plus fun matchups against the Nuggets and Oklahoma City.

Next canceled game: Saturday vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

Will Mavs search for backup PF again?

July, 5, 2011
7/05/11
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A summer ago the Dallas Mavericks made hard pushes for free-agent power forwards Al Harrington (chose to sign with the Denver Nuggets) and Udonis Haslem (re-signed with the Miami Heat).

Obviously, a guy named Dirk Nowitzki has the position pretty well locked down, but could the Mavs again be in the market for more of a traditional power forward -- perhaps a Carl Landry, Chuck Hayes or short-time Mav Kris Humphries -- to back up Dirk? Remember, for much of the season small forward Shawn Marion shifted between the two forward positions.

Or did the little-used, yet ever-ready Brian Cardinal, also a free agent, secure his return to the team next season and potentially bigger minutes after filling such a vital role in the NBA Finals?

For starters, scratch high-priced free agents such as Kenyon Martin and David West off the wish list. The Mavs will not be dipping into the deep end of that pool, and there's obviously no reason for entrenched starters to join Dallas.

With that, here's a somewhat intriguing list of power forwards that will hit the open market whenever the lockout comes to an end:



Where will the Mavs finish?

April, 7, 2011
4/07/11
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DALLAS -- The No. 2 seed is all but history and the Dallas Mavericks, who just days ago figured to be locked into the No. 3 seed, are being challenged by the Oklahoma City Thunder.

Does it matter which seed the Mavs ultimately end up with? Only that a slip to No. 4 will mean the Mavs, losers of four in a row, will head into the playoffs with little to no momentum. The No. 4 seed will play the No. 5 Denver Nuggets, as hot a team as it gets at the moment, but one that features a new cast of characters with no pressure moments together to lean on in the heat of a series.

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Nuggets head coach George Karl says he would prefer to face the Mavericks in the first round of the playoffs.

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The No. 3 seed will face either the New Orleans Hornets, who will be without power forward David West for the duration, the Portland Trail Blazers or the Memphis Grizzlies.

So where will the Mavs finish? Here's a quick look at Dallas' and Oklahoma City's final four games:

Dallas Mavericks (53-25)
Games against playoff teams: 1 (vs. Hornets, April 13)
Games against non-playoff teams: 3 (vs. Los Angeles Clippers, Friday; vs. Phoenix Suns, Sunday; at Houston Rockets, Monday).

Oklahoma City Thunder (52-26)
Games against playoff teams: 2 (vs. Nuggets, Friday; at Los Angeles Lakers, Sunday)
Games against non-playoff teams: 2 (at Sacramento Kings, Monday; vs. Milwaukee Bucks, April 13)

Carlisle: Picking reserves an arduous task

February, 3, 2011
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BOSTON -- Rick Carlisle didn't exactly enjoy selecting seven reserves for the Western Conference All-Star team.

"Hardest it’s ever been," Carlisle said. "By far."

Those seven reserves will be announced tonight. Dirk Nowitzki is considered a lock with center Tyson Chandler a long shot. If Chandler doesn't make his first All-Star squad he can't blame Carlisle. Coaches can't vote for their own players so it will be up to the other 14 West coaches to give Chandler the nod.

After the Dallas Mavericks' Thursday practice at Emerson College in Boston, Carlisle said he had no insight into how other coaches voted, but he said he thinks Chandler has a chance.

"No one ever knows [how the coaches vote] because we don’t know," Carlisle said. "We don’t see the tallies."

And Carlisle said he wasn't about to divulge his votes.

Each conference's coaches vote for that conference's reserves. They vote in order, one through seven, and then the player is assigned that number value. The points are added up and the top seven point totals are in. Coaches are allowed to change a player's position if it makes sense, such as voting Tim Duncan or Pau Gasol as a center to help alleviate the migraine-producing logjam at forward.

More than one deserving forward will be left off the team among a group that includes, but is not limited to, Nowitzki, Gasol, Duncan, LaMarcus Aldridge, David West, Kevin Love and Blake Griffin.

"I would be shocked if it wasn’t very, very close a lot of years," Carlisle said. "But, this year in particular."

Starters picked: Will Dirk get reserve nod?

January, 27, 2011
1/27/11
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DALLAS -- The NBA announced the 2011 All-Star Game starters as voted by the fans Thursday night. There were no surprises as Kevin Durant and Carmelo Anthony finished one and two, respectively, and will be the starting forwards for the Western Conference.

Next Thursday, seven reserves will be selected by the coaches of each conference to round out the 12-man rosters. The most hotly contested position is forward in the West with Dirk Nowitzki, Tim Duncan, Pau Gasol, LaMarcus Aldridge, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love, Zach Randolph, David West, Lamar Odom and Rudy Gay all with solid cases to be selected as an All-Star.

Nowitzki would figure to be a shoe-in as he seeks his 10th consecutive All-Star appearance. He was an MVP candidate before his injury on Dec. 27, averaging 24.1 points on 54.5-percent shooting and 7.4 rebounds.

Duncan, who has played in 12 consecutive All-Star games and started 11 in a row, also figures to be a selection with the Spurs rolling at 39-7. He could be selected by commissioner David Stern to replace Yao Ming, who was voted in by fans as the starting center.

Stern could also select Gasol with the game being played at Staples Center in Los Angeles. Either selection would at least open one more spot for a deserving player.

The Mavs are hopeful that Stern will simply promote Andrew Bynum, the second-place finisher at center, and then use the backup center position to select Tyson Chandler, who has had a tremendous impact on the Mavs but was not included on the All-Star ballot.

Dirk Nowitzki won't let coach take blame

November, 17, 2010
11/17/10
11:18
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NEW ORLEANS -- A Jason Kidd steal and an alert timeout by J.J. Barea gave the Dallas Mavericks an improbable chance to rally and win Wednesday night's game with a golden possession with 6.2 seconds to go and the New Orleans Hornets leading, 98-97.

After a timeout to draw up a play, Kidd inbounded from halfcourt. His pass went to Dirk Nowitzki out high around the top of the 3-point arc. With Hornets forward David West all over him and blocking Nowitzki's favored path to the left, the Mavs' 7-footer tried to dribble behind his back to create separation, but West reached in and cleanly swiped the ball away with 1.9 seconds left.

"The last play is on me," coach Rick Carlisle said. "I’ll take the blame for that. It put Dirk in a tough situation."

Nowitzki, predicatably, wouldn't let his coach shoulder the blame alone.

"Just my fault really," Nowitzki said. "I caught the ball too far out and tried to make a move that I don’t really have in my arsenal. But, like I said earlier to the guys, I didn’t want to spin too far out because I knew they were coming from my blind side, as a lot of teams do, and I knew if I spin I don't see the guys, the ball might be gone. Looking back now, since the ball was gone anyway, I might have spun. I wanted to go left, he cut me off and then usually my spin’s coming, but I was too far away."

Kidd fouled West after the steal, but West missed missed the first of two free throws to give the Mavs one last chance to tie or win with a three, but a 15th turnover and 10th of the second half, ended the game.

Former Hornet Tyson Chandler wants this one

November, 15, 2010
11/15/10
7:30
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DALLAS -- Tyson Chandler doesn't have to think real hard to recall the exciting 2007-08 season when he, Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets broke onto the Western Conference scene with flash and dash.

The Hornets won a franchise-record 56 games, shared the Southwest Division championship, earned the No. 2 seed in the playoffs and dusted off the Dallas Mavericks in the first round with a flurry of Paul-to-Chandler alley-oops.

[+] EnlargeChandler
AP Photo/Bill HaberTyson Chandler averaged a career-best 11.8 points and 11.7 rebounds in '07-'08 with Chris Paul and the New Orleans Hornets.
"It seems like yesterday," Chandler said Sunday, the day before his Mavs take on Paul and the undefeated Hornets at the American Airlines Center. "I've got some fond memories of those guys. I still keep in contact with a lot of them, know their families, know their kids. So, we’re definitely still close and they're on a bit of a run right now."

Yes, they are. The most surprising team in the NBA is 8-0 under first-year coach Monty Williams, and they've beaten a slew of good teams to get there. The 7-foot-1 Chandler is now two seasons and two teams removed from the Hornets. While battling through ankle injuries, he was dealt to Charlotte in the summer of 2009, and was nearly traded to Toronto this summer before it was called off, opening the door for the Mavs.

Chandler said that even during the franchise's breakout year, the team knew it wouldn't last.

"It was a financial situation," said Chandler, who averaged a career-best 11.8 points and 11.7 rebounds in '07-'08. "We had our opportunity to win that one year and if we didn’t go all the way we kind of had it in the back of our head that they would break things up. I kind of knew I was going to be the one to go because teams were inquiring and my contract made sense."

The Hornets didn't win it all. They lost to the San Antonio Spurs, going down in a Game 7 in New Orleans. The core of the team remains with Paul, power forward David West and 3-point specialist Peja Stojakovic. Emeka Okafor is now handling the middle and averaging 12.5 points, 8.6 rebounds and 2.3 blocks. Newcomers Marco Belinelli and Trevor Ariza are playing key roles and the bench is deep and so far productive.

"They’re actually deeper than when I played there," Chandler said. "They’ve got some athletic wings. That’s what we lacked when I was there, athletic wings that can get out, take some pressure off Chris, handle the ball and move side to side well defensively. I think they’ve upgraded in those positions and they’re playing well."

Chandler, who is working on the $12.6 million final year of that contract, has been a breath of fresh air at the center position for the Mavs, who traded the aging Erick Dampier for Chandler's 28-year-old and fully healthy legs. His stats are steadily on the climb, up to 8.1 points and 8.6 rebounds. He's shooting 74.1 percent from the floor, thanks to swapping Paul alley-oops for lobs from Jason Kidd, and he's hitting 86.2 of his free throws, more than 25 points better than his career average. He's also bringing a demeanor to the Mavs' defense, which leads the NBA in opponent shooting percentage.

Tonight's meeting is the first of two in three days. They teams will meet again Wednesday night in New Orleans. But, first comes tonight's anticipated game when the Hornets will put their perfect record on the line against the Mavs (6-2). Chandler said he plans to send them back to his old home with a first 'L' of the season.

"Trust me, it’s definitely on my mind and I’ll make it be known in the locker room that this will be huge for us," Chandler said. "They’re the only undefeated team in the league and everybody’s got to lose at some point. It would be good for them to get that loss here."

Healthy, happy Chris Paul leads perfect N.O.

November, 14, 2010
11/14/10
12:41
PM CT
DALLAS -- First-year New Orleans Hornets general manager Dell Demps and first-year coach Monty Williams had to have a sit-down with star Chris Paul to convince the seemingly disgruntled point guard that they had a plan for success.

Paul, the center of trade rumors that he never actually made public during the offseason, apparently bought in. A late trade for Trevor Ariza has been a spark and Paul and the Hornets come to Dallas on Monday night as the NBA's only unbeaten team at 8-0. The Mavs (6-2) are feeling good, too, riding their first three-game win streak of the season, including two in a row at home.

"Momentum is something we’ve been talking about getting. We have a little now and we want to keep it going," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We’re going to have to be ready. I’ve watched them. It’s no fluke, I mean they’re good. They’ve got two or three All-Star-caliber guys: Paul, David West, [Emeka] Okafor, Ariza is playing great. It’s a team that’s going to be tough to deal with."

A guy the Mavs have long hoped they might be able to pry free via a trade and would love to have leading their club for years to come -- as would every team that doesn't already employ Deron Williams or Rajon Rondo -- Paul is healthy after an injury-ridden 2009-10 season and he's apparently happy with the direction the organization's new leadership is headed.

Paul is averaging 17.0 points on 50.5 percent shooting, 10.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds. All five starters are averaging in double-figures. Everyone is getting involved as New Orleans averages 22.6 assists a game, ranking seventh in the NBA.

But, Paul and the offense haven't been the story during their impressive run in which they've handed the San Antonio Spurs their lone loss and have also beaten the Portland Trail Blazers, Miami Heat, Denver Nuggets and the Milwaukee Bucks twice.

With a healthy Okafor and a hustling Ariza and Paul combining for nearly five steals a game, defense is the big story. The Hornets are holding the opposition to 89.8 points a game, second-best in the league, and 42.3 percent shooting from the field, also second-best, behind the Mavs. New Orleans' point-differential is third-best in the league at 9.38 points, one of three teams with a differential better than 9.00.

"We’ve got elevate ourselves," Carlisle said, noting the Mavs didn't play exceedingly well in the 99-90 win over Philadelphia on Friday night. "This is two games in a row against the top team in the league right now, not only in terms of their record, but their differential is massive, almost as good as the Lakers (10.4). They’re doing it by playing hard, efficient basketball. They’re a low-tunover team, they’re hitting 3s, Paul is playing great. It’s not an accident. They're playing as well as their record."

Dallas' defense has been its most pleasing surprise in the early going, allowing just 91.5 points a game, third in the league behind New Orleans and the Boston Celtics.

Monday's game is the first of back-to- back matchups between the Southwest Division rivals. They'll play again Wednesday night in New Orleans.

"It's a long season. They've gotten off to a good start, but there's a lot of basketball to be played," Jason Kidd said. "The way the schedule sets up now we have New Orleans twice, so it's kind of a playoff situation when you play one team twice in a row so we're looking forward to that challenge. They're a good team. Nobody probably really talked about them being a playoff team, but they're right there. They're undefeated and playing well."

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9