Dallas Mavericks: Doc Rivers

Sources: Cavaliers interested in Marion

June, 24, 2013
There is undeniably trade interest in Shawn Marion as sources close to the process say that the Cleveland Cavaliers, for starters, indeed covet the Dallas Mavericks forward in a draft-day deal.

Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett live from Miami to look back at the best NBA Finals we've seen in a long time and discuss the latest on the Mavericks' dream to land Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.

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Yet sources insisted to ESPNDallas.com that the Mavericks -- as of Monday -- are not looking to move Marion. And if that changes this week in connection with Thursday's draft, Dallas must go directly to Marion and ask him to opt into the final season of contract, which does give the 35-year-old some measure of input into his fate.

"Not a single discussion," owner Mark Cuban told ESPNDallas.com last week.

Marion must decide by Friday -- one day after the draft -- if he wants to opt in for next season at $9.32 million or become a free agent July 1. Marion and the Mavs would have to send a letter to the league before July 1 if a decision is made in conjunction with a trade-week trade.

To this point, though, sources say Dallas has not discussed any potential trades with Marion despite various media reports in recent days about the Mavericks shedding Marion's contract.

The reality is that the Mavericks' only incentive to trade Marion this week is if they're certain they need extra salary-cap space immediately because they know they've got a legit shot at signing Dwight Howard away from the Los Angeles Lakers. And Dallas is unlikely to get a real handle on its Dwight chances until after July 1, when it's believed Mark Cuban and Co. will be on the short list of teams granted a face-to-face audience with Howard to make a recruiting pitch.

Chris Paul is the Mavs' other dream target, but the Clippers' hiring of Doc Rivers has essentially clinched that Paul will re-sign with L.A. on a five-year max deal at the first opportunity.

One more note on Marion: If Dallas does decide to move the versatile forward, he has a 15-percent trade kicker in his contract worth $1,397,519. That amount would have to be paid by the team that acquires Marion because his currenct contract was signed before the NBA's new labor agreement went into effect in December 2011. The team that trades the player is responsible for paying the trade kicker in the new collective bargaining agreement if the contract was signed from December 2011 forward.

Mavs' Chris Paul pipe dream comes to end

June, 23, 2013

[+] EnlargeChris Paul
Spruce Derden/USA TODAY SportsThe Mavericks' slim hopes of landing Chris Paul were essentially dashed when the Clippers and Celtics reached a deal to send Doc Rivers to L.A.
That’s the sound of the air going out of the Dallas Mavericks’ slim hopes of landing Chris Paul. The Los Angeles Clippers essentially locked up the perennial All-Star point guard by trading for the right to give former Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers a $7 million-per-season contract, as ESPNBoston's Jackie MacMullan reported.

It was always a long shot to pull CP3 away from L.A., where he has a talented supporting cast and can get about $30 million more guaranteed than the Mavs could offer.

The Mavs had to hope that Donald Sterling, who has three decades of experience as the worst owner in sports, would figure out a way to screw this up. Instead, other than essentially pointing the finger at Paul for firing an over-his-head head coach, Sterling stayed out of the way and handed his wallet over to the Clippers’ competent basketball decision-makers.

Rivers’ arrival in Los Angeles will give the Clippers a coach who is immensely respected by Paul, who reportedly lobbied hard when talks with the Celtics repeatedly hit speed bumps. Paul no longer would have to relocate to play for a coach of Rick Carlisle’s caliber.

It’s to be determined whether the Clippers and Celtics attempt to make the other deal they were discussing, a center swap that would ship athletic but raw DeAndre Jordan to Boston for fiery, future Hall of Famer Kevin Garnett. The league office might reject that deal.

Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett live from Miami to look back at the best NBA Finals we've seen in a long time and discuss the latest on the Mavericks' dream to land Chris Paul and Dwight Howard.

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But the Clippers have made it clear to CP3 that they’ll be aggressive in giving him the best possible chance to compete for a championship. Give the Clippers’ front office a ton of credit for making Sterling a nonfactor.

This is a kick to the gut of the Mavs, who have been trying to get CP3 since he played for another notorious cheapskate owner (George Shinn) in New Orleans. The hope when the Mavs made their post-lockout decision to strip down the 2011 title team was that Paul would play out his contract with the Hornets and hit the open market last summer.

Once Paul was traded to the Clippers, the Mavs knew it’d be extremely difficult to convince him to move to Dallas. The odds have gone from slim to practically none at this point.

That leaves Dwight Howard as the lone available superstar. And the Mavs will have to pull off an upset to convince him to leave L.A. and pick Dallas over destinations such as Houston and Atlanta.

The Mavs hoped CP3 would be their lead recruiter next summer. Now, they might have to compete against his persuasive powers.

Imagine how Mark Cuban would feel if the Clippers pull off a sign-and-trade deal -- swapping Blake Griffin for Howard -- and Sterling, of all owners, pulls off the CP3/D12 pipe dream.

Rick Majerus' death felt deeply in Dallas

December, 2, 2012
Rick Majerus' solitary season on an NBA bench in 1986-87 was spent as a Milwaukee Bucks assistant to head coach Don Nelson and sidekick to then-Bucks assistant Del Harris. Nelson and Harris quickly became two of Majerus' closest friends in the game.

The longtime college basketball coach's passing Saturday was thus felt deeply in Dallas, where the Nelson-and-Harris tag team remains firmly entrenched after they reunited with the Mavericks from 2000 through 2007 alongside current Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson.

Said Harris on Sunday: "Rick will be known by his friends and those players who followed him closely by one short sentence: He cared.

"Regardless of how demanding he was, Rick proved his love for friends and players past and present in a myriad of ways. I have recorded and saved voicemails he has sent me and my son Dominic has saved encouraging letters Rick sent him from years past. Obviously I could go on and on.

"He had tons of friends (in the game). He was totally dedicated to his family, particularly caring for his mother after his father died. He called me the brother he never had and I suspect he used that expression a lot."

Majerus died Saturday at 64 after a lengthy battle with heart disease and a career filled with NCAA successes at Marquette, Ball State, Utah and Saint Louis. He was likewise close to Denver Nuggets coach George Karl and Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers, meeting Rivers as a kid and calling him "Doc" before anyone after seeing him at a Marquette summer camp in Dr. J T-shirt.

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Sign-and-trade for Jason Terry not likely

July, 14, 2012
The Boston Celtics introduced their newest signings Saturday and that included presenting Jason Terry, even though he has yet to put ink to paper to make his move from the Dallas Mavericks official.

That's coming, according to ESPNBoston.com, which reported that Terry and Jeff Green have intentionally not signed their deals in order to leave the team some room to maneuver. Those deals are expected to be finalized next week, and in Terry's case, a sign-and-trade with the Mavs is not expected.

A source with knowledge of the situation said the Mavs deem their remaining cap space as too valuable to make additional moves. The source said the only way a sign-and-trade could occur is if Boston finds a third team to take on the salaries they prefer to move out.

Sources with knowledge of the discussions told ESPN.com's Marc Stein that the Mavs and Celtics did discuss sign-and-trade scenarios to facilitate Terry's move to Boston early in free agency. But Dallas has since made other plans with its cap space, such as Friday's amnesty claim on Elton Brand, and are thus resistant to taking back Keyon Dooling or Sasha Pavlovic in a sign-and-trade, which would be necessary to make such a deal work.

Terry told reporters at Saturday's press conference that he's ready to fulfill any role the team asks of him, which could include a starting role if Avery Bradley is not ready for the season and the Celtics don't add another frontline guard.

"Well, if they need me to wash the uniforms or sweep the floor, whatever role (coach) Doc (Rivers) wants me to play I'm here to do it at 100 percent and give my all," Terry said. "That's what I've done my whole career, and pretty much whatever it takes to win. Whatever puts us in the best position to win these games and win a championship is what I'll be doing."

Draft preview: Austin Rivers

June, 26, 2012
Seventh in a nine-part series analyzing our top NBA draft choices for the Dallas Mavericks at No. 17 on Thursday. We will look at one prospect a day leading up to the draft. ESPN.com Insider Chad Ford and ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's and Mavs play-by-play man Chuck Cooperstein provide the inside goods. The order is alphabetical.

One thing you know about the kid is that he'll be coachable, and Rick Carlisle loves to coach, so this could be a really good pairing for many years to come.

The son of Boston Celtics coach and former NBA point guard Doc Rivers and schooled under -- for one year anyway -- Duke and U.S. Olympic coach Mike Krzyzewski, Austin Rivers is intelligent and talented, although he isn't quite as seasoned as he might be with one more season playing at Cameron Indoor.

Still, how long now has Dallas been searching for that combination of size and playmaking ability at shooting guard? A long, long time.

Here's a look at our next draft prospect:

[+] EnlargeDuke's Austin Rivers
Brian Spurlock/US PRESSWIREThe Mavs could use a slashing shooting guard like Duke's Austin Rivers, but he might not be around at No. 17.
School: Duke (1 year)
Position: SG
Age: 19
Ht./Wt.: 6-foot-5/203
2011-12 stats: 15.5 ppg, 3.4 rpg, 36.5% 3FG

Why he would fit: Shooting guard is a position in total flux at the moment. Jason Terry is likely headed elsewhere as a free agent. Vince Carter could be swept up in potential trades. Are Rodrigue Beaubois and/or Dominique Jones ready for a heavier workload? Rivers addresses needs Dallas has long sought in size and scoring ability at the 2.

Why he wouldn't fit: Seems to be a lock to be taken before the Mavs ever pick.

Chad Ford's thumbs up, thumbs down: Up -- Extremely confident. ... Good shooter with deep range. ... Sick crossover move, very quick. ... Nice floater. ... Skilled ball-handler. ... Has a killer instinct on the floor. Down -- Good, but not elite, athlete. ... Not an explosive leaper. ... Needs to add a left hand. ... Gambling defender. ... Questionable shot selection. ... Can be selfish.

Coop's comment: Rivers would fit well as an athletic shooting guard who can slash to the basket. The Mavericks haven’t had a player like that since Michael Finley in his prime. He sometimes gets into trouble with over-penetrating and turning it over, but he’s so young that he can be coached out of that. He’s an OK shooter, but again, as he gets stronger, he should get better. He played a lot of point guard at Duke, but he’s a shooting guard in the NBA.

Previous prospects
Terrence Jones, Kentucky
Meyers Leonard, Illinois
Kendall Marshall, North Carolina
Fab Melo, Syracuse
Quincy Miller, Baylor
Arnett Moultrie, Mississippi State

Rick Carlisle joins new competition committee

May, 16, 2012
Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle is one of three NBA head coaches on the newly restructured competition committee announced by the league Wednesday.

Carlisle, the current president of the NBA Coaches Association, joins Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers and Memphis Grizzlies coach Lionel Hollins. Also on the committee are team owners Dan Gilbert (Cleveland Cavaliers) and Joe Lacob (Golden State Warriors) and general managers Bryan Colangelo (Toronto Raptors), Mitch Kupchak (Los Angeles Lakers), Kevin O’Connor (Utah Jazz) and Sam Presti (Oklahoma City Thunder).

Previously, the committee included the general manager from each of the 30 teams. That committee has been reconstituted as the new general managers committee. The league says it streamlined the competition committee because it wanted broader input on issues that could potentially improve the game.

One issue that could come up when the committee convenes for the first time during the NBA Finals is basket interference situations in the final two minutes of regulation and overtime. Mavs owner Mark Cuban requested that the league immediately make such instances eligible for replay review following a late-season loss at the Los Angeles Lakers in which Cuban and Carlisle believe Lakers forward Matt Barnes touched the ball in the cylinder but was not called for offensive goaltending.

The play counted as a 3-point basket for Pau Gasol and could have changed the course of the overtime finish.

Should Rick Carlisle earn top dollar?

May, 14, 2012
Contract disputes are about money. The person seeking the contract always wants more than the person handing out the contract wants to give.

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and coach Rick Carlisle might not yet describe this lingering contract situation as a dispute, but the bottom line is that Carlisle has yet to ink a new deal. Neither side is talking about it, so it can only be assumed that money is a central issue.

Carlisle earned $4.5 million in the fourth and final year of his contract this past season. That ranked him seventh at the start of the season, according to Forbes, among the league's highest-paid coaches. Three of the top six on the list didn't make it out of the season. Mike D'Antonio ($6 million, tied with San Antonio's Gregg Popovich for second) resigned from the New York Knicks, Nate McMillan ($5.5 million, fourth) was fired by the Portland Trail Blazers and Flip Saunders ($4.8 million, sixth) was fired by the Washington Wizards.

According to Forbes, Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers is the highest-paid coach in the NBA, earning $7 million this season. He's in his 13th season as a head coach and eighth with the Celtics, who hold a 1-0 lead on the Philadelphia 76ers in the East semifinals. Rivers and the Celtics won the 2008 championship and returned to the Finals in 2010, losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in seven games.

Is Carlisle looking for Rivers-type money? Or perhaps the $6 million that Popovich, a four-time championship coach, is pocketing this season? The NBA's Coach of the Year has the Spurs in the West semifinals on the heels of a first-round sweep.

In Carlisle's third season in Dallas, he molded a group of title-less veterans into unexpected champions, providing Cuban and the franchise with its first title. While the Miami Heat, the team the Mavs dispatched in the NBA Finals in six games, rewarded coach Erik Spoelstra with an extension in December prior to the start of the season, Carlisle's reward never came.

Cuban dismantled the title team and the season was a struggle from start to finish. Dallas ended it 36-30 in the regular season and then was swept out of the first round by the Oklahoma City Thunder under coach Scott Brooks, who is also coming to the end of his contract and will command a bigger payday.

Cuban claims it's simply not his business style to grant extensions (the 2006 extension he gave Avery Johnson backfired). But now that the season is over and still no deal exists, it figures that either the two sides are negotiating a workable salary or that Carlisle, who would be a hot commodity as a free agent, is keeping his options open.

After all, the Mavs' future, in terms of its roster as Dirk Nowitzki turns 34 in June, is as unsettled as ever in Cuban's dozen years as owner.

As Mavs seek 3-game streak, did you know ...

January, 11, 2012
As we all know, the Elias Sports Bureau comes up with some amazing stats and information that makes you wonder, how'd they find that?

Here's a few tidbits as the Dallas Mavericks look for a three-game winning streak to move above .500 for the first time this season when they play at the Boston Celtics tonight (7 p.m., ESPN):

* The Mavs made their first eight shots from the field Tuesday night against the Pistons. It was the longest such streak to begin a game for any NBA team this season and was the first time that Dallas started a game 8-for-8 or better from the floor since March 15, 2011 at Portland, when the Mavs made their first 11 shots, but lost the game, 104–101.

* Dirk Nowitzki has more assists on 3-point field goals this season (16) than he has on two-pointers (10). Nowitzki’s total of 3-point assists is a team high (next-most: Jason Terry, 13).

* Jason Terry’s 14.1 PPG scoring average in 344 career games off the bench is the highest among active players who have played at least 300 games as a non-starter. The next-highest career scoring averages off the bench for active players belong to Leandro Barbosa (12.0 PPG), Jamal Crawford (12.0), Corey Maggette (12.0) and Jerry Stackhouse (11.8).

* North Carolina has produced 12 current NBA players, but the Mavericks are the only team with as many as three former Tar Heels: Vince Carter, Brendan Haywood and Brandan Wright.

* The Celtics have been credited with assists on a league-high 66 percent of their field goals this season and the Mavs have the second-highest percentage in the league (64 percent). The league average for assisted field goals this season is 57 percent.

* Mickael Pietrus could make his Celtics debut tonight. Pietrus would be the fourth French-born player in Celtics history, joining Dominique Wilkins, Jerome Moiso and Michael Stewart. The Mavs have two players with French roots, center Ian Mahinmi and guard Rodrigue Beaubois.

* Rick Carlisle is 13–11 in games coached against Doc Rivers. Their coaching rivalry dates back to November 2001, when Carlisle was with Detroit and Rivers coached Orlando. Rivers was hired as the Celtics head coach on April 29, 2004. The only NBA head coach with a longer tenure in his current job than Rivers is Gregg Popovich (hired December 10, 1996). Despite Rivers’ long tenure with Boston, he is younger than 16 current NBA head coaches.

* And finally, the Celtics are 1–5 in home games against defending NBA champions over the last six seasons. Boston’s lone home win over a defending champion over that span (2005–06 through 2010–11) was against San Antonio on February 10, 2008.

Is Rick Carlisle legit COY candidate?

February, 21, 2011
Yes, I said it last week on Galloway & Co.: Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle deserves to be on the short list of NBA Coach of the Year candidates.

[+] EnlargeRick Carlisle
Garrett W. Ellwood/NBAE/Getty ImagesRick Carlisle has not only sold his Mavs on a winning plan, but he's listening to them too.
And I'm sticking to it.

In his third season, Carlisle has the club at a record of 40-16 and positioned in the No. 2 seed in the Western Conference. How he's gotten them to this point is what I find to be impressive.

First, consider how last season ended in San Antonio. Shawn Marion had his minutes slashed in the first-round series and left for the offseason seemingly confused and uncertain of his role. Caron Butler was benched for an entire half and, like Marion, had to wonder how he fit moving forward. Center Brendan Haywood and Carlisle didn't seem to see eye-to-eye (at the time, Haywood figured to be the best option as this season's starting center if he wasn't lost in free agency).

Jason Kidd, who had an awful playoff series, didn't show for the team's final day when players clear out their lockers, meet with coaches and then give a parting interview to the media. Carlisle played down Kidd's absence due to him being ill. Every other player attended.

Then there was the Roddy Beaubois imbroglio. Carlisle, already being criticized for not playing Beaubois more during the regular season, was being roasted after Game 6 for removing Beaubois before the fourth quarter in favor of the cold-shooting Jason Terry. Beaubois nearly single-handedly rescued the Mavs from an embarrassing beginning to the game, and then Carlisle's trust in his veterans didn't pay off.

So why should Carlisle be among this season's candidates for Coach of the Year?

Ben and Skin caught up with Dirk Nowitzki over All-Star weekend and The Big German drops some DFW Digs Dirk lyrics on us. He also gives an answer that leaves us in awe of his greatness.

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He's been criticized every which way for being somewhat aloof, perhaps a bit odd and mostly a poor communicator with players, which then rubs guys wrong and causes problems. That seemed to be what was bubbling with at least Marion and Butler. Well, if communication was Carlisle's Achilles' heel in the past, this season it has been his saving grace.

During the offseason, Carlisle visited with Marion and Butler on their turf, provided his vision for this season and got both players to buy into unaccustomed roles. Marion has been terrific coming off the bench while playing about 27 minutes a game. Butler, up until his knee injury on Jan. 1, was emerging as a major offensive threat despite often not playing at all in the fourth quarter.

Carlisle listened to Kidd, Terry and Dirk Nowitzki when they went to him early in the season and told him DeShawn Stevenson could do the job as the starting shooting guard. He listened and the move paid off.

Throughout the season, Carlisle has managed to get his team to buy into a defensive mentality and he's fostered a genuine one-for-all mentality on the team, which, to no small degree, has been hammered home by center Tyson Chandler in his first season with the team.

When Nowitzki went down on Dec. 27 with a sprained right knee and Butler followed two games later, the team went into a tailspin, losing six in a row and 10 of 14 all-in-all. Throughout, Carlisle remained positive, pumped up his guys and they responded, with Nowitkzki continually improving, to win 13 of 14 heading into the All-Star break.

For some media members -- and no need to embarrass anyone here -- who may have predicted a greater chance of an implosion situation than an emerging Western Conference contender, the record, the communication, the good vibe in the locker room can all in some way be attributed to Carlisle.

Here's my top candidates for Coach of the Year:

1. Tom Thibodeau, Chicago: The first-year head coach has the Bulls at 38-16, three wins from matching last season's total. They've done it despite Carlos Boozer missing 18 games because of injury and Joakim Noah hasn't played since Dec. 15. Known as the defensive brains as an assistant under Doc Rivers at Boston, the Bulls rank second in both scoring defense and field-goal percentage defense. Of course, the Bulls are led by my leading MVP candidate Derrick Rose.

2. Erik Spoelstra, Miami: The greatest team supposedly ever assembled (but hardly to coach) stumbled out of the gates to a 9-8 record, dropping to that mark after another embarrassing loss at Dallas that included the LeBron James (accidental?) body bump on his coach, then a closed-door team meeting. The next day reports surfaced that players didn't have confidence in their 40-year-old coach. But, Spoelstra never flinched, never got intimidated and has the Heat at 41-15 at the break.

3. Rick Carlisle, Dallas: See above.

4. Gregg Popovich, San Antonio: Blessed with good health this season, Popovich has the Spurs at 46-10, the franchise's best mark to this point and the best record in basketball. He has successfully transitioned the focal point of the offense from Tim Duncan to Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker, plus heavy doses of 3-point shooting, as the once-offensivelyboring Spurs are sixth in the league in scoring (103.5).

5. Doc Rivers, Boston: The Celtics might be oldies, but they're goodies. Rivers shunned retirement to come back for at least one more season and has his team playing great defense again (despite losing Thibodeau off his bench) and bearing down on a third trip to the NBA Finals in four seasons.

5a. Nate McMillan, Portland: To have that depleted roster sitting fifth in the West at 32-24 -- having won six in a row at the break -- is nothing short of miraculous, and he should probably be much further up on this list.

Rick Carlisle has pushed right buttons

December, 22, 2010
ORLANDO, Fla. -- As long as MVP candidates are discussed barely one-third into the season, why not coach of the year candidates?

In that regard, Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has to be high on the list. Throw in Gregg Popovich, Doc Rivers, Mike D'Antonio and Tom Thibodeau.

Carlisle has hit all the right chords since the team convened for training camp in late September. He's massaged a roster of veteran players, has had them buy into roles they're not accustomed to all while getting them to pull for one another.

After the disarray of last season's first-round playoff ending in San Antonio, a 23-5 start was anything but guaranteed or expected -- especially with supposed offensive savior Roddy Beaubois still sidelined with a long-recovering broken foot.

Through this past offseason, Carlisle has seen 17 players come and go. Only Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd, Jason Terry and J.J. Barea remain from the squad he took over prior to the 2008-09 season.

This roster, he said, is easily his most stable, and most complete.

"Oh for sure. Look, I love our group, I love our depth. All that should go without saying," Carlisle said. "This is a terrific collection of guys and our depth is quality at every position. So, it's all about staying healthy, staying focused and understand that we're going to have different guys finishing at different times. We're going to have different guys needed to step up and make big shots, but collectively it's all about one thing and that is becoming the best team that we can become."

Celtics hire Frank, who was on Mavs' radar

July, 16, 2010
The Boston Celtics hired Lawrence Frank on Thursday after Doc Rivers pinpointed Jason Kidd’s old head coach in New Jersey as an ideal new No. 1 assistant.

Frank, though, has also been on the Mavericks’ radar in recent weeks.

Sources with knowledge of the team’s thinking told ESPNDallas.com that Frank was Rick Carlisle’s top choice to replace Dwane Casey had Casey landed one of the two head-coaching jobs (Hawks and Clippers) he was widely expected to get.

The Newark Star-Ledger reported Thursday that Nets officials believe Frank was also pursued by the Indiana Pacers. But it seems safe to suggest that the opportunity to reunite with Kidd – who remains a Frank fan to this day -- would have been the bigger threat to Boston, which signed Frank to a one-year deal to replace Tom Thibodeau.

Carlisle can learn from Doc's decision

June, 11, 2010
Doc Rivers' decision down the stretch of the Celtics' Game 4 win reminded me of the Mavs' season finale.

Rivers rode the hot hands off the bench in the fourth quarter. He made the tough decision to stick with Nate Robinson and Glen Davis, keeping Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett on the bench for most of the fourth quarter.

It certainly paid off for the Celtics, with the self-proclaimed "Shrek and Donkey" combination carrying Boston to the series-evening win.

Rick Carlisle took the other route when presented a similar option in Game 6 in San Antonio. Roddy Beaubois fueled the Mavs' comeback, giving them a shot to beat the Spurs and bring the series back to Dallas. But Roddy B rode the bench for most of the fourth quarter, with ice-cold Jason Terry getting the nod.

Carlisle's choice was based on history, not who had the hot hand. It's likely a decision he wished he could do over.

Rivers got it right last night.

Kidd climbing steals chart, Bynum fine, more

February, 26, 2010
Jason Kidd enters tonight's game against the Atlanta Hawks tied for fifth with Scottie Pippen on the NBA's all-time steals list.

Kidd has a chance to bolt up to No. 4. He'll pass Pippen with one steal and he'll leap Maurice Cheeks (2,310) with four. It's possible. Kidd has had at least four steals 10 times in a game this season and twice in the past six games.

Fourth might be as high as he can get. Gary Payton is third with 2,445, Michael Jordaon is second with 2,514 and John Stockton is in a completely different stratosphere with 3,265.

And more:

*L.A. Times reports Lakers center Andrew Bynum was fined $25,000 by the league for ripping the refs after the Mavs' 101-96 win Wednesday. Bynum said Lakers played "five against eight." Both teams were whistled for 20 fouls, but Mavs shot 10 more free throws.

*The Mavs are going for a season-best six-game win streak, which would be the longest in two seasons.

*A road win at Atlanta would give the Mavs 19 road wins, one more than all of last season.

*From the Elias Sports Bureau: Tonight's meeting marks the first time the Mavs (37-21) and the Hawks (36-20) have met when both teams entered the game at least 15 games over .500 since March 29, 1988. Then Atlanta (41-26) defeated Dallas (46-22), 120-106. Dominique Wilkens scored 40 points and Doc Rivers had 17 assists for the Hawks.

The Come Up: 48 hours to show a pulse

February, 8, 2010
Monday means “The Come Up” -- and with a shortened week due to the All-Star break, the next 48 hours will show those who closely follow this team who exactly is down to bunker up as opposed to who’s down to party and cash a check. It’s a tough mental test and requires enormous focus. And it go a 'lil summin like this:

This is how it should be done

Remember the last game Dallas played before the All-Star break last year? That was a true exhibition of mental toughness and the will to win. It was just that it was Boston that showed it. Here’s what Paul Pierce said after the game:

"It can go one of two ways. The coach is gone in the last game before the All-Star break, you can pack it in. But this group is very competitive. We're going to fight.''

With just over two minutes left in the third, Dirk had just scored his 31st point. He was killing KG, who had just gone to the bench with a tech and his fifth personal, and Doc Rivers had just gotten ejected with his two technicals. The Mavs were up nine against a tired team that was on the second night of a back-to-back (they’d beaten New Orleans the night before) on the Thursday before the All-Star break.

That’s a recipe for a mail-in if ever there was one, but that Boston team didn’t really get down like that. Pierce went for 18 in the fourth and Dallas lost 99-92. So why dredge all that up now? Because that’s something the Mavs can use to fuel these last two games.

I have a hard time believing a team that has guys like Dirk, J Kidd and JET isn’t interested in fighting. That week off is going to be a whole lot more fun going into it with two wins than it will be having lost six of seven. These next two games starting Monday at Golden State will show everyone if this cast of characters has collectively “packed it in.”

48-hour gut check

We saw Golden State a week ago. Monta Ellis careered but Dallas still won 110-101. The Warriors have only won nine times at home and they’re struggling badly right now having lost their last eight. It’s extremely important that the Mavs put away a bad team early so they can get their key guys some rest before Tuesday night’s match-up against Denver. That game is what is known as a “scheduling loss.”

Denver is a tough place to play for a number of reasons. The obvious is that the Nuggets are really good there, having only lost four times all season on their home floor. It’s a tough place to play on the second night of a back-to-back as it is, especially considering the thin air combined with the aggressive style of play Denver is so adept at employing at the Pepsi Center. These dudes take it to you.

The Nuggets will be well-rested, having not seen action since a Saturday night loss at Utah the night after beating the Lakers on their floor. They’ll also want to avenge the 104-96 loss they suffered to the Mavs in Denver on Dec. 27. Dallas will be mentally and physically tired and one day away from a week away from hoops with a schedule loaded with celebrity bashes in their own backyard.

It’s an easy game to lose. They’ll be expected to lose. The schedule shrugs its shoulders and says “too bad.” But it’s also a unique opportunity for a team that a lot of folks are thinking has very little left in the tank for the remainder of this season. It can go one of two ways over the next 48. They can pack it in or they can fight. It’ll be a chance to see just how competitive these guys really are.



Dirk Nowitzki
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9