Dallas Mavericks: Gerald Wallace

Search for starting PG remains a priority

July, 1, 2013
The Mavericks remain in the market for a starting point guard after acquiring 18th overall pick Shane Larkin and agreeing on three-year, minimum-salary deal with Israeli star Gal Mekel.

Former Maverick Jason Terry joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss being traded to Brooklyn, Dirk Nowitzki and having his jersey in the rafters at the American Airlines Center one day.

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The Mavs want Larkin and Mekel to compete for backup minutes. They’ll continue to explore all avenues in finding a proven starter at point guard, a problem position last season in Dallas when Darren Collison lost his starting job to a pair of 37-year-olds who were unemployed at the beginning of the season before the Mavs allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent.

Dallas attempting to initiate trade talks with Boston regarding perennial Rajon Rondo created a lot of buzz over the weekend, but it’s an extreme long shot at best that the Mavs and Celtics would make a deal involving the perennial All-Star point guard.

As a source told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, "Danny (Ainge) telling them that they're only interested in Dirk (Nowitzki) is his way of saying: ‘You don't have enough to get in the game.’”

Donnie Nelson joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the crazy NBA draft, new Mavs Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo, and Dirk Nowitzki's long-term roll with Dallas.

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The only somewhat feasible scenario in which the Mavs have a chance to land Rondo is if the rebuilding Celtics try to dump a lot of salary along with him, with the Mavs using cap space to absorb the contracts if they miss out on Dwight Howard. A source said the Mavs might be willing to take Brandon Bass (two years, $13.35 remaining on contract) and Courtney Lee (three years, $16.35 million), but not Gerald Wallace (three years, $30.32 million).

Getting back to the realm of much more realistic possibilities, the Mavs are intrigued by Jose Calderon’s high basketball IQ and history of being an extremely efficient distributor and shooter. They’ve expressed that interest, but the Detroit Pistons intend to attempt to re-sign Calderon and several other teams have inquired about him.

USA Today reported that the Clippers, who met with O.J. Mayo in the early hours of free agency, could be interested in a Mayo sign-and-trade that would send Chris Paul's ready-to-start backup Eric Bledsoe to Dallas.

The Mavs will at least touch base with most of the veteran point guards in free agency, such as Mo Williams, Jarrett Jack and Monta Ellis. The Mavs could also reach out to restricted free agents Brandon Jennings, Jeff Teague and Tyreke Evans, but the likelihood of the Dallas making an offer their teams would decline to match is slim.

A low-cost, stopgap possibility: 36-year-old Chauncey Billups, who credits coach Rick Carlisle for helping his career take off in Detroit and would be a tremendous mentor to the rookies.
As an opportunistic franchise, the Mavericks are of course interested in trying to take advantage of the Celtics’ fire sale by trading for All-Star point guard Rajon Rondo.

The issue: What assets do the Mavs have that would be intriguing to a rebuilding Celtics team?

Donnie Nelson joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the crazy NBA draft, new Mavs Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo, and Dirk Nowitzki's long-term roll with Dallas.

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ESPN.com’s Marc Stein reports the Celtics have asked for Dirk Nowitzki. That makes for an awfully brief conversation, especially considering Nowitzki’s no-trade clause.

If the conversations pick up, can the Mavs make an offer that would be better than what Boston could get elsewhere? Remember, Dallas can’t trade future first-round picks because it owes a protected pick to Oklahoma City (via the Lakers and Rockets, originally from the Lamar Odom trade).

Boston reportedly likes Dallas first-round pick Shane Larkin, but the former Miami point guard isn’t going to be a centerpiece to a blockbuster deal. If the Celtics decide to go the direction of a total teardown -- and give themselves a good chance to land phenom Andrew Wiggins with the No. 1 overall pick next summer -- the Mavs might be able to intrigue Boston with an offer that dumps a lot of salary on Dallas.

Some contracts the Celtics probably would want to part with: former Mavs forward Brandon Bass (two years, $13.35 million remaining), shooting guard Courtney Lee (three years, $16.35 million remaining) and soon-to-be-officially-acquired-from-Brooklyn forward Gerald Wallace (three years, $30.32 million remaining).

It would be miraculous for the Mavs to be able to carve out the cap space needed to successfully recruit Dwight Howard and swing a blockbuster deal to get Rondo.

If the Mavs managed both, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson would deserve to share the executive of the year award. Pull off one or the other, and it’d still be a heck of a summer.

Are new CBA rules making teams more cautious?

July, 26, 2012

Five days into free agency, as the Dallas Mavericks quietly scanned the proceedings after being turned down by Deron Williams, the player movement and big money that flowed around the league certainly didn't suggest that a new collective bargaining agreement was sinking its sharpened teeth into management.

The Brooklyn Nets overpaid Gerald Wallace, signing him for four years and $40 million. They then spit in the eye of the harsher luxury tax to come by acquiring Joe Johnson, still owed $89 million, to play with Williams, who signed a five-year, $98 million deal.

The Lakers completed a sign-and-trade for Steve Nash, handing the 38-year-old a three-year, $27-million deal. Prior to that, the Toronto Raptors offered the beloved Canadian point guard a reported three years and $36 million.

The Minnesota Timberwolves gave Brandon Roy, who had retired because of chronic knee issues, two years and $10.4 million and then signed Portland forward Nicolas Batum to a four-year, $45 million offer sheet. The Suns signed guard Goran Dragic, a player they once traded, to four years and $34 million and also inked troubled Minnesota forward Michael Beasley to three years and $18 million.

Portland signed emerging Indiana center Roy Hibbert to a $58 million offer sheet. The Rockets signed Bulls backup center Omer Asik to a three-year, $25.1 million offer sheet and did the same with New York Knicks point guard Jeremy Lin.

Does it mean the new CBA isn't working as planned? Mavs owner Mark Cuban hasn't been shy about expressing his displeasure with the final product, comparing the new CBA to the old one by saying owners are now drowning in 2 feet of water instead of 10. We know the rules have radically altered his philosophy for building his team.

Since the opening flurry of moves, some made by teams with cap space to fill, the majority of teams, Cuban points out, have acted responsibly in preparation for the stiffer tax that starts in the 2013-14 season.

"This offseason we saw maybe six teams try to win the summer and make a big splash," Cuban said. "The vast majority did little or nothing beyond keeping their own players."

In 2009-10, 11 of the 30 teams spent into the luxury tax. That number dropped to seven in 2010-11 and six last season. Five to seven teams are headed for the luxury tax this season, a number that does not include the Mavs for the first time in Cuban's ownership. In a year or two, only the Lakers, Knicks, Nets and Heat could be luxury tax violators.

Cuban has vowed that he will spend into the luxury tax again, when the time is right.

Cuban points out two examples of the new CBA in action.

"The best example of the new rules having an impact are the Knicks walking away from Jeremy Lin and the Bulls walking away from three of their rotation players," Cuban said.

The Knicks have supported the most bloated payroll in the league over the last decade. Yet, presented with the Lin offer sheet from the Rockets that included a "poison pill" third year that jacked Lin's salary from $5 million to $15 million, which has been estimated to swell to more than $40 million after tax penalties, it was too much for even the hand-over-fist, money-making Knicks.

The Bulls surrendered Asik because of a similar "poison pill" third year that would have killed their cap. Ronnie Brewer and Kyle Korver were also sacrificed -- and Chicago tried to trade Rip Hamilton -- all in the name of whittling down payroll.

Brendan Haywood high on Joe Johnson trade

July, 3, 2012
Dallas Mavericks center Brendan Haywood is watching the Deron Williams saga as closely as anyone. After all, his future is at stake, too.

Mavs center Brendan Haywood gives his own percentage chance on Deron Williams coming to Dallas.

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If Williams agrees to sign with the Mavs, Haywood very well could be released via the amnesty clause to clear cap space. Haywood, on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's "Ben & Skin Show," said he's a big fan of the deal the Brooklyn Nets pulled off Monday to acquire Joe Johnson from the Atlanta Hawks, saying it will definitely give Williams something to think about.

"When I saw the deal I thought he would definitely have to consider staying just because Joe is that talented," Haywood said. "If you look at that team as constructed right now if they get D-Will back; if you give me D-Will, Joe Johnson, Gerald Wallace, a big man at (power forward) and Brook Lopez at (center); people forget Brook Lopez averaged 20 points per game, he’s very valuable and he was hurt last year. That team right there, to me, is already the second-best team in the East, right behind Miami with (Chicago Bulls point guard) Derrick Rose recovering from that knee injury."

The 7-foot Haywood certainly has a future in broadcasting if not with the Mavs. He's still under contract for three more seasons at around $27 million, and if the Mavs do use the amnesty clause on him, the team will be on the hook for his full salary, but it will not count against the cap. Haywood is well aware of the D-Will ramifications.

"I follow it (free agency) very closely," Haywood said. "For me, I have to see who goes where to see if I’m even in Dallas next year. Guys like myself, Shawn Marion, we have to follow it closely because we have no idea if we’re going to be here or not."

Regardless of the Johnson acquisition, Haywood said not to discount the fact that the Nets can pay Williams about $25 million more than the Mavs. Even though Williams could potentially make up that money with a second max contract in Dallas, Haywood said players tend to look at the guaranteed money on the table at the moment.

"Most guys look at the money that’s guaranteed, where they can get the most money at," he said. "So, if they do the state income tax and it comes out where Dallas ends up almost the same thing, then maybe he comes to Dallas. But I don’t think the state income tax is going to save him $25 mil. So at the of the day, most guys look for where it’s the most guaranteed money because that’s the only thing you know for sure."

And then, of course, there's the ongoing Dwight Howard situation, and at least the slim possibility that the Nets could still acquire him in a trade with the Orlando Magic. Brendan, are you paying attention to the Dwightmare?

"I watch the Dwight Howard As-The-World-Turns saga every day to see what’s going to happen today: 'I’m coming, I’m staying, I want to go, I want to stay,' " Haywood said, mocking the Magic big man. "No one knows what’s going to happen up there. It’s something different every day."

Draft lottery impactful for Mavs, Deron Williams

May, 29, 2012
The Dallas Mavericks came as close as they have in a dozen years to not making the playoffs, the prize of which would have been a seat at Wednesday's NBA Draft Lottery, which moves from its longtime home of New Jersey to to the Disney/ABC Times Square studio.

Moving from Jersey to New York? The Brooklyn-bound Nets certainly hope that's a bit of good luck. The Mavericks hope it is not.

The Mavs won't be counting their lucky ping-pong balls Wednesday, but they will have keen interest in the 25 percent odds the Nets, with the league's sixth worst record, have of acquiring one of the top three picks. How the ping-pong balls bounce could have a direct impact on the Nets or Mavs securing the services of free-agent-to-be point guard Deron Williams.

The Nets traded their first-round draft pick during the season to the Portland Trail Blazers for veteran forward Gerald Wallace. However, they "top-three protected" the pick, meaning if the Nets defy the odds and the ping-pong ball gods grant them the first or second or third pick in the June 28 draft, then they keep the pick.

Some believe that if that happens, the pick will serve as the cherry to complete a trade with the Orlando Magic for dominant center Dwight Howard. And if the Nets were to land the three-time Defensive Player of the Year, they would feel exceedingly giddy about their chances of re-signing both Howard and Williams for the long haul.

Dallas, of course, dismantled its 2011 title team with an eye toward the future under the new collective bargaining agreement. For the first time in owner Mark Cuban's tenure, the Mavs have cap space to chase high-dollar free agents and totally remake the team. Then Chris Paul was traded from the New Orleans Hornets to the Los Angeles Clippers prior to the season, he agreed to stay in L.A. for a minimum of two seasons and thus removed himself from this summer's once-ballyhooed free-agent class.

Howard wavered on his free-agent status throughout the season before finally flip-flopping one last time and agreeing to exercise his player option with the Magic for next season. He has yet to commit long-term to the club that could finally be fed up with his non-commitment and could be ready to trade him sooner rather than risk another hair-pulling, drama-filled season.

So the Mavs' front office will be rooting hard for the ping-pong balls to go against the Nets so that the Blazers will be the rightful owner of the Nets' first-round pick.

If Orlando remains dead set on trading Howard, a best-case for the Mavs would be for him to land anywhere but Brooklyn. That could dash Williams' hopes of a tag-team in the borough and perhaps make a homecoming for the Dallas-area native and a partnership with Dirk Nowitzki more appealing.

Mavs out of luck if Dwight Howard traded soon?

May, 22, 2012
If Dwight Howard is dead set on leaving the Magic's small (market) world ASAP, as reports suggest, and Orlando grants his wish, it's hard to find the happily-ever-after ending for the Dallas Mavericks.

Is the Dwight Howard to the Mavs dream alive? Dwight still wants out of Orlando and it could open the door for the Mavs to put a proposal together.

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That's the picture Orlando Sentinel columnist Mike Bianchi painted Tuesday morning during an appearance on ESPN Radio's "Mike & Mike in the Morning." If you thought D12 got what he wanted with Monday's news of coach Stan Van Gundy's firing and the franchise parting with general manager Otis Smith, it might come as a surprise then that Bianchi suggested that Howard could be traded before the June 28 draft.

Bianchi believes the Magic will first ask Howard for a long-term commitment. If the game's top (and seemingly profoundly confused) center says no thanks, then Bianchi thinks the Magic will act quickly to move him out to spare the club and its fan base another derailing, drama-filled season.

If Orlando again begins to solicit trade offers for its statuesque big man coming off back surgery just a month ago -- while also likely looking to unload the egregious Hedo Turkoglu contract (two years, $23.6 million) -- what's the Mavs' best offer?

Think the Magic jump at Brendan Haywood, Lamar Odom's partially guaranteed contract, Shawn Marion, Brandan Wright, Rodrigue Beaubois and whoever else the Mavs might want to throw in?

Not likely (and it's here where speculation can run wild that re-signing Tyson Chandler might have made the Mavs a more prominent player in a potential deal).

Howard has been adamant that he wants to play for the Brooklyn Nets. That's presumably because of his desire (or is it adidas' desire?) to play in a large market where his superstardom can really shine, and his arrival would almost certainly convince All-Star point guard and free-agent-to-be Deron Williams to sign long-term in the borough. If the Nets get a top-three pick in the draft lottery May 30, they'll keep their protected pick from the Gerald Wallace deadline deal, a golden nugget to toss into a package to Orlando.

The Nets, with restricted free-agent center Brook Lopez, and the Los Angeles Lakers, with center Andrew Bynum or power forward Pau Gasol as prime bait, are the top contenders to deal for Dwight now.

The Mavs simply are not.

Dallas' best hope would be that the Magic are desperate to trade Howard out of the Eastern Conference and can't work out a deal with the Lakers. The worst-case scenario, obviously, would be for Orlando to deal him to Brooklyn, effectively (presumably) taking the Mavs out of the running for D-Will and leaving Mark Cuban and Dirk Nowitzki staring into an uneasy future.

Feel-good night for adversity-stung duo

April, 29, 2011
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry have shared plenty of postseason heartache and on Thursday night they both finally got to exhale, if only temporarily, and enjoy a playoff moment.

Nowitzki scored a game-high 33 points and had 11 rebounds, and Terry finished with 22 points and a game-high eight assists to steer the Mavs to a first-round series win over the Portland Trail Blazers in six games with a 103-96 victory.

It all almost slipped away in another Blazers fourth-quarter comeback. Portland chipped Dallas' 17-point lead with 1:25 to go in the third quarter to 86-85 with little more than five minutes to left. This time, the Mavs made the plays to pull away late and end the Blazers' season.

The series win is especially significant for the two-man game of Nowitzki and Terry, the lone survivors of the 2006 NBA Finals failure when Dallas blew a 2-0 lead and lost four in a row to the Miami Heat. Since that series, the Mavs have won a single series and even that one is discounted because it came against an injured San Antonio Spurs team in 2009.

Even Mavs fans seemed to be holding their breath, expecting the Mavs to cave and lose the series even though they entered with 57 wins and as the No. 3 seed.

"Jason Terry and Dirk, these guys have been here a long time," third-year coach Rick Carlisle said. "It is so meaningful for them both to help us move on right now. They've both been hearing about it a long time as we all have...We knew it was going to be a brutally hard series, but we also knew it was something we needed. We also knew that we needed to beat them and do it in a way that was in character with a team that deserved to move on. We don't want anything easy and, coincidentally, the next team we're playing is not going to be easy either."

The next team is the two-time defending champion Los Angeles Lakers. Kobe Bryant's club closed out the New Orleans Hornets in six games on Thursday night as well. Despite all the star power, they don't enter the second round series with the same indomitable swagger as the past few seasons. Still, it won't keep the Lakers from being the prohibitive favorite.

The series begins Monday night at Staples night.

"Not a lot of people picked us to win this series and not a lot of people are going to pick us to win the next series," Nowitzki said. "We're just going to go out there and keep competing, play smart and play off each other the way we have all season and we'll just see what happens."

Nowitzki is one of four players to average 25 points and 10 rebounds over his playoff career. He finished this series averaging 27.3 points and 7.8 rebounds. Although his shooting percentage dipped to 45.2 percent after a career-best 51.2 percent during the regular season, he profited from a consistent march to the free throw line.

He made 56-of-63 at the stripe. Terry, who averaged 17.3 points in the series and emerged as the team's decisive second-leading scorer after a slow start, was tied for second on the team with Tyson Chandler in free throw attempts with 20. Gerald Wallace's 12 free throws in Game 6 made him Portland's leader with 32 trips to the line -- 31 fewer free throws than Nowitzki took.

Terry scored 10 points in each of the first two games and then averaged 21.0 over the final four. He finished the series shooting 48.7 percent overall, well above the 37.7 and 38.9 percentages of the past two postseasons. His 3-point average stands at 36.0 percent.

"It feels good," Terry said.

Jason Terry finds his game, confidence

April, 29, 2011

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Jet wouldn't be Jet without a little drama.

So, with 2:55 to go and the Portland Trail Blazers trailing just 91-87 in an eerily similar comeback march as the Game 4 debacle, Jason Terry took an inbounds pass near midcourt and promptly dribbled the ball off his hip and into the backcourt for a violation.

Eyes rolled incredulously.

"I'm just thinking about tackling him," Mavs center Tyson Chandler said. "That's my boy, though. You know I love him to death. He came down the stretch for us though. He's the type of player that can make a mistake like that and for some reason or another it gets him fired up."

Terry lucked out a bit, too. On the Blazers' ensuing possession, LaMarcus Aldridge rebounded his own 13-foot jumper and got fouled under the basket. With 2:34 to go and a chance to slice the Mavs' once 17-point lead to two, Aldridge missed both free throws. Shawn Marion made him pay with a pretty bucket and then Terry came down, made a slick move to get by Gerald Wallace and popped in a 14-foot pull-up for a 95-89 lead with 1:42 to play.

Remarkably, Terry committed a near-identical turnover with the score the same and 46.2 seconds to go. This time Wallace missed a 3-pointer, and again the turnover didn't come back to bite him.

"It was unbelievable," Terry said of his late gaffes. "Hey, that's part of adversity. In years past maybe we lose the game because of that turnover."

In years past, the Mavs lost playoff series because they didn't get what Terry provided in this series, which the Mavs closed out with Thursday's tenuous, but effective 103-96 win.

After a slow start offensively, Terry picked it up by averaging 21.0 points in the final four games. Likewise in Game 6, he missed his first four shots but never wavered, finishing with 22 points and 13 in the second half. In the early part of the series, when Terry's shot wasn't falling, coach Rick Carlisle praised him as a facilitator, and he certainly was in Game 6 with eight assists. He also had four rebounds and one turnover before those last two freak ones in 34 minutes.

It was his second consecutive 20-point game and his third in the series. In Games 5 and 6, he provided the complementary scoring to Dirk Nowitzki -- who finished with a game-high 33 points -- that the Mavs so desperately need.

"Tonight the game was in rhythm," Terry said. "I missed my first four shots, coach rolled with me, my teammates kept encouraging me to shoot and make plays and I was able to do so."

He also helped prevent the Brandon Roy magical scoring tour from taking off again in the Rose Garden. Roy hit 4 of 6 shots, but finished with just nine points and three assists in 29 minutes, a far cry from the 40 combined points he dropped in Games 3 and 4, with 24 coming in Game 4.

"Individually, hey, tonight summed it up for me, started out 0-for-4, but stick with it," Terry said. "Defensively, this probably was my best series since I've been a Maverick."

That's what Carlisle was preaching through the first two games when Terry, certainly not known as a defender who will throw anyone off their game, scored just 20 points combined. Carlisle has continually said throughout the series that Terry is playing his best all-around basketball.

"Coach has been challenging me and telling me regardless of what happens on offense, defensively we need you out, alert, really taking ownership in your matchups," Terry said. "They gave me a big assignment guarding Brandon Roy three out of the five games and I thought I held my own."

Terry's all-around contributions certainly came at a clutch time. He's coming off two subpar postseasons and he made no bones about it. Heading into these playoffs, no one was certain what to expect from him after his uneven stretch run that included several bizarre on-court occurrences.

There was the on-court jaw session with J.J. Barea and then an angry Carlisle tossing him out of the timeout huddle and banishing him to the end of the bench for the entire second half. He got hit with a flagrant foul against the Lakers and picked up a mindless technical against the Denver Nuggets. Then, of course, came the strange celebration after his missed free throw with 1.5 seconds to go and the game tied in Houston.

All of this came after an unfortunate death in the family.

So where was Jet's head? After one critical playoff series that soothed the fragile psyche of an entire franchise, the Mavs have a pretty good idea -- and they like it.

"He had a great series," Jason Kidd said. "He was shooting the ball, making plays, finding guys. Defensively, he was great. So now we got to build on it and keep him going."

Gerald Wallace will return for 2nd half

April, 28, 2011
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Gerald Wallace made his way to the court a few minutes after his teammates and will play in the second half. Wallace, who had 13 points in the first quarter, didn't play in the second quarter because of lower back stiffness.

His return was initially in doubt.

The Blazers led 27-19 after the first quarter, but trailed 52-43 at the half.

Dirk, Mavs surge to 52-43 halftime lead

April, 28, 2011
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Terry led a major second-quarter surge that saw the Mavericks obliterate a 31-19 deficit to lead 52-43 at the half. For those keeping score at home, that's a 33-12 run.

Nowitzki leads all scorers with 19 points on 8-of-11 shooting, scoring from all points on the floor, out of halfcourt sets and in transition. Terry has 10 and canned a 3-pointer at the halftime buzzer. Shawn Marion has scored eight and Peja Stojakovic has six. No Mavs player has more than one foul.

Gerald Wallace leads the Blazers with 13 points, all in the first quarter. He left the game with lower back tightness and his return for the second half has not been determined. LaMarcus Aldridge has 12 points.

The Blazers damaged their own cause with bonehead plays by Rudy Fernandez, who fouled Peja Stojakovic behind the arc, and D-League call-up Chris Johnson, who was called for a flagrant on Nowitzki after a rebound under the Blazers' basket. The result was seven quick points. Sandwiched in between was an and-1 by Nowitzki.

Less than four minutes after Portland took the 31-19 lead and had the Rose Garden rocking, the Mavs had tied the game at 35-35 on a J.J. Barea drive.

Another positive sign: The Mavs had just two turnovers.

Gerald Wallace leaves with back tightness

April, 28, 2011
PORTLAND, Ore. -- The Blazers received some bad news midway through the second quarter as forward Gerald Wallace is being treated for lower back tightness. His return, according to the Blazers, is to be determined.

Wallace got off to a hot start with 13 points in the first quarter.

Portland led the Mavericks 31-19, but has since fallen behind 41-37 with 4:16 to go in the first half.

Will Game 6 be decided at the FT line?

April, 27, 2011

DALLAS -- The home team has shot more free throw attempts in three of the first five games of this series and holds a definitive advantage in free throw attempts overall.

Is that good news for the Portland Trail Blazers who need a win in Game 6 at the Rose Garden stave off elimination?

In three games in Dallas, the Dallas Mavericks have enjoyed an 88-59 edge in free throw attempts and have outscored the Portland Trail Blazers by 26 points. Games 1 and 5 were heavily weighted in the Mavs' favor -- 64 attempts to just 32 for Portland. Conversely, in the two games at the Rose Garden, the Blazers own a 44-33 edge in attempts and a 39-23 margin in free throws made. In Game 4, the Blazers took 23 attempts to just 10 for the Mavs.

Dirk Nowitzki, who has been the clear aggressor offensively in the series and especially at home, has seen his free throw attempts fluctuate wildly between home and away. Overall, Nowitzki is 45-of-52 at the free throw line. Jason Terry is next in attempts with 18. Andre Miller leads the Blazers with 21 attempts and LaMarcus Aldridge and Gerald Wallace each have taken 20.

Here's Nowitzki's breakdown: 37-of-41 at home; 8-of-11 on the road.

With Portland's two home wins coming by a combined margin of seven points, how can the Mavs make sure that a lopsided free throw game doesn't stand in the way of clinching the series and a do-or-die Game 7 on Saturday night?

"We've got to continue -- and that's one thing we did well in Game 5, we drove the ball," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We want to make sure we have the right balance of our jump shot setting up our drive and our drive setting up our jump shot. We've got to be a team that has an aggressive mindset to get in the paint. When you do that it helps you get to the free throw line more. It helps you break down the defense, so you can kick and get some open shots and open 3-point opportunities."

Three-guard lineup scrambles, falls short

April, 22, 2011
PORTLAND, Ore. -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle has rolled out a three-guard lineup many times this season and in previous seasons when his team needs an offensive jolt.

So with the Portland Trail Blazers extending a 75-72 lead at the end of the third quarter to 85-74 at the 8:40 mark of the fourth quarter, Carlisle made the move for the first time in the series.

J.J. Barea and Jason Terry had started the fourth with Peja Stojakovic, Shawn Marion and Dirk Nowitzki. Two minutes in Tyson Chandler replaced Marion and then 1:20 later Jason Kidd checked in (a little earlier than usual) for Stojakovic. That lineup (with the exception of Brendan Haywood replacing Chandler who fouled out at the 7:24 mark) would stick together until the final minutes of the 97-92 Game 3 loss.

They didn't get the job done.

Dallas scored 20 points in the fourth quarter, shot 41.2 percent (and just 1-of-4 from beyond the arc), their worst quarter of the game, and was just 5-of-10 from the free throw line.

"We were in a deficit so we needed play-making and attackers out there," Carlisle said. "When you do that, you have other things that come into play."

The three guards accounted for nine points on 3-of-7 shooting from the field and 2-of-4 from the free throw line with Barea being the only one to get there. Terry was 10-of-13 from the floor in the game, but 1-of-3 in the fourth quarter. Still, the Mavs managed to close an 87-74 deficit with 8:05 to play to 95-90 with 42.9 seconds left and 95-92 with 12.9 to go.

Defensively, the Mavs held the Blazers to 38.9 percent shooting. And it wasn't the guard mismatches that propelled Portland. Their quiet forwards got into the act with Gerald Wallace and Nicolas Batum, who had combined for two points through three quarters, scored 12 of 22 points. Andre Miller was the only Portland guard to score in the fourth with four points.

Carlisle on Dirk: 'One of the toughest . . .'

April, 20, 2011
DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki shot 51.7 percent this season, the best mark of his career, and averaged 23.0 points, his lowest scoring average since the 2003-04 season.

Through two playoff games against the Portland Trail Blazers, Nowitzki is shooting 38.1 percent, which would be a career playoff low, yet he's averaging 30.5 points, which would be a career playoff high.

How is that possible?

Aggression. That's right. Hard, physical drives by Dirk Nowitzki.

The 7-footer is taking the action to the Blazers, particularly in the fourth quarter when the Mavs start to go to him exclusively. He's not settling for step-back jumpers. He's battling LaMarcus Aldridge one-on-one, toe-to-toe and taking him to the rack. And it's paying off handsomely at the free throw line where Nowitzki is near perfect.

"I was real frustrated there for a minute," Nowitzki said. "But, hey, the fourth quarter, you’ve got to forget what happened the first three quarters and keep attacking. I made a strong move there right away and got two free throws right away at the start of the fourth, just like the first game. That always helps me get my rhythm."

In the two games, Nowitzki is 28-of-30 from the line. No player on either team has taken more than 12 free throws and he's the lone player on either team to attempt double-digit free throws in both games. In a head-to-head comparison of power forwards, Nowitzki has outscored Aldridge at the foul line 28-9 overall and 19-3 in the fourth quarter.

"Our main thing is trying to keep him off the free throw line," Blazers forward Gerald Wallace said. "It's tough when he's making shots and he's getting to the free throw line. Either or, you can't give up both."

While Nowitzki's overall shooting percentage is low, his fourth-quarter shooting has been mostly on-target. He's 6-of-11 from the floor and 1-of-1 from 3-point range. It was a clutch one from the corner that helped the Mavs pull away in Game 1. Mostly, Nowitzki has put his head down and gone to the basket.

It's a brand of toughness that Nowitzki doesn't always get credit for, but Carlisle said it's nothing new to him.

"I think he's one of the toughest guys I've ever been around, no question," Carlisle said. "I played several years with [Larry] Bird, [Kevin] McHale, [Robert] Parish, Dennis Johnson, those guys. He's right up there with those guys, what he's been able to do. You check his record his record in the playoffs, there aren't many guys in the history of the game that are up in that stratosphere of productivity, and games won."

Mavs succeed in cutting out the alley-oop

April, 20, 2011
DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks shored up some problem areas from Game 1. First on the list was reducing the number of Portland Trail Blazers alley-oops, which stood at six in Game, five to LaMarcus Aldridge.

Those dunks accounted for 15 percent of Portland's offense, but in Game 2, the Mavs limited the high-flying play to one. Aldridge slammed it home late in the first half and that was that.

"We took a way five lobs, which helped," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.

Those lobs in Game 1 helped to give Portland a massive 46-18 advantage in points in the paint. That category evened out in Game 2 with Portland still winning it, but by only a 38-36 margin.

The Blazers did take advantage of several leak outs and after made baskets as well, led by Gerald Wallace. Game film on Wednesday morning will re-focus on transition defense.

"Now we're going to have to take them down on transition points," Carlisle said. "Every game they're going to find another way to get us and we're going to find ways to get them. Even though they're a low-possession team, Portland is very clever at running out, not only after misses but after makes."



Monta Ellis
19.5 4.6 1.1 32.1
ReboundsT. Chandler 10.4
AssistsM. Ellis 4.6
StealsD. Harris 1.3
BlocksB. Wright 1.5