Mavericks: Jeremy Lin
|ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to talk about the Mavericks and what it might take to fix their problems. |
Those 1999-2000 Mavs finished the season with a 31-19 run, setting the foundation for the franchise’s dozen-year playoff run that will almost certainly end in six weeks.
Let’s be optimistic and assume these Mavs, who are seven games under .500 with a little more than a quarter of the season remaining, manage to end this frustrating season strong. Is there anything that can happen down the stretch that could benefit the Mavs in the future, much like their last losing season?
AP Photo/John RaouxDarren Collison has continually ceded crunch-time minutes and doesn't really seem like a long-term fit with the Mavs.
And that might be the most frustrating part of this miserable season. The Mavs aren’t experiencing growing pains that could pay off next season. They’re just passing time.
There was a ton of talk about potentially developing the backcourt of the future this season with 25-year-old rentals Darren Collison and O.J. Mayo. Mark Cuban and Rick Carlisle continue to dangle that carrot, but it’s extremely hard to envision that being a reality.
If the Mavs see Collison as their point guard of the future, why did he lose his starting job to a point guard they recruited out of his rocking chair earlier this season? And, after Derek Fisher’s departure, why does Collison keep losing crunch-time minutes to a different graybeard point guard that was called up from the D-League?
The Mavs and Collison just don’t seem to be a long-term fit. As far as Mayo goes, that probably depends on the market this summer for the Mavs’ leading scorer whose decision-making and defense have repeatedly drawn Carlisle’s wrath.
The rest of the Mavs’ one-year men are a collection of complementary players, not building blocks, at this point of their careers. They’re essentially financial placeholders, and the vast majority (if not all) of them will be on another team’s payroll next season.
Any hope for a major Mavs rebound would arrive this summer, not be foreshadowed in the final 23 games.
“We went for a big fish last summer,” Nowitzki said. “We didn’t get him, so we decided to go that route with a lot of one-year deals, so the situation could be completely different next year. We’re going to make this push for the playoffs and see what happens this summer.”
The Mavs’ foe for this home-and-home series also looks forward to seeing what happens this summer. However, the Houston Rockets are somewhat reminiscent of the ’99-00 Mavs, albeit with a better record and a good shot at making the playoffs.
The Rockets have managed to put together a tremendous young nucleus while almost totally turning over their roster since last season. Chandler Parsons, the second-year second-round pick who scorched the Mavs for 32 points in Sunday’s rout, is the only player remaining from Houston’s roster last season.
Houston GM Daryl Morey has done a masterful job collecting assets, cashing in many of them to acquire a bona fide, 23-year-old superstar (James Harden) and surrounding him with a strong young supporting cast (center Omer Asik, 26; point guard Jeremy Lin, 24; small forward Parsons, 24; power forwards Donatas Motiejunas, 22; power forward Thomas Robinson, 21, combo guard Patrick Beverley, 24). And the Rockets have the cap space to recruit a co-star this summer.
The Rockets are several steps into their rebuilding plan.
The Mavs’ rebuilding plan begins again this summer.
OK, it can’t get much worse than Sunday’s defensive debacle, when the Rockets torched the Mavs for 44 points in the third quarter en route to a 136-103 blowout.
|ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to talk about the Mavericks and what it might take to fix their problems. |
The Mavs are actually excited about the scheduling quirk of having a home-and-home series with the Rockets, who will be American Airlines Center visitors Wednesday night. It’s an opportunity for Dallas to at least partially restore its defensive dignity.
The Mavs were embarrassed by their sloppy, uninspired, pathetic performance Sunday night, as they should be. For the last two days, they have had to live with the shame of allowing 57.5 percent shooting from the floor, 41.2 percent 3-point shooting and 40 free throw attempts.
“I don’t think you wash the taste out of your mouth from a loss like that,” said Elton Brand, who strangely didn’t play a second during that miserable third quarter. “You let it linger and use that as kind of motivation.”
What went wrong for the Dallas defense in Houston? In a word, everything.
More specifically, the Mavs failed miserably to keep Jeremy Lin (21 points, nine assists in 25 minutes) and James Harden (21 points, seven assists in 30 minutes) out of the paint and Chandler Parsons (32 points, 12-13 FG) from getting a lot of great 3-point looks and easy dunks and layups.
“It’s an individual challenge,” Shawn Marion said. “I think some people are able to do it more than others, of course, but at the same time, you still have to take the challenge of just doing it. …
“It ain’t hard if you’re putting the effort out there. When you put the effort out there, good things happen for you. You’ve got to go out there and compete. We didn’t and it showed.”
Dirk Nowitzki thinks the Mavs’ season-long defensive woes, which hit a low Sunday, are a little more complicated.
“We’re missing coverages,” Nowitzki said. “Sometimes it takes us too long to think ahead and get in our coverages and call out our coverages. We have to protect the paint better. We haven’t really done a great job all season. Usually when our man-to-man was struggling, we could always rely on our zone, but that isn’t even good this year. We’ve got to make our man-to-man work and call out the coverages early and execute the coverages.”
Generally speaking, the Mavs must improve every facet of their defensive game to avoid looking like the Washington Generals again.
The reality, however, is that Dallas’ 12-year postseason streak is on its deathbed.
Really, there shouldn’t be any shame to that. It was a remarkable run that featured 11 50-win seasons, two Finals appearances and one title. All great things must come to an end.
Granted, the San Antonio Spurs might be an exception to that. They’re about to win 50 games for the 14th consecutive season. The last time the Spurs failed to win at least 50, they celebrated the first of their four NBA titles, parading down the RiverWalk after Tim Duncan’s lockout-shortened sophomore season.
It’s been a hard fall for the Mavs over the past 21 months. They’ve gone from the NBA penthouse, popping a $90,000 champagne bottle in a Miami Beach club while celebrating the franchise’s first title, to the Lone Star State cellar.
And the Mavs have their work cut out for them if they’re going to catch the Rockets, much less the Spurs, anytime soon.
The Spurs' ability to sustain excellence is unparalleled in today’s NBA. That will be tested when Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili call it a career, but it’d be foolish to doubt a franchise with the league’s best coach (Gregg Popovich) working with a brilliant front office.
The Rockets, who have won only one playoff series since two-time champion Hakeem Olajuwon left town, appear poised to soar again soon.
After three frustrating years of being better than .500 but not good enough to make the playoffs, Houston general manager Daryl Morey made a breakthrough move just before this season started. He acquired the bearded face of the franchise, James Harden, in a blockbuster deal with the Oklahoma City Thunder.
The 23-year-old Harden, who is averaging 26.3 points and 5.7 assists per game, has proved to be a legitimate superstar after getting out of the shadows of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. He’s surrounded by a good, young supporting cast that is locked into reasonable contracts (26-year-old center Omer Asik and 24-year-old point guard Jeremy Lin) or rookie deals (small forward Chandler Parsons, power forward Donatas Motiejunas, power forward Thomas Robinson, etc.).
And the Rockets will have the cap space to be major players in free agency again this summer, when they can potentially acquire a co-star for Harden.
Of course, there are no guarantees for Houston, which will have to fight to stay in the playoff picture with the Los Angeles Lakers making a charge. There have been many young teams that looked great on paper that fizzled out, but Houston has an excellent plan and has already executed several steps.
The Mavs, on the other hand, have a plan that has been publicly questioned by its superstar, the lone player on the roster who is a sure bet to still be a Dallas resident in two years. As Dirk Nowitzki has said several times, this is a big summer for the Mavs.
Much work must be done for the Mavs to approach the high standard they established over the past dozen years.
This isn’t a franchise that will be satisfied to fight for eighth place in the West or settle for third place in the state of Texas.
But, there's no guarantee any of the Big Three make it to free agency. That's the risk of the overhauled Mavs strategy under the new collective bargaining agreement. Or, take Paul as an example: He could opt to enter free agency solely to gain the extra fifth season and more money that he can't get by signing an extension and ultimately stay with Lob City partner Blake Griffin and the Clippers.
So what if next July rolls around and there's simply no superstars to chase?
Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson will have difficult decisions to make. This summer, they chose not to eat up next summer's cap space by not chasing players such as Goran Dragic (signed four-year, $34 million deal with Phoenix Suns). Instead, they loaded up one-year contracts that will expire and leave behind cap space to make a superstar pursuit possible in '13.
But if there are no superstars to pursue, then do the Mavs chase the next level of player who would, theoretically, snap up cap space in the summer of '14?
For instance, a tier below the Big Three next summer are potential free agents Josh Smith, Paul Millsap, David West, Al Jefferson, Monta Ellis and Andre Iguodala (the latter two have early termination options).
It will also be an intriguing summer for restricted free agents. Those players can seek and sign offers from other teams and then their current teams have three days to match. The new CBA can throw a wrench into the negotiations as seen with Jeremy Lin and Omer Asik. Both players signed offer sheets from the Houston Rockets, who used the "poison pill" option to increase the players' salary three-fold in the third year of the deal, going from $5 million in the first two seasons for both players to $15 million in the third.
The offering team, the Rockets, is allowed to pay the average of the total contract ($25 million in the cases of Lin and Asek) over the three years, so just more than $8 million per season. Ultimately, the New York Knicks passed on Lin and the Chicago Bulls passed on Asek because of the third-year balloon payment that would wreak havoc with their payrolls and potentially carry unwanted luxury tax repercussions.
The Portland Trail Blazers offered Indiana Pacers free agent center Roy Hibbert a max offer sheet of four years at $58 million. The Pacers ultimately agreed to match to keep their big man, but those decisions can be difficult when looking at the bottom line.
The list of restricted free agents next summer is tantalizing: James Harden, Serge Ibaka, John Wall, Stephen Curry, Brandon Jennings, and Tyreke Evans are the headliners. The Mavs' own Darren Collison will also be restricted.
If the Mavs don't land a superstar in '13, they'll have to decide if they value any of the unrestricted or restricted free agents enough to make an offer, knowing that if they do they could jeopardize their ability to continue their superstar search in the summer of '14.
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.
Jason Kidd took a look at the two rosters and decided only one gave him a legitimate chance to contend.
That's why Thursday the 39-year-old point guard walked away from the Dallas Mavericks' three-year, $9 million offer and agreed to a similar deal with the New York Knicks.
|Jason Kidd talks about how close Deron Williams was to playing in Dallas, how he can help the Knicks next season and more. |
Kidd said he talked to Dirk Nowitzki, who is touring Europe, to seek his blessing.
"Dirk, I talked to him and he totally understood," Kidd said, "which helped me make my decision."
Kidd expects the Knicks match the Houston Rockets' offer for restricted free agent Jeremy Lin. Kidd said he told coach Mike Woodson that he is open to coming off the bench, just as he planned to do if he had joined forces with his first preference, Deron Williams.
"I talked to coach and I told him whatever he needs," Kidd said. "He doesn’t have to worry about it. I’m not 25 years old and I don’t need the fireworks when my name is called for the starting lineup. I just want to be in there at the end of the game to try to help the team win, understanding that the last six minutes in an NBA game is where you make your name. So hopefully I’m in there trying to help my guys win."
As for his buddy Williams, who spurned the Mavs' four-year, $75-million max offer to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets for five years, $98 million, Kidd reiterated his belief that Williams was torn and at one point said he was leaning toward his hometown team. But, Kidd said, the Nets' roster moves, in particular the trade for Joe Johnson, convinced him to stay.
"If he had to make the decision after he had an eagle at Atlantic Country Club he would have signed with Dallas. That’s how close it was," Kidd said. "He really wanted to go back home and that’s when I asked him after he had an eagle. That was the best time to ask; he was in a great mood so it wasn’t like he was upset or anything, so he said, 'Look, if I had to make this decision it would be Dallas today.' I think when he saw the roster, I think he felt if Dirk went down, it would be a long season."
A source said the Mavs had a second round of talks with Sessions' agent and that the Rockets are now in play for the 6-foot-3 guard seeking a starting job and the security of a multiyear deal.
Dallas failed to bring Deron Williams into the fold in the first week of free agency and watched Plan B, Steve Nash, go to the Los Angeles Lakers in a trade. On Thursday, Jason Kidd decided not to re-sign with the Mavs after coming close to a three-year agreement and instead chose to head to the New York Knicks, leaving Dallas with the vacancy in their starting lineup.
The Rockets lost Goran Dragic in free agency to Phoenix and then traded Kyle Lowry to the Toronto Raptors. Houston made a lucrative offer to Knicks restricted free agent Jeremy Lin, but the Knicks are expected to match.
Sessions, 26, was traded from Cleveland to the Los Angeles Lakers in March. He opted out of the final year of his contract that would have paid him $4.55 million next season.
It is positively a legitimate question now that the Knicks' hopes of trading for Nash are dashed. Earlier Wednesday, Kidd said his priority was to work out a deal to stick with Dirk Nowitzki and the reshuffling Mavs. But that was when signs pointed heavily to Nash landing in New York.
But with Nash stunningly going Hollywood (and here's the real kicker: The Lakers slide Nash into the trade exception created when they traded Lamar Odom to the Mavs), the Knicks will absolutely match any offer made to restricted free agent and Mavs target Jeremy Lin (they were expected to, even with Nash in play) and push hard to bring in the 39-year-old Kidd.
Here's what Kidd must weigh: Re-sign with Dallas and a roster that now only includes Dirk, Shawn Marion, Brendan Haywood and spare parts Rodrigue Beaubois and Dominique Jones from the 2011 title team, or finish out his career at Madison Square Garden setting up Tyson Chandler, Carmelo Anthony and Amare Stoudemire, and mentoring Lin, a fellow Bay Area native.
It's not clear if the Mavs are offering Kidd more than one year, but the Knicks most certainly will.
Kidd's vision of teaming up with friend Deron Williams next season was dashed with Williams' five-year commitment Tuesday to the Nets. Meanwhile, Kidd is hoping to have a deal wrapped up with the Mavs in a day or two. He was not available Wednesday night to respond to the rapidly shifting landscape and the potential ripple effect.
While Western Conference teams around the Mavs get stronger, Dallas has yet to add a single player in free agency and declined to match the Boston Celtics' three-year, $15 million offer to Jason Terry.
Meanwhile, the next point guard of interest around the league, Goran Dragic, is being hotly pursued by the Suns, and reports have the Charlotte Bobcats ready to make an offer.
If Kidd opted to leave Dallas for New York, where he could set up shop at his recently purchased house in the Hamptons, the Mavs would be staring at a point guard position made up combo guards Beaubois, Jones and last week's draft pick, Jared Cunningham. Delonte West remains an option to re-sign.
As the Knicks are sure to ramp up their efforts to land Kidd, so too will Dallas, which simply can't afford to lose him now if simply from a morale factor that threatens to leave Nowitzki looking around and wondering what just happened.
If he isn't already.
The Dallas Mavericks' point guard priorities are now shifting to 39-year-old former Mav Steve Nash and one-time Mavs Summer League hand Jeremy Lin, according to ESPN.com's Marc Stein.
New York Knicks' Lin, a restricted free agent, but that they are undecided regarding Houston Rockets free agent Goran Dragic, who visited the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday and could command a starting salary of $10 million. The Knicks can match any offer made to Lin.
It appears the Mavs are set to lose shooting guard Jason Terry to the Boston Celtics, who have offered the veteran a three-year deal for more than $15 million. Terry's departure and Deron Williams' decision to re-sign with the Brooklyn Nets on Tuesday could open the door for combo guard Delonte West to re-sign with the Mavs.
West, who played in Dirk Nowitzki's charity baseball game Saturday and held a basketball camp in Fort Worth on Tuesday despite not being under contract, said he does not know what other teams might have interest in signing him. West said he is seeking a multiyear deal after playing on one-year, minimum contracts the last two seasons.
"Looking for a team to pay me what I'm worth, not a cent more," West said.
The NBA Sportsmanship Award, designed to honor a player who best represents the ideals of sportsmanship on the court, is voted on by NBA players. The NBA will announce the winner after the regular season.
The other regional winners are Cleveland’s Antawn Jamison, the Los Angeles Clippers’ Chris Paul, Miami’s Shane Battier, Minnesota’s Luke Ridnour and New York’s Jeremy Lin.
Former NBA players Greg Anthony, John Crotty, Antonio Davis, Eddie Johnson and Kenny Smith selected the six divisional winners from a pool of 30 team nominees. Each team nominated one of its players for this award.
The annual award reflects the ideals of sportsmanship -- ethical behavior, fair play and integrity -- in amateur and professional basketball, a key focus of the league’s NBA Cares program efforts.
ALL-TIME NBA SPORTSMANSHIP AWARD WINNERS
Inaugural: Joe Dumars (1996)
1996-97: Terrell Brandon, Cleveland
1997-98: Avery Johnson, San Antonio
1998-99: Hersey Hawkins, Seattle
1999-00: Eric Snow, Philadelphia
2000-01: David Robinson, San Antonio
2001-02: Steve Smith, San Antonio
2002-03: Ray Allen, Seattle
2003-04: P.J. Brown, New Orleans
2004-05: Grant Hill, Orlando
2005-06: Elton Brand, Los Angeles Clippers
2006-07: Luol Deng, Chicago
2007-08: Grant Hill, Phoenix Suns
2008-09: Chauncey Billups, Denver Nuggets
2009-10: Grant Hill, Phoenix Suns
2010-11: Stephen Curry, Golden State
Three games in three nights and Jason Kidd is ready to roll. In all three.
"That’s what the plan is," Kidd said. "Why not? We’ve got to try to win all three of these games."
Why not? Because ever since the schedule came out, everyone's speculated which of the three games Kidd would sit out for his own survival. Because in two weeks, he'll turn 39 and by the time he gets through Thursday night's game at Phoenix, Friday's at Sacramento and takes the floor in his hometown of Oakland for Saturday's tip against the Warriors, he'll be playing his fifth game in six nights and ninth in 12. He'll practically be ready to keel over.
Matthew Emmons/US PresswireJason Kidd, who scored a season-high 15 points Tuesday, plans to play in all three games of the Mavericks' back-to-back-to-back.
A clean sweep against three of the Western Conference's bottom four teams would certainly turn momentum on this current 2-4 stretch in the nine-in-12. Overall, the Mavs have lost six of nine. But, Tuesday's home win over the Knicks served as a huge bounce-back from Monday's tough loss at Oklahoma City.
The Mavs, playing without centers Brendan Haywood (sprained left ankle), who may or may not play Thursday, and Brandan Wright (concussion), who did not make the trip, took the action to the Knicks. One night after getting to the free throw line just 10 times, and complaining about it, the Mavs got there 30 times Tuesday.
They built a big lead, played solid defense and rallied to withstand a New York flurry.
"In the midst of what we're going through right now in terms of frequency of games," coach Rick Carlisle said, "this is as good a win as we've had in a long time."
And it was as good a game as Kidd has played in a long time, as if he was inspired by playing against 23-year-old sensation Jeremy Lin, who grew up in Palo Alto following Kidd's career. Averaging career lows by far, 5.4 points and 5.6 assists, Kidd hit double-digits for just the third time all season and it was just the fourth time he made at least three 3-pointers and the sixth time he made at least half of his 3-point attempts in a game.
And now comes the grinder of three games in a row, something Kidd hasn't done since the lockout-shortened 1999 season with Phoenix, which he vaguely remembers.
"We played all three Texas teams," he said.
Almost. The first of two trifectas started at home against Denver and then went to Houston and San Antonio. How'd he hold up then as a seven-year vet? How do two triple-doubles sound in the first and third games to go 2-1? And check out the three-game averages: 18.7 points, 11.3 assists and 10.6 rebounds. Here's the most remarkable number: Kidd averaged 40.7 minutes.
Those games came in the opening couple weeks of the 50-game season.
The second triple-header came along in late March, starting the day after he turned 26. They were Kidd's 27th, 28th and 29th games of the season. This set seemingly took more of a toll as his stat line went from 23-10-7 to 13-8-8 to 11-6-6 in an average of 40.0 minutes a game.
Tonight's game will be Kidd's 31st of the season and his 15th since returning from a strained right calf, his second injury of this hyper-drive, 66-game schedule. He won't play nearly as minutes as back in the day. But, what about one more triple-double for old-time's sake?
"The body feels good," said Kidd, halfway through his 18th season. "So we’ll see what happens with these three."
Tuesday night it was the Knicks turn.
The Knicks were upset at two non-calls: A possible walk by Dirk Nowitzki, which drew a technical foul on Tyson Chandler for arguing, and Jason Kidd not getting whistled for a flagrant foul on Jeremy Lin.
In the fourth quarter with the Knicks down 86-78, Nowitzki made a six-foot fadeaway with 2:27 to play. After the basket, Chandler and Knicks coach Mike D’Antoni complained about the non-call.
"He traveled on that last shot by the way," Amare Stoudemire said. "I saw the replay."
D'Antoni said Nowitzki traveled at the start and end of his move to the basket.
The other call that bothered the Knicks came in the third quarter.
On a drive to the basket, Lin was knocked to the floor after taking a blow to the head by Kidd. A foul was called on Kidd, but D’Antoni picked up a technical for wanting a flagrant foul called.
"Anytime you just get clobbered in your face, they had to look at it," D’Antoni said, alluding to the referees' failure to look at a replay to determine if a flagrant foul should have been called. “I don’t even mind them looking at it and thinking maybe not. But to ignore it is kind of tough and I deserve the technical, and it’s probably one of those things where they didn’t see it. Maybe it was quick where they didn’t see it. I wanted to protect our guys."
The Nowitzki non-call might have upset the Knicks even more.
Nowitzki had a quiet first half, scoring just four points while going 1-of-8 from the field.
"I knew that wasn’t going to last," D’Antoni said.
Nowitzki scored 24 of his game-high 28 points in the second half, which included 11 in the fourth quarter as the Mavericks survived losing a 14-point fourth quarter lead to win, 95-85.
"It’s never really a shutdown when you’re playing a great player,” said Stoudemire, who led the Knicks with 26 points. “It’s always going to be a battle of two halves. In the first half, we did a great job of containing him. Second half he was able to get it going a little bit, a couple of open shots, a couple of touch shots, a couple of travel shots...he played well."
DALLAS – Linsanity gained lot of believers the last time the Knicks faced the Mavericks.
There has only been one point guard to really light up the Mavs since Shawn Marion became the primary defender of that position. That was Lin, who had 28 points and 14 assists to lead the Knicks to a win over the defending champions in a nationally televised Sunday afternoon matinee at Madison Square Garden last month.
Tyson Chandler laughed after the game when he recalled how his former Mavericks teammates told him they had a plan to shut down Lin, the sudden phenom.
“I guess they were dead wrong in the scouting report,” Chandler said.
Or maybe Marion just had dead legs, which he admitted was a major issue the next week.
We also might not see the Lin-Matrix matchup nearly as much this game. Rodrigue Beaubois, who was on a personal leave during the Mavs’ trip to New York, will take his turns guarding his former summer league teammate. And Carmelo Anthony is back for the Knicks, so Marion might spend most of the night defending the perennial All-Star small forward.
“That's my guess,” Lin said of the Melo assignment for Marion. “We’ll just be ready for whatever they throw out at us. I think he’s a great defender. I actually didn’t think he did a bad job. He forced me into a lot of tough shots. I know he got some fouls and a lot of times he was attacking the pick, it wasn’t necessarily him. Whatever they throw at us we have to be ready for.”
The Mavs better be more ready for Lin than they were last month.
Records: Mavs (22-17); Knicks (18-19)
When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
TV: FSSW/NBA TV
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: The Mavs, losers of five of their last six games, desperately need a win but might not have much gas in their tank after last night’s down-to-the-wire loss to the Oklahoma City Thunder. Dirk Nowitzki played 38 minutes, Jason Terry 37 and Marion 36. Will they have enough life in their legs to finish strong if this game goes down to the wire? And can the Mavs figure out how to execute down the stretch even if the energy is there? They haven’t been good in clutch situations all season and have been awful lately, a reversal of the trend during their title run.
Key matchup: Mavs bench vs. Knicks bench – Dallas prides itself in being one of the deepest teams in the league, but the Knicks bench destroyed the Mavs bench last month at Madison Square Garden. Steve Novak lit it up for 14 points in 23 minutes. J.R. Smith had 15 points in his Knicks debut. Lamar Odom was especially dreadful for the Mavs, who were outscored by 17 in Odom’s 20 minutes. The Mavs’ bench is shorter than usual because of injuries, but there’s no reason the Knicks' reserves should be a dominant force.
Injuries: Mavs – C Brendan Haywood (sprained left ankle) is questionable; G Delonte West (fractured right ring finger) is out; C/PF Brandan Wright (concussion) is out. Knicks – G/F Bill Walker (elbow) is out.
Up next: Mavs at Phoenix Suns, 9:30 p.m., Thursday
"We've got 32 left and this stretch right after the break is critical obviously -- nine games in 12 days," Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Galloway & Co. on Friday. "I don't know if that kind of stretch has ever happened. It's happened some this year with teams and this will be the first for this franchise and it's going to be tough, but it's a challenge I'm looking forward to."
Heading into the break Carlisle said he would tell his troops to enjoy the time off and come back ready to roll.
This week starts the much-talked-about nine-in-12 sequence that ends next week with the lone back-to-back-to-back of the season. As for this week, it includes four games in seven nights packed into two home-road back-to-backs.
Here's a look:
Tuesday: vs. New Jersey Nets (10-25), 7:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: FSSW/ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Welcome back Avery Johnson. Welcome home Deron Williams? The Colony native is high on the Mavs' wish list this summer. And wondering whether Williams will address his pending free agency and his desires is about all the intrigue that the Nets' visit should provide. Now, if the Mavs come out of the break sluggish, they could be dealt an ugly setback coming off Wednesday's home loss to the Lakers. Seven of New Jersey's 10 wins have come on the road, including recent victories at Chicago (without Derrick Rose) and at the Knicks. Still, these guys are 2-8 in their last 10.
Wednesday: at Memphis Grizzlies (19-15), 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: FSSW/ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: This is where things should get interesting. Once upon a time, the Grizzlies couldn't beat the Mavs, never, ever. The tables have turned recently and the young Grizz are a bona fide threat in the West. When (if?) Zach Randolph returns they'll be downright dangerous. The Mavs come into town on the second night of a back-to-back while the Grizzlies will be waiting to resume their season following the All-Star break. They're 13-5 at FedEx Forum and have won seven of 10 overall. None were of landmark quality, but confidence is brimming.
Friday: at New Orleans (8-25), 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: FSSW/ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: The Hornets can jump up and sting, just ask Jeremy Lin. New Orleans went into the break having won four of six games with the victory at Madison Square Garden being the feather in their cap. They don't score much, but they don't give up much either, and the Mavs' big men better keep an eye on Chris Kaman (17.7 ppg, 9.0 rpg last seven games). The Hornets are actually better on the road than at home (3-14), so the Mavs, after a day of rest, need to bear down and make sure they pad their record against a team they should beat.
Saturday: vs. Utah Jazz (15-17), 7:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: FSSW/ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: The wayward Jazz will make their way to Dallas after two home games against Houston and Miami. They face the Mavs the night after playing the Heat. A Utah team that lost 10 of 13 heading into the All-Star break has plummeted out of the playoff mix. The reunion of Devin Harris and Josh Howard just hasn't clicked. With both teams on the second night of a back-to-back and both traveling, this is one in which the Mavs must defend their turf against a spiraling club that is 3-11 on the road.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast ESPN NBA analyst Jalen Rose joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to talk about the NBA playoffs.
Play Podcast Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle gives his take on the contrasting styles of the Pacers and Knicks, Carmelo Anthony, Bulls-Heat, Tom Thibodeau, the state of the West and more.
Play Podcast Chuck Cooperstein joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to talk about who he would rather have if forced to choose between Dwight Howard and Chris Paul.
Play Podcast Tim MacMahon joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to discuss the possibility of Chris Paul joining the Mavericks and break down what kind of pitch Mark Cuban would have to make to the NBA's best point guard.
Play Podcast ESPN.com senior NBA writer Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to touch on the storylines in the NBA playoffs and offer a Mavs perspective.
Play Podcast Rick Carlisle joins Chuck Cooperstein and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Mavericks' disappointing season and what needs to happen for them to get back to the playoffs.
Play Podcast Donnie Nelson joins Chuck Cooperstein and Tim MacMahon to discuss the Mavericks' season and the importance of this summer.
Play Podcast Rick Carlisle joins Galloway & Company to discuss the Mavericks playing after being eliminated from playoff contention, whom he wants to keep for next season and much more.