Dallas Mavericks: Kevin Garnett
If Tim Duncan is classified as a center, is Dirk or KG the best power forward of their generation?
It’s a discussion that has plenty of room for nuance. For now, let’s just look at the numbers.
Games: Garnett 1,336, Nowitzki 1,123
Points: Garnett 25,364, Nowitzki 25,361
Points per game: Nowitzki 22.6, Garnett 19.0
Rebounds: Garnett 13,944, Nowitzki 9,190
Rebounds per game: Garnett 10.4, Nowitzki 8.2
Assists: Garnett 5,250, Nowitzki 2,958
Assists per game: Garnett 3.9, Nowitzki 2.6
Blocks: Garnett 1,980, Nowitzki 1,056
Blocks per game: Garnett 1.5, Nowitzki 0.9
Steals: Garnett 1,755, Nowitzki 981
Steals per game: Garnett 1.3, Nowitzki 0.9
Field-goal percentage: Garnett .498, Nowitzki .475
3-point percentage: Nowitzki .382, Garnett .277
Games: Garnett 131, Nowitzki 128
Titles: Nowitzki 1, Garnett 1
Finals appearances: Nowitzki 2, Garnett 2
Points: Nowitzki 3,321, Garnett 2,518
Points per game: Nowitzki 25.9, Garnett 19.2
Rebounds: Garnett 1,458, Nowitzki 1,314
Rebounds per game: Garnett 11.1, Nowitzki 10.3
Assists: Garnett 455, Nowitzki 329
Assists per game: Garnett 3.5, Nowitzki 2.6
Blocks: Garnett 181, Nowitzki 118
Blocks per game: Garnett 1.4, Nowitzki 0.9
Steals: Garnett 169, Nowitzki 139
Steals per game: Garnett 1.3, Nowitzki 1.1
Field-goal percentage: Garnett .477, Nowitzki .463
3-point percentage: Nowitzki .380, Garnett .283
All-Star appearances: Garnett 15, Nowitzki 11
MVP: Nowitzki 1, Garnett 1
NBA Finals MVP: Nowitzki 1, Garnett 0
Defensive Player of the Year: Garnett 1, Nowitzki 0
All-Defensive team: Garnett 12 (9 first-team), Nowitzki 0
All-NBA: Nowitzki 12 (4 first-team), Garnett 9 (4 first-team)
Player of the Week: Garnett 20, Nowitzki 15
Player of the Month: Garnett 9, Nowitzki 6
REGULAR SEASON HEAD-TO-HEAD
Points per game: Nowitzki 23.1, Garnett 22.7
Rebounds per game: Garnett 11.9, Nowitzki 8.3
Assists per game: Garnett 4.5, Nowitzki 2.1
Blocks per game: Garnett 1.2, Nowitzki 0.8
Steals per game: Garnett 1.3, Nowitzki 0.7
Field-goal percentage: Garnett .518, Nowitzki .468
3-point percentage: Nowitzki .397, Garnett .294
Wins: Nowitzki 19, Garnett 16
Points per game: Nowitzki 33.3, Garnett 24.0
Rebounds per game: Garnett 18.7, Nowitzki 15.7
Assists per game: Garnett 5.0, Nowitzki 0.7
Blocks per game: Garnett 1.7, Nowitzki 1.3
Steals per game: Nowitzki 3.0, Garnett 1.7
Field-goal percentage: Nowitzki .526, Garnett .429
3-point percentage: Nowitzki .727, Garnett .500
Wins: Nowitzki 3, Garnett 0
DALLAS -- Dirk Nowitzki passed Kevin Garnett on the NBA's all-time scoring list, at least for one night.
Nowitzki moved by Garnett for 14th on the list after making a free throw with 3:03 remaining in the first half of the Dallas Mavericks' game Monday night against the Denver Nuggets.
Garnett, a 19-year veteran in his first season with the Brooklyn Nets, has 25,352 career points.
Nowitzki, who has spent all 16 of his NBA seasons with the Mavs, entered the night trailing Garnett by nine points.
It's possible that Nowitzki and Garnett could trade places on the all-time scoring list again Tuesday night, when the Nets have a road game against the Toronto Raptors. The Mavs' next game is at home Wednesday night against the Golden State Warriors.
However, it's likely that Nowitzki will create some distance between himself and Garnett on the all-time scoring list throughout the course of the season. Nowitzki was averaging 20.9 points per game this season before Monday night. Garnett is averaging a career-low 6.5 points per game with the Nets.
Kobe Bryant, who ranks fourth all-time with 31,617 points, is the only active player higher on the scoring list than Nowitzki and Garnett.
Alex English (25,613 points) would be the next retired player bumped down a spot by Nowitzki, who has already passed Jerry West and Reggie Miller this season.
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. |
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.
Jason Terry, the man coach Rick Carlisle refers to as Mavericks royalty, received a standing ovation when he checked into the game but never made much of an impact for the Boston Celtics. Playing in Dallas for the first time since essentially being forced to leave in free agency, Terry was held to eight points on 3-of-9 shooting and had as many turnovers as field goals.
“It was a good feeling, but I was solely locked in on the game,” Terry said of the warm welcome from Mavs fans. “It was good to see everyone, but I’m a Celtic now.”
It’s been a tough week for Terry. People are still buzzing about LeBron James’ and-1 dunk over him Monday. He went scoreless in Wednesday’s loss to the New Orleans Hornets. And he was a nonfactor against his former team, when he had about 100 friends and family members in the stands.
“We have great respect for Jet and what he can do in a game,” Carlisle said. “I think our guys just gave him the respect he deserves and really played him hard. They just tried to make it tough. He got some shots. I’m not going to say we shut him down or anything like that, but guys battled him all night and that’s what we needed to do.”
Terry exchanged postgame hugs with Mavs owner Mark Cuban, Carlisle and a few former teammates, but he wasn’t in a good mood after the Celtics’ third straight loss.
“All I was worried about was getting a win,” Terry said. “We have to end this road trip on a good note. Right now we’re just not getting it done.”
A few more notes from the Mavs’ bounce-back game:
1. Dirk’s workload: Rick Carlisle considers Dirk Nowitzki’s recent low shot totals “an overblown conversation” – and Dirk concurs -- but the coach posed one question when asked about the subject.
“Did he have more shots than Mike James?” Carlisle said.
James – 2-7 FG, seven points, six assists
Dirk – 8-15 FG, 22 points
“That’s good. That’s good,” Carlisle said. “It’s an awareness that we have to have. You guys can all see what happens. When we slow down and start calling plays, teams lock into us. It’s a harder game for us to play because of how we’re set up. We have to have an awareness. We have to involve Dirk in as many things as we possibly can without having to call plays.
“A lot of attention is on the point guards for that, but really it’s a responsibility for everybody on that.”
A big part of it is on Nowitzki, especially when the Mavs succeed at pushing the pace.
“I ran to the box a little more early in transition,” he said. “That’s what I’ve got to do if things are not going well. When our flow is going well and we’re scoring, then I’m fine. We can swing it and pick and roll it. But if I feel like it’s getting into a hole a little bit, then maybe I just have to run to the box and demand the ball a little bit more.”
2. OJ vs. KG?: It’s nothing new for Nowitzki and Kevin Garnett, the league’s premier jaw-jacker, to exchange a little trash talk.
But O.J. Mayo got involved this time, stepping between the two (along with a ref) and telling Garnett, “Back off my man!” Not that Nowitzki noticed.
“He said he had my back,” Dirk said, “but I’ve got to look at the film to make sure he was actually there.”
As far as the KG-Dirk trash talk, Nowitzki called it “nothing” to some of the on-court conversations over the years between the two legends, power forwards who will get to the Hall of Fame with completely different games.
“He’s the man. He’s just a fierce competitor,” Nowitzki said. “We had a few words there, but actually if you go way back, we got into it more than it was today. That was the soft version.”
Nowitzki could have reminded Garnett of their lone playoff meeting, when the Mavs swept the T-Wolves in three games with 23-year-old Dirk putting up 30-15, 31-15 and 39-17, but it didn’t come up in the heat of Friday’s moment.
Mayo (10 points, nine assists) also managed to get the last word on Garnett. After hitting a dagger 3, a mismatched Mayo stole a pass intended for a posted-up Garnett with a little more than a minute remaining, then made sure KG knew about it.
3. Matrix reloaded: Welcome back, Shawn Marion.
After eight games out due to a strained calf, Marion was up to his old tricks, putting up 11 points and a game-high 13 rebounds in 31 minutes. He also was the key to keeping Paul Pierce (16 ponts) in check and guarded St. Patrick’s Day star Jeff Green (10 points) in spots.
“I was able to do a lot of things I normally do,” Marion said.
That’s good news to the Mavs, whose recent rebounding struggles turned around, beating the Celtics by double digits on the glass.
“We missed his abilities as a basketball player,” Carlisle said. “He’s one of our best athletes. His activity is something you can’t duplicate with any other normal player. He’s just a very unique guy.”
Oh, and Dirk Nowitzki got a lot more looks, too.
With all due respect to Dirk -– and apologies to Jason Terry, whose American Airlines Center return was ruined -– this was Brandan Wright’s night.
Wright got a spot start Friday night and responded by making a major impact in the Mavs’ 104-94 win over the Boston Celtics, leading all scorers with a season-high 23 points and grabbing a season-high-matching eight rebounds.
Meanwhile, Nowitzki got his most shots in a week, scoring 22 points on 8-of-15 shooting.
It’s a mutually beneficial frontcourt pairing on the offensive end. There’s no question that Wright, who attempted a career-high 16 shots from the floor and made all but two of his 10 buckets from within five feet of the hoop, gets great looks because of the attention defenses must pay Nowitzki on the perimeter. And Wright’s success around and above the rim creates more space for Dirk to work in the midrange.
“We play well off each other,” Nowitzki said. “We complement each other pretty well.”
Added Wright, whose 62.2 field goal percentage would rank third in the league if he had enough attempts to qualify: “[Our games] fit perfect together. He’s working the 15-20-foot range and I can work inside of that. When his man is hugging up on him and they’re cheating over with my guy, I can get around the rim and make plays.”
It’s a combination that has had tremendous success in a small sample size this season. The Nowitzki-Wright duo is tied for the second-best plus-minus (plus-87) among Dallas duos, behind only Nowitzki and Vince Carter.
However, coach Rick Carlisle has played Wright with Nowitzki for only 213 minutes this season, according to the NBA’s stats. By comparison, Nowitzki has been paired with Elton Brand for 508 minutes (minus-3), Chris Kaman for 347 minutes (minus-63) and even rookie Bernard James for 128 minutes (minus-7).
This was only the second time this season Wright and Nowitzki started together. The other occurrence was a win over the Houston Rockets earlier this month.
Why not play Wright and Nowitzki together more often? Carlisle is concerned about the slight, 6-foot-10, 210-pound Wright, whose rebounding problems made him a fringe rotation player for much of the season, being overpowered by traditional centers while playing next to Nowitzki.
That wasn’t a concern against the Celtics, who start Kevin Garnett at center and play a lot of smallball.
“It’s his kind of game because there was a lot of small guys out there,” Carlisle said of Wright, who is averaging 12.3 points and 5.9 rebounds in 24.3 minutes per game in March. “That was the reason we started him. He navigates well in an athletic game without a lot of bruisers in it. He played huge for us.”
Added Nowitzki: “When he uses his athleticism, he’s a force for us. This was a game that was right up his alley.”
Those aren’t exactly votes of confidence that Wright can have similar success Sunday against the Utah Jazz’s four-man big rotation, headlined by 6-foot-10, 265-pound Al Jefferson. It’s extremely unlikely that Brand, the Mavs’ best banger, will get a DNP-CD for the second straight game and second time this season.
Wright, however, makes a case that he can be effective against the bruising bigs.
“We’ve got to run,” Wright said. “That’s what we’ve got to do. We don’t want to slow it down with those guys and get into a half-court type of game.
“We can expose those guys. We feel like we can attack them. When we get in those type of grinding games, that’s just not our strength as a team, period. If we can get up and down, we’ll be in good shape.”
With the way Wright’s been rolling, maybe he ought to get a chance to prove himself right.
|ESPN Insider Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons & Durrett to talk about the Mavericks' big win and if Rick Carlisle should be considered for NBA Coach of the Year. |
“What we’re seeing now with Dirk is what we can expect to see next year and the year after, if he stays healthy,” Mark Cuban said. “And the year after that.”
Three more years of All-Star caliber play from a power forward who turns 35 this summer?
"At least," Cuban said.
“I’m not sure about all that,” Nowitzki said. “We’ll just have to wait and see. Hopefully I can finish this season strong and have a good summer like I basically did last year with a lot of lifting and running and hopefully not have a setback with a surgery. We’ll see how consistent I can be again next season.”
It’s only been a couple of months since Nowitzki was wondering whether he wanted to keep playing after his contract expires next summer. He recently declared that he’d stick around through at least the 2015-16 season, but Nowitzki openly discussed making a transition from go-to guy to a role player in the years to come.
But Cuban can’t see Nowitzki as a role player, not even if the Mavs succeed in their year-old mission to acquire a legitimate star to pair with him, if not remove the burden of the franchise from the future Hall of Famer’s shoulders. Not for the next few years, at least.
“Is Kevin Garnett a role player? Is Tim Duncan a role player?” Cuban asked rhetorically. “Do you think Tim Duncan is going to be a role player next year? You think Kevin Garnett is going to be a role player next year? And those guys are based more on athleticism than Dirk is, you know?”
Cuban’s point: If Dirk’s peers as legendary power forwards of this generation can be All-Stars at 36, as Duncan and Garnett were this season, why can’t Nowitzki?
Duncan and Garnett both returned to the All-Star Game this season, a year after their decade-plus-long streaks of appearances were snapped at least in part due to knee problems that tend to pop up a decade and a half into a heavy-minute NBA career.
Garnett’s production has dipped in recent years, but he’s still a force for a perennial playoff team. Duncan’s numbers are down, too, but that’s primarily because his playing time has decreased. On a per-minute basis, there’s not much difference between Duncan’s production now and in his prime, and his Spurs are still contenders.
The talent and work ethic of players such as Duncan, Garnett, Nowitzki, Kobe Bryant, Paul Pierce and Steve Nash gives them a chance to keep playing at a high level deep into their thirties. Advances in fields such as sports medicine, nutrition and strength and conditioning increase their odds to enjoy success as NBA old-timers.
“Just because of the technology, guys can stay healthy longer,” Cuban said. “The science of dieting and health is just completely different than when we let Nash walk nine years ago. I think it’s just a different animal.”
That’s why Cuban is counting on at least a few more years of the same, ol’ Dirk.
“I don’t have any doubt,” Mavericks owner Mark Cuban said. “There’s no doubt in my mind at all.”
Nowitzki’s streak of 11 consecutive All-Star bids was snapped when the reserve selections were announced this week. That came as no surprise, considering Nowitzki missed the first 27 games of the season while recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery. He continues to try to work his way back into franchise-player form.
There is evidence from this season’s All-Star rosters that supports Cuban’s firm belief that the 34-year-old Nowitzki can return to that level. Two of Nowitzki’s peers, among the best power forwards in NBA history, are All-Stars again after a one-year absence: Boston’s Kevin Garnett, who returns after his 14-year streak was snapped last season, and San Antonio’s Tim Duncan, whose 13-year streak ended last season.
The biggest difference between Nowitzki and those fellow future Hall of Famers is that they’ve made the transition to center and continue to be dominant defenders. Defense, of course, has never been Nowitzki’s strength.
For Nowitzki to be an All-Star again, he’ll need to get back to being one of the league’s most lethal offensive weapons. While Cuban is confident that will happen, Nowitzki just wants to focus on putting in the work to make it a possibility.
“I don’t expect anything,” Nowitzki said. “I have no idea what’s going to happen. I’m going to keep on working. I know I felt a lot better out there [Saturday] and especially in the first half than I have probably all month I’ve been back.
“I have no idea. I’m going to keep on working. Get some rest over the All-Star break, mix in some work and hopefully finish this season strong.”
Nowitzki knows he isn’t putting up anything close to All-Star-caliber numbers, averaging 13.7 points and 5.2 rebounds after missing the first 27 games while recovering from arthroscopic surgery on his right knee. After 11 consecutive All-Star appearances, he fully expects to spend that extended weekend at home.
Kobe Bryant, Tim Duncan and Kevin Garnett (13 each) are the only active players who have been invited to more All-Star games.
“It’s obviously a disappointing streak to end, but it is what it is,” Nowitzki said. “I had fun representing the Mavs all these years, but it was a tough year for me with injuries. I guess those four days I’m going to enjoy and get a good amount of work in as well and get recharged for the second half of the season.
Nowitzki’s streak could have ended last season, when he got off to a slow start and admitted that other power forwards in the West were more deserving, but the coaches voted in him in large part due to their immense respect for his career accomplishments. He ended the season averaging 21.6 points per game, so that All-Star appearance doesn’t look inappropriate.
Nowitzki, a 15-year veteran, has actually participated in every All-Star weekend since he arrived in the league. The NBA didn’t have an All-Star weekend in his lockout-shortened rookie season, and he took part in the 3-point shootouts the next two years before his All-Star streak started.
Of course, there’s always a chance Nowitzki could head to Houston for the 3-point shootout next month. Right, Dirk?
“Uhhhh,” he said with a grin, “no.”
Eight eventful seasons, two NBA Finals appearances and one bold championship run that culminated with an in-your-face barrage against LeBron James will forever solidify Jason Terry as a Dallas Mavericks legend.
|Jason Terry appears to be headed to the Boston Celtics unless the Mavericks match the offer. Coop and Nate weigh in. |
Terry's productive and always entertaining run with the Mavs is over. He is close to agreeing to a three-year deal with the Celtics for the full midlevel exception starting at $5 million next season, according to a source close to the situation. He vowed to give the Mavs a chance to match, but sources say they are unlikely to do so, being more concerned with clearing cap space. Dallas remains on edge as it waits for Deron Williams to decide between a homecoming or re-signing with the Brooklyn Nets.
A second source said that Terry made his decision to join the Celtics with no knowledge of Williams' plans. If Williams were to agree to join the Mavs with Terry still on the market, it would have been highly unlikely that Dallas would have re-signed him. Either way Williams goes now, Terry appears headed for the parquet.
Terry will turn 35 in September and will leave behind one Geritol gang in Dallas for another in Boston, headed by the re-upped Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce, who -- ironically -- for years was debated as the pick the Mavs should have made in the 1998 draft instead of trading for Dirk Nowitzki.
Terry, the 2009 Sixth Man of the Year and fourth on the NBA's all-time 3-pointers made list, gives Boston a legitimate offensive weapon off the bench as the Mavs lose one of the most charismatic, outspoken and beloved players to ever suit up in Dallas.
He could join the all-time 3-point leader, Ray Allen. The Celtics remain interested in re-signing, but Allen has scheduled visits with several teams.
For Nowitzki, free agency has again turned personal. Eight years ago, Nash, his best friend, walked out the door for Phoenix. Now, the only other remaining player from the 2006 Finals collapse and the heartache that followed is about to leave.
"Jet and myself and this franchise, we’ve been through a lot together, some great downs, but also obviously one of the greatest ups ever in our careers and lives with winning the championship and he was a big part of that," Nowitzki said Saturday as free agency began. "I never thought either me or him would wear another uniform in our careers, but if it comes down to it, we all understand it’s a business and if it comes to it, then it’s going to be tough, but we've got to move on.
"Shoot, I lost Steve who was one of my closest friends ever, not only in basketball, and I lost him six or seven years ago and life went on, and we still found a way to win a championship. If that’s what happens with Jet, we’ve got to find a way to move on and wish him luck."
While contracts can't be signed until July 11, it certainly appears it has happened.
Brendan Haywood to create cap space as expected, how would the Mavs fill their huge hole in the middle?
They could just re-sign free agent Ian Mahinmi and pair him with Brandan Wright, but it’s hard to see the Mavs emerging as a legitimate contender without more of a presence at center. There are plenty of options in the free agent market.
A look at the most attractive available big men:
Roy Hibbert (restricted): The 7-foot-2, 260-pound Hibbert has great size and good skills. He’s only 25, so there is still room to grow in his game after he averaged 12.8 points, 8.8 rebounds and 2.0 blocks this season. He’d be by far the best low-post threat ever to be paired with Dirk Nowitzki. But the Pacers have the right to match any offer he gets, a ton of cap space and executive of the year Larry Bird calling the shots. If the Mavs get Hibbert, it probably means they’ve significantly overpaid another big man.
Kevin Garnett: The 36-year-old KG sure looks like he has a lot left in the tank during these playoffs. His regular-season minutes must be managed, but Garnett is still a major defensive force and good scorer and rebounder. He’ll take a pay cut after making $21 million this season and almost $300 million in his career, but Garnett won’t come cheap. It’s hard to see the Celtics letting him go when they have a chance to contend.
Marcus Camby: He’s 38 years old and doesn’t offer much offensively any more, but Camby could be an affordable stopgap solution. He’s still a defensive presence in the paint, averaging 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocks in 22.9 minutes per game last season. Camby becoming a Maverick would probably mean that neither side was satisfied with what they found in the free agency market.
JaVale McGee (restricted): He tends to be comically boneheaded, but he’s a freakish athlete for a 7-footer and is talented enough to put up a 21-point, 14-rebound performance in a playoff win over the Lakers. He’s one of the league’s best shot blockers and finishers, but his basketball IQ hovers around his jersey number. He’s also only 24 years old, with the potential to be really, really good if a coaching staff can ever get through to him. Then again, he also has the potential to make an owner regret signing his paychecks every couple of weeks for the next four years.
Chris Kaman: Dirk’s German Olympic teammate would be the best offensive center in Mavs history, although his .446 shooting percentage for the Hornets last season isn’t exactly appealing. He’s a good post defender and shot blocker. He’s also injury prone, having missed major chunks of four of the last five seasons. How can the Mavs feel comfortable making a major investment in a 30-year-old with that medical record?
Brook Lopez (restricted): He’s a skilled, high-scoring young 7-footer who wouldn’t be a good fit with Dirk. The Mavs can’t afford to have a slow, subpar-rebounding, poor-defending big man on the floor with Dirk, especially if that center is expensive. Lopez missed all but five games last season, but he managed to score 38 points in a win over the Mavs.
Spencer Hawes: He’s a 24-year-old former lottery pick who has had some bright moments as the Sixers’ starting center the last two seasons, although he was injured for much of this year. But his game isn’t a good fit with Dirk’s. He’s a finesse big man who lives on long jumpers and too often doesn’t carry his weight defensively.
Robin Lopez (restricted): He’s 24 years old, stands 7 feet tall and has some experience. He’s a pretty good shot blocker and pick-and-roll finisher, but he’s slow-footed, an amazingly awful passer and a poor rebounder. He’s not a starting-caliber center.
Greg Oden: Oden might not play at all next season. Heck, he might never play again after knee injuries made the big man picked before Kevin Durant a bust in Portland. But the Mavs’ medical staff, which helped everyone forget about Tyson’s Chandler’s injury history, could give Oden his best chance at having a respectable NBA career. It’s worth a minimum-salary flyer to find out if Oden can get and stay healthy enough to become the dominant defensive presence he was expected to be.
Erick Dampier: Just checking to see if you’re still paying attention.
*Steve Nash was back at Dirk Nowitzki’s side during Sunday night’s All-Star Game, but Nash is no longer in the top five in terms of regular-season games played as a Dirk teammate. Jason Terry has played 559 regular-season games alongside Nowitzki for the Mavs, followed by Michael Finley (471), Shawn Bradley (467), Erick Dampier (412) and Josh Howard (411).
*Nowitzki’s run of 11 consecutive All-Star selections is the second-longest active streak in the league. After Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan saw their respective runs of 14 and 13 end over the weekend, Dirk trails only Kobe Bryant’s 14 straight All-Star trips among active players. Dwyane Wade and LeBron James are next in line with eight straight All-Star trips.
*The Mavericks shot 46 percent from the 3-point line in their four-game playoff sweep of the Lakers. In this season’s two meetings? Dallas is shooting just 20.7 percent from long range against L.A.
*The loss to the Lakers in their final game before the All-Star break was the Mavs’ first this season in which they held a fourth-quarter lead at home. That leaves Chicago, Indiana and Oklahoma City as the only teams that haven’t lost at home after leading in the fourth quarter this season.
*Last Wednesday’s game was Kobe Bryant’s 52nd regular-season appearance against Dallas, breaking Bryant’s tie with James Worthy (51) for the most games against Dallas for any Laker.
*The Mavs still narrowly rank as the league’s second-oldest team with an average age of 30.0 … just behind Atlanta’s average age of 30.2.
How it happened: The Dallas defense bounced back from a rare poor performance by shutting down a Boston team that is bad offensively even with Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett.
With Rondo and Garnett unavailable, this was an easy win for the Mavericks over the Celtics, who have lost six of their last seven games.
The Mavs got another dominant performance from Dirk Nowitzki (26 points, 16 rebounds) and a nice night from Jason Terry (16 points, 6-11 FG) and didn’t need much else from an offensive standpoint.
The Mavs, whose 10-game streak of holding opponents to less than 100 points was snapped in Sunday’s loss to the New York Knicks, smothered the Celtics defensively for the first three quarters. Boston had 53 points and 14 turnovers entering the fourth quarter, which was essentially all garbage time.
What it means: The Mavs beat up Boston’s B team. It’s Dallas’ seventh win in eight games, but it’s difficult to give a win over the Celtics any grand meaning when Garnett and Rondo aren’t even in the building.
Play of the game: If there’s such a thing as a dagger early in the third quarter, Dirk’s uncontested 3-pointer from the right wing qualifies. Jason Kidd fired a cross-court out-of-bounds pass to Nowitzki, whom the Celtics somehow neglected to cover. Nowitzki took a dribble, measured the shot and knocked it down to give the Mavs an 18-point lead with a few minutes into the second half.
Stat of the night: Nowitzki and Paul Pierce, the man picked immediately after Dirk in the 1998 draft, were polar opposites in the plus-minus category. Nowitzki was plus-27, Pierce minus-27.
The theft led to a Dirk Nowitzki jumper that was part of 10 consecutive points scored by the big German. He finished the half with 21 points and 10 rebounds.
Sounds like all fun and games, but as poorly as the massively undermanned Celtics are playing, Dallas might think it should be leading by more than 10. Boston, playing without starters Rajon Rondo and Kevin Garnett, plus reserve forward Brandon Bass, are shooting 40.5 percent. The Mavs aren't doing much better at 40.9 percent, which means no one besides Dirk is doing much on the offensive end.
OK, Jason Terry is 3-of-4 with two 3s for eight points.
But, to the point, Dirk is 8-of-18 from the floor and the rest of the team is 10-of-26 for 23 points.
Paul Pierce leads Boston with 11 points. Allen and Texas-ex Avery Bradley have eight points each.
Rondo, who will miss tonight's game and Wednesday's at Oklahoma City, was hit with two technical fouls within five seconds and ejected. Rondo threw the ball at an official and struck him in the chest.
Garnett is not likely to play due to personal reasons. Also, backup power forward Brandon Bass has been nursing an injury.
The Celtics (15-15) have lost three games in a row and five of six.
The Mavericks had their six-game winning streak snapped in a Sunday matinee at Madison Square Garden. The Boston Celtics arrived in Dallas with much bigger problems.
|Chuck Cooperstein recaps the Mavericks' weekend, including their trip to NY against Jeremy Lin. |
Actually, the lack of depth in the Eastern Conference essentially assures the .500 Celtics a playoff berth, but it’ll be a brief postseason in Boston unless things get much better. The Celtics have lost five of their last six games, including two double-digit losses to the 11-22 Detroit Pistons and one to the 9-23 Toronto Raptors.
The Mavs, the NBA’s oldest team, are a surprising 7-3 in the butt end of back-to-back games this season. That record should improve Monday night, despite the familiar, respected name of the foe.
Records: Mavs (20-12); Celtics (15-15)
When: 7 p.m.
Where: American Airlines Center
Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Will the Dallas defense bounce back after one of its worst performances of the season? Boston, even with Rajon Rondo and three 20,000-plus-point career scorers, have been a poor offensive team this season. They rank 26th in the NBA in scoring at 89.5 points per game. The Celtics are 2-13 in games in which they fail to score at least 90 points. Rondo could present problems for Shawn Marion and the Mavs, whose remarkable run of defending quality point guards came to a halt with Jeremy Lin’s 28-point, 14-assist performance Sunday in Madison Square Garden. However, there’s a chance that the NBA office could lock down Rondo, who might face a suspension after being ejected for tossing a ball at a referee during the Celtics’ Sunday loss to the Pistons.
Key matchup: Dirk Nowitzki vs. Boston power forwards: Nowitzki has traditionally torched the Celtics no matter who Boston uses to defend him. He has a career average of 27.0 points per game against the Celtics, his highest against any team. Boston might have to start third-stringer Chris Wilcox, as Kevin Garnett is dealing with personal issues that caused him to miss Sunday’s loss in Detroit and Brandon Bass has a sore left knee. Nowitzki, who blew by Garnett for a game-winning and-1 layup in the Mavs’ victory in Boston earlier this season, enters the game in a pretty good groove even by his Hall of Fame standards. He has 58 points on 19-of-31 shooting in the last six quarters.
Injuries: Mavs – G Delonte West (fractured right ring finger) is out; G Rodrigue Beaubois (personal reasons) is out. Celtics – PF Brandon Bass (knee) is questionable; PF Kevin Garnett (personal reasons) is questionable.
Up next: Los Angeles Lakers at Mavs, 8:30 p.m., Wednesday
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.