Dallas Mavericks: Paul Millsap

Mavericks seek finishing touch

January, 8, 2013

SALT LAKE CITY -- A missing ingredient remains for a Dallas Mavericks team desperate to stop their season from spiraling out of control.

The Mavericks continue to lack a finishing touch in close games.

Marc Stein of ESPN.com joins Ben and Skin to talk about Dirk Nowitzki's current mindset.

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This flaw manifested itself once again Monday night in a 100-94 loss to the Utah Jazz. Dallas held a six-point lead with 6:20 remaining in the fourth quarter only to surrender it for good amid a 13-0 run by the Jazz.

"It's difficult," Mavs forward Elton Brand said. "We're right there. We're playing much better. We've just got to close out games. That's our next step."

A flurry of late-game defensive lapses, bad shots and turnovers kept Dallas from taking that step yet again. The Mavericks had no answer in particular for Jazz sixth man Gordon Hayward, who finished with 27 points, six rebounds, five assists and two blocked shots off the bench. Hayward keyed big Utah runs in both hands and kept the Dallas defense off-balance at key times.

It started when he hit a pair of 3-pointers in the final two minutes of the first half to help even it 53-53 at halftime. Hayward continued his assault in the fourth quarter, intercepting a pass by Dirk Nowitzki and scoring the go-ahead layup during the Jazz's decisive run. Hayward followed that with a 3-pointer to cap the run and put Utah ahead 93-86 with 2:19 left.

"Hayward had a great game," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "He hurt us all night long. He's a very athletic player. He's very skilled and understands how to play. He got us time and time again."

Alec Burks and Paul Millsap also played a part in burning the Mavs late. Burks scored eight of his season-high 13 points in the fourth quarter, and Millsap alternated big defensive plays with crtical baskets to keep Dallas from shutting down the Jazz rally.

Another late collapse wiped out solid efforts from several Dallas post players. Nowitzki matched his season high with 20 points on 7-of-14 shooting. Chris Kaman also sparked the team with 14 points -- all in the first half -- and nine rebounds. Brand chipped in 11 points and nine boards.

Nowitzki felt as if the team couldn't stay composed when the game turned physical as the fourth quarter wore on.

"You've got to at least make a play and get a shot up," Nowitzki said. "It seems like it's always coming back to the same things -- making mental mistakes. Defensively, I thought we battled. We battled one of the most physical teams on the board. We were right there there all night and, down the stretch, there's always something missing unfortunately."

Carlisle felt like the referees allowed Utah to get a little too physical down the stretch, and it played a big role in sapping momentum from the Mavericks.

"They went to thugging it out," Carlisle said. "That's where the game turned. That's when the officiating went their way. They started to get calls. We weren't able to get the whistles."

The Mavericks wove a familiar tale of missed chances. Writing a new chapter will not be possible until they learn how to eliminate mental mistakes late in games and learn how to close games out.

"That separates the good teams or the great teams from the bad teams," Nowitzki said. "They find ways to win ugly games with a couple of big plays down the stretch."

Rapid Reaction: Jazz 100, Mavericks 94

January, 7, 2013

How it happened: Once again, the Mavericks found a way to conjure up another fourth quarter meltdown.

Utah overcame a listless offensive effort with big fourth-quarter contributions from Alec Burks, Paul Millsap and Gordon Hayward. The duo helped spark a 13-0 run over a four-minute stretch that put the Jazz ahead for good in a back-and-forth game.

Dallas started out on the right foot. Chris Kaman was a disruptive force on defense and paced the offense in the first half. He had a team-high 14 points on 5-of-9 shooting through the first two quarters. Creating a cushion against the Jazz was next to impossible, though, because of Hayward. He countered Kaman by connecting on 3-of-4 3-pointers and scoring 18 of his game-high 27 points to help Utah even it up by halftime.

Ben makes a shocking decision and apology as Skin tries to tell you what's wrong with the Mavericks on the Ben & Skin Show.

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The Mavericks kept it up in the third quarter with Elton Brand offering a boost off the bench. Brand had eight points on 4-of-5 shooting and collected four rebounds, playing a major part in a 12-3 run that gave Dallas an 80-72 lead just before the end of the quarter.

Everything quickly unraveled in the final six minutes. The Jazz shot the ball well and played aggressive defense to hand the Mavericks yet another frustrating loss. Dirk Nowitzki did his best to halt Utah's comeback, but his 20 points were not enough to do the job.

What it means: Dallas still hasn't figured out how to close out games. The Mavericks were in control for much of the game before the Jazz rallied down the stretch. If Dallas hopes to reverse a slide that has seen it lose 12 of its last 14 games, better defense and better shot selection in the fourth quarter are crucial starting points.

Play of the game: Seldom used Burks made a clutch shot to fuel the Jazz's go-ahead run. After Brand blocked a shot by Al Jefferson, Burks corralled the ball and let it fly as the shot clock drained to zero. He drilled the 3-pointer to tie it at 86-86. The Jazz went ahead a few seconds later on a Hayward layup and never looked back.

Stat of the night: Burks scored a season-high 13 points -- including eight in the fourth quarter -- to pace the Jazz comeback. The second-year guard has been buried on Utah's bench at times this season, but he looked like a star against a sagging Dallas defense.

Jazz's big men thump Mavs on boards

November, 1, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY -- No one needed to tell Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle that trying to beat the Utah Jazz on the glass would be a tough task.


Which game is more indicative of the Dirk Nowitzki-less Mavericks?


Discuss (Total votes: 2,465)

After the Mavericks lost to the Jazz 113-94 on Wednesday night, Carlisle came away feeling like it was an impossible mission.

Utah outrebounded Dallas 61-40 through four quarters. All of the Jazz's big men joined in on the fun. Paul Millsap had 15 rebounds to go along with 13 points. Al Jefferson had 14 boards and 12 points. Derrick Favors and Enes Kanter chipped in 10 and seven rebounds off the bench, respectively.

"This is probably the toughest team to deal with on the boards because they come with waves of energy out of their big men," Carlisle said. "We got off to a bad start. I mean Millsap had six offensive rebounds in the first five minutes and it didn't get better from there."

Individually, only Shawn Marion shined in the paint. He pulled down a team-high 11 rebounds for the Mavs. The rest of the team offered little resistance in letting the Jazz have their way down low.

It went a long way to give Utah plenty of extra looks and more chances to put some distance between it and the Mavericks. When it finally happened, Dallas could only look to its struggles cleaning up the glass as a major culprit.

"Everything that could have went wrong, went wrong," Marion said. "It happened and we couldn't bounce back from it."

Rapid Reaction: Jazz 113, Mavericks 94

October, 31, 2012

How it happened: The Dallas Mavericks appeared to have retained some of its magic from the win over the Los Angeles Lakers early after making five straight shots to open the game. The Mavs eventually cooled off after shooting 10-of-16 from 3-point range in the first half, only to see the Utah Jazz heat up and run away with it late in the third quarter.

Jazz newcomers Mo Williams and Marvin Williams did the bulk of the damage in helping their team rally from an eight-point halftime deficit. Mo and Marvin each finished with 21 points, combining to shoot 48.3 percent from the field and 57.1 percent from 3-point range.

It was too much for the Mavs to handle when their own offense went to sleep. Utah outscored Dallas 37-13 in the third quarter after the Mavericks converted just 5-of-22 FG attempts.

Darren Collison and Brandan Wright provided the only bright spots by building on strong opening-night performances against Los Angeles. Collison scored a team-high 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting and dished out seven assists. Wright added 15 points on 7-of-8 shooting.


Which game is more indicative of the Dirk Nowitzki-less Mavericks?


Discuss (Total votes: 2,465)

What it means: Life without Dirk Nowitzki and Chris Kaman is going to provide rocky moments. The Mavs just simply don't have enough frontcourt strength to adequately compete with dominant low-post teams when those two aren't healthy. Utah proved it by controlling the glass for four quarters. The Jazz outrebounded the Mavs 57-35. Paul Millsap (15 rebounds), Al Jefferson (14) and Derrick Favors (10) all reached double figures on the glass. Only Shawn Marion proved able to match that effort for the Mavs with 11 boards.

Play of the game: Mo Williams showed late in the third quarter why the Jazz wanted so badly to bring their former draft pick back into the fold. Williams buried a 3-pointer to break a 74-74 tie. Then, after Gordon Hayward stripped the ball on the other end, Williams drilled another one to ignite a decisive 18-2 quarter-ending run that put Utah ahead for good.

Stat of the night: Dallas won eight straight Halloween night games before Utah brought an abrupt end to the streak Wednesday night.

Pregame Buzz: Mavs face talented Jazz quartet

October, 31, 2012
SALT LAKE CITY -- Forget ghosts and goblins. The Dallas Mavericks are facing something much scarier on Halloween night: Figuring out how to contain an opponent that makes a living around the basket, even while two of their best big men nurse injuries.

The Utah Jazz have a quartet of big men who are as talented as any in the NBA. Al Jefferson is a prolific low post scorer. Paul Millsap is a defensive nightmare. Derrick Favors is the future face of the franchise and Enes Kanter looks like a rising star after an impressive preseason.

"They're a wrecking crew in the paint as always,” Mavs coach Rick Carlise said. “Their stats point to an all-out brawl in there the entire game. They're extremely effective.”

The Mavs must find a way to gain an upper hand in that brawl without either Chris Kaman or Dirk Nowitizki in the lineup. That's where Elton Brand and Brandan Wright come into the picture. Both did a serviceable job in Dallas' 99-91 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Tuesday night. Brand had eight points and 11 rebounds in 36 minutes. Wright scored 14 points and collected five boards and three blocked shots in 20 minutes.

A similar level of production is crucial if the Mavericks hope to also subdue the Jazz. Carlise feels confident Brand and Wright can make it happen

“They compliment each other well,” Carlise said. “There's enough length there to compete on the boards. We can get the ball in the basket if we move the ball.”

Wright admits going up against the likes of Jefferson and Millsap is a huge motivator. The Mavs want to prove they can thrive against all types of opponents during Nowitizki's absence.

“You tend to focus more when you play more dominant players,” Wright said. “It's just the nature of the beast. Our coaches do a good job of keeping us involved and keeping us focused on the task at hand."

For Dallas, it will come down to being tenacious on defense and being scrappy on the glass to keep Utah from having its way in the paint for four quarters. Accomplish that and the Mavs can start to feel good about how this team will look when Nowitzki and Kaman finally return to full health.

Could summer superstar-chase approach be shifting?

August, 23, 2012

The long-range plan is to keep the powder dry and wait out a superstar. It's why when Deron Williams chose Brooklyn over Dallas, Mark Cuban and Donnie Nelson didn't get in a bidding war for a player such as Goran Dragic but rather targeted players either on the last year of their current deals or who were open to a one-year contract.

Check out the current roster. Of the five players acquired this summer -- excluding the three rookies that give Dallas eight new faces on the 15-man roster -- all are on one-year deals. O.J. Mayo's reduced-rate contract is technically for two years, but the second year is a player option that he will almost certainly exercise.

One-year deals allow the Mavs to easily create cap space for next summer to chase marquee free agents. But with the 2013 "big fish" free agency class threatening to be a dud with Dwight Howard, Andrew Bynum and Chris Paul all with good reason to stay put, could the Mavs' philosophy be moving away from the rent-a-player approach of these last two offseasons?

After all, how do you sell player jerseys of guys that won't be around but eight or nine months?

"I’m not a big believer in rent-a-players, not in your top seven or eight guys anyways," Cuban said during his Tuesday appearance on ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM's Ben & Skin Show. "I want these guys to stay and develop because they can be a great, young nucleus. The devil you know is always better than the devil you don’t know in basketball, particularly when you have an infrastructure that hopefully can continue to develop these guys. That’s the goal and we still have flexibility then to do sign-and-trades, potentially sign a free agent; just see where it takes us."

Cuban's great, young nucleus comment is in reference to 24-year-old guards Darren Collison, penciled-in to start at point guard, and Mayo, who will start at shooting guard. Collison will be a restricted free agent next summer and can entertain offers from other teams with the Mavs being able to match. Mayo, with a strong year, could get the payday he hoped for this summer. Chris Kaman and Elton Brand will be seeking to play their way to multiyear deals as well, either with Dallas or somewhere else.

The Mavs might be the team to give it to one or all of them, but likely only after they are convinced that none of the superstar free agents will be available to any team but their current one, which can offer one more year and millions more than other teams. And they'll also keep an eye on the bottom line for the summer of 2014, when the Mavs will have no players under contract and could chase multiple potential free agents such as LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Kobe Bryant, Chris Bosh and Carmelo Anthony.

"The blueprint is to say, like a Jet (Jason Terry) scenario, or even Josh Howard’s first year, Marquis’ (Daniels) first year, where it’s not apples to apples, it’s like wow; we want these guys to develop into a D.C. and O.J. tandem that can be a foundation for years to come and we keep them together and we improve and we grow with them and have the ability to continue to add players," Cuban said. "So the optimum scenario is everybody plays great."

And then perhaps instead of gutting the club to chase a Dwight Howard, the team-building focus turns to re-signing their own and chasing, say, a Josh Smith and cohesion.

Wild West: All spots clinched, matchups are not

April, 25, 2012
We take a look at the games that impact the West playoff picture each morning for the rest of the regular season.


Of their potential first-round opponents, who do the Mavs have a better chance of beating?


Discuss (Total votes: 2,237)

Mavs' spot in the standings: Dallas heads into its fourth consecutive day off knowing it will face either the Los Angeles Lakers or the Oklahoma City Thunder in the first round. The Los Angeles Clippers' loss Tuesday locked the Lakers into the No. 3 seed. The Clips are now trying to hold onto the No. 4 seed for home-court advantage in a first-round series against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Jazz 100, Suns 88: Paul Millsap poured in 26 points and Al Jefferson had 18 to secure the final playoff spot and knock Steve Nash out for a second consecutive season. Utah will face the No. 1 seed San Antonio Spurs in the first round.

Hawks 109, Clippers 102: Blake Griffin scored 36 points, but Joe Johnson had 28 to lead the Hawks, who are bearing down on home-court advantage in the first round in the East. The Clips were eliminated from contention for the No. 3 seed in the West and now hope to stave off the Grizzlies for home-court advantage.

Nuggets at Thunder
Clippers at Knicks

If the playoffs started today: Mavs vs. Thunder

Defensive rebounding continues as major flaw

April, 17, 2012
The Mavericks continue to struggle to keep big teams off the offensive backboards and those problems can be directly tied to Sunday's overtime loss to the Lakers and Monday's triple-overtime defeat at Utah.

Just look at the numbers. Against the Lakers and Jazz, Dallas was outrebounded on the offensive glass 29-13 and outscored on second-chance points 31-18. The Mavs lost the two games by a total of six points.

"We were playing with smaller lineups a lot of the night [at Utah] so you're going to be up against it to some degree," coach Rick Carlisle said Monday. "I’d like to outrebound every team. It just doesn’t happen every time."

The Mavs were smaller -- to a degree -- at the end of regulation against the Jazz with 7-foot, 263-pound center Brendan Haywood on the bench. The 6-foot-11, 230-pound Ian Mahinmi was at center with 7-foot Dirk Nowitzki at power forward and Vince Carter at small forward. Dallas led 89-87 with Utah playing to tie on its last possession. Jason Kidd forced Gordon Hayward into a difficult, off-balance shot from the baseline as the clock ticked under five seconds.

What happened next took a comeback win out of the Mavs' hands and led to three overtimes and an eventual Jazz victory.

"Ian helped, which he probably shouldn’t have since Kidd rolled Hayward out pretty good," Nowitzki said. "So then he [Hayward] missed a shot, so then I had [Al] Jefferson and [Paul] Millsap coming at me and I decided to go for Jefferson who was coming high in the lane, and the ball bounced straight to the baseline. That’s where Millsap came. Like I said, we helped and then it was 2-on-1 on the boards and they made us pay."

Millsap, who combined with Jefferson for nine of the Jazz's 14 offensive boards, swooped in from the baseline and slammed in the game-tying basket to force overtime. Jefferson, who tied a career-high with 26 rebounds, nearly won it in the first OT when he snared an offensive board with less than a second to go, but missed the 2-foot tip.

And then there was little-known DeMarre Carroll in the final overtime soaring in and swiping Jefferson's missed jumper with 33.9 seconds to go and the Jazz up by two. The second chance ate up 19 seconds before Millsap got to the free throw line. He made one of two for a three-point lead with 14.9 seconds left.

"We had our chances," Nowitzki said. "If we get that one rebound in regulation the game's over."

W2W4: Mavs not concerned about weary legs

April, 16, 2012

SALT LAKE CITY -- The Mavericks are coming off their highest minutes game across the board of the season with five players logging at least 37 minutes, led by Dirk Nowitzki going 43 and Jason Kidd hitting 39, his first venture of more than 35 minutes.

What is wrong with Dirk? He was terrible against the Lakers. Would bringing back Tyson Chandler have made any difference? Ben still says that this is a "ghost ship" season. Skin said the Mavs aren't title contenders.

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"We're a veteran ballclub, so we all, I think, know what we have to do to prepare," Kidd said.

The Mavs initially planned to have a morning shootaround at Salt Lake City because of Sunday's game being played early in the afternoon. The team arrived in Salt Lake City in the early evening, but coach Rick Carlisle opted to forgo the shootaround and give the club a few extra hours of rest.

After Sunday's overtime loss to the Lakers, Kidd said he would expect to play tonight against what will be a desperate Jazz team that is 21-8 at home and could find itself out of the playoff mix with its next loss. Kidd sat out Friday's game at Portland, the second of a back-to-back, two games into his return from a strained right groin.

The Mavs enter tonight's game tied with Denver in the loss column and with one fewer loss than Houston. The Nuggets and Rockets face off tonight in Houston and then the Rockets go to Dallas on Wednesday. The Mavs hold the tiebreaker over both teams, as well as hard-charging Phoenix, which is just one game back of the Rockets.

Kidd said he's not overly concerned about the club's playoff position.

"What do we have, five games left?" he said. "We win all five, we’re fine."

Records: Mavs (34-27); Jazz (31-30)

When: 8 p.m.

Where: EnergySolutions Arena


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM/1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: Rebounding. The Jazz rank third in the NBA in offensive rebounding, grabbing on average 13 a game, and they're fourth overall in total rebounding. The Mavs' weak link for some time now has been defensive rebounding and giving up way too many second-chance points. The Lakers grabbed 15 offensive boards Sunday and outscored Dallas 18-9 on second-chance points.

Key matchup: Paul Millsap vs. Dirk Nowitzki
Millsap is always a rugged matchup and he's posted some big numbers in recent games. As they did against the Lakers, the Mavs must use their starting center to defend a high-scoring opposing center. Al Jefferson is averaging 19.4 points and that helps Millsap create in other areas. Nowitzki is coming off a 9-of-28 shooting performance at L.A. on Sunday and is lugging around a sub-40 shooting percentage in the past five games.

Injuries: Mavs -- G Rodrigue Beaubois (right calf strain) is questionable. Jazz -- G Raja Bell (left knee) is out; F Josh Howard (left knee) is out; G/F C.J. Miles (left calf strain) is out; G Earl Watson (right knee) is out; F Jeremy Evans (right ankle sprain) is questionable; F DeMarre Carroll (mild concussion) is questionable.

Up next: Houston Rockets at Mavs, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday

Is Dirk Nowitzki's All-Star run in jeopardy?

January, 31, 2012
About this time a year ago, my esteemed colleague Tim MacMahon, contended that Dirk Nowitzki didn't need to be anywhere near the All-Star Game. He argued this because Nowitzki was coming off a right knee sprain that sidelined him for nine games in January, a time in which the team practically went belly-up, and if a championship run was going to be had, the Mavs had to have Nowitzki at full strength.

Nowitzki, who was playing at an MVP level prior to the injury, could simply use the weekend off to rest, MacMahon essentially wrote. And Nowitzki, essentially, ignored the plea. The Western Conference coaches selected him to a 10th consecutive All-Star squad and Nowitzki proudly represented the West. And then he ran roughshod over the league to capture his first championship.

A year later, the tone has changed. It's no longer a question of should he play because of his current knee/conditioning issue, but is his season even worthy of selection among the West's loaded field of forwards?

The suspense of Nowitzki being voted a starter by the fans for the first time in his career never materialized. Los Angeles Clippers forward Blake Griffin quickly filled the void left by Carmelo Anthony's defection to the Eastern Conference. Starters will be announced Thursday night and the all-Oklahoma City duo of Thunder superstar Kevin Durant and Griffin, an OKC native, have those spots sewn up.

The issue facing West coaches in selecting the seven reserves is what to do with Dirk? The reigning NBA Finals MVP and an All-Star mainstay would typically be a no-brainer selection based on history, even if his numbers aren't quite up to typical standards.

However, Nowitzki has had a most unusual season that now includes a mid-season, week-long hiatus and behind-the-scenes personal training camp, plus the lowest marks since his rookie season in scoring average (16.7), rebounds (5.8) and shooting percentage, both overall (44.8) and behind the arc (20.0).

Last year's All-Star team included Nowitzki, Tim Duncan and Griffin selected as reserve forwards with Kevin Love officially handed the forward-center tag and Pau Gasol granted a spot at center (Yao Ming was voted the starter, but was injured and later retired).

We know this: coaches are not going to leave Portland Trail Blazers forward and Dallas native LaMarcus Aldridge off the team after last season's snub. Mavs coach Rick Carlisle has said he voted for Aldridge and had no idea how he didn't make the team. Aldridge is averaging 22.6 points and 8.8 rebounds and he will be wearing an All-Star uniform for the first time in Orlando on Feb. 26.

Love, the Minnesota Timberwolves' double-double machine, is averaging 25.5 points and 13.5 rebounds and is another lock.

Memphis' Rudy Gay (17.8 ppg, 6.2 rpg), Utah's Paul Millsap (17.1, 9.4) and Gasol (16.6, 9.5) are all candidates. And what about Danilo Gallinari (17.9, 5.3) with Denver? The Nuggets have the second-best record in the West at the moment and might not possess an All-Star.

Of course, if Nowitzki doesn't get in, the defending champs will almost assuredly not be represented at the NBA's showcase event, and that seems highly unlikely. If he does get in, it could come at the expense of a more deserving younger player.

The number of players selected at guard (for instance, Deron Williams is now in the East and Manu Ginobili is injured) and center (which will include Andrew Bynum as a starter and perhaps Marc Gasol as a reserve) will also play a role.

Not everyone can get in. There's always snubs. Perennial All-Stars tend to get the nod and particularly ones that are also the reigning Finals MVP. But, in this most unusual, lockout-delayed season, Nowitzki has followed suit with a most unusual and unexpected one.

Will it cost him an 11th consecutive All-Star selection? If it does, don't expect Nowitzki or owner Mark Cuban to protest too loudly. For them, the ring is the only thing.

Reserves will be announced on Feb. 9.

Is Rodrigue Beaubois best shot blocker?

January, 28, 2012

DALLAS -- How is it that the shortest guy on the team is the Dallas Mavericks' best shot blocker?

It starts with the 6-foot-2 (and that might be a stretch) Rodrigue Beaubois' insanely long arms. He is making mid-air swats on opponents attempting to drive, as he did Friday night in flicking away Devin Harris' baseline penetration. But he's also getting more than his share of blocks on perimeter jumpers.

That's all about good defensive positioning and timing. Last week at Utah, Beaubois got his right arm fully extended and blocked 6-foot-8 forward Paul Millsap's jumper at the point of release. On Friday against the Jazz, Beaubois did the same to guard Earl Watson. Beaubois then tapped the ball forward to Jason Terry, who flew in for an uncontested layup.

That block was just one of a career-high four on the night for the third-year guard, who has 11 blocks in the last five games and 15 on the season. He ranks second on the team in total blocks, just three fewer than 7-foot starting center Brendan Haywood and two more than Beaubois' buddy, 6-foot-11 backup center Ian Mahinmi. Beaubois, though, has logged 156 fewer minutes than Haywood and 126 fewer than Mahinmi.

"God gave me long arms and I'm just trying to use it," Beaubois said. "Sometimes I am going to block shots, sometimes I don't. But when I can I am going to do my best to block shots."

At this rate, Beaubois' .83 blocks-per-game average will soon exceed Haywood's team-best .90 average. Beaubois also has 20 steals on the season. That ranks fifth on the team in total steals, but first in steals per minute played.

As equally impressive is that Beaubois is creating turnovers without fouling. This has been a major issue for him over his first two seasons and particularly last season after he finally returned from the broken left foot. It wasn't surprising for Beaubois to pick up two quick fouls and find himself back on the bench.

He still has a fairly high number of fouls (29) for his minutes played, but he hasn't had more than three in a game since the second game of the season, and he hasn't been nailed by cheap, quick fouls in succession that force him to sit.

"My first year I was fouling a lot and it's something that the coaches tried to talk to me about, something I needed to get better at," Beaubois said. "I'm just trying to play defense without fouling, using my length without touching the guy too much and just trying to get better with it."

W2W4: Mavs' D looks to get it back together

January, 27, 2012

DALLAS --In their seven home games prior to Wednesday's 15-point loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Dallas Mavericks allowed an average of just 80.1 points a game.

And then Ricky Rubio and Kevin Love paced the T'Wolves to 105 points, dropping Dallas' surprising strong defense from third to fourth in the league, but still giving up fewer than 90 points a game.

"We didn’t compete at a high enough level," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "We competed. It wasn’t at the level we needed to be at. Look, we took a dip [Wednesday] night. We took a step back in some areas. [Thursday was] all about getting that resolved and understanding that we’ve got to get it back up."

Next up is the surprisingly hot-starting Utah Jazz, who will play just their sixth road game of the season. The Jazz dropped a physical, hard-nosed game to the Mavs at their place a week ago and will be looking for payback against a vulnerable Dallas team that will be without Dirk Nowitzki (sore right knee) for a fourth consecutive game, but might get Vince Carter (sprained left foot) back.

The Mavs, 7-3 at home, haven't dropped consecutive games on their home floor since the first two days of the season.

"It’s a different kind of team," Carlisle said of the Jazz. "[Wednesday] night was almost all pick-and-roll. There was a little bit of post-up stuff, but not much. [Tonight] it will be very post-up oriented with [Al] Jefferson and [Paul] Millsap.

Records: Jazz (10-6); Mavs (11-8)

When: 7:30 p.m.

Where: American Airlines Center


Radio: ESPN Dallas 103.3 FM; 1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: It seemed the Mavs on Wednesday night were finally going to snap their habit of early hot shooting only to watch their shooting percentage gradually drop and drop and drop until finishing up in low 40 percentile. It didn't happen. Dallas shot 52 percent in the first quarter against the Timberwolves and finished at 41.1 percent. Dallas is now 23rd in the league in shooting percentage. Such consistently low shooting percentages puts heavy pressure on the defense to shut down the opposition every night, a very tough task against good teams. Right now, Utah certainly falls in that category.

Key matchup: Paul Millsap vs. Lamar Odom
With Dirk Nowitzki still on the mend, the spotlight is on Odom to produce. In his last two games starting for Nowitzki, Odom has been benched. The Mavs desperately need the reigning sixth man of the year to show up on both ends of the court. Millsap has the ability to control a game and Odom will be challenged to ratchet his intensity to a level he has yet to show this season.

Injuries: Jazz - G Raja Bell (knee, back) is questionable; C Al Jefferson (right ankle) is questionable. Mavs - F Dirk Nowitzki (sore right knee) is out; G Vince Carter (sprained left foot ) is questionable.

Up next: San Antonio Spurs at Mavs, 5:30 p.m., Sunday

W2W4: Jazz are playing a nifty tune

January, 19, 2012

Entering their 16th game of the season, the Dallas Mavericks are looking to avoid their second three-game skid of the season while trying to secure only their second win against a winning team.

The Utah Jazz, which includes former Mavs Devin Harris and Josh Howard (who is expected to sit tonight with a strained left quad), have made a remarkable recovery after a sluggish start, winning eight of 10, three in a row and seven of eight at home.

Records: Mavs (8-7); Jazz (9-4)

When: 9:30 p.m.

Where: EnergySolutions Arena


Radio: 103.3 FM ESPN; 1270 AM (Spanish)

What to watch: The Mavs have twice been the victim of final-possession game-winning shots and now must summon the energy and discipline to defeat the league's hottest team. If the Mavs continue to shoot in the low-40 percent range it is going to be very difficult to dig out a win. Dallas ranks 22nd in the league in shooting at 43.0 percent.

Key matchup: Paul Millsap vs. Dirk Nowitzki
The Mavs put Brendan Haywood on Blake Griffin Wednesday night against the Clippers and let Nowitzki handle center DeAndre Jordan,who doesn't present much of an offensive game beyond catching the occasional lob pass. Nowitzki likely won't have that luxury tonight against the Jazz because center Al Jefferson (18.0 ppg, 8.9 rpg) is a highly skilled offensive big man. So that likely pits Nowitzki against the 6-foot-8, 253-pound Millsap, who is on an absolute tear. He is averaging 15.9 points and 8.4 rebounds on the season, but in his last four games he has averaged 23.3 points and 9.8 rebounds.

Injuries: Mavs - G-F Vince Carter (sprained left foot) is out. Jazz - F Josh Howard (strained left quad) is doubtful; F-C Derrick Favors (sprained left ankle) is questionable; G Jamaal Tinsley (dermatitis) is questionable.

Up next: Mavs at New Orleans Hornets, 7 p.m., Saturday

Mavs persevere, but kinks persist

March, 27, 2011
SALT LAKE CITY -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle called Saturday's 94-77 win against a depleted Utah Jazz team that led 70-68 with 6:21 to play a "great game."

In this case, great is relative.

"I felt like we were watching the NCAA tournament. At the end of the third quarter, it was 60-58," forward Shawn Marion said. "I was like, 'Whoa.' But, at least we hit 90."

But even Marion went on to say that it was a great win and a great way to start a six-game road trip that continues Sunday night at the Phoenix Suns.

"I thought we looked good. Besides the turnovers, we did good," Marion said. "It was a halfcourt game. It was a grind. It was a possession game throughout the whole time until we got that last six-minute stretch and we just opened it up. We did what we had to do to get the win."

The Mavs finally looked like a team serious about starting the playoffs in three weeks with a whirlwind final 6:21. It took shape with a lineup that may not have played together all season, and might never hit the floor together in a playoff game. Yet the three-guard lineup of Jason Kidd, Jason Terry, J.J. Barea, plus Marion and Tyson Chandler, finally fuel-injected the Mavs, who weren't thrilled by being pushed at home by the Minnesota Timberwolves just two nights earlier.

Playoff ready? Well, Carlisle and the Mavs, who are 6-5 in their last 11 games with three straight wins over lottery-bound teams, touted Saturday's game as a playoff-type slog -- physical, grinding and tight -- that they can carry forward.

"This is what we need," Carlisle said. "I mean this is a playoff-style game and very emotional. It's all about hanging in there."

If the 26-7 finishing kick is what Carlisle had in mind when he preached the importance of persistence heading into this season-long road trip, then chalk this one up as a momentous step forward. And maybe it will be a springboard to better basketball for a team trying to re-discover its edge and identity as the playoffs creep closer.

But it certainly wasn't pretty. There were 19 more turnovers -- five in the first half on offensive fouls -- that Utah only managed to turn into 12 points. The good news is only seven came in the second half when the Mavs played better defense, held the Jazz to 30 points and 30.8 percent shooting.

The pessimist will point out that the Jazz started a lineup of Earl Watson, Raja Bell, C.J. Miles, Paul Millsap and Al Jefferson. Devin Harris and Andrei Kirilenko were out with injuries as Utah fell for a fifth consecutive time and dropped their 17th home game at what was once one of the most intimidating venues in the NBA.

The Mavs again could not seize a lead and continually fell behind against an undermanned opponent, and managed just 15 points in a brutal third quarter in which the Jazz scored only 13. Both teams combined for 10 field goals and nine turnovers.

The optimist will point out that the Mavs (51-21) found a way to win when they didn't have it going offensively much of the night. Dallas won for only the 12th time this season when scoring less than 100 points (12-27). The Mavs hadn't held a single opponent under 80 points all season and now have done it twice in the last three games (holding Golden State to 73 points a week ago). And, it is the first time in franchise history to sweep a four-game season series from the Jazz. Energy Solutions Arena has been a house of horrors in the past.

"Tonight the level of intensity was like the playoffs, but as far us just getting out and getting a good lead on them, it wasn't happening for us, so that was kind of frustrating," said Jason Terry, who had a game-high 22 points on just seven shots. "But, there in the fourth quarter we locked in on both ends of the floor and did what we had to do to get the win."

Against better teams it might have been too late to salvage. For now, the Mavs have a game at Phoenix, an off-day Monday and a practice Tuesday in the desert, then a game at the Los Angeles Clippers on Wednesday to straighten out issues before another huge test against Los Angeles Lakers on Thursday. Again, that game could ultimately give the Lakers the No. 2 seed, or put Dallas on the brink of taking it back.

But before then, the fact of the matter is Dallas is finally fully healthy and just now working in another new lineup with Marion starting and Peja Stojakovic coming off the bench. Rodrigue Beaubois continues to try to find a comfort level and Carlisle is searching for stability with the rotation and roles.

That was blown out of the water early because of foul trouble to multiple players.

"We've got 10 games left and we've got to work through that," Kidd said. "But, we're a veteran ballclub and we understand that, again, we put ourselves in that position [against the Jazz] by turning the ball over. But, once we took care of the ball and got shots, we started to push forward and got a little breathing room."

The only problem is it took 41 1/2 minutes to do it.

Something must give with streaking teams

December, 3, 2010

The Utah Jazz have undergone some changes. Carlos Boozer and Kyle Korver defected to Chicago. But, in came big Al Jefferson and veteran agitator Raja Bell, and the Jazz might be better than ever.

With arguably the league's best point guard, Deron Williams, running the show, the Jazz are off to a 15-5 start, have won seven in a row and are always one of the most difficult road games for the Dallas Mavericks to leave a winner.

Also riding a seven-game win streak, the Mavs (14-4) will shoot for their first win at Utah in six games tonight in what should be an action-packed showdown at 9:30 p.m. (ESPN). Utah has won four straight at home. The Mavs are 6-1 on the road.

"They're winning games and we are, too," Mavs forward Caron Butler said, "so it should be a good one."

Utah has won 10 of the last 13 over Dallas at home and have had a habit of breaking out to fast starts, working their crowd into a lather while putting the Mavs on their heels. And, of course, strange things seem to happen in Utah. In successive years, Dirk Nowitzki left Salt Lake City with a one-game suspension. In 2007, a rough takedown of Andrei Kirilenko under the basket got Nowitzki suspended, but not ejected. The next season, an incident with Matt Harpring got him ejected and suspended.

Harpring no longer plays for the Jazz, but the always antagonistic Kirilenko does, although his new-look, long, stringy hairy makes him difficult to recognize.

'"They're always one of the best teams in the West, obviously well-coached," Nowitzki said. "They always play hard there, their fans are great, so it's definitely a great test for us. But, if we can just keep doing what we're doing we should be all right. If we defend well, get the rebounds and then spread the ball around, let everybody touch it, let everybody score, we're a tough team to beat."

The Mavs had serious interest during the offseason in dealing for the 6-foot-10 Jefferson, but the Minnesota Timberwolves preferred the Jazz's offer that included no salary dumps. The Mavs were determined to ship Matt Carroll and his overpriced salary in any trade. So Jefferson is with the Jazz and is averaging 16.8 points and 8.7 rebounds. He and Paul Millsap (18.4, 8.5) form a tough-to-handle combo at the 4-5 positions.

Dallas ended up trading Carroll's salary and Erick Dampier to Charlotte for 7-foot-1 center Tyson Chandler, and the Mavs are pretty happy with how that's worked out.

The Jazz make their first visit to Dallas in eight days, but in this first of four meetings, the Mavs are expecting a Jazz team to be at their high-energy, agitating best.

"They make you play on every single possession and in many cases they make you play 22, 23 seconds," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "You can never relax against this team."



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