Dallas Mavericks: Stephen Curry

Heartbreaker ends Mavs' homestand

April, 2, 2014
Apr 2
12:23
AM CT
DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks took one last punch to the gut, courtesy of the Golden State Warriors, before finally heading back on the road.

[+] EnlargeDirk Nowitzki
Glenn James/Getty ImagesDirk Nowitzki's 33-point, 11-rebound performance wasn't enough to lead the Mavericks over the Warriors.
Sickening as it might have been to see Stephen Curry's pull-up jumper splash through the net with a tenth of a second left on the clock, the 122-120 overtime loss Tuesday night seemed a fitting way to wrap up the Mavs’ marathon homestand.

There was a lot of heartbreak during the longest homestand in franchise history. Fighting for their playoff lives, the Mavs split the eight games at the American Airlines Center, suffering three losses in overtime and blowing a late lead in the other L as well.

“All four losses that we took were just brutal, just gut punches,” said Mavs star forward Dirk Nowitzki, whose 33-point, 11-rebound performance wasn’t good enough to lead the Mavs to a win. “If we pull out one or two somehow, I think it’s a decent homestand. But we didn’t.

“Somehow down the stretch, we just seem to always make a little mistake, and good teams make you pay. A 4-4 homestand was not what we’re looking for, but we’ve got to keep fighting.”

A win over the Warriors would have given the Mavs sole possession of seventh place in the Western Conference, just a game behind Golden State. Instead, the loss dropped Dallas to ninth, a half-game behind the Memphis Grizzlies and Phoenix Suns for the final two playoff spots.

That’s how much these games matter for the 44-31 Mavs, who leave Wednesday for a four-game West Coast swing that starts with back-to-back games against the Staples Center squads.

The margin of error for the Mavs is miniscule. And the Mavs, as well as they played offensively for most of the homestand, made some massive crunch-time errors.

“We’ve made poor decisions,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “We haven’t done what we needed to do to get stops. We’re paying the price.”

Case in point: Warriors sharpshooter Klay Thompson was wide open for a game-tying 3-pointer with 1:01 remaining in regulation. Carlisle might have been the closest Mav to Thompson at the time.

Big man DeJuan Blair had switched onto Thompson, but figured that the Dallas defense wasn’t designed for a 260-plus-pound dude to chase a shooting guard more than 20 feet. It appeared that Blair expected Mavs stopper Shawn Marion to pick up Thompson as he ran past, but that memo never got to Marion.

It was an inexcusable defensive breakdown for a veteran team that made upgrading its basketball IQ a major priority over the offseason. But it wasn’t uncharacteristic. The Mavs made several similar mistakes this homestand and many more over the course of the season.

“Late in the game, you can’t have that,” said sixth man Vince Carter, who was on the bench at the time. “Can’t have it. We’ve just got to figure it out.”

Ideally, a team whose top six players have a combined 76 seasons of NBA experience would have those sorts of things figured out 75 games into a season.

But that isn’t the case for Dallas, which has to overachieve to be decent defensively and is often dreadful on that end of the floor. That was true Tuesday night, when the Warriors had 62 points in the paint, shot 57.1 percent from the floor and made 15 of 31 3-point attempts.

Still, the Mavs had many chances to win against the Warriors, a testament to a terrific offensive performance led by Nowitzki and Monta Ellis (27 points).

The Mavs led by five with 3:24 remaining in regulation and four after Nowitzki’s 1-foot fadeaway with 1:43 to go. They couldn’t get the stops to close it out.

The Mavs led by four midway through overtime and couldn’t get the stops to close it out. There was a controversial no-call on Warriors center Jermaine O’Neal’s blocked shot of Ellis’ potential go-ahead floater with 13 seconds remaining, but blame the Mavs for letting the game be that close down the stretch against a Golden State team missing two starters.

This was a massive missed opportunity to end a half-empty homestand.

“I’m not big on analyzing how disappointing it is,” Carlisle said. “I know how disappointing it is. We didn’t deserve to win tonight.”

With only two home dates among the seven games remaining on the schedule, the Mavs will have to prove they deserve a playoff spot on the road.

Opening Tip: Can Mavs slow star PGs?

March, 5, 2014
Mar 5
8:00
AM CT
DENVER -- San Antonio Spurs point guard Tony Parker's return from his midseason rest came just in time to torment the Dallas Mavericks.

Now comes the Denver Nuggets' Ty Lawson, who didn't look real rusty in his first game back after missing a few weeks because of a fractured rib, tuning up for Wednesday's game against the Mavs with a 31-point, 11-assist performance Monday against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

[+] EnlargeStephen Curry
Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images

Mavericks point guard Jose Calderon, left, has had trouble this season keeping up with elite point guards such as Steph Curry.

And the point guard problems will keep coming for Dallas. The Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard, the Golden State Warriors' Stephen Curry and the Oklahoma City Thunder's Russell Westbrook are all on the schedule over the next two weeks.

Jose Calderon, who occasionally resembles a bullfighter on defense, would have his hands full with all of these explosive point guards if he could stay close enough to get a paw on them.

"For sure, it's an individual challenge," Calderon said. "You don't want to get beat there by anybody. You're going to play as hard as you can against great players in this league. I feel pretty comfortable. The team has been helping me a lot. This year, some days are going to be a tougher challenge. You feel better or worse. But at the end of the day, it's about team defense."

The Mavs were well aware of Calderon's defensive limitations when they signed him to a four-year, $29 million deal last summer. They considered his lack of lateral quickness a flaw they could live, considering it came in a package with his savvy offensive decision-making and elite perimeter shooting.

Calderon has been as billed for the Mavs, for better and worse. He ranks third in the league in 3-point percentage (44.9) and fourth in assist-to-turnover ratio (3.94-to-1). He also has the worst defensive rating (107.1) among guards on winning teams.

While Calderon is a plus overall, it will be especially difficult to mask his defensive flaws during this stretch, which started with Parker's 22-point, seven-rebound performance Sunday in the Spurs' win.

(Read full post)

Curry's clutch show points to Mavs' woe

December, 12, 2013
12/12/13
1:18
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The clutch dominance of Stephen Curry put a spotlight on one of the Dallas Mavericks’ biggest problems.

This team has tremendous trouble trying to defend explosive point guards.

Really, Dallas’ entire 2-2 road trip served as a pretty good illustration of that issue. Curry just capped it off in spectacular fashion Wednesday night by accounting for the Golden State Warriors' final 19 points, including a game-winning jumper off the dribble to send the Mavs home with a 95-93 loss.

[+] EnlargeStephen Curry
Kyle Terada/USA TODAY SportsThe 33 points and 10 assists that Stephen Curry put up Wednesday on the Mavericks is evidence of an alarming trend: They just can't handle explosive guards.

The average outing by an opposing point guard on the road trip: 28.9 points, 9.0 assists, 51.3 percent shooting from the floor.

Dallas survived a 26-point, nine-assist night by the New Orleans PelicansJrue Holiday and a 32-point, five-assist performance by the Portland Trail Blazers' Damian Lillard, pulling out a couple of heart-pounding wins to make the trip a modest success. But the Mavs were torched for 24 points and 12 assists by the Sacramento Kings' Isaiah Thomas and 33 points and 10 assists by Curry in the two losses.

The Mavs can’t consider any of this even mildly surprising. It’s a flaw they’ve been well aware of since constructing their roster this summer.

They knew when they signed Jose Calderon to a four-year, $29 million deal that he lacked the lateral quickness to be an adequate defender. That’s been part of his scouting report since he entered the league.

It certainly hasn’t helped that Calderon is coming off a bone bruise in his right ankle that caused him to miss a Nov. 30 loss. The fact that Samuel Dalembert, who was signed primarily to be the rim-protecting backbone of a flawed defense, has been a disappointment recently makes matters worse.

Monta Ellis might fare better defensively against point guards, but he’s far from a defensive stopper. Plus, it’s probably asking too much to expect Ellis to exert the kind of defensive energy required to slow down high-caliber point guards in addition to being the Mavs’ primary offensive initiator while playing 37 minutes a game.

The Mavs can utilize their Shawn Marion, their 6-foot-7, do-it-all defender, against point guards on occasion. That, however, causes all kinds of cross-matching issues. And remember that Marion is a 35-year-old forward, so it’s a stretch to think he can keep up with lightning-quick point guards in their prime.

In case you forgot, watch Curry’s game winner again. Marion ended up switching on to him after a pick and didn’t get any help against the hot hand. The result was predictable: Curry created his own shot, dribbling to a spot a few feet above the right elbow, pump-faking to get Marion to fly ball and swishing a jumper.

Little Shane Larkin has pest potential, but a rookie generously listed at 5-foot-11 will be exploited defensively in extended stretches.

Help is on the way with Devin Harris. He hopes to be able to play before Christmas and will immediately be the Mavs’ best defensive guard, but he’s also a guy who hasn’t played a game in months and is coming off of toe surgery. Harris, 30, also might be better suited to defend shooting guards at this point of his career.

This isn’t an issue the Mavs can avoid. Look at all the scoring threats playing quarterback in the West: Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook, San Antonio’s Tony Parker, the Clippers’ Chris Paul, Denver’s Ty Lawson, Phoenix’s Goran Dragic and Eric Bledsoe, Memphis’ Mike Conley, plus the four the Mavs faced on this trip.

If the Mavs can’t figure out how to slow down good point guards, it’ll be awfully difficult to move up the West standings.

Rapid Reaction: Mavericks 116, Warriors 91

February, 9, 2013
2/09/13
10:00
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If this keeps up, some of the Dallas Mavericks players will shave their beards off sooner rather than later.

On Saturday night, the Mavs beat up the Golden State Warriors, 116-91, at the American Airlines Center. This week, several of the Mavericks players, including Dirk Nowitzki and Vince Carter, pledged to not shave until the team reaches .500.

The Mavericks (22-28) are moving in the right direction here, having won three of their last four games while the Warriors (30-21), in the midst of a four-games-in-five-days stretch, have lost their last four games.

Of course, a late third-quarter run that carried into the fourth quarter cut into the Mavericks lead. Stephen Curry's 3-pointer cut the deficit to 85-72 in the fourth quarter. But the Mavericks wouldn't let the lead slip into single digits.

Shawn Marion scored a season-high 26 points and grabbed 11 rebounds in the victory. O.J. Mayo added 19 points, Darren Collison chipped in 18 points and Elton Brand, off the bench, grabbed 11 rebounds to go with 11 points.

What it means: This was an important victory for the Mavericks because four of their next seven opponents have losing records and this team has to take advantage of these teams if they're going to make a run at a playoff berth -- or cut off those beards. Beating a tired Warriors team in dominating fashion is expected for a Mavs team that was rested while the Warriors played as if they were disinterested from the opening tip. It's not the Mavs' fault the Warriors were flat for most of the night, because when that happens, you must win those games, especially at home.

A first half to remember: Dallas built its largest lead to 27 points when Mayo nailed a 3-pointer for a 61-34 lead. When the half was over, the Mavs were leading 62-36 and the Warriors had scored a season low in points for a half. The previous low was 38, twice, most recently on Jan. 16 against Miami. The Mavericks shot 51.2 percent from the floor in the first half. Collison led the way with 13 points in 17 minutes. Marion added 11 points and seven rebounds. Nowitzki missed his first eight shots but still finished with 15 points.

Marion's strong night: After Marion talked about not wanting to be traded to a bad team, he put forth one of his best efforts of the season. He scored a season-high 26 points in 30 minutes on 11-of-16 shooting before coming out with 4:46 to play in the fourth quarter. Marion has played well of late, averaging 18.8 points per game the last five games, and has become someone the Mavs need to hold on to at the trade deadline.

Play of the night: Mayo saved a loose ball at the scorer's table and tossed the ball over his back to Marion, who caught the ball at midcourt and scored on an uncontested layup to give Dallas a 105-81 lead with about seven and half minutes left.

Nowitzki reaches Wilt: Nowitzki's eight made free throws moved him past Hall of Famer Wilt Chamberlain (6,057) into 15th place all-time in free throws made in NBA history with 6,058. Next for Nowitzki is Bob Pettit, who is 14th with 6,182. Among active players, Nowitzki is third in free throws made behind Kobe Bryant and Paul Pierce.

Who's next?: The Atlanta Hawks (27-22) visit the AAC for the first time this season on Monday night. The Hawks have lost three of their last four games.
Coach Rick Carlisle will join an exclusive club with his next win, which will be the 500th of his career. Only 27 coaches in NBA history have reached that milestone.

It won’t be easy for Carlisle to make it 28 this week.

The Mavs face three opponents with winning records this week, including two of the Western Conference’s top five teams. Here’s a quick look at the Mavs’ competition this week:

Oklahoma City Thunder, 7 p.m. Monday, Chesapeake Energy Arena: The 35-12 Thunder are in a slump of sorts, losing four of their last seven games, with all the setbacks coming on the road. It’s awfully tough for road teams to win in Oklahoma City, however. The Thunder are 14-1 at home this season. The Mavs have been surprisingly competitive against the defending West champions this season, losing to OKC in overtime in both of their meetings. NBA scoring leader Kevin Durant averaged 46.0 points in those games, including a career-high 52-point performance Jan. 18 in Dallas, featuring 21-of-21 shooting from the free throw line. Thunder point guard Russell Westbrook, who made headlines last week by throwing a temper tantrum during a timeout, is one of only two players to rank in the NBA’s top 10 in scoring (22.6 ppg) and assists (8.3 apg) this season.

Portland Trail Blazers, 7:30 p.m. Wednesday, American Airlines Center: Ex-Mavs assistant Terry Stotts has done a terrific job during his first season as Portland’s head coach, but the thin-benched Blazers might be running out of gas. Portland (24-23) has lost eight of its last 12 games to fall out of the West’s top eight. One of their wins during that stretch was a controversial 106-104 victory over the Mavs last week, when LaMarcus Aldridge hit a buzzer-beater after a charge call on O.J. Mayo that the league office later admitted was wrong. Aldridge earned his second straight All-Star bid, averaging 20.5 points and 9.0 rebounds. He’s the headliner on a heck of a frontcourt that also features center J.J. Hickson (13.0 ppg, 10.8 rpg) and do-it-all small forward Nicolas Batum (15.9 ppg, 6.1 rpg, 4.9 apg, 1.4 spg, 1.1 bpg). Point guard Damian Lillard (18.4 ppg, 6.5 apg) is the Rookie of the Year frontrunner, but he’s been outplayed by Darren Collison in both Mavs-Blazers meetings this season.

Golden State Warriors, 7:30 p.m. Saturday, American Airlines Center: The Warriors (30-17) have morphed from a perennial lottery squad into a team that looks like it has the potential to do some playoff damage. All-Star power forward David Lee leads the league with 31 double-doubles, averaging 19.4 points and 11.1 rebounds. Guard Stephen Curry is the best player who didn’t make the All-Star team this season, putting up 21.1 points and 6.5 assists per game. Both Mavs-Warriors games this season have gone down to the wire. Golden State won in overtime Nov. 19 in Dallas, and the Warriors squeezed out a 100-97 win in Oakland last week, when Curry and Dirk Nowitzki sat out due to injuries and Carlisle criticized the officiating after a critical no-call with six seconds remaining.
DALLAS -- Stephen Curry simply dominated Darren Collison.

Maybe the Mavericks could just tip their cap to the Golden State point guard after the Warriors’ 105-101 overtime win Monday, but this continues a troubling trend.

Collison, who was spectacular during the Mavs’ 4-1 start, has had too many terrible shooting nights during this stretch of five losses in seven games. And opposing point guards have had too many big games at his expense.

This loss represented a low point for Collison. He scored seven points on 2-of-11 shooting and had as many turnovers as assists (five). Meanwhile, Curry carved up the Mavs for 31 points and nine assists, with 20 points and four assists coming in the fourth quarter and overtime.

It’s close to impossible for the Mavs to win with Collison losing his individual matchup in such lopsided fashion.

“Right now, he’s our starting point guard,” coach Rick Carlisle said. “I know he can play better. I know he’s frustrated with how things are going. Right now, I’ve just got to help him get better. When players struggle, it’s on the coach. I don’t dodge that responsibility.”

Collison, who is as approachable as any of the Mavericks, uncharacteristically dodged the media after the loss. He had dressed and left the locker room by the time Carlisle’s press conference had ended, leaving teammates to answer for him.

“We couldn’t guard (Curry),” forward Shawn Marion said. “He was splitting everything. We were supposed to be trapping him and it was nonexistent. He was able to do anything and everything he wanted to do on the floor.”

Added shooting guard O.J. Mayo: “Stephen Curry just didn’t outplay one player. He outplayed the Dallas Mavericks.”

A few more notes from the Mavs’ loss:

1. Rebounding ridiculousness: As far as Carlisle was concerned, one stat summed up this game: 62-43. That was Golden State’s rebounding advantage.

Carlisle was so perturbed after one of the Warriors’ 19 offensive rebounds that he mule-kicked the scorers’ table hard enough to make the fans sitting behind it flinch. He was still rather angry after the game.

“Nobody’s focusing on rebounding here,” Carlisle said after a couple of questions after clutch jumpers the Mavs missed. “That’s the whole game. ... That’s the root of a lot of our problems. You can focus on plays at the end of the game and who shot it and whether the ball went in, but this is possession of the ball that’s hurting us.”

This isn’t a problem that just popped up for the Mavs. It’s been an issue all season. Golden State dominated the Mavs on the glass despite Dallas center Chris Kaman’s 17 rebounds, with Warriors forwards David Lee and Harrison Barnes grabbing 19 and 12 rebounds, respectively.

“They were tougher,” Carlisle said. “If you want to look for one thing that was kind of the story of the game, they played a very tough game and we just didn’t match it.”

Marion only got one rebound, a stunning stat considering that he led the Mavs with 7.8 rebounds per game entering the night.

How can the Mavs fix their rebounding woes?

“I really don’t know,” Marion said. “I take full responsibility on myself not at least getting almost 10. Other than that, I can’t control anything else.”

2. Roddy B. riding pine: For the second consecutive game, Dominique Jones got all the backup point guard minutes. After getting a DNP-CD in Cleveland, Rodrigue Beaubois played only 6:41 against the Warriors, all at shooting guard, with a missed shot the only stat he recorded.

“I’ve been really concerned about his health, to be completely frank,” Carlisle said of Beaubois before the game, referring to a left ankle that has been sprained twice since the beginning of preseason. “He’s the kind of guy that if he’s 5 percent off in his athleticism and quickness, it’s going to affect his game and the guys around him.”

3. Big numbers for big man: Kaman recorded his first double-double since arriving in Dallas, scoring 18 points and grabbing 17 rebounds, his most boards in a game since 2008. However, Kaman wasn’t in any mood to discuss his performance after the loss. He quickly dressed and left the locker room with his shoes in hand, marching past the media with no reporter willing to take a charge.
The Dallas Mavericks are in superstar search mode, that's no secret. This summer's mission failed to reel in Deron Williams, and so the venture moves forward to 2013. The potential for three superstars -- Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Andrew Bynum -- to hit free agency in 11 months has been well-documented.

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.

Rapid Reaction: Mavs 112, Warriors 103

April, 13, 2012
4/13/12
12:08
AM CT
How it happened: Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle called a 20-second timeout less than two minutes into the game. The Golden State Warriors had a 4-0 lead and scored on a putback and fastbreak dunk.

If Carlisle had to remind his troops of the imperative nature of this first of four consecutive road games, then his message sunk in. The Mavs scored the next six points and were pretty much off and running against a Warriors team that traded Monta Ellis and is without injured guard Stephen Curry.

Oh, you weren't particularly thrilled that the Mavs' 19-point lead was whittled all the way down to 91-88 in the fourth quarter? Neither was Carlisle, who called for Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd to hop off the bench with 10:10 left to go in the game. Kidd had already played his 23 minutes and surely Carlisle was hoping Kidd could again take the entire fourth quarter off with a game at Portland on Friday night.

Kidd went to Nowitzki on consecutive possessions and the 7-footer, despite being just 6-of-16 from the floor at the time, drained a one-legged fallaway and then curled around his man and softly put in the finger roll to jump-start a 10-2 run and effectively put the game away.

The disappointing aspect for Carlisle is that he had to go with Nowitzki for nearly 37 minutes and Kidd logged 33. That's not the best way to start a back-to-back and four games in five nights.

Dallas got a big-time first half from former Warriors lottery pick Brandan Wright. He had 12 points and five assists in his first 11 minutes of the first half and finished with 16 points and nine boards. And Rodrigue Beaubois (11 points, five assists) had a nice first half as well, including a couple of highlight-reel plays with a swooping reverse layup and an alley-oop.

Kidd, in his second game back from a right groin strain, fell one point shy of his 108th career triple-double. He had nine points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. Nowitzki finished with 27 points on 10-of-23 shooting and Shawn Marion collected double-digit rebounds (12 with seven points) for a fifth consecutive game.

The Mavs' bench poured in 57 points as Jason Terry matched Wright's 16 points.

Last month, the Mavs lost to Sacramento and Golden State in consecutive games. This time around, they've taken care of both, averaging 111 points in the process.

What it means: The Mavs recorded consecutive victories for the first time since the two-game sweep of the Rockets on March 24 and 27 when Carlisle declared it the start of the playoffs. The win moves Dallas to 33-26 and gives the Mavs sole possession of the sixth seed, one-half game ahead of idle Denver and Houston, and 1 1/2 games behind fifth-seeded Memphis.

Bold play of the game: With 2:16 to go in the first half, Kidd lofted an alley-oop pass that Beaubois went high to grab and threw it down with flair, using the right hand from the left side of the bucket for a 58-41 lead.

Stat of the game: The Mavs didn't commit their first turnover until the 5:13 mark of the second quarter and had just three in the first half.

French Connection centers join fun

December, 7, 2010
12/07/10
11:47
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DALLAS -- Through triumph and despair, Dirk Nowitzki has never turned away an interview. Yet, on Tuesday night after the Dallas Mavericks finally shook free of the pesky Golden State Warriors, 105-100, for a 10th consecutive victory, Nowitzki was shooing away reporters.

“You don’t want to talk to me,” Nowitzki said after his game-high 25-point performance. “It was Ian’s night. Ian and Ajinca’s night.”

For those scoring at home, that’s Ian "Yan" Mahinmi, and Alexis "ah-lek-SEE" Ajinca “ah-JIN-sa”.

The key to Dallas' 17-4 start has been a total buy-in to the team concept and receiving timely contributions up and down the roster.

That trickled down Tuesday to Mavs’ French Connection, third- and fourth-string centers unexpectedly called to duty. The twin Eiffel towers then did a number on the unsuspecting small-ball Warriors, combining for 15 points, 16 rebounds, three blocked shots and three steals in 30 overall minutes. They outplayed the Warriors’ trio of big men of Andris Biedrins (eight points, 11 rebounds), Dan Gadzuric (six points, one rebound) and Lou Amundson (four points, one rebound).

[+] EnlargeAlexis Ajinca
Danny Bollinger/NBAE/Getty ImagesIn nine minutes of action, which was three times more than he'd played all season, fourth-string center Alexis Ajinca contributed three points, six rebounds, two blocks and a steal.
Dallas’ starting center, Tyson Chandler, was out with a stomach illness. That gave the 6-foot-11 Mahinmi from Rouen, France, the rare green light for prime-time minutes.

Usual backup Brendan Haywood started in place of Chandler, but picked up two fouls in the first quarter, as did Mahinmi, which got Ajinca involved in what was just the second game of the season in which the 7-footer from San Etienne, France has even been active.

The lanky Ajinca played nine emergency minutes. He came in with less than a minute to go in the first quarter and his arm-waving, hyperactive play kept him in until the 3:46 mark of the second quarter. All he did in was head to the locker room with three points, swishing a 15-foot baseline jumper, grab a career-high six rebounds -- three on each end -- block two shots, including a Stephen Curry drive at the rim, and make a steal.

As for Mahinmi, the Spurs castoff who last played extended minutes in an impressive showing in San Antonio on Nov. 26 and helped snap his former team’s 12-game win streak, he notched his first career double-double, which is one more than Haywood, the Mavs’ $55 million man, has this season. Of course, Mahinmi's time in San Antonio came courtesy of a team-imposed one-game suspension of Haywood for blowing up at coach Rick Carlisle during the morning shootaround.

Eight of Mahinmi’s 12 points -- three shy of his career-high -- came at the free throw line on 10 attempts, which tied Haywood’s makes at the line on 32 attempts all season. Mahinmi, with a career-high 10 rebounds in a career-tying 21 minutes, was so active that even though Carlisle praised Haywood’s work -- four points, six rebounds and three blocked shots in 19 minutes -- he stuck with Mahinmi for the entirety of a close fourth quarter with the win streak on the line.

Forgive yourself if Mahinmi doesn’t ring a bell. The little-used third-year pro apparently even shocked and awed Golden State coach Keith Smart.

“We knew he was on the roster,” Smart said before adding that he also knew he was a talented player.

“It’s great, especially for a guy like me,” Mahinmi said. “I’m looking for that kind of opportunity and for me to be able to come out and, not knowing when I’m going to get my playing time, it’s good. That means that all the work I do on an everyday basis works. So I’m going to keep doing what I do and hopefully get more playing time.”

Chandler might be recovered from his stomach bout by Thursday’s game against the New Jersey Nets. If not, Haywood will likely get the start, but Mahinmi, making less than $1 million, is pushing for minutes and Carlisle said he likes a good competition.

“He competes hard in practice. In games like tonight, he makes a strong case,” Carlisle said. “I am not by any stretch saying Haywood didn’t play well. I thought he did a good job, too. I just thought Ian’s energy level was the real difference-maker in the game.”

Jeremy Lin returns to team that opened door

December, 6, 2010
12/06/10
4:10
PM CT
DALLAS -- The kid Donnie Nelson and the Dallas Mavericks helped put on the NBA map by adding him to their Summer League team makes his first visit back as a member of his hometown Golden State Warriors.

Jeremy Lin, the 6-3 Harvard point guard, outshined Roddy Beaubois on the Mavs' summer team in Las Vegas, and Nelson had designs on signing Lin and having him start for Nancy Lieberman on the NBDL Texas Legends in Frisco.

Turns out Lin was able to get much closer to the other 'Frisco, his hometown of San Francisco, where he grew up crossing the bridge to Oakland to attend Warriors games. While the Mavs were the lone NBA team to offer Lin a spot on their summer squad, the point guard's head-turning play in Vegas got several teams interested, including the Los Angeles Lakers and Warriors.

Lin plays behind a couple of pretty good guards in Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry. He's made appearances in 13 games, averaging 2.4 points and 1 assist. He's quickly learning that getting your shot off in the NBA is a bit more difficult than in the Ivy League or Summer League. He's shooting just 32.4 percent.

Another Warriors rookie won't be making his return to Texas. Forward Ekpe Udoh, Golden State's sixth overall pick out of Baylor, had surgery on his left wrist in July. He participated in 5-on-5 drills for the first time over the weekend, but it remains unclear when he will make his NBA debut.

The 6-10 Udoh led Baylor to its first Elite Eight last season.

Lin will bypass Mavs to join Warriors

July, 20, 2010
7/20/10
8:56
PM CT
Harvard guard and summer-league star Jeremy Lin will not be joining the Dallas Mavericks after all.

The Bay Area native instead received the best financial offer in a late play from his hometown Golden State Warriors, ESPN.com's Marc Stein reports, and is close to signing a deal. The Mavs, the only team to offer Lin a summer-league roster spot, and the Los Angeles Lakers, were two of three teams (the third believed to be in the Eastern Conference) that initially entertained contract talks. More teams became interested after Lin showed well last Thursday against No. 1 overall pick John Wall and even more after summer league wrapped up Sunday night.

Mavs president of basketball operations hoped to sign Lin and develop him with the Texas Legends, the Mavs' new D-League team in Frisco. Nelson did not immediately return messages. A few days ago, Nelson said of Lin: "He just makes things happen and he's a better athlete than people give him credit for."

More from Stein's report:

Sources told ESPN.com on Tuesday that the Warriors, by offering to guarantee more than half of Lin's potential first-year salary of nearly $500,000, have reached an agreement in principle with Harvard graduate.

The Warriors have a need for guard depth behind stars Monta Ellis and Stephen Curry after restricted free agent C.J. Watson signed an offer sheet Monday with the Chicago Bulls that resulted in Watson joining the Bulls via sign-and-trade.

A Western Conference scout said of Lin's play in Las Vegas: "He showed that he can be an NBA point guard. He showed us he can finish, defend and has above-average athleticism."

Lin is a lifelong Warriors fan and his signing, sources said, was fully endorsed by Golden State's incoming new ownership tandem of Boston Celtics minority partner Joe Lacob and Mandalay Entertainment CEO Peter Guber, whose purchase of the Warriors from longtime owner Chris Cohan won't be finalized for 60 to 90 days.

Baylor's Udoh goes to Warriors at No. 6

June, 24, 2010
6/24/10
7:15
PM CT
DALLAS -- What a journey for Ekpe Udoh. From being lightly recruited to going to Michigan to transferring to Baylor and leading the Bears to the Elite Eight. His shot-blocking is fantastic, he's improved greatly offensively and throughout the year his draft stock kept rising.

Thought be a late lottery pick until really a day ago, Udoh was selected at No. 6 by the Golden State Warriors, becoming Baylor's highest-drafted player in school history. Udoh is the first Baylor player taken in the NBA draft since the Los Angeles Clippers selected Brian Skinner with the 22nd overall pick of the first round in 1998.

The Big 12's single-season blocks leader will join Stephen Curry and Monta Ellis on an interesting Warriors team that's been stung by injuries and the quirkiness of Don Nelson.

Udoh said he plans to come in and get to work.

"Just coming in, doing what I love, playing defense and blocking shots and bring energy to the game," Udoh said.

The 2010 Big 12 Newcomer of the Year and second-team All-Big 12 selection averaged 13.9 points, 9.8 rebounds, 3.7 blocks and 2.7 assists in 36 games.

"Words cannot describe how excited we are for Ekpe to be the highest NBA draft pick in Baylor history," Baylor coach Scott Drew said. "He has been an exemplary representative for Baylor and the Warriors are lucky to have him on their team. We wish him the best of luck and look forward to watching him live his dream for many years to come."

Nicknamed "The Nightmare," (Udoh's middle name is Friday and he wore No. 13) his 3.69 blocks-per-game average ranks first all-time on Baylor's career list and second on the single-season chart. The Edmond, Okla., native posted a team-best 16 double-doubles, while establishing career-best single-game and season-season marks in points, rebounding, assists and blocked shots. His 351 rebounds rank fourth on Baylor’s single-season rebounding list.

Where does Roddy rank in Year of the Guard?

May, 7, 2010
5/07/10
6:05
AM CT
Say this for Roddy Beaubois: Of the seven rookie guards whose teams made the playoffs, none came close to his rate of postseason points per minutes played.

OK, so the Dallas Mavericks' youngster from Guadeloupe logged 21 of his 31 total playoff minutes and 16 of his 21 playoff points against San Antonio in the desperation of Game 6. Beaubois ended his first NBA playoffs by averaging 5.3 points in 7.8 minutes a game, but with a vow from management to greatly increase his floor time next season.

The 2009 NBA Draft was the Year of the Guard. Of the 30 selections in the first round, 12 were guards. Beaubois was the least known and last of the group taken, 25th by the Oklahoma City Thunder and then traded to Dallas. The class actually shrunk to 11 when Ricky Rubio, drafted fifth by Minnesota chose to remain in his native Spain.

Of the 11 rookie guards, Beaubois' 56 regular-season appearances were fewer than only the 43 games played by Gerald Henderson, the 12th overall pick by the Charlotte Bobcats. And, Beaubois' average playing time of 12.5 minutes eclipsed only Henderson (8.3) and Jeff Teague (10.1 minutes in 71 games), the 19th pick by the Atlanta Hawks.

In Beaubois' limited playing time this season -- which did include 16 starts -- he produced some remarkable performances. He bombed Golden State for 40 points and nine 3-pointers. He blasted Chicago for 18 points in the third quarter on his way to 24 points. He scored 16 in the second quarter the night earlier against the Kings on his way to 22. He became the first rookie in league history to finish his first season shooting 50 percent from the field (51.8), 40 percent from the 3-point arc (40.9) and 80 percent from the free throw line (80.8).

However, his lack of substantial playing time, especially against the league's better teams, makes it impossible to judge the explosive, 6-foot, 170-pounder against the league's top rookie guards, starting with Sacramento Rookie of the Year and fourth overall pick Tyreke Evans (20.1 points, 5.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds, 37.2 minutes), Stephen Curry (17.5, 5.9, 4.5, 36.2), the seventh pick by Golden State, or Brandon Jennings (15.5, 5.7, 3.4, 32.6), the 10th pick by Milwaukee.

It's difficult to even measure Beaubois against the second and third tier of rookie guards such as the Thunder's pair of James Harden, the third overall pick, and Eric Maynor, selected 20th by Utah and traded to Oklahoma City during the season, or Ty Lawson, taken 18th by Denver, Jonny Flynn, picked sixth by Minnesota, and Darren Collison, the 21st selection by New Orleans who filled in impressively for the injured Chris Paul.

If the draft was redone today, Beaubois certainly wouldn't be the 25th pick. Where he'd land is a great debate, one that should have a much clearer answer this time next year.

A look at the guards selected in the first round of the 2009 Draft and their stats:
3. James Harden, OKC, 76G, 22.9 minutes, 9.9 points, 3.2 rebounds)
4. Tyreke Evans, Sac, 72G, 37.2 minutes, 20.1 points, 5.8 assists, 5.3 rebounds)
5. Ricky Rubio, Min, remained in Spain)
6. Jonny Flynn, Min, 81G, 28.9 minutes, 13.5 points, 4.4 assists)
7. Stephen Curry, GS, 80G, 36.2 minutes, 17.5 points, 5.9 assists, 4.5 rebounds)
10. Brandon Jennings, Mil, 82G, 32.6 minutes, 15.5 points, 5.7 assists, 3.4 rebounds)
12. Gerald Henderson, Cha, 43G, 8.3 minutes, 2.6 points)
18. Ty Lawson, Den, 65G, 20.3 minutes, 8.3 points, 3.1 assists, 51.5 FG%)
19. Jeff Teague, Atl, 71G, 10.1 minutes, 3.2 points)
20. Eric Maynor, Utah/OKC, 81G, 16.5 minutes, 4.5 points, 3.4 assists)
21. Darren Collison, N.O., 76G, 27.8 minutes, 12.4 points, 5.7 assists, 47.7 FG%, 40.0 3FG%)
25. Roddy Beaubois, Dal, 56G, 12.5 minutes, 7.1 points, 51.8 FG%, 40.9 3FG%)

Rookie Curry reminds Carlisle of Hardaway

March, 27, 2010
3/27/10
8:51
PM CT
OAKLAND -- The Warriors are trying to promote guard Stephen Curry as a Rookie of the Year candidate.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle certainly thinks Curry, who ranks second among rookies in scoring (16.5) and assists (5.6), belongs in the conversation. Carlisle compared Curry to a great ex-Golden State guard.

"He's got some Tim Hardaway in him," Carlisle said. "He has a different body type, but he can score and make plays. He has unlimited shooting range, gets the ball in the paint. He's very underrated as a playmaker and a ballhandler. I also think his basketball IQ is underrated and extremely high."

Curry is coming off a 30-point, 11-assist performance in a win over Memphis. It was his fifth 30-point, 10-assist performance this season, all of which have come since Feb. 10.

Oscar Robertson is the only rookie with more 30-point, 10-assist performances. Michael Jordan also had five.

If Curry is in that kind of exclusive company, he ought to at least be considered along with Sacramento's Tyreke Evans and Milwaukee's Brandon Jennings as Rookie of the Year candidates.

Paul Pierce wins the three-point shootout

February, 13, 2010
2/13/10
9:13
PM CT
Boston's Paul Pierce made 20 points in the last round to win the three-point shootout.

Pierce edged out Golden State's Stephen Curry, who ended with 17. Curry, one of the favorites, missed his last two shots.

Chauncey Billups finished the final round with 14.

Now, it's time for the slam dunk contest.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
19.8 4.7 1.1 32.4
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 10.3
AssistsM. Ellis 4.7
StealsD. Harris 1.2
BlocksB. Wright 1.5