Dallas Mavericks: Tariq Abdul-Wahad

2002-03: Dirk goes down in West finals

May, 12, 2010
5/12/10
12:54
AM CT
MavericksAP Photo/Donna McWilliamFrom left, Shawn Bradley, Adrian Griffin and Eduardo Najera had a hard time watching the Mavs' playoff run end against the Spurs in the 2003 Western Conference finals.
Third in a series chronicling the Mavericks' streak of 10 seasons with 50 or more wins (previous installments).

Coach: Don Nelson
Record: 60-22 (T1st, Midwest Division)
Playoffs: Defeated Portland (4-3); defeated Sacramento (4-3), lost to San Antonio (4-2)
Team payroll: $72.9*
Highest-paid player: Michael Finley ($11.95 million)*

Offseason transactions: G Walt Williams (free agent); G Raja Bell (free agent); F Popeye Jones (free agent); G Adam Harrington (free agent, then released in January)

Major transaction: G Antoine Rigaudeau (free agent, signed Jan. 17, 2003)

The high: The Mavs posted a second consecutive franchise record for wins. They started the season 14-0, falling one win shy of tying the NBA record. Dallas led the NBA in scoring for a second straight season (103.0) and committed an NBA record-low 11.6 turnovers a game. Dirk Nowitzki averaged a career-best 25.1 points a game, finishing sixth in the league, and joined Mark Aguirre as the only Mavericks player to score 2,000 or more points in a single season. Nowitzki finished with 2,011. He and Steve Nash (17.7 points, 7.3 assists) made the West All-Star team again. After taking a 3-0 lead over Portland in the first year of the first-round being expanded to best-of-7, the Mavs had to pull out a Game 7 to advance. Dallas then slayed Sacramento in seven games, a series that included a thrilling 141-137 double overtime win in Sacramento and a 112-99 Game 7 win in Dallas in which Nowitzki scored 30 points and had 19 rebounds. It put the Mavs in the West finals for just the second time in franchise history and first since 1988.

[+] EnlargeSteve Nash
AP Photo/Donna McWilliamSteve Nash couldn't lead the Mavericks past the Spurs in the 2003 Western Conference quarterfinals, although helped the Suns do it this year.
The low: On Dec. 6, 2002, the Mavs suffered one of the franchise's worst losses to their most hated nemesis. Playing in Los Angeles, the Mavs blew a 30-point lead to the Lakers, who trailed 88-61 at the end of the third quarter. But, the biggest letdown came in Game 3 of the Western Conference finals when Dirk Nowitzki went down with a sprained knee. The Mavs lost the game to trail San Antonio, 2-1, and the news wasn't good: "The news is not good," Mavericks coach Don Nelson said. "His knee is very sore. I don't expect he'll play [in Game 4], and I'm not sure if he'll play in this series." Nowitzki didn't play the rest of the series. The Spurs won Game 4 in Dallas, but Michael Finley's 31 points in Game 5 extended the sreies to Game 6 back at the American Airlines Center. The Mavs were giving the Spurs all they could handle. That is until Steve Kerr popped off the bench and took over. Kerr put on a 3-point blitz and the Spurs outscored the Mavs, 34-9, in the fourth quarter. The series began the falling out process between Nelson and Mark Cuban, who wanted Nowitzki to play in the late stages of the series. Nelson insisted Nowitzki sit, unwilling to risk the health of the knee of the franchise player. Had Nowitzki played and the Mavs won the series, they had to like their chances against the Jason Kidd-led New Jersey Nets in the NBA Finals. The Spurs certainly did.

The roster:
F Dirk Nowitzki (team-leading 25.1 ppg, 9.9 rpg and 111 steals)
G Michael Finley (19.3 ppg, 37.0% 3FG)
G Steve Nash (17.7 points, team-high 7.3 assists and 41.3% 3FG)
G Nick Van Exel (12.5 ppg, 4.3 apg, 27.8 mpg as sixth man)
F/C Raef LaFrentz (9.3 ppg, 4.8 rpg, 91 blocks in 69 games)
C Shawn Bradley (6.7 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 170 blocks in 21.4 mpg)
F Eduardo Najera (6.7 ppg, 4.6 rpg in 48 games)
F Walt Williams (5.5 ppg, 37.4% 3FG)
G/F Adrian Griffin (4.4 ppg in 18.6 mpg)
F Tariq Abdul-Wahad (Played in just 14 games)
G Avery Johnson (3.3 ppg in 48 games)
G Raja Bell (3.1 ppg in 75 games)
F Popeye Jones (2.0 ppg, 2.3 rpg in 26 games)
G Antoine Rigaudeau (1.5 ppg, 0.5 apg in 11 games)
F/C Evan Eschmeyer (1.0 ppg, 1.4 rpg in 17 games)

*Source: Basketball-Reference.com

50 for 10: New unis, new 'tude in 2001-02

May, 10, 2010
5/10/10
11:24
PM CT
Second in a series chronicling the Mavericks' streak of 10 seasons with 50 or more wins (previous installments).

[+] EnlargeMavs
Glenn James/NBAE/Getty ImagesOwner Mark Cuban's Mavericks debuted new uniforms in the 2001-02 season and were led by the Big Three of Michael Finley, Dirk Nowitzki and Steve Nash.
Feeling good after a successful re-entry into the playoffs in 2000-01 after 11 futile seasons, the Dallas Mavericks ditched their old duds, saying goodbye to the Donald Carter Cowboy hat that had served as the franchise's logo since 1980 and embarking on a new era with a sharper, more modern-looking uniform and a sleek horse-head logo.

The alterations were fitting with the Mavericks moving into the luxurious American Airlines Center and leaving behind the cozy, but run-down Reunion Arena and the dark days of the 1990s. With exuberant new owner Mark Cuban wearing jeans and T-shirts behind the bench, and an exciting Big Three taking hold, Dallas was suddenly a player again in the Western Conference.

A second consecutive big deadline deal injected toughness into Don Nelson's team -- which wouldn't fully be realized until the following season -- and it was clear the city was getting behind this fun-and-gun team that was bringing breakneck offense back to the NBA.

Consider that the Mavs finished the season with the league's top-scoring offense at 105.2 points a game. Dallas was one of four teams to average at least 100 points. Now this is truly amazing: This season, 18 teams averaged at least 100 points. So, the Mavs were doing something almost no one else was at the time and excitment was building for a second playoff run.

Coach: Don Nelson
Record: 57-25 (2nd, Midwest Division)
Playoffs: Defeated Minnesota (3-0); lost to Sacramento (4-1).
Team payroll: $56.98 million*
Highest-paid player: Juwan Howard ($17.8 million)*

Offseason transactions: G Adrian Griffin (free agent); C Evan Eschmeyer (free agent); F Danny Manning (free agent); G Johnny Newman (free agent); traded 2004 second-round draft pick (Matt Freije) to Miami for G Tim Hardaway.

Major transaction: Feb. 21, 2002: Traded Tim Hardaway, Donnell Harvey, Juwan Howard, cash and a 2002 first-round draft pick (Frank Williams) to Denver for Avery Johnson, Raef LaFrentz, Tariq Abdul-Wahad and Nick Van Exel.

[+] EnlargeCuban/Nelson
AP Photo/LM OteroMavericks owner Mark Cuban presented coach Don Nelson a jacket commemorating his 1,000th career victory.
The high: Dirk Nowitzki (23.4 ppg), Michael Finley (20.6 ppg) and Steve Nash (17.9) combined to average 61.9 points a game. ... Nowitzki and Nash were named to the West All-Star team coached by Don Nelson. ... On Dec. 29, 2001, Nelson became just the third coach in NBA history to record 1,000 career wins. ... Raef LaFrentz, acquired in a deadline trade to help space the floor and draw post defenders to the perimeter, became the third player in league history to register 100 3-pointers and 100 blocks in the same season. ... The Mavs never lost more than three in a row.

The low: The playoffs started with the Mavs rolling past Kevin Garnett and the Minnesota Timberwolves by an average of 10.6 points in a three-game sweep. The Mavs then got the split they wanted at ARCO Arena to start the second round against the Chris Webber-Mike Bibby-Peja Stojakovic Kings and came home to the AAC. The good times didn't last long as the Mavs lost both home games, including a 115-113 overtime defeat in Game 4 that saw Nowitzki score 31 and Webber go for 30. The Kings took Game 5, 114-101, back in Sacramento to end the Mavs' season with a thud.

Roster:
F Dirk Nowitzki (team-leading 23.4 ppg, 9.9 rpg)
G Michael Finley (20.6 ppg, team-high 39.9 minutes)
G Steve Nash (17.9 points, team-high 7.7 assists and 45.5% 3FG)
G Nick Van Exel (13.2 ppg, 4.2 apg in 27 games with Dallas)
F Juwan Howard (12.9 ppg, 7.4 rpg before traded in February)
F/C Raef LaFrentz (10.8 ppg, 7.4 rpg, 60 blocks in 27 games with Dallas)
G Avery Johnson (3.2 points, 8.9 minutes in 17 games with Dallas)
G/F Adrian Griffin (7.2 ppg in 58 games)
F Eduardo Najera (6.5 ppg, 5.5 rpg, 21.9 mpg)
G Greg Buckner (Avg. 5.8 points in 44 games)
F Tariq Abdul-Wahad (Played just four games with Mavs after trade)
C Wang Zhizhi (5.6 ppg, 2.0 rpg in 55 games)
G Johnny Newman (Avg. 4.2 points in 47 games)
C Shawn Bradley (4.1 ppg, 3.3 rpg, 14.3 mpg)
F Danny Manning (Played just 41 games)
F/C Evan Eschmeyer (Played just 36 games)
G Charlie Bell (Played just two games with Mavs, seven overall)
G Tim Hardaway (9.6 ppg before deadline trade to Denver)
F Donnell Harvey (Played just 18 games)
G Darrick Martin (Played just three games)

*Source: Basketball-Reference.com

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Monta Ellis
PTS AST STL MIN
20.9 4.5 1.7 34.1
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsT. Chandler 11.9
AssistsR. Rondo 9.3
StealsR. Rondo 2.0
BlocksT. Chandler 1.4