Dallas Mavericks: Tyreke Evans
|Former Maverick Jason Terry joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss being traded to Brooklyn, Dirk Nowitzki and having his jersey in the rafters at the American Airlines Center one day.
Dallas attempting to initiate trade talks with Boston regarding perennial Rajon Rondo created a lot of buzz over the weekend, but it’s an extreme long shot at best that the Mavs and Celtics would make a deal involving the perennial All-Star point guard.
As a source told ESPN.com’s Marc Stein, "Danny (Ainge) telling them that they're only interested in Dirk (Nowitzki) is his way of saying: ‘You don't have enough to get in the game.’”
|Donnie Nelson joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the crazy NBA draft, new Mavs Shane Larkin and Ricky Ledo, and Dirk Nowitzki's long-term roll with Dallas.
Getting back to the realm of much more realistic possibilities, the Mavs are intrigued by Jose Calderon’s high basketball IQ and history of being an extremely efficient distributor and shooter. They’ve expressed that interest, but the Detroit Pistons intend to attempt to re-sign Calderon and several other teams have inquired about him.
USA Today reported that the Clippers, who met with O.J. Mayo in the early hours of free agency, could be interested in a Mayo sign-and-trade that would send Chris Paul's ready-to-start backup Eric Bledsoe to Dallas.
The Mavs will at least touch base with most of the veteran point guards in free agency, such as Mo Williams, Jarrett Jack and Monta Ellis. The Mavs could also reach out to restricted free agents Brandon Jennings, Jeff Teague and Tyreke Evans, but the likelihood of the Dallas making an offer their teams would decline to match is slim.
A low-cost, stopgap possibility: 36-year-old Chauncey Billups, who credits coach Rick Carlisle for helping his career take off in Detroit and would be a tremendous mentor to the rookies.
How much is O.J. Mayo worth to the Mavericks?
Probably not enough to get into a bidding war with the Minnesota Timberwolves and other teams who will pursue Mayo during the free-agency period.
|Chuck Cooperstein joins the show to talk about the Dallas Mavericks and how he thinks the NBA draft will turn out.
Coach Rick Carlisle is on record saying he’d like Mayo back in Dallas, but it will come down to money. If the offers for Mayo exceed $6 million per year, expect the Mavs to shop elsewhere for a shooting guard. They might need to look at other, less expensive alternatives anyway, depending on how the rest of their free agency shopping goes.
Some other shooting guard options on the market this summer:
J.J. Redick: You can make a strong case that Redick would be a better fit than Mayo for the Mavs, who are putting a high premium on basketball IQ.
Redick isn’t exactly an explosive athlete. (Remember Mayo’s “It’s just J.J. Redick” comment after his critical chase-down block keyed the Mavs’ home win over Orlando?) But the 6-foot-4, 190-pound Redick is a good shooter (.390 on 3s in his career) with great savvy. He doesn’t commit many turnovers, has a firm understanding of floor spacing and ball movement and is a solid team defender because he’s rarely out of position.
The market for Redick could be in the $6 million-per-year range.
Kevin Martin: He’d have to take a huge pay cut from the $12.4 million he made last season – like half of that, at least -- to fit into the Mavs’ plans. Of course, the same is probably true for Martin to stay in Oklahoma City.
The 30-year-old Martin remains a knockdown 3-point shooter, having hit 42.6 percent from long distance last season. Martin’s ability to draw fouls has been his best attributes over the years, but his free throws attempted have plummeted in the last two years (8.4 per game to 4.5 to 3.2), a trend that started when he was the Rockets’ primary scoring threat.
The 6-foot-7, 185-pound Martin has never been anything more than an average defender and passer.
J.R. Smith: I have it on high authority that the Mavs aren’t interested in the reigning Sixth Man of the Year no matter the price due to his knucklehead tendencies. So we’ll skip the analysis of how his athleticism, ability to create and long-range shooting could give the Mavs an offensive boost.
Tyreke Evans: The 6-foot-5 combo guard is expected to return to Sacramento after signing an offer sheet, allowing him to test the market as an unrestricted free agent next summer. We might re-visit this name as a potential midseason trade target.
Tony Allen: The NBA’s most dominant defensive shooting guard is such a part of the Grizzlies’ fabric that it’s extremely difficult to imagine Memphis management letting him get away. He’s very limited offensively, but his tenaciousness and toughness would certainly be appreciated by Rick Carlisle if for some unforeseen reason he doesn’t stay in Memphis.
Nick Young: The 6-foot-7 Young is a relatively intriguing talent at 28 years old, but he’s pretty much just be a shooter without a conscience so far in his career. Could Carlisle get more out of him? Maybe we’ll find out if he’s cheap enough ($3 million per?) to be an option for the Mavs.
Marco Belinelli: The 27-year-old Italian is a pretty good perimeter shooter (.387 career 3s) and ballhandler who made $1.957 million for the Bulls last season. He’s not a bad buy at that price, but he’ll likely return to the Bulls if he can’t get more money elsewhere.
Wesley Johnson: The 25-year-old Corsicana native was a major bust as the fourth overall pick in the 2010 draft. (Picking him over guys like DeMarcus Cousins, Greg Monroe and Paul George is a pretty good way for a GM to get fired.) Could he be a Brandan Wright-type of minimum-salary reclamation project for the Mavs? It’d be worth a shot for a 6-foot-7, 215-pound athlete who can at least be a solid defender off the bench.
Gary Neal: If you’re looking for a bargain, it’s probably best not to go with a guy who had big games on the Finals stage. The Mavs could use Neal’s perimeter shooting, but he’ll either be overpaid or return to the Spurs.
At least, that’s what Mark Cuban indicated during his radio appearance Monday afternoon.
“I don’t know if there are any free agents that are requiring offer sheets that are on our radar right now,” Cuban said, pointing to the process of waiting for the player’s previous team to exercise its right to match as the reason.
The most intriguing restricted free agents: Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic, Milwaukee point guard Brandon Jennings and Sacramento combo guard Tyreke Evans. Hold off on custom orders for any of those guys in Mavs jerseys, no matter how well the burly Pekovic's low-post game might mesh with Dirk Nowitzki's shooting skills.
Of course, the Mavs radar can change at a moment’s notice once the free agency frenzy gets going.
In fact, it's almost impossible to attack the rack with less frequency than the Mavs did last season. As a team, they ranked 29th in the league in shots attempted at the rim -- only 21.3 percent of their shot attempts came from point-blank range -- and 28th in shots made at the rim, according to the advanced stats website hoopdata.com.
For a bit of reference, Tyreke Evans led all point guards last season with 7.0 attempts at the rim per game. Tony Parker ranked eighth with 4.6 and Deron Williams ranked 12th with 3.9. Among shooting guards, Dwyane Wade ranked first with 6.7, Manu Ginobili ranked 15th with 2.6 and Terry ranked 39th with 1.7.
The Mavs' newcomers aren't exactly Russell Westbrook (6.1) and Monta Ellis (4.8), but they will deliver a rim show seldom seen in Dallas since Devin Harris, known -- and not always affectionately -- as the one-man fast break, left town in 2008.
Collison, who turned 25 a week ago, last season averaged 2.6 of his 8.7 shot attempts at the rim, ranking 27th in the league. That low number for such a quick point guard is partly a byproduct of an Indiana Pacers offense that revolved around center Roy Hibbert. In each of Collison's two seasons with the Pacers, his attempts at the rim dipped from his 3.5 attempts as a rookie with the New Orleans Hornets in 2009-10. The Mavs believe their offense will enable Collison to increase his attack frequency.
Mayo, 24, ranked 18th last season at 2.4 attempts at the rim (11.2 overall shot attempts) while playing 26.8 minutes a game as Memphis' sixth man. His minutes will likely increase, and perhaps greatly, as a starter in Dallas. He, too, played in an offense geared around big men (Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph). The Mavs' are hopeful their scheme, plus playing with Dirk Nowitzki, will give Mayo significant chances to take his man off the dribble and get to the rim.
With Delonte West and Vince Carter coming off the bench and each having averaged 2.3 shot attempts at the rim last season, the Mavs now boast a backcourt that will at least force defenders to be wary of penetration and not just the jumper.
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.
Dallas, 0-3 in one-nighters to Oklahoma City, Minnesota and San Antonio, will attempt to get their first road victory as well even their record (4-5) for the first time. They will do so with Jason Kidd having left the White House to return to Dallas to rehab the lower back injury that will keep him out at least these next two games.
"The first road win is more important than anything," Jason Terry said. "Get out here on the road and really have some fun and enjoy doing what we do because, again, it’s about taking steps along this long journey that we’re on. Winning your first road game is a step towards where we’re headed."
Here's a quick glance at this week's games against four teams that are a combined 11-23:
Tuesday: at Detroit Pistons (2-6), 6:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: FSSW/103.3 FM ESPN; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: The Mavs will be hanging out in the greater Auburn Hills area Monday night while the Pistons will look to snap a three-game skid in Chicago. Detroit is off to a ragged start, ranking last in the league in scoring (84.3 ppg) and near the bottom (along with the Mavs) in field-goal percentage (41.7). Dallas will have had two days to rest some weary legs and although it b without point guard Jason Kidd (lower back), this game represents a major opportunity to get to .500 before playing at Boston the following night.
Wednesday: at Boston Celtics (4-4), 7 p.m.
TV/Radio: ESPN/103.3 FM ESPN; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Talk about walking into a buzz saw. Dallas will close out a back-to-back against a Celtics team that will have not played since an 87-74 loss at Indiana on Friday. That's four consecutive nights without a game and the Celtics, who also have Paul Pierce back in the lineup, will have gone since Jan. 1 and 2 without a back-to-back, so figure which team should have the energy factor working in their favor.
Friday: vs. Milwaukee Bucks (2-7), 7:30 p.m.
TV/Radio: FSSW/103.3 FM ESPN; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Bucks center Andrew Bogut hasn't played since Jan. 2 to tend to a personal matter. Since then, Milwaukee has lost four consecutive games and five in a row overall. Dallas won't underestimate this team, however, after the Bucks ended the Mavs' 12-game in streak at the AAC in the early portion of last season. Bogut had 21 points and 14 rebounds in that game. Brandon Jennings is pacing the Bucks so far this season, averaging 20.0 points a game, although he is shooting just 41.1 percent, and 5.6 assists. Milwaukee will come to town after playing in Detroit the night before.
Saturday: vs. Sacramento Kings (3-6), 8 p.m.
TV/Radio: FSSW/103.3 FM ESPN; 1270 AM (Spanish)
What to watch: Second-year center DeMarcus Cousins won a battle of wills with former Mavs assistant coach Paul Westphal, making Westphal the first coach this season to be shown the door. The Kings boast a young and talented -- albeit raw -- roster that includes Marcus Thornton (19.4 ppg), Tyreke Evans (15.8 ppg) and Jimmer Fredette (9.4 ppg). The Kings are 0-3 on the road and this game will be their fourth in five nights and fourth of a five-game road trip.
The Mavs' summer league foes include Denver, Houston, Milwaukee, Washington and Sacramento.
Denver's Ty Lawson is one of the few players in the league who might be able to match Beaubois' quickness. And Lawson has a significant edge in run-a-team experience, having led North Carolina to a national title.
Washington's John Wall -- assuming the Wizards take the one-and-done Kentucky star first overall -- is the most hyped point guard prospect since perhaps Magic Johnson.
The slate is especially tough if the Bucks and Kings opt to have Brandon Jennings and Tyreke Evans participate in summer league again. Given the minutes played by the star rookies last season, however, that might not happen.
With or without Jennings and Evans, we'll get a good idea of how ready Roddy B is to run the point during his time in Vegas.
The Mavs' summer league schedule:
July 9 -- Denver, 3 p.m.
July 10 -- Houston, 9 p.m.
July 12 -- Milwaukee, 7 p.m.
July 15 -- Washington, 7 p.m.
July 18 -- Sacramento, 7 p.m.
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%)
Stevenson, who is starting while Shawn Marion recovers from a strained left oblique muscle, has done exactly what Rick Carlisle asked of him. He's harassed three explosive wing scorers in Memphis' O.J. Mayo, Portland's Brandon Roy and Sacramento's Tyreke Evans while understanding his role as the fifth option on offense.
"Stevenson’s done a great job for us," said Carlisle, who noted that most of Evans' 27 points came when Stevenson was out of the game. "He’s been super solid defensively and offensively he really plays within himself."
In the process of the last few games, Stevenson has improved his chances to get minutes during the playoffs, even though he doesn't possess anything close to the dynamic scoring ability of rookie Rodrigue Beaubois, who has been riding the bench recently.
Carlisle's primary concern all season has been making the Mavs a good defensive team. That'll be emphasized even more in the playoffs.
"I know they’ve got a tight rotation," said Stevenson, who played heavy minutes for the Washington Wizards during the 2007 and 2008 playoffs. "I’m just trying to show what I can do and coach knows I can do. Hopefully, I’ll get some minutes. If not, I’ve just got to stay ready."
Considering that the Mavs will almost certainly see Kevin Durant, Manu Ginobili or Roy in the first round, there could be a significant role for Stevenson.
"He’s certainly going to be an option," Carlisle said. "Ever since he’s come here, you guys have seen me throw him in there when somebody makes a defensive mistake, and he goes in there and gives us the same thing. He gives us energy defensively, he gives us toughness and offensively he plays within himself. He knows how to play within the system.
"He’s a valuable guy. I would never hesitate to call upon him in a playoff situation."
Jason Kidd has it especially tough.
The 37-year-old Kidd, like Dirk Nowitzki, played 42 minutes in the win over the Trail Blazers. And he'll spend at least part of his Saturday night defending the 6-6, 220-pound Evans, who is about to join Oscar Robertson, Michael Jordan and LeBron James as the only rookies in NBA history to average at least 20 points, five assists and five rebounds.
"He's a great young player," coach Rick Carlisle said. "There will be a lot of different guys guarding him before the night's over. You've got to keep a body on him.
"He's physical; he wears on you with his strength. He's a terrific transition player. He posts up. His outside shot's gotten better. It's a challenge, but it's not a one-man thing. We've got to have five guys tuned into what he's doing."
Shawn Marion won't be one of the Mavs who takes a turn on Tyreke. He'll rest again tonight and isn't expected to play on this road trip due to his strained left oblique.
Carlisle will try to help Kidd, Dirk and the other heavy lifters by subbing early and often, hoping to keep the Mavs as fresh as possible after last night's fight in Portland.
It was the first victory for the rookies since 2002.
San Antonio's DeJuan Blair scored 22 points and had 23 rebounds for the rookies. Blair made 11-of-19 shots from the floor. He had 10 offensive rebounds. Blair's 23 rebounds broke a rookie mark set by Elton Brand in 2000. Brand had 21.
Tyreke Evans of Sacramento got the MVP award for the rookies.
He scored 26 points in 29 minutes on 11-of-15 shooting from the floor. He also had six rebounds, five assists and five steals. Solid effort. One of the best performances I've seen in the rookie-sophomore challenge.
Oklahoma City's Russell Westbrook scored a game-high 40 points on 18-of-29 shooting from the field for the sophomores. Michael Beasley of the Miami Heat, added 26 points and seven rebounds.
The Mavericks, according to NBA front-office sources, continue to tell the Kings that they want a call back if that stance changes.
Sources close to the situation told ESPN.com that Dallas -- reluctant until recently to make Josh Howard available in trade discussions -- is prepared to part with the struggling former All-Star swingman in a deal for Martin.
If that position changes between now and the Feb. 18 trading deadline, Dallas is expected to be one of the league's most determined Martin suitors.
The Sacramento Bee's Sam Amick recently listed Houston, Toronto, Cleveland and Phoenix as teams tracking Martin along with Dallas.
It remains to be seen whether the Kings will bow to that interest in the next few weeks or if they’ll become more open to the idea of trading Martin if they hear that they can also shed another one of their long-term contracts -- such as Andres Nocioni or Beno Udrih -- in the process.
One hypothetical trade scenario could see Dallas offer Howard, Drew Gooden, J.J. Barea and cash to the Kings for Martin and Nocioni. That, however, is a lot of long-term salary for the Mavs to add. It's also not known if a combination of payroll relief, Barea and the opportunity to resurrect Howard's career would ultimately be enough to satisfy Sacramento even if Dallas was willing to take on Nocioni as well.
Such a swap, though, would raise the possibility of the Mavs reacquiring Gooden. If the Kings waived him immediately, Gooden could re-sign with Dallas as long as he waited 30 days after his release instead of signing elsewhere, just as Antonio McDyess did last season with Detroit.
UPDATE: One source close to the situation said Friday that the Mavs would have no interest in a Martin deal if the Kings insisted they take on an additional player with a long-term contract such as Nocioni or Udrih.
It's believed that the Mavericks could also join the bidding for Philadelphia's Andre Iguodala and Washington's Caron Butler by putting Howard and his cap-friendly contract (next season's $11.8 million salary is a team option) on the table.
But there is some sentiment within the organization to keep Howard along with Erick Dampier (whose $13.1 million salary next season is fully unguaranteed) for the rest of this season, preserving them as a combo-pack of assets for an offseason trade splash.
It wasn't a great start to a tough three-game road trip. First off, it dimmed the Mavs' division lead to 2 1/2 over the Rockets (and prevented Dallas from winning the season series, important for potential tiebreaker scenarios at the end of the season) and to two games over the Spurs. It also puts more urgency on the upcoming NoCal-SoCal doubleheader.
Tonight the Mavs venture into a rejuvinated Arco Arena in Sacramento to face early Coach of the Year candidate Paul Westphal's upstart Kings. If the Mavs find themselves looking ahead to Sunday's game at the Staples Center against the defending champion Los Angeles Lakers and fall behind as they did in Houston, it could be trouble. Dallas (22-10) though has proven resilient. It has not lost two in a row since Dec. 4-5, the only time this season they've dropped consecutive games, and they're 11-5 on the road.
"We’re not going to overlook anyone, we’re going to take it one game at a time," Mavs center Erick Dampier said before the team departed for Houston. "We feel like if we go out there and play the way we’ve been playing, play hard, get stops, get rebounds, we are capable of beating anybody."
The youthful Kings (14-18) lost a on a gut-punch Friday night, 109-108, in Los Angeles on yet another Kobe Bryant 3-point winner. Back at home they're 11-6 even after losing three of their last four at Arco, two coming against Cleveland and the Lakers. On Nov. 20 at the AAC, the Mavs held off Sacramento, 104-102, in a game Dallas seemingly had under control in the final minutes.
The Kings continue to be without their best player, Kevin Martin, but 6-foot-6 rookie guard Tyreke Evans (20.3 ppg, 4.9 apg, 5.1 rpg) has been sensational (although hurting recently with a sore right ankle and missing last night's game), and Israeli-born rookie forward Omri Casspi (12 ppg, 44.2% 3FG) has added length and versatility on a squad in which seven players are averaging double-figure scoring.
(And if you're schedule-watching, the Spurs are at Washington and the Rockets are at New Orleans tonight.)
Then it's off to L.A. for the Mavs' second of four meetings with the Lakers on Sunday night. The Mavs waltzed out of Hollywood with a rare road win in the second game of the season against the Lakers, who were missing Pau Gasol. The perfect complement for Kobe Bryant, Gasol has since returned and entering Friday's game was averaging 17.4 points and 11.8 rebounds in 20 games.
That Dallas will be playing the second half of a back-to-back won't make sneaking out a win any easier. A victory in Sacramento would figure to pump a double-shot of energy.
"All the games are hard, there are no breaks in the West," coach Rick Carlisle said. "Even the teams with the lesser records, they’re all improving, they play with a lot of energy and they’re all very good on their home court ... We want to build momentum, that’s the idea and we want to make sure we don’t have letdowns. Execution, and making sure we’re ready to play from the beginning of the games, is going to be key."
Oh, It’s You Again…
Honestly, I’m sick of writing about the Rockets in this space. The most interesting thing about this game is the stuff going on off the court that may or may not get resolved this week before both teams tip it up on New Year’s Eve this Thursday night.
Remember that it was just over a week ago when these two played one of the weirdest and wildest games of the year. Carl Landry went to the hospital after pieces of his grill broke off in Dirk Nowitzki’s lower forearm. Then it got really bizarre.
A myriad of technical fouls, referee conferencing, ejections and video reviews in an overtime home loss motivated the Mavs to file a still unresolved protest. Brother Stein provides the latest on that right here.
Then there’s the Tracy McGrady saga. He went home as one unhappy camper.
Safe money says both of these will still be ongoing sagas come Thursday, but there’s no doubt the Mavs would like to enter 2010 with a five game cushion and the season series advantage on Houston.
Uptown Saturday Night with the cool kid
The casual NBA fan probably didn’t realize what an impressive win the Mavs pulled off against the Memphis Grizzlies (7-4 in December) last Saturday afternoon. If Dallas leaves Sacto on Saturday night with a W, I imagine the significance will also be lost on that same casual fan. But you know better, right?
The Kings are 10-5 at home (for reference, Dallas is 11-5), and they’re coming off a tough double-overtime home loss to the Lakers – more on them in a moment. Tyreke Evans is such a beast and certainly doesn’t play like a kid. Going into last year’s draft I said he’d be the second-best player to Blake Griffin, but I didn’t expect anything like 20 a night and their undisputed leader two months into the season.
Evans was dominant the first time these two played in Dallas a few weeks back when Dallas escaped with a two-point victory. Evans put on a show with 29 points and 10 assists.
The Mavs catch a little bit of a break this time in that Sacramento plays the night before at the Lakers, but that break does a 180 on Sunday night as the Mavs have to fly to LA and play those very same Lakers.
Remember opening weekend? So do they…
I distinctly remember the looks on folks faces in the bowels of the AAC after the Mavs opened the season with a horrific home loss to a bad Washington Wizards team. There was actual panic. Knee-jerking was at an all-time high. There was a thought that Dallas fans knee-deep in Cowboys hysteria would have little time to pay attention to an old Mav team that was far from exciting on the floor.
Then the Mavs went to LA and swept the Lakers and the Clips, and everyone realized that indeed the pulse was there. That Laker win was beyond huge, despite the fact that the Lakeshow was rolling sans Pau Gasol.
That was the night that the glimpse of this team’s true identity first emerged. The Mavericks would be defense first. They held the Lakers to 80 points on 39.5 percent shooting. But most important, they gave Kobe Bryant several different looks, and all of them were effective.
Kobe went 6-for-19 from the floor on a 20-point night, and Shawn Marion, Quinton Ross and Jason Kidd all took turns taking a run at the league’s best player. And this time around, the Mavs will also have Josh Howard to throw at him. Ask 'Melo how effective a JoHo/Matrix defensive tandem can be.
Since that night the first weekend of this season, the Lakers have been the best team in the league. Gasol is back and in the mix for many years to come. You assume Ron Ron will be a strong presence as well, though everyday life has a tendency to derail him in the strangest of ways.
But these boys are the best, and ths is yet another great early-season test of just how good that Mavs’ D can be.
103.3 FM ESPN PODCASTS
Play Podcast Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett at Mavericks media day to discuss his expectations for the upcoming season.
Play Podcast Mark Cuban joins Galloway and Company to discuss the Mavericks' new GM Gersson Rosas and much more.
Play Podcast Fitzsimmons and Durrett discuss Mark Cuban's comments from Las Vegas about the Mavericks' offseason, how he sees the team without Dwight Howard and more.
Play Podcast Marc Stein joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why the Mavericks didn't want to match Cleveland's offer to Andrew Bynum, what's next for the Mavs and the possibility of Dirk Nowitzki ending his career elsewhere.
Play Podcast Jeff Platt fires quick-hitters at Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon in the weekly sports standoff about Andrew Bynum, the Mavs' current backcourt, a potential Nelson Cruz suspension and more.
Play Podcast ESPN Los Angeles' Ramona Shelburne joins Ian Fitzsimmons and Tim MacMahon to discuss why she thinks Andrew Bynum got a bad rap in Los Angeles and how he would fit in with the Mavericks.
Play Podcast Buy, sell or hold? If Dwight Howard goes to another team, what are the Mavs' options? The guys take a look at a list of potential fallback options.
Play Podcast ESPN's Marc Stein joins Fitzsimmons and Durrett to discuss the latest news on the Mavericks' meeting with Dwight Howard.