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Monday Bullets

  • Bennett Salvatore referees another Mavericks game, and Dallas files an official protest with the league about the result. Eddie Sefko of the Dallas Morning News: "At issue was a 3-pointer by Troy Murphy that came early in the second quarter. Owner Mark Cuban said the referees were alerted to the fact that Murphy was inside the arc. '[The] official scorer said he notified the crew, and no action was taken,' Cuban said. 'We are protesting that a correctible error was not corrected.' The lead referee Friday was Bennett Salvatore, who has a history of controversy with the Mavericks. He also made one of the most curious calls of the night on a fast break by Devin Harris, on which a non-shooting foul was called. That play was not included in the Mavericks' protest, nor were many others."

  • Insight into Holger Geschwinder's unconventional training techniques that made Dirk Nowitzki the best player in German history (and a lot of information about their walkabout in Australia last summer). Jesse Hyde of the Dallas Observer: "A basketball team was like a good jazz band, he told Nowitzki. Some players were virtuosos, and others were specialists, but to make good music they all had to know their parts and play them well. Sooner or later, everyone would have to step up and play a solo, and the others would fade into the background. He had Nowitzki learn to play the saxophone to reinforce this principle. At times Geschwinder's training methods seemed bizarre, rooted in a bygone era, and in the same way that the Daniel LaRusso character questioned his mentor, Mr. Miyagi, in the 1984 movie The Karate Kid, Nowitzki sometimes was left scratching his head at the drills his coach came up with. To teach Nowitzki balance, for example, Geschwinder had him do walking handstands or ran him around like a wheelbarrow, with his hands on Nowitzki's ankles. To teach defense, he got a former fencing champion to demonstrate to Nowitzki that in fencing, as in all sports, good offense flows out of good defense. Over the years, his training regimen would include rowing, ballet, rollerblading and guitar lessons. To prepare Nowitzki for the added weight his frame would acquire, he made him wear a 22-pound vest as he practiced.

  • Jason Friedman of the Houston Press gets Daryl Morey to talk about the Rockets' disappointing point guard play. Steve Francis? Rafer Alston? Make a trade? An excerpt: "I think some of our play from the point guard spot has not been good enough to win. So overall, that's the spot we need to have better answers at than we have right now. I know this is a difficult question to answer, but do you feel like you've got the guys on your roster right now who can give you what you need at that position? Um, I think everything's sort of taking a bet on what's the right players, or combination of players, and there's a chance that's going to be the right option. There are certainly options on our roster that could be good enough. And if none of those options are - and we have to have better play there - then it's gonna have to come one way or the other."

  • Was Gilbert Arenas felled by the NBA Live Curse?

  • Frank from Brew Hoop has an insightful look at the division-leading Bucks: "Everyone (including Larry Krystkowiak) entered the preseason with far more questions about the 07/08 Bucks than answers: Would anyone play defense? Were guys like Villanueva and Simmons back to 100%? Could the guard-dominated offense incorporate the rest of the team's talent? Would the young talent ever live up to its potential? Were the team's guards and center really the types of talent worth building around? Was Yi really worth all the hype? None of those questions can be answered conclusively after eleven games, but for the moment the early returns on most of the questions are positive. Redd is playing like the all-around guy fans have been hoping for years he could be. Williams is playing like a real point guard who just so happens to be able to score. Bogut is playing like a tough SOB down low. Yi looks like he'll be a player and then some. Krystkowiak seems to have won the respect of the entire roster. Krystkowiak unquestionably deserves plenty of credit; the Bucks seem like more of a well-rounded, hard-working team than they ever were under their two previous coaches. A roster that seemed talented but ill-fitting all of a sudden is making much more sense, which is probably the best indicator of the coach's value. Krystkowiak's next challenge starts tomorrow, with three winnable games: at home against Philly and then on the road in Atlanta and New York. A period of short-lived promise seems like an annual rite of passage for the Bucks, so now it's now up to the 07/08 squad to show they can play the last 71 like they played the first 11. The Bucks' youth unquestionably suggests this team was built mainly for the future, but who knows, the present could be pretty fun too."

  • David Berri of the Wages of Wins also examines the Bucks, and attributes the good record to the improved all-around play of Michael Redd, Desmond Mason hitting some shots, and luck.

  • Playing in Lithuania, American Hollis Price is reportedly attacked in the street by racists.

  • Jason Collins finally scored a bucket.

  • Hit the comments if you can help TrueHoop reader Alan: "For my Economic Statistics course I have to write a term paper about a topic of my choosing, and I decided to try to study whether teams that play a more team-oriented style of basketball are more likely to win games in the NBA. I went about this by going through every box score from the '06-'07 regular season, and comparing the proportion of assists to field goals (i.e. Team Assists/Total Field Goals) for the winning and losing teams. Obviously this is a very primitive statistic to determine which team played better as a team, but nonetheless I found that almost 62% of the time, the team with a larger proportion of assists to field goal won, and that the differences between the mean proportions of the winning and losing teams was highly statistically significant. Anyway, I was wondering if you know of any other studies along these lines that I could include in my paper as a literature review, and if you have any suggestions to improve my study."

  • Ricky Rubio video. He's fantastic to watch. Assuming he'll be in the NBA before too long, I'm telling you right now that he'll have an adjustment. He'll seem slower among NBA players, and he won't get those crazy moving and grabbing European picks getting him so much room. But he can play the game of basketball. 100%.

  • WeRiteGoode: "That was the mandate facing one GM. His future Hall-of-Famer was feuding with the owner and calling the GM incompetent to the press. The guy's teammates were muttering off-the-record about greed and ego. The team seemed locked in the middle of the West, far behind the real con
    tenders. Sound familiar? Clearly, we're describing Kobe Bryant ... except we're not. No -- we're flashing back 15 years to a star from the '90s. A player who had yet to win an MVP; a guy who was seen as unable to make his teammates better. Rack your brain. It's not Karl Malone. Nor Patrick Ewing. Not Charles Barkley, although that guess would be a good one, since trade talk for both swirled that summer of 1992. Instead, it's ... Hakeem Olajuwon."

  • Basketbawful on the Mavericks in crunch time against the Bucks: "Take a look at results of the six offensive possessions the Mavs had in the final minute of the game. Terry: Missed jump shot. Terry: Made three-pointer. Terry: Made jump shot. Terry: Missed three-pointer. Nowitzki: Missed three-pointer. Terry: Made three-pointer. So the reigning league MVP gets one shot in crunch time, but the team's sixth man gets five? Seriously? That either says something about Avery Johnson as a coach or Dirk Nowitzki as a player, and neither is a good thing." I think it might also say something about Jason Terry, who sometimes seems to trust himself more than Dirk Nowitzki with the game on the line. That said: the Mavericks aren't a selfish team, generally. David Thorpe pointed out that Dirk Nowitzki recently nailed three-pointers on four straight possessions. Kudos to Dirk. But also to the team -- because on a lot of squads, no one gets the ball in position to score four straight times, no matter how hot they are.

  • Mascot 101: If you knock down a cheerleader, and she's slow to get up, don't start clapping.

  • SLAM's Sam Rubenstein: "Some say that for LeBron to connect with fans on a "realer" level whatever that means, he has to let his guard down and allow himself to be seen as "more human." Eff that. He isn't one."

  • Chris Paul is getting some mentions as an MVP candidate.

  • Explain this one to me.

  • Knee trouble? Kenyon Martin? No way.

  • How many reporters were on hand to interview Marc Iavaroni after yesterday's Grizzlies game? Two. Granted, it was a football Sunday. But there are high school coaches who face bigger media scrums. Imagine if one of those reporters had been sick!

  • Basketball is back in Fort Wayne, once home of the Pistons. The D-League squad might be the only one that has a wacky team name (Mad Ants) that was apparently chosen just to set up a really great dance team name (the Madame Ants). UPDATE: Matt Watson of Detroit Bad Boys writes: "Mad Ants is actually paying homage to General 'Mad' Anthony Wayne, after which Ft. Wayne is named."

  • This $200 Lakers bathrobe tops my "what I don't want for Christmas" list.

  • Remember when Warren Buffett met with LeBron James? Buffett has reportedly been talking to Alex Rodriguez, too. That's probably a pretty fun job: rich guy who talks to athletes about important things.

  • Chris McCosky of the Detroit News: "I remember writing after the 2004 championship run that the experience of watching Pistons basketball at The Palace would never be as fun or as pure as it was that year. It was a younger, fresher crowd at The Palace in 2004 -- true, blue-collar, face-painted, 'fro-wig-wearing fans. They would fill the building early and sustain the buzz the entire night. It was beautiful, and the team fed off that energy. But I knew with the success would come corporate fans, the ones who sit up in their suites or in a concourse bar drinking and socializing with clients for half the game, only paying moderate attention to what's happening on the court. That's exactly what's happened, and The Palace lords, nothing if not supremely capitalistic, have provided them with plenty of expensive in-house alternatives to watching basketball. The only thing that suffers is the atmosphere of the actual game and whatever edge an enthused crowd could provide the home team."

  • Matt from Blog a Bull: "It's getting to the point where it's tough to come up with reasons not to fire Scott Skiles."