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Thursday, January 4, 2007
Updated: January 5, 3:00 AM ET
Another twelfth night for Mavs

By Andrew Ayres
ESPN.com

The Dallas Mavericks should enjoy having just notched their second 12-game win streak of the season, extended with a home victory, 100-91, over the Indiana Pacers on Thursday.

Because just as Jason Terry's jet imitation takes off to celebrate Dallas success, there's also a time for such a glorious flight to end. It says here one of the three fairly difficult road games next on the schedule will signal the streak's end. Which one will it be? Dallas' foes to the south seem most likely.

• Friday at San Antonio. The Spurs were the eighth victim in the first Mavs win streak that ran from Nov. 9 to Dec. 1, after opening the season by sending their Texas rivals on a four-game losing streak. The Mavs are putting some distance between themselves and the Spurs, so Duncan and Co. should be motivated to keep pace.

• Sunday at Los Angeles Lakers. The current Mavs win streak began on Dec. 13 with a win over the Lakers. But all streaks come to an end, even the Lakers' record 33-game win streak, on Jan. 7, 1972. Some gave that run of yore their highest streak honor. This night just so happens to be the 35th anniversary of the end of the record Laker run.

• Tuesday at Utah: The last time the Mavs lost, it was at the hands of the Jazz. It was a thrashing in Salt Lake City, a 101-79 loss on Dec. 11. EnergySolutions Arena will be aglow for the Mavs.

So they'll lose on the road. Big deal. Becoming just the 36th team in NBA history that has had a double-digit win streak twice in the same season could be viewed as a sign of great things to come. This is a team that wouldn't mind it too terribly if it could get that elusive first title and oh, why not, become a dynasty.

"We're streaking," Frank the Tank famously declared while revealing his unsightly bareness in 2003's "Old School." Another pale and hairy guy named Dirk is into that too -- win streaking.

Now, in the unlikely event the Mavs get through those three games without losing, well, that's pretty good. And they would top the franchise record of 14 straight wins, set in 2002.

For perspective, last season's fast starter, the Pistons, were 28-5 at this point last year. Detroit had an 11-game win streak and a nine-game win streak, en route to a 64-18 mark. The Pistons took a playoff exit one stop short of meeting the Mavs.

But yet another win streak could be on the horizon for the Mavs, now 26-7. If they continue strong play, a third double-digit win streak could happen. Best chance could begin with a home game Jan. 27 against the Kings. The next nine include home games against the Sonics, Wolves, Grizzlies, Heat, Rockets, and road games at the Grizzlies, Sixers, Bucks and Rockets. And there's only one back-to-back to deal with. Odds? About 6 to 1 they do it.

Statistically speaking, John Hollinger style, a few Mavs players are looking good led by last year's PER champ, Dirk Nowitzki. He leads the way with five players above the average 15.00. He's third in PER, almost tied with the injured Yao. Other Mavs rankings: Josh Howard 19th, Jason Terry 44th, Erick Dampier 62nd and Devin Harris 95th.

And Hollinger tells Chad Ford why Dirk is the MVP so far . Howard's rise in PER makes him one of Hollinger's Most Improved Players. The drum is banging in Dallas for him to be an All-Star.

Also of note -- the Mavs shoot free throws well 80.39 percent on the season, second only to the Suns.

Dallas began this season on a four-game losing streak, looking hungover from last year's disappointment. The franchise record 20-game losing streak set in 1993 remains one mark in sports among the most likely to never fall.

Streak on, Mavs.

ESPN editor Andrew Ayres didn't mention Game 3 once in this story.

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Around The Lake
Luke Walton
Rocky Widner/NBAE via Getty Images
Luke Walton and Jordan Farmar felt good about their Lakers early on against the Kings, who made a comeback to force OT. The Lakers won, 132-128.



Thorpe Speed: Good Plan Of Attack

WING TIPS: The Lakers, even without Lamar Odom and Kwame Brown, start games going inside. They utlilize one of the triangle's greatest strengths -- post-up opportunities for players within the offensive flow rather than as part of a set, which means defensive players are not as aware of post-help reponsibilities. Luke Walton and Kobe Bryant are the keys -- wings who know how to post and score from the blocks.

REIGN OF JANE: I remember scouts and executives trashing Tayshaun Prince's physique when he was getting ready for the draft, expecting the NBA bodies to wear down his skinny build. But he does not "play skinny," and he has toughed out 221 consecutive games. Scouts love the phrase "looks like Tarzan but plays like Jane," but now can say, "looks like Jane but plays like Tayshaun."

DIRK'S MERITS: Dirk Nowitzki's well executed rocker step and tough finish against Danny Granger was just another exhibition of his immense skill level. Few players his size can get to the rim against quicker players, but Dirk's triple threat footwork and his realistic shot fakes allows him to work off of his tremendous shooting ability.

-- David Thorpe



Elias Says

The Mavericks have won 12 straight games for the second time this season. Only 11 other NBA teams won 12 consecutive games twice in the same season, the most recent being the Heat in 2004-05.

By posting their second 12-game winning streak in their 33rd game of the season, Dallas tied the record set by the Lakers in 1971-72 for fewest games needed to win 12 in a row twice.

Elias Says Insider


Records At A Glance




The Dirk-y Dozen

Pacers complete two dozen order for Mavs



Dallas Is Harris' Burg
Zo question
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images
With Jason Terry slumping badly, Mavs guard Devin Harris took over. Harris scored 13 of his 24 points in the fourth quarter -- when he made all four of his shots on layups.




Extreme Behavior
Kobe Bryant

Thursday's Best
Lakers guard Kobe Bryant: Plays big when his team needs him most -- 42 points, ten rebounds and nine assists in the 132-128 overtime win in Sacramento.

Rasual Butler

Thursday's Worst
Hornets guard Rasual Butler: Clangs 1-for-10 in the rout by the Pistons. Must have been tired from firing in 30 points Tuesday in a loss to Golden State.

Quote of the Day

"Nobody has a perfect game. That's what's good about our team. We pick each other up when it's needed."
-- Mavs guard Devin Harris, on picking up the slack for slumping Jason Terry

See how all 60 who played stacked up

-- Andrew Ayres



Memphis Unleashed

Folkestad (Aurora, CO): Hey Chad, thanks for the chat. What are your thoughts on the job your friend Tony Barone is doing in Memphis? Does he want to be a head coach and if so could this be a permanent job for him in Memphis?

Chad Ford: I've had a good relationship with Barone throughout the years and thought he was the right guy for the job. He's going to let the kids play ... something that neither Hubie Brown nor Mike Fratello would do. You can see the results. The Grizzlies have the talent to be an uptempo type team. Guys like Stromile Swift and Rudy Gay look like completely different players in this offense.

Once they get Kyle Lowry back ... I think they'll even be better. I kind of thought the Grizzlies should tank the season and try to get Oden. But knowing Jerry West, he wanted to prove to everyone now that the team he put together and the direction they're heading is better than people think. You've got to hand it to Barone. In the early going, if nothing else, the Grizzlies are watchable again.

Charlie (Irvine, CA): Riley's running away shows how much better Phil Jackson is as a coach. There's no comparison like the way ESPN built up for the Xmas day match. Jackson didn't bolt when Kobe was absent...he returned from his hip injury asap. And now that Odom and Brown are M.I.A.? You think he's going to leave? Don't think so.

Chad Ford: Ummm ... it seems to me that he did leave after Michael Jordan retired. And he did leave the Lakers after Shaq and Kobe were fighting to the point that a divorce was inevitable. There were more extenuating circumstances in both situations .. but I'm just saying ...

Full Chad Ford chat Insider



Coaches On The Hot Seat

Mike Woodson, Atlanta

We didn't even include him on the first version of this list, published back on Nov. 15, because it just didn't seem fair after Atlanta broke from the gate with a 4-1 start.

But they're 5-19 since, they're carrying a seven-game losing streak into Friday night's tilt with the Raptors, and they've dropped 11 of 12 overall during a brutal stretch of schedule that wasn't helped by injuries to several key players, most notably Josh Smith.

Woodson himself acknowledged the team has no consistency or chemistry, and something's got to give sooner or later. Woodson is 48-145 in his two-plus years at the helm. ODDS: 3-1

Full Chris Sheridan story Insider



Thirteen Blocks? Sounds Good

Chad Ford on Boston College's big man Sean Williams:

No one has improved his stock more than Williams this season. I've been talking about him since his freshman year, but he showed only glimpses of NBA potential his first two years of college.

Lately he's been on a tear, establishing himself as the best shot blocker in college basketball. Against Duquesne he put up an amazing triple double: 19 points, 10 rebounds and 13 blocked shots.

He's also beginning to show talent as an offensive player and rebounder. Given his size, athleticism and improvement, he's turned himself into a lottery prospect.

The only thing holding him back? Several offcourt incidents the past few years have scouts seriously questioning his character.

Full Chad Ford story Insider