The Other Side: Dallas Mavericks


You like that, Mr. Cuban? (Photo by Tim Heitman/NBAE via Getty Images)


Outside of Shaquille O'Neal's war of words with Orlando Magic Coach Stan Van Gundy, the most entertaining outburst of the week came from Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, who blasted his team after it lost 96-87 to an Oklahoma City Thunder team that was playing without leading scorers Kevin Durant and Jeff Green on Monday. But Cuban said he'd "rather turn over the roster 100 percent than subject fans to another game like" the loss to the Thunder. (Hard to imagine Abe Pollin was that upset when that same team beat Washington on Wednesday).

Two things about Cuban's emailed tongue-lashing were quite amusing: 1) It came after the Mavericks has just won three games in a row. And 2) Only three nights before, the Mavericks needed overtime -- and 41 points from Dirk Nowitzki -- to defeat the Thunder (which lost Durant to an ankle injury in the first quarter). The Mavericks quickly responded to the foot Cuban applied to their rear ends by defeating the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday, but they were out of gas the next night against Chris Paul and New Orleans, which blew past them for an easy 104-88 victory.

The Mavericks (37-25) currently have a three-game lead over the Phoenix Suns for the eighth spot in the cramped Western Conference. They defeated the Wizards 97-86 on Dec. 21 as Jason Terry scored a game-high 25 points. And after tonight, the Mavericks will face a difficult four-game road test against playoff contenders Phoenix, Portland, Golden State and the Los Angeles Lakers.

Here's what else you should know about the Mavericks as they prepare to host the Washington Wizards tonight at American Airlines Arena:

1. Jason Terry Is Back -- Sort Of
Jason Terry missed eight games in February with a broken bone in his left hand and the Mavericks went 5-3 without their high-scoring backup. Terry is averaging 19.7 points this season, but his absence -- and the emergence of Krypto-Nate Robinson -- may have also cost him his grip on the sixth man of the year trophy. He returned against Toronto on Sunday, scoring eight points, and has averaged 15 points on just 41.5 percent shooting in his past three games. And, unfortunately for him, his only highlight since coming back is this embarrassing play below:



2. The Jason Kidd Trade Has Yet To Pay Dividends
Of course, Devin Harris blossoming into an all-star has made the Mavericks look bad for parting with him in the trade for Jason Kidd last February. But the real downside of the deal is that the Mavericks cannot defeat quality teams and they have been exploited defensively against quick guards. Kidd is not the sole blame for the problems against good teams in the conference, but the fact remains that the Mavericks are just 7-14 against the other eight Western Conference teams in playoff contention this season. They are 2-0 against Portland and 2-2 against San Antonio.

Kidd had 17 points, nine assists and seven rebounds against San Antonio on Tuesday, but Tony Parker has scored 37 points in each of his past two games against Dallas. Chris Paul knocked Dallas out last postseason and on Thursday, he was a walking Waffle House, as he scattered, covered and smothered the Mavericks with 27 points -- 21 in the second half -- and 15 assists.

3. It Still Comes Down To Dirk Nowitzki
Josh Howard has had a bothersome left ankle and Jason Terry missed three weeks with a broken hand, leaving Dirk Nowitzki to carry to Mavericks more than he has the past two seasons. Nowitzki ranks fifth in the league in scoring at 25.2 points, the third-highest scoring average of his career and the most since 2005-06, when he led the Mavericks to the NBA Finals with a scoring average of 26.6 points. Nowitzki has scored 30 or more points 18 times this season and the Mavericks are 12-6 in those games. Even at 30, Nowitzki holds the Mavericks' fate in his hands.

By Michael Lee |  March 7, 2009; 10:58 AM ET The Other Side
Previous: Spurs 100, Wizards 78 | Next: Wizards (14-48) at Mavericks (37-25), Butler To Return

Comments

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This game will be a good opportunity for Dallas to rest their starters and give their scrubs some burn tonight. A win vs a Eddie Tankscott coached team is a gimme win.

Posted by: closg | March 7, 2009 12:26 PM

"Even at 30, Nowitzki holds the Mavericks' fate in his hands."

Yes he does, and it seems to be slipping through his fingers.

People assume that the Devin Harris trade was a fatal error because Devin has had such success in NJ. But he spent several years in Dallas and didn't perform nearly as well. Always a good player, of course, and a real challenge for Tony Parker, but Harris' blossoming came with his role in the new offense.

The Jason Kidd trade is just what it looks like: a gamble that didn't pay off. Jason's game had fallen off more than Cuban expected. He's still terrific, but his loss of speed has been fairly noticeable.

Nowitzki is also a terrific player, and also limited in his skills. Players like that need a strong supporting cast, and Dallas isn't as strong as it used to be. Of course he's got it a lot better than Jamison and Butler, but still, their moment has apparently past.

Posted by: Samson151 | March 7, 2009 2:49 PM

The Kidd trade was a bad idea from the start. What was especially flawed about it was that it was basically a knee-jerk response to the Lakers getting Pau Gasol and (to a lesser degree) the Suns getting Shaq. I never saw how trading the teams most athletic interior defending big (Diop) for an aging PG, even one with Kidd's resume, was a reasonable response to two of the Mavs' biggest rivals trading for All-Star caliber big men. It was made even worse by the fact that Johnson tried to turn him into a walk-it-up half-court play maker instead of opening up the floor and letting Kidd play at full speed, which is his strength. Basically the same thing he did the Devin Harris.

Posted by: kalo_rama | March 7, 2009 3:26 PM

The Wiz have a 5% chance of winning. What difference does it make whether they lose by 20 or by 50?

Play Crit, Young, Mac, Blatche and McGee for 40 minutes so they learn what it takes to play both ends of the floor for that long.

As of now, none of these players has distinguished himself.

Give them a fair change, Taps; - and pretend your hamstring is pulled. Let's see what Ayers can bring to the party.

Posted by: Izman | March 7, 2009 4:41 PM

I'd be interested in seeing what Ayres could "bring to the party" too, as Izman put it. But is there any way that could or would happen?

Whatever. Play the youngsters.

Posted by: 7snider7 | March 7, 2009 7:16 PM

ballsack

Posted by: toohoes | March 7, 2009 7:40 PM

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