Dallas Mavericks

Around the Rim: Down goes Dirk! Down goes Dirk!

1. The M.V.P. is O.U.T.
The Mavericks lost a whole lot more than just the game when they played San Antonio on Sunday, they also lost Dirk Nowitzki. In the third quarter Nowitzki took a nasty fall and his left leg got caught up underneath him, leaving him in pain and the Mavs in misery. The “lower left leg injury” is expected to keep Dirk out of action for at least two weeks which could spell disaster for Dallas’ playoff chances because after falling 88-81 to the Spurs, the Mavericks are now just two games from falling out of the chase as they currently sit in seventh place. The defeat dropped Dallas to 0-8 versus teams with winning records since acquiring Jason Kidd. The Spurs on the other hand are starting to improve, winning their third consecutive game after going through a horrible 1-6 slump.

2. Denver’s playoff push continues

Denver is a tough team to beat when Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony get hot. Just ask Toronto. The duo combined for 69 points in a 109-100 defeat of the Raptors up in Canada. A.I. exploded for 36 points while Anthony posted 33 to help Denver win its second consecutive game. The Nuggets are racing the clock and the competition as they try to claw their way back into the postseason’s elite eight out West. Toronto is slipping and sliding its way to the bottom of its conference with a 2-8 record over the last 10 games. Not even having their superstar back is helping. The Raptors are 1-2 since Chris Bosh returned to the lineup. Against Denver, Bosh was doing it all in the loss, finishing with 17 points, 12 rebounds and nine assists.

3. Lakers rally in vain
The Lakers trailed by 26 points at one point against the Warriors on Sunday and damn near rallied all the way back, but Stephen Jackson thwarted the comeback. Jackson made a pair of big treys in the final minute, giving him 31 points on the day and his team a 115-111 road victory. Monta Ellis matched Jackson’s 31 point output and Baron Davis added 18 to help Golden State avoid a total choke job. Kobe Bryant had 36 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists in the loss. Los Angeles is now sitting in second place in the Western Conference, trailing New Orleans via tiebreaker, but has considerably cooled off, going 6-4 in their last 10 contests. However, LA can avenge the loss tonight as it turns around and heads to Golden State for the tail end of the home-and-home.

Sunday’s Player of the Day: Kobe Bryant vs. Golden State 46 min, 36 pts (FG: 13-30, 3FG: 3-9, FT: 7-7), 14 reb, 8 ast, 1 stl,

Monday’s Game to Watch: Phoenix (47-22) @ Detroit (49-20)
Talk about a contrast in styles! The Suns are the second best offensive team in the league, averaging 110.2 points per game while Detroit is the second best defensive unit in the Association, giving up a meager 90.8 points a contest. Tonight, something has to give. The Pistons are riding a two game losing streak after falling to Cleveland and Washington on the road, but they will have the advantage of playing at home against Phoenix where they are 27-6. But home court advantage might not be enough as the Suns are finally clicking with Shaquille O’Neal, winning seven straight. In the last five games, Phoenix has been able to keep O’Neal’s minutes to a minimum (27.6 per game) while getting nearly a double-double (14. ppg, 19.6) out of him.

Buzzer Beater: For the first time in the history of the NBA it appears that we are going to see a 50+ win team miss the playoffs. And, of course, we are talking about the unlucky souls who get the shaft out West. Currently, that team is the Denver Nuggets with a 42-28 record.

I’ve never seen anything like it. I call it the Halley’s Comet year of the NBA,” Nuggets coach George Karl said. “Once every 99 years something like this happens. Why I have to be a part of it, I want to know why.

Denver Nuggets

Semi-Pro makes everyone nostalgic for the ABA

With the release of Will Ferrell’s new comedy Semi-Pro, everyone seems to be getting into the old ABA spirit. The short shorts, the red, white and blue ball, and the afros: it was a tremendous period in the history of modern basketball. There was passion like never before and a flair for showmanship that can probably never be equaled again. Oh, and according to the guys who lived it, it was also an extremely poor period for the players as well.

We weren’t sure the paychecks were going to make it every two weeks,” said [George] Karl. “It was always interesting on payday how many guys didn’t stay after practice. Everybody was in their car and running to the bank making sure their check made it through.”

[Doug] Moe said he never had any problems with his paychecks, but he knew other teams were having financial problems, especially that final year (1976).

“There was one part of the year where I think Virginia had run out of money and the Squires were about to fold,” Moe said. “They came out here and we must have played them 10 times. They just stayed out here.

Of course, there were some fun memories too.

Karl also recalled some bad behavior on the court. “I think probably my most memorable moment was when I took five charges on George McGinness in one game and the last time he tried to step on my head … and he told me he was going to do it.”

“There was a lot of trash talking going on then,” Karl said. “I remember my last year in the ABA. There was a fight and I was the guy who started the fight. I didn’t get thrown out of the game. I got fined $1,500, which I never paid because the ABA would fold and they would have to take it out of my next check, which they never did.

Ah, where have all the good times gone?


[]: Movie Stirs Happy Memories For Denver’s ABA `Pros’

Miami Heat

Around the Rim: The Miami Meek

1. Even the Blazers are punking out Miami
The Heat were easily extinguished by the Blazers last night as the Portland upstarts came through in the crunch. Meanwhile, the vets on Miami just let another game slip through their fingers, their fourth consecutive botched contest. Pat Riley appears to have finally accepted the fact that his squad is pitiful, 4-14 pitiful to be exact. Dwayne Wade did all could, coming up one assist short of a triple-double, but Brandon Roy torched the Heat for 25 points while Travis Outlaw chipped in with 20 off the bench to go with one humongous slam dunk in the 112-106 victory. Shaq’s performance continues to decline in the twilight of his career, but he still managed to give a facial to Portland center Joel Przybilla, just not in the manner you’d think. Less than a minute into the game, Shaq sent Przybilla to the floor and then proceeded to smash the ball into his face, bloodying his nose, as the Diesel stumbled over the top of the fallen Blazer. Enjoy this face-smashing view from the cheap seats.

2. They just got (everybody now) MIC’D UP!!

The Nuggets and Mavericks got together last night for a contest that saw Denver take a 122-109 victory, giving Dallas their sixth loss in nine games. But the play on the court was only half the story, coaches Avery Johnson and George Karl became the guinea pigs for the NBA’s latest experiment. The coaches in general don’t seem too happy about the league’s decision to mic up coaches, which is mandatory, and players, which is optional. So, how exactly does the average fan benefit from the latest multimedia move? Well, you get tremendous insight that you never had access to before. Besides the newly implemented and binding media timeout interview with coaches, there are all sorts of other juicy sound bites for your pleasure. Check out this stuff and just try to keep your mind from melting.

Soon after, TNT showed a montage of audio collected from the microphones.

“Let’s go, enjoy this thing,” Karl said at the start of the game.

“Good hustle men, keep it up,” Johnson said during a timeout.

“Let’s go. Let’s go, let’s go,” Stackhouse said, clapping his hands on the court.

“Way to go, Stack,” Johnson was later shown saying following a basket by his microphone-wearing swingman.

3. Now Jason Kidd probably has a headache
Wait, wait, wait; you mean to tell us that Jason Kidd might have actually had a migraine headache on Tuesday? That’s not possible, it was a power play to highjack the Nets’ cash or to get traded. Remember, he was “on strike.” Or maybe not. Kidd laid out his side of the story and, guess what, it makes sense. He had a headache and he didn’t play, simple as that. Give the guy a little credit, he’s a veteran and a professional when it comes to the game of basketball. Heck, the guy is 34 years old and he’s 1.3 rebounds away from averaging a triple-double for the sorry franchise. We don’t doubt that he might want out of Jersey, nobody could blame him for that, but Kidd has never given any indication of being a complete numbskull like, oh we don’t know, Stephon Marbury.

Thursday’s Player of the Day: Josh Smith vs. Minnesota 45 min, 28 pts (FG: 11-19, FT: 6-7), 7 reb, 2 ast, 2 stl, 7 blk

Friday’s Game to Watch: Utah (13-6) @ San Antonio (16-3)
Less than a week ago things were looking grim for the San Antonio Spurs after Tim Duncan was carried off the court by his teammates. Four days and a huge win over Dallas later, Gregg Popovich is saying the Big Fundamental has a 50/50 shot to be in the starting lineup against the Jazz. Duncan’s return only adds to Utah’s uphill battle. The Jazz are 13-6 and went to the Western Conference Finals last season, but the franchise hasn’t won a game in San Antonio since Feb. 28, 1999 – 19 consecutive losses. But you can’t count out the Jazz based on history alone because even if Duncan logs some minutes, he’ll have his hands full trying to stop the NBA’s player of the month for the West. Carlos Boozer averages 24.9 points, 11.4 boards and 2.9 assists for the Northwest Division leaders.

Buzzer Beater: With 2.2 seconds left on the clock following Marko Jaric’s layup, it appeared that Minnesota was about to grab their third win on the season. But appearances can be deceiving, just ask Joe Johnson who nailed a jumper at the buzzer to give Atlanta the slightest of victories, 90-89. While winning is normally good enough, when you barely eek out a win against the most pathetic team in the league, even a buzzer-beater leaves you bummed out.

It’s got to stop sooner or later, man,” he said. “I honestly thought this was a 25-30 point win for us tonight.

25-30 point win? Don’t flatter yourself Joe. You do know that your team’s average margin of victory during its eight wins is just 7.5 points, right?

NBA General

Around the Rim: It’s all in the family

1. That’s my boy
Rumor has it that if Boise State senior Coby Karl isn’t drafted, he could still end up making a roster. And the team that is already showing interest in the mediocre just happens to be coached by his dad, George Karl. Can you say nepotism? Coby isn’t expected to be picked during the two rounds of the draft and ESPN doesn’t even have him ranked in their top 100 suspects but for some reason daddy seems to think his little boy would be exactly what the Nuggets need. “Right now, my feeling is he fits what we need,” George Karl said. “We need kind of a playmaking bigger player.” Um, have you ever seen your kid play coach? Coby is a decent player in the WAC but we wouldn’t exactly consider him a “playmaking bigger player.” Coby has said that it would be difficult to accept an invitation from his old man, but when it comes down to playing in the NBA versus getting a real “nine to five” the choice becomes pretty easy. Geez, it must be nice having daddy there to save your NBA aspirations.

2. King for a week

Gerald Wallace of the Charlotte Bobcats is the current player of the week. Wow, that’s a sentence I never expected to be writing, but that’s not to say that he doesn’t deserve the honor. The Bobcats were only 2-2 during the week but without Wallace they would have probably gone 0-4. He averaged 20.3 points, 7.0 rebounds, 4.0 assists, 2.33 blocks and 1.33 steals over the span and put up a tremendous all around effort in a 108-100 victory over one the Eastern Conference’s best teams in the Cavs. Wallace had four assists, five blocks and 11 rebounds to go along with 27 points. And for Wallace, his great performances couldn’t have come at a better time considering that he’s going to be a free agent when this summer rolls around. Cha-ching!

3. Do you believe in miracles!?
After serving a one game suspension, the Pistons were thrilled to have Rasheed Wallace back in the lineup against the Nuggets last night. Especially after he grabbed a loose ball and nailed a 60 footer to force overtime. During a time out, right before Denver was to inbound the ball with a 98-95 lead and 1.5 seconds remaining on the clock, Flip Saunders predicted that something like that could happen. “I told them that strange things happen,” he said. “We might as well try to get something crazy.” And after Tayshaun Prince tipped the inbounds pass, Wallace made “something crazy” become a reality. Wallace then went on to score several big buckets in OT and led the Pistons to a 113-109 victory. Watch out Chauncey, Sheed is gunning for your moniker of “Mr. Big Shot.” Here’s the video.

Monday’s Player of the Day: Carlos Boozer vs. Washington 36 min, 41 pts (FG: 15-21, FT: 11-14), 16 reb, 2 ast

Tuesday’s Game to Watch: Memphis (17-54) @ Los Angeles Lakers (38-32) Sure, Memphis sucks but Kobe Bryant is definitely worth the price of admission. Bryant has redefined “showtime” of late after he ripped off 268 points in five games. Oh yea, he also dropped 60 points on the Grizz last Thursday and that was in Memphis; tonight’s contest will be held in the friendly confines of the Staples Center. Historically, Bryant has used Memphis as his own personal punching bag. But, then again, who doesn’t post career numbers against the Grizzlies. While the game will probably not be much of a contest, at least you can watch Pau Gasol as he continues return to his former All-Star form. In March, Gasol has averaged over 20 points, 10 rebounds, three assists and two blocks while Memphis has gone a pathetic 2-10.

Buzzer Beater: With 5:43 remaining in the first half of last night’s game between the Heat and the Hawks, Shaquille O’Neal hit a free throw of all things to surpass the retired Reggie Miller and become the 12th most dominant scorer in NBA history. The free throw gave Shaq 25,280 points for his career after entering the game with a 26 point per game average over 15 seasons in the league. Just imagine how many points the Diesel could be sitting on if he could hit his freebies with any consistency. But after the game, Shaq seemed to be more excited about the opportunity to use one of his self-given nicknames than he was about the record. “I’m known as The Big Baryshnikov,” O’Neal said in reference to a particularly hard foul that sent O’Neal tumbling to the ground where he performed an impressive 350 pound backward summersault before bouncing back to his feet.