Don't Count Dallas Out

Philip Maymin
Basketball News Services 

The Mavericks outran, outrebounded, out-free-throwed, and basically outplayed and outlasted the Sonics last night to oust them 118-108. Steve Nash continued his outpouring of assists with 14 and Marquis Daniels started out in just his ninth game of the season. You get the feeling something went out? So do the Memphis Grizzlies. With their fifth straight win, the Mavericks have now tied the Grizzlies for the fifth spot in the playoffs. Right now, Memphis wins the tiebreaker, but if Dallas beats them next Tuesday to even the series, the Mavericks currently lead the second tiebreaker with a better conference record. What does that mean? It means this late surge the Mavericks are putting on has them with a good chance of getting the fifth spot, and still within enough striking distance of fourth to keep the Spurs on their toes.

True, four of their wins during the five-game winning streak have been against lottery-bound teams, and the fifth was against the then-struggling Kings. But if Dallas had always just taken care of business and beaten the teams they had to beat, with occasional upsets over equal or better competition, they would be in a much better position right now, and would certainly have home court advantage in the playoffs.

Meanwhile, their small ball lineup continues to mirror the old Danny Ainge-coached Suns, about whom Ainge famously said that he'll play his best players, regardless of size, and let the opponents worry about the matchups. While the defense has deteriorated somewhat, their offense has improved more than enough to cover the new deficiencies. Furthermore, their low number of fouls is testament to their decision to play defense as best as they can but not worry about made shots.

Perhaps no team on Earth is as little discouraged by an opponent's made basket, dunk, or three-pointer than the Dallas Mavericks. Score all you want, they seem to say by their play, we'll get more.

It's an interesting and certainly exciting style of play and with three more potentially lottery-bound teams in their immediate future, the Mavs could stretch this out to an eight-game winning streak. What's more, two of those three games will be played on the road, so it will be an excellent chance for the Mavs to extend their current one-game road winning streak.

Also, because all of their remaining opponents are in the Western conference, every win gets them that much closer to clinching a better conference record than the Memphis Grizzlies, which, along with a victory over Memphis next Tuesday at home, would propel the Mavericks into the fifth seed.

The Mavs get a day off before hosting the Utah Jazz tomorrow night at 7:30pm. The game will be shown on Fox Sports South West and NBA League Pass.

Art Garcia ofThe Ft. Worth Star-Telegram notes: The referees must have had an early wake-up call, because only 21 fouls were whistled in the entire game. That included 10 on the Mavs, who were whistled for no fouls in the first quarter and only two in the second... For the Sonics, former Mavs forward Ansu Sesay wound up with a career-high-tying 19 points and a career-high 10 rebounds... The Mavs were a perfect 17-of-17 from the free throw line. The only other time they were perfect from line this season was Jan. 28, when they went 12-of-12 at Utah... During their current five-game winning streak, the Mavs have scored at least 30 points in the first quarter of each game.

Josh Howard
(hamstring) had negative MRIs on Friday, played 27 minutes on Saturday and 15 minutes last night, and is listed as day-to-day. He sat out the second half last night because he couldn't loosen up his hamstring, but he doesn't expect to miss any more action.Tony Delk(ankle),Tariq Abdul-Wahad (knee), andJon Stefansson(ankle) are all on the injured list.


Our own Tom House talks to Mavs assistant coach Charlie Parker:Mavericks fans everywhere have enjoyed watching the development of the two exciting rookies Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels in Dallas.On media day back at the beginning of this season we talked with Mavs Assistant Coach Charlie Parker about the pair he had just tutored in Long Beach and The Rocky Mountain Revue, including what he had seen from them to that point and what he looked for from them in the future. As the regular season now starts to wind down we went back to Charlie to get his thoughts on the development he and the Mavs had seen from the duo this season plus what lays ahead for them this coming summer.

Eddie Sefko ofThe Dallas Morning News writes: While many people believe the Mavericks are peaking at the right time, they chose different descriptions Tuesday night after their fifth consecutive win. A mirage. Fool's gold. An optical illusion.These were the hot topics after they moved one step away from the 50-win plateau. Rather than celebrate the 118-108 success against Seattle, the Mavericks rationalized it. Beating four teams headed to the lottery and one struggling playoff team (Sacramento) is hardly the stuff that validates anybody as playoff-ready.

Eddie Sefko ofThe Dallas Morning News writes: The Mavericks are running on empty when it comes to the NBA's season awards, with probably only one player having a legitimate shot at being honored. Antawn Jamison has better numbers – 14.4 points, 6.3 rebounds – than any sixth man in the league.And he has been a true sixth man, starting just two games and playing fewer than 30 minutes per game. He is likely to receive heavy consideration for the award, along with Indiana's Al Harrington and Denver's Earl Boykins. San Antonio's Manu Ginobili could gather some support, but he has started 38 of the 72 games he's played.

Art Garcia ofThe Ft. Worth Star-Telegram writes: Sure, the winning streak is nice, but the Mavericks are also realistic.The issues built up and scrutinized for 72 games aren't just going to be erased in a week. Tuesday night's 118-108 victory over Seattle before a sellout crowd of 20,223 at American Airlines Center, the fifth consecutive win for the Mavs, is hardly the end-all, be-all for a team looking to move up in the Western Conference standings and gearing up for the playoffs. "Things are going well, but it might be a little misleading," Steve Nash said. "We're playing at home, for one. We've played some teams that are out of the playoffs. We've been running and having a lot of success, but we've got to continue to look at ourselves objectively and continue to be critical of ourselves so we can get better and better, and not take our foot off the gas."

Dwain Price ofThe Ft. Worth Star-Telegram writes: Dirk Nowitzki revealed Tuesday that coach Don Nelson fined him $2,000 for an outburst he had after the Mavericks' 119-118 overtime loss at Miami on March 26. But, for Nowitzki, it might have been money well-spent. Since Nowitzki criticized some of his teammates and said Nelson and owner Mark Cuban are at odds, the Mavericks are 5-0.So, in a roundabout way, Nowitzki felt his blowup was well worth it. "Nellie told me he had to do it," Nowitzki said. "He said it's not the right way for people, after games, to go to the papers and say stuff like that, so that's fine with me. "He did what he had to do. I was pretty emotional [after the loss to Miami], and I paid for it."