Tag:Dirk Nowitzki
Posted on: January 2, 2012 11:36 pm
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'Uptight' Knicks get burned by Bargnani

NEW YORK -- According to Tyson Chandler, the Knicks were "uptight" Monday night in their first home game since their Christmas Day victory over the Celtics. Playing without Amar'e Stoudemire will do that to you.

But on the two possessions that doomed them against the Toronto Raptors, the Knicks weren't uptight. They were just at the mercy of Andrea Bargnani.

Clinging to a one-point lead in the final minute, the Raptors went to Bargnani on high pick-and-rolls on two straight possessions, anticipating that the Knicks would stick with their game-long approach to switching on the Toronto big man and leaving a smaller defender on him. Earlier in the game, when the screens had been set closer to the elbow, Bargnani got the ball in the mid-post against smaller defenders like Landry Fields and Toney Douglas and made them pay.

Both times at the end of the game, the Knicks switched and left Fields to defend Bargnani on the perimeter instead of Chandler. Both times, Bargnani delivered -- first with a 17-footer, and then with two free throws after Fields fouled him. The Raptors led by as many as 18 and beat the Knicks 90-85.

"It worked out for Andrea," Raptors coach Dwane Casey said. "One of the things he's doing is learning how to play against switches. That's the same thing Dirk (Nowitzki) went through, and so I was talking to him about that -- how we're using some of the same sets we used for Dirk against switches."

After Bargnani's 17-footer gave Toronto an 86-83 lead, Carmelo Anthony passed to Chandler for a dunk on a pick-and-roll to again cut it to one, 86-85, with 34.6 seconds left. The Raptors ran the same play and baited Fields into a foul, leading to two free throws and an 88-85 Raptors lead with 17.7 seconds left. The Knicks elected to go for a quick 3-point attempt from Anthony, which fell short.

"The play was for me to go quick," Anthony said. "We were down three with 17 seconds left. If I made it, we tied the game up. If I missed it, we had a chance to get the rebound."

Neither happened, leaving the Knicks to dwell on their defensive approach to guarding Bargnani (21 points) on the two most important possessions of the game. Switching on high pick-and-rolls is vintage Mike Woodson, the Knicks' defensive assistant who had a reputation for switching everything in Atlanta because he had so many long, quick athletes.

"I thought it was good that we switched it," Chandler said. "I definitely thought it was the right play. I just think we weren't aggressive enough with it. The play was for us to switch immediately and keep him more on the perimeter where the guard should have the advantage. The only time he's going to have the advantage is when he's more up on the elbow where he can be more comfortable with his shot and just kind of stand flat-footed and just shoot over the guy. Everything we do, we just have to be a little more aggressive with it."

After beating the Kings in Sacramento Saturday without Stoudemire (ankle), the Knicks are hopeful he'll return Wednesday night against Charlotte.

"We're not too concerned," said Anthony, who had 35 points but missed nine of his 13 shots in the second and third quarters. "We need him out there at 100 percent, not 70 percent."

In the meantime, the Knicks (2-3) need to "let go and play," Chandler said.

"Right now, it seems like we're a little uptight, and there's no reason to be," Chandler said.

Not yet, anyway.

 
Posted on: December 5, 2011 8:01 pm
 

Sources: Mavs saving room for run at D-Will

Tyson Chandler's hunch that he'll be wearing a new uniform soon could prove to be true. And it may have nothing to do with Chandler and everything to do with Deron Williams.

With serious interest registered from the Nets, Golden State, Houston and Sacramento, four teams with cap space and flexibility, the man who served as the glue for the Mavericks' 2011 NBA title could be slipping away -- but for reasons that go well beyond the uncertain free-agent market for Chandler himself.

The Mavs are in no rush to pony up a max offer to retain Chandler, largely because they want to maintain flexibility for next summer's free-agent class -- which just happens to include Dallas' own Williams, multiple sources told CBSSports.com. While much of the speculation in this five-day run-up to the start of free agency Friday has centered around 2012 free agents Chris Paul and Dwight Howard, Williams' situation is in many ways more intriguing.

"Everything is sort of stuck because of Chris and Dwight," one agent said Monday.

Add Deron to that list.

The Nets traded Derrick Favors, Devin Harris and two first-round picks to Utah for Williams in February and are in the process of trying to assemble enough talent around him to keep him with the team when it moves to Brooklyn next season. Like Paul and Howard, Williams has an early-termination option that would make him an unrestricted free agent on July 1. Williams already has indicated he will not sign an extension this season, just as Paul and Howard will not. Howard remains intent on finding his way to Los Angeles to join the Lakers, while Paul has his sights set on New York -- though he remains open to a trade that would team him up with Howard in Orlando.

Williams spoke with members of the New York-New Jersey media Monday and proclaimed in a radio interview on New York's WFAN that there's a 90 percent chance he stays with the Nets. New Jersey has expressed interest in free agents Chandler, Nene and Caron Butler, but the big prize that would make D-Will's decision to stay on the East Coast a no-brainer would be a trade for Howard -- a tantalizing scenario that could play out one way or another by the end of the week.

New rules that dampen the home team's advantage in offering its own prospective free agent a significantly larger extension -- and essentially take away the extend-and-trade and sign-and-trade safety nets -- are expected to force the Hornets and Magic to make quick decisions on how to handle Paul's and Howard's impending free agency. The Nets, having given up so many assets for Williams, are in a position to be more patient and do everything possible to entice their star to stay put.

But if the Nets are unsuccessful in their efforts to land Howard -- Brook Lopez, first-round picks and absorbing Hedo Turkoglu's contract doesn't figure to be enough -- then Williams will have an interesting decision to make come July 1. And the buzz among front-office executives Monday was that Dallas owner Mark Cuban would be in a position to sell Williams on taking less money to play in his hometown.

Once Williams becomes a free agent, he could get a five-year, $100 million deal to stay with the Nets. Signing with Dallas would net Williams only a four-year, $74 million deal. How much playing in his hometown is worth to Williams would depend, in part, on what pieces the Nets surround him with between now and then.

Of the teams expected to contend for a championship this season, only Dallas would have the cap space to sign a max player next summer and still have room to do more. If the Mavs used the amnesty provision on Brendan Haywood next summer, they'd be more than $21 million under the cap -- with Dirk Nowitzki still around, draining jumpers.

Jason Terry and Jason Kidd come off the books after the season, and the Mavs will want their Hall of Fame point guard to pass the torch to a star in his prime and keep Nowitzki in the hunt for more titles during the final two years of his contract. In addition to Williams, Paul and Howard, the 2012 free-agent class is loaded with attractive restricted free agents, such as Russell Westbrook, Eric Gordon, O.J. Mayo and George Hill -- not to mention Derrick Rose, who nobody envisions leaving Chicago.

So the lackluster nature of this free-agent class compared to next summer's, combined with confusion about the new rules and an unwillingness to be the team that sets the market, have slowed the activity with four days to go before camps and free agency officially open. Also, don't underestimate how the shortened season provides an incentive for teams to pass on significant moves now when July 1 is only a few months away.
 
The biggest impediment to the wheeling and dealing in 2011 has everything to do with 2012 and beyond.

Posted on: June 12, 2011 12:54 pm
 

Even if Mavs win, it's all about the Heat

MIAMI – With the Dallas Mavericks on the verge of an improbable championship in a closeout game on the road against the Heat on Sunday night, the worst part of the equation for them was delivered with those last three words.

“Against the Heat.”

Because no matter how compelling the angle of Dirk Nowitzki and Jason Kidd finally getting their rings, no matter the possibility of Dallas’ comeback-strewn, destiny-filled postseason run culminating with a title, and regardless of Mavs owner Mark Cuban spontaneously bursting into flames during the trophy presentation, there’s only one angle capable of trumping all of that.

The Heat. The Heat losing. The Heat failing.

That’s what this is about. That’s what this NBA season has been about since LeBron James crudely announced to a national TV audience that he was leaving Cleveland for Miami. It has been about the Heat – either the beginning of a hastily assembled, store-bought dynasty or the possibility of utter, spectacular failure.

So the prospect of the Mavs clinching the title in Game 6 Sunday night and Nowitzki winning Finals MVP, thus establishing himself as 1(b) to Kobe Bryant’s 1(a) among clutch performers of their generation? The impressive fortress of double-digit comebacks the Mavs have relentlessly constructed during this postseason run? The idea of Cuban, who has been fined at least $1.6 million since buying the Mavs in 2000, celebrating a championship? This year, and only this year, all of it shrinks in comparison to the Heat not winning.

That’s right, not even Cuban – who was famously fined $500,000 in 2002 for saying the NBA’s director of officials, Ed Rush, wasn’t fit to work at a Dairy Queen, and $250,000 for repeated misconduct after the Mavs blew a 2-0 lead in the 2006 Finals and lost to the Heat in six games – will be able to steal the spotlight from LeBron and Dwyane Wade failing to make good on their championship covenant.

Not even the culmination of a riveting, remarkable postseason run for the Mavs – in which they’ve come back from a 16-point deficit on the road against the Lakers and 15-point holes at Oklahoma City and Miami in consecutive rounds – would shield the nation from its obsession with the Heat. Not even Dallas’ unblemished record in postseason closeout games – 3-0 during these playoffs, a six-game winning streak overall – would stop folks from Northeast Ohio to North Carolina to Northern California from standing at the water cooler (or the modern-day version of it, Twitter) and saying, “Do you believe it?!?!? LeBron lost!”

So what’s going to happen? What’s my prediction? Same as it was before the series started: Mavs in seven. So if I’m right, the only force of nature that can delay the conflicting analysis of one team’s accomplishment viewed through the prism of another’s failure is – appropriately enough – the Heat themselves.
Posted on: February 2, 2011 11:17 pm
 

Carlisle: Dirk is MVP

NEW YORK – Rick Carlisle was in a giving mood Wednesday night after the Mavericks’ sixth straight victory, awarding the MVP trophy to Dirk Nowitzki and naming Tyson Chandler to the Western Conference All-Star roster. 

The Mavs’ coach, of course, doesn’t have the power to do either – aside from his vote for All-Star reserves, which will be announced Thursday night. But after Nowitzki scored a game-high 29 points in only 32 minutes – on efficient 10-for-16 shooting – you can forgive Carlisle for being a little giddy about recent developments for a team that was sucking wind only a week ago. 

“I sense that he’s building each game on the last and that we’re headed the right direction with this thing,” Carlisle said after the Mavs beat the Knicks 113-97. “And talk about MVP candidates, if you look at what happened to us when he was out, if you look at his plus-minus, I think he’s the number one plus-minus guy in the the entire league. Based on that, he should be the MVP. That means he’s more valuable to our team than any other star is to theirs. And so his presence on the floor and his healthy presence is huge for us.” 

No argument here. That’s why I put Dirk on my Western Conference reserves. But MVP? Sure, the Mavs were 2-7 while Nowitzki was out with a knee injury that only now is “close to 100 percent,” according to Dirk himself. And as for the plus-minus reference, Nowitzki actually is ninth in the NBA at plus-310. He’s first on the Mavs, though – and perhaps leading the league in the Mavs’ interpretation of plus-minus, which can be adjusted based on what specific factors you emphasize. 

Hey, Dirk is good, and that’s good enough for me. 

"Dirk’s a unique guy,” Carlisle said. “There’s nobody who’s worked on developing his game more than he has in the history of this league. I put him up against (Larry) Bird and all these guys who have the great work ethics and reputations as hard workers. There’s a reason the ball goes in the basket. That’s because he’s great and he’s put in the time and the hours.” 

When the conversation turned to Chandler, who had 15 points and 11 rebounds and held Amar’e Stoudemire scoreless in the second half, Carlisle squeezed in one last bit of lobbying before All-Star reserves are announced. 

“Tyson’s an All-Star,” Carlisle said. “I don’t know that he’ll get voted, but he’s an All-Star. And there’s probably three or four other guys in the same boat. He’s truly deserving, has had a great impact on our team, and it may surprise people. He may have a legitimate shot, and he should, because of the effect he’s had on our group, particularly at the defensive end. And what we’re all seeing now is, he’s doing some great things offensively as well. He’s a big part of what we’re doing and I can’t stress that or repeat it enough.” 

Obviously not. But given that only a few weeks ago the Mavs were mired in a six-game losing streak (and seven of eight), Carlisle deserves to blow off a little steam. The next hurdle comes Friday night in Boston against the Celtics, whom the Mavs beat by two points back in November – without Boston having Shaquille O’Neal or Kendrick Perkins.
Posted on: January 14, 2011 11:48 pm
Edited on: January 15, 2011 12:36 am
 

Much-needed Dirk could be back Saturday

SAN ANTONIO – Coach Rick Carlisle admitted that Saturday’s game in Memphis could mark the return of Dirk Nowitzki to the Team Formerly Known as the Mavericks

If it is, it’s not a minute too soon. 

The Mavs are lost without Nowitzki, who went through his first contact drills Friday in the strongest sign yet that he is ready to return after a nine-game absence with a sprained right knee. Dallas has lost seven of nine without Dirk, including a pointless 101-89 blowout at the hands of the Spurs

“Our whole team is out of whack,” Shawn Marion said. Nowitzki has been out since Dec. 28 as the day-to-day status of the injury became week-to-week, prompting rival executives to wonder if Nowitzki’s injury was worse than the team has been letting on. 

Those doubts were put to rest Friday, when Nowitzki went through one-on-one contact drills for the first time. Later, on the court before the Spurs game, Nowitzki worked up a decent sweat with an array of half-speed offensive drills. He flexed his knee and winced a couple of times, but other than that, his jumper was still silky smooth. 

The same cannot be said for the Mavs without him. 

“We’re missing that little edge we had when things did happen, when things would go wrong, because we would find a way with that edge to fight over the hump and get these wins,” Marion said. “We’ve got to find a way to get that back right now. Who knows? Dirk could come back and it might come back as well. But it might not.” 

In the third game without Nowitzki, the Mavs lost Caron Butler to a season-ending knee injury, leaving them without two of their top three scorers. They can’t replace Butler without a trade between now and the deadline, but help could be on the way from Dirk. Nowitzki said during the ESPN broadcast Friday night that he was "actually really close." Owner Mark Cuban said after the game Nowitzki would be a game-time decision Saturday night in Memphis – which would seem to be a significant upgrade over day-to-day and week-to-week. 

“I don’t know when he’s going to play,” Carlisle said. “We’ve been very consistent in that. We don’t know. He worked out hard today and we’ve got to see how he feels tomorrow. Tomorrow could be a possibility, but then again maybe not. We can’t mess with that.” 

And quite clearly, the Mavs can’t mess around without Dirk too much longer. 

“It’s going to be good to get a healthy team out there,” Tyson Chandler said. “It’s tough with guys playing out of position and stepping into roles they’re not accustomed to. It’ll be good to get back our team.” And that was exactly the right way to put it, because Dirk is the team.
Posted on: September 21, 2010 5:56 pm
 

Preseason Primers: Mavericks


It wouldn't be time for another NBA season without the Mavericks feeling like championship contenders. But this time, the feeling is different. This time, there's a palpable belief that the Mavs had better get it done this year or their window will be closed -- for a long time, if not for good.

That's a little drastic. They're still not better than the Lakers, and still might not be able to get past the Spurs in a best-of-7 playoff series. But the Mavs enter training camp as a much better team than the one that lost to San Antonio in the first round a few months ago. With no cap space -- cap space can't score or defend, after all -- Mark Cuban struck out on the major free-agent targets. But the addition of Tyson Chandler certainly will help. Jason Kidd and Dirk Nowitzki know the window is closing, but maybe this is a good spot for them to be in. With all eyes on the Lakers, Celtics, Heat and Magic, maybe the Mavs can quietly be in the mix. If it's possible for Cuban's team to do anything quietly.

Training camp site: Southern Methodist University 

Training camp starts: Sept. 28 

Key additions: Tyson Chandler (trade), Alexis Ajinca (trade), Ian Mahinmi (free agent), Dominique Jones (draft). 

Key subtractions: Erick Dampier (trade), Eduardo Najera (trade), Matt Carroll (trade). 

Likely starting lineup: Jason Kidd, PG; Caron Butler, SG; Shawn Marion, SF; Dirk Nowitzki, PF; Tyson Chandler, C 

Player to watch: Butler. When he’s good, he’s very, very good. And when he’s bad, he’s divisive. 

Chemistry quiz: There shouldn’t be any chemistry issues on a team with so many veterans getting their last realistic shot at a championship. There shouldn’t be. But there could be, especially given that not everyone (Mark Cuban included) was on board with the rotations and substitution patterns Carlisle utilized during another underwhelming (and brief) playoff run. Teams like these, with established players vying for their spot in the pecking order, can come unglued if things don’t go well. (Did we mention Cuban’s recent comments that the Mavs have enough size and depth to beat the Lakers?) 

Injury check: Speedster Rodrigue Beaubois is likely out until November following surgery on his broken left foot. 

Camp battles: Ultimately, Carlisle faces only two starting lineup decisions. But they’re important ones: Whether to start Chandler or Brendan Haywood at center, and whether Butler starts at shooting guard with Marion at the three, or Butler at the three with Beaubois (once he’s healthy) starting in the backcourt with Kidd. Neither one of those decisions will be made in October. But all eyes will be on first-round pick (acquired from Memphis) Dominique Jones, a slasher who has a chance to crack Carlisle’s rotation and give the Mavs the dribble-penetration element they sorely lacked last season. 

Biggest strength: Size and depth. If 6-11 Frenchman Ian Mahinmi stands on a croissant, the Mavs have five legitimate 7-footers: Mahinmi, Nowitzki, Chandler, Haywood and Alexis Ajinca. It can be argued – as Cuban did recently – that Dallas is the team best equipped to combat the Lakers’ twin towers of Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum. First, the Mavs should worry about getting past the Spurs. 

Glaring weakness: Age and miles. The window is closing fast on Kidd, Dirk and Marion, and Jason Terry, all of a sudden, is 33.
Posted on: February 13, 2010 3:29 pm
 

Torch-bearer Nash still done with Team Canada

DALLAS -- Steve Nash's eyes lit up Saturday when recounting his experience as a torch-bearer during the opening ceremony of the Winter Olympics in his native Canada. It was as though he were running a fastbreak and had spotted Amar'e Stoudemire alone under the basket.

But despite the thrill of rejoining Canada's Olympic movement for a day, Nash said Saturday he's still done playing for Team Canada in international competition.

"I'd love to play in the Olympics again, and I'd love to play for my country again," Nash said. "But it comes a point where it’s diminishing returns. You can't be everything to everyone. And the amount of time it takes me to prepare to play, I’d have to prepare most of the summer just to play at the standards that would be expected of me on the Canadian team. If I did that, there’s a pretty good chance I wouldn’t make it through an NBA season or be able to live up to my responsibilities in that respect. I gave over a decade to the Canadian team. I love it. I wish I could do it all. But I want these young kids to get a chance to build a team and a generation of basketball players that can exceed the expectation that we’ve set."

Nash called carrying the Olympic flame "the most moving experience of my life. ... I was feeling a sense of connectivity with Canadians -- in B.C. Place, our whole country proud in that moment to have the torch, to have my torch lit was a moment where I really felt connected to all Canadians. I had a huge smile on my face, a huge rush of emotion because of that pride."

It only gets better for Nash, who will start the All-Star Game Sunday alongside former Mavericks teammate Dirk Nowitzki.

Posted on: January 28, 2010 11:53 am
Edited on: January 28, 2010 7:45 pm
 

All-Star Reserves (UPDATE)

First of all, as Charles Barkley would say, I love the seven first-time selections. All-Star weekend is badly in need of some juice, and I think there's a good chance that some of these first-timers -- Deron Williams, Derrick Rose, Rajon Rondo -- will provide some of the weekend's most memorable moments.

I know this is a knee-jerk sports world and we're supposed to fight about everything, but I don't have enormous problems with the coaches' selections. In the East, they picked Rose and Al Horford over my picks -- David Lee and Josh Smith. I disagree on Horford; Smith is the Hawks' most important player after Joe Johnson, and Horford doesn't play enough minutes to be an All-Star. Lee deserves to be there, too. Being based in New York, I have more than my share of chances to watch him bust his behind on a talent-less team. Rose? I don't have any problem with him being an All-Star. He'll be great to watch in an All-Star Game. Guys like Rose understand the moment and know how to rise to it.

In the West, I only differed with the coaches on one selection: They chose Zach Randolph; I chose Chauncey Billups. If I met with every coach who chose Randolph and we debated outside some NBA locker room, I don't think anybody would win. Z-Bo is having a great year on a surprisingly competitive team. Billups remains the glue that keeps the Nuggets together. I'll take the No. 2 pick in that draft and be happy.

In making my picks, I used the same criteria the coaches are instructed to use: select seven reserves, ranked 1-7 for weighting purposes, according to the following positional breakdown: center, two forwards, two guards, and two wild cards.


Here were my picks -- with the coaches' alternative in parentheses, where applicable:

East

1. Chris Bosh, F, Toronto: The "other" 2010 free agent went into the season determined to put up huge numbers, which he is. Bosh's steady play also is a big reason for the Raptors' recent resurgence.

2. Rajon Rondo, G, Boston: Nothing against Kevin Garnett or Ray Allen, but Rondo may have surpassed both of them as the most important Celtic after Paul Pierce.

3. Josh Smith, F, Atlanta (Coaches picked Derrick Rose): Defense, shot-blocking, scoring -- J-Smoove does it all, except take too many 3-pointers. He's eliminated that annoying aspect of his game and deserves to be rewarded.

4. Gerald Wallace, F (wild card), Charlotte: This is a tough call between Wallace and Danny Granger. I'll give the nod to Wallace because of defense and team success.

5. David Lee, C, Knicks (Coaches picked Al Horford): It's time to stop attributing Lee's machine-like double-double production to Mike D'Antoni's system and recognize that there's nothing wrong with being one of the best pick-and-roll big men in the league.

6. Joe Johnson, G, Atlanta: Johnson should send a thank-you gift to Jamal Crawford, whose ability to absorb some of the end-of-quarter/end-of-game scoring load has kept Johnson fresh.

7. Paul Pierce, F (wild card), Boston: Rondo makes the Celtics' engine go, but Pierce is still the closer -- one of the best in the league at both ends of the floor.


West


1. Dirk Nowitzki, F, Dallas: Still playing at an MVP level and never gets the recognition he deserves.

2. Chris Paul, G, New Orleans: In terms of statistics and overall talent, the best point guard in the league.

3. Brandon Roy, G, Portland: With all of Portland's injuries -- including Roy's own balky hamstring of late -- this budding superstar deserves credit for keeping the Blazers afloat.

4. Chauncey Billups, G (wild card), Denver (Coaches picked Zach Randolph): We take Mr. Big Shot for granted because he's so consistent, but remember: He's consistently great. Monta Ellis deserves serious consideration here or for one of the wild-card spots, but there are simply too many great guards in the West for him to break through.

5. Pau Gasol, C, Lakers: Despite missing a big chunk of the season, Gasol has played enough to warrant an All-Star nod. When he's on the floor, he's among the most gifted and impactful big men in the league. Gasol or Randolph? I'll take Gasol.

6. Kevin Durant, F, Oklahoma City: We knew he could score, but now KD is emerging as a much improved defender and leader.

7. Deron Williams, G (wild card), Utah: This is why there's no room for Randolph on my squad, despite his solid 20-point, 11-rebound averages on a much improved Memphis team. D-Will is too good -- and the Jazz's recent resurgence too notable to overlook -- for one of the top point guards in the NBA to continue to get overlooked.

 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com