Monday, March 29, 2010

Mavs Knock Nuggets Down and More.

After Dallas' win over Denver, coupled with Utah's win over New York, the Nuggets fall to 5th in the Western conference.  They entered Monday's game tied for 2nd in the West with the Mavericks.  How crazy is that?

Detes on that, Dirk's triple double and more after the Mavericks 109-93 win over the Nuggets on Monday night here in YouTube video blog.

One thing I didn't touch on: Rodrigue Beaubois.  The hot topic this morning was just how much Roddy B would play vs the Nuggets.  The pre-game media throng that included, the Dallas Morning News' Jean-Jacques Taylor, the Star-Telegram's Jen Floyd-Engel and Dallasmavs.com's Earl K Sneed set the over/under at 14 minutes.  A number of people, including Mavericks owner Mark Cuban and yours truly, took the over.  Turns out we were right just by a hair.  Beaubois' line: 14 minutes 56 seconds, five points, three steals, one assist and two fouls.  This prompted my partner in pre- and post-game crime Derek Harper to remind everyone who had just punched Beaubois' ticket to the basketball hall of fame that "40 is hard to follow-up" and that it "doesn't happen every night".  True that but I think we can all agree there's a lot to look forward to with the 22-year old Guadelope native.

Mindless Trivia Time:
Now from the dumb question department: without checking Google, do you know what a Guadeloupe native is called?  Guadelopian? Not sure.

What I am sure of, though, is that those indigenous to the US territory Guam are called Chamorro.  How do I know?  Because for six months I lived right on the Phillipine Sea on that tiny little island. 

And with that, I bid you a good night!
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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Shopping with Tuff Juice, Lauding the Rookie and a Lucky $20!

NBA players gotta eat, drink and get some t-p.  I happen to run into a Mavs player or coach every now and then at a particular grocery store in my nabe.  That's not necessarily blog-worthy but today's supermarket chat made me smile.

Sunday afternoon I almost collided with Caron Butler's shopping cart.  Yes, I am the annoying, wandering grocery shopper.  Having just come from the gym,  not wearing full-on anchor spackle and hair spray it took a second for it to register with him who I was.  After a quick hello, guess what his first words to me were?

"How about the young guy?" he asked with a pretty-big-for-Caron-Butler smile on his face.  Of course, he was referring to rookie Roddy Beaubois' career-high 40 point night against Golden State. (more good Beaubois stats here courtesy of Dallasbasketball.com).  We sang Beaubois' praises for a few.  He was like a proud dad.  I asked him about the team cheering for Beaubois when he got on the bus after the game (thanks, Chuck Cooperstein & Mark Followill).  He said it was really cool and then we said our goodbyes.  No 25K fine in Portland talk, btw.  Call me a bad reporter but  I had collard greens to juice, damnit.  (Seriously).

Point being, I am as jaded and flippant as the next reporter.  Many times, a lot of the players we cover are as well.  A 35-45 point night is really cool and very impressive but it's not something that we would discuss too often the next day.  What struck me was how much of a fan Butler was at that moment.  My job isn't to cheer or root for one team that I sometimes forget that seeing a great performance like Saturday night's is special and more than anything, fun.  Butler's job is to play well and, as a good teammate, brag about Beaubois.  Let's be honest, though, sometimes players just give us media types post-game lip service in singing their teammates praises.  Butler's genuine enthusiasm was wonderfully refreshing and reminded me that it is okay to think a performance like Beaubois' is awesome, as well.

As for that lucky $20. 

This has nothing to do with basketball but it's the first time it has ever happened to me and I had to share!  I bought about 7 items: collard greens, orange juice, juicing apples, eating apples, raw sugar, bananas and that deliciously tasty mint water.

My total tab came to an even $20!  Twenty bucks with tax, title and license!!!!! Never, not once, EVER has that happened to me.  Is it dorky of me to think that's cool?  Sure.  But even the checkout guy suggested I play the lottery.  Done!
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Saturday, March 27, 2010

10 Games To Go And What Do You Know?

Two things I've noticed:
1) Taking a break from blogging blows.  I missed it.  I had a very entertaining stretch that included a FABULOUS 80th birthday party for stepdad, Ed Hipps.  A Marilyn Monroe impersonator made his night. 

2) During the Mavericks 2-4 stretch, they haven't been pushing the ball enough.

Dallas has only two wins in its last six games with those wins coming over the Clippers and Bulls.  In that span, the Mavericks have been putting up just 13 fast break points a game.  You could argue they hit rock bottom against Portland when they laid a goose egg.  ZERO fast break points compared to the Blazers' 16.  Ouch.

During their 13-game win streak, Dallas put up 20.15 fast break points a game.  Fast break points are just one element but it's definitely a strong contributing factor to this six-game span.  Add to that, Dallas has taken less free throws lately with no more than 20 in the last four games heading into the Warriors game and there are some points lefts on the court that they were getting during the win-streak. 

So what the hell is going on? 

The Mavericks, the most veteran team in the NBA, are struggling at one of the most important times of the season. This is when their experience should be paying off yet it seems to have disappeared.

My Mavs Game Night partner, Derek Harper, is adamant that successful veteran teams team should place emphasis on closing a season strongly.  No doubt the coach is placing an emphasis on this but are the players?  The timing of this stumble is concerning.   Where will the Mavs be at the end of this 10 game stretch?  I don't know.  And I am not sure if anyone knows which version of the Mavs team will show up once the playoffs begin.
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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Mavs Beat Bulls and A Bull Almost Beats Harp!

Does Dallas lack a killer instinct? Dirk says kinda sorta. Why was Jason Terry all stopped up? PLUS, which Bulls player shot Derek the devil eyes?

Check out my latest video blog for the answers to all those questions and more!


One Addendum:

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said after the game that Jason Kidd asked to sit out at the start of the fourth quarter because his knees were sore.  Kidd after the game that it wasn't an issue,  the game was in hand and that he wanted to "let the other guys play".  The Bulls did get to within seven, so the game wasn't quite that in control.

 Ok, there's a disconnect. 

Simple miscommunication?  Perhaps.  The real story might lie somewhere in between.  Right now, I'm not losing sleep over it.

OH!  One more from the RANDOM department: 
Former Nets coach Lawrence Frank was at the game.  He came up to Harp after the game to say hello.   Remember New Jersey fired him in November?  He said life is great right now.  He's being paid to hang.  Nice.

I happened to see him sit down in the stands during the pregame show and I was like "is that Lawrence Frank?!?!?".  He's all of 5'7 so he's kind of hard to pick out of a crowd.

Why in the hell I kind of know him is because he was an assistant coach at the University of Tennessee under Kevin O'Neill when I covered the Vols.  MAN, could I tell you some stories (about O'Neill, not Frank).  They would all involved some serious curse words and questionable behavior.

Anyway, Frank doesn't remember me at all and has no clue who I am because I was as low-level and spare as they come.  That being said I never, ever felt comfortable around that Tennessee coaching staff.  Just saying.

And To End on a Positive Note: 
Bulls coach Vinny Del Negro couldn't have been nicer.   He came up to say hello to Derek (which almost everyone does - players & coaches LOVE him).  Del Negro has had a tough few months and admitted as much.  He was so nice to introduce himself to me and say hello.  Just saying.
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Chewing the Straw with Caron Butler

I didn't really know what to expect when I sat down for an interview with Caron Butler.  Aside from a brief introductory "hello", teaming upwith him to play ping pong, and a few media scrum interviews, we hadn't chatted much. 

So when we took over the AAC's main media room, delaying the poor production folks who were trying to set up for Tuesday night's Stars/Sharks game, I came away from our 10-minute interview impressed and intrigued with the just-turned-30-year old's perspective on a number of things.

Here are some highlights:
-He doesn't think that Kobe Bryant was blowing smoke when he told me during All-Star weekend that the Mavs/Wizards trade puts Dallas up there with the NBA's elite.  He said that Kobe isn't in the business of saying things he doesn't mean.  In fact, Kobe texted Caron as soon as the trade happened. Tune in tonight to find out what Kobe said.
-He explains why this trade has worked so quickly for Dallas and how much it's reinvigorated him as a player.
-When the trade happened, Mark Cuban wanted to Butler to fly to Dallas immediately and hang out with him during All-Star weekend.
-He outlines the parameters of "strawgate", when he can and can't chew straws and how he started the whole straw-chewing business in the first place.
-And, I know you Tony Romo fans will hate this, he says Romo is a phenomenal athlete and killed his team one time in a basketball game.  His Racine high school team used to play Romo about 3 times a year in high school.

You can hear the rest of Butler's interview on Mavericks Game Night with Derek Harper and me tonight at 7pm on TXA21.
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Tuesday, March 16, 2010

JET Back on the Runway, PT II

Sefko has Rick Carlisle talking about it here.

I talked to Jason Terry on Sunday at Carlisle's ping pong tournament.  He told me point blank he's shooting for a Wednesday return against the Bulls.  Detes of that conversation here. What was interesting is that Terry offered up his return plans.  I didn't have to ask.

Derek Harper and I return from an extended Mavericks Game Night layoff and offer up pre- and post-game coverage of Mavs/Bulls on Wednesday night starting at 7:00pm.
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Sunday, March 14, 2010

JET Back on the Runway???

A very fragile-looking Jason Terry made an appearance at Rick Carlisle's ping pong tournament on Sunday.  I say fragile because I was almost scared to give him a hello hug.  His face was a tad swollen after having facial surgery on March 5th.  A smidge puffy, would best the way to describe it.

He told me he expects to be back in uniform against the Bulls on Wednesday.  He and Cowboys owner Jerry Jones are the most optimistic people I know. 

"You sure?" I asked.  "Yep." he assured me.  "Wednesday."

I like the effort.  We'll see.
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Ain't No Party Like a Ping Pong Party

And what a party it was. 

Ok, maybe I'm exaggerating but the first-ever Pancreatic Cancer Network's Purple Ping Pong bash at SMU's Moody Coliseum was a blast.  Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle is a ping pong fanatic and hosted the event.  He recruited Dirk Nowitzki, JJ Barea, Matt Carroll, Derek Harper, former Ranger Jeff Russell, Olympians Nastia Luikin and Carly Patterson, SMU men's basketball coach Matt Dougherty, Texas running back Tre Newton, Popeye Jones, Mark Followill, Emily Jones, Bob Ortegel, Chuck Cooperstein, yours truly and many more. 

Honestly, when Carlisle called to ask me to play, I thought I was in trouble for something I said.  No joke.  It took me a while to call him back and he texted me telling me to check my voice mail.  "UH-OH!" I thought.  Turns out, it was a gracious invitation to be a part of the event and I was so honored he thought of to me.

Needless to say, I stunk.  Completely totally sucked.  Dirk Nowitzki killed me. I joked with him that the MVP was going down today.  Not so much.  The Big German is ping pong master and has a table in his living room.  He event went to playing with an arm behind his back to give at least me a fighting chance.  Not so much.

My team consisted of Popeye Jones, who was fabulous, Caron Butler, who didn't play because of a tight lower back, the fabulous Emily Jones and a pancreatic cancer survivor.  We lost in double elimination.  No worries.  It was worth the embarassment.

JJ Barea and Dirk were the two best Mavs ping-pongers.  Jeff Russell, Bob Ortegel and Derek Harper were also incredibly good.  I think people who have offseasons are much better ping pong players than those who have full-time jobs. One Mavs player, who will remain nameless, told me he was much better at beer pong than ping pong. Touche.

Roger and Marianne Staubach were so generous, once again, to be one of the event's sponsors.  Roger's mother died of pancreatic cancer.  He never ceases to amaze me.  I was chatting with him when a representative from the Pancreatic Cancer Network thanked him for his support.  He told her to call his office on Monday because he wanted to send them more money.  So impressive.

My takeaway: 1) I suck at ping pong but want to get better.  It's nice little workout and great for hand-eye coordination (in fact Mark McLemore told me would start playing in January to get ready for Spring Training).  2) I want to be in the position to be as philanthropic as Roger and Marianne Staubach.  Not a bad position to be in.

***Special double, triple, quintuple thanks to Kerry Randel for taking some FABULOUS pics of the tournament today!***
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Monday, March 1, 2010

Mavs/Hornets Mixed Bag PLUS Attack of the Drunk Chick

Mavs get their 7th win in high blood-pressure inducing fashion. Plus - what goes on AFTER Mavs games???? The attack of the tipsy Mavs fan might be the more interesting story.

A couple of notes...Eduardo Najera said after the game, the Hornets zone defense was effective. The Mavericks recent success has been impressive considering that, according to head coach Rick Carlisle, they've had only one "semi-normal practice." I asked Carlisle before the game if he was impressed with how the new players (Caron Butler, Brendan Haywood and Deshawn Stevenson) have integrated into this system and if the streak was a sign of their comfort level. He said I was focusing too much on the results and needed to look closer at the games. Fair enough. The fact that New Orleans cut a 25-point deficit to just four points supports his answer. Still, the results still don't suck.

Lots of people are drinking that Mavs Kool-Aid and jumping on the bandwagon. Are you or do you think this is all fool's gold? Or have you already been there?

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