DMN Report …
“It was a really great basketball game with two heavyweights going at it," coach Avery Johnson said. "Not just because he scored, but Jason Terry was special. We challenged him. We didn't like the way he played in the last game. He wasn't playing like himself. And he responded.
"We needed a close game, and fortunately, we won it."
Terry finished with 35 points, but it was his eight assists that kept the Mavericks rolling during difficult situations.
"He was running the team," Howard said. "Dirk and I were struggling, but he found us on key shots."
Terry's pass to Howard late was a thing of beauty as he found his teammate under the basket for a layup and a foul. Howard (16 points, 12 rebounds) missed the free throw, and the Suns tied the game on Shawn Marion's layup with 6.3 ticks remaining. Nash found him on a brilliant pass along the baseline.
Nowitzki was the only option on the game-winner. "We didn't have a plan B," Johnson said.
It worked brilliantly as Nowitzki took a pass on the right wing and rose up over Marion for the 20 footer.
"For them not to score 100 and for us to shoot 41 percent and to still win the game when they shoot 51 percent, I would have thought I was dreaming," Johnson said.
The Mavericks had won the previous seven games in the winning streak by an average of 15 points. This one was a nail-biter most of the way.
Here are some notes from the Mavs PR Dept:
• With the win tonight, Dallas goes up 2-0 in the season series over Phoenix after dropping the final two regular season matchups in 2005-06.
• The Mavericks have now won eight in a row, which is tied for the eight longest win streak in franchise history. Phoenix has dropped two of its past three games after having won 15 straight.
• The Suns fall to 1-2 in games decided by three or fewer points this season after going 0-7 in 2005-06.
• Tonight marked just the fifth time this season that Phoenix failed to score 100 points. Ironically, it is the Suns first loss when failing to reach the century mark this season. Dallas has not allowed 100+ points in any of the past seven games, which is a season-high.
• Jason Terry scored 14 of his game-high 35 points in the third quarter. Terry’s only other 30+ game this season also came against the Suns on 11/9 (30 points even). Terry hit five 3-pointers tonight after not having any in the Mavericks last game. Dallas improves to 7-0 this season when Terry has 4+ 3FGM after going 12-0 in 2005-06.
• Dirk Nowitzki scored 10 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter, marking the eighth time this season he has scored 10+ points in the fourth. Nowitzki accomplished that feat an amazing 22 times last season.
• Dallas won despite being outshot 51.4% to 41.2%. The Mavericks improve to 4-1 when their opponent shoots 50.0% or better from the floor after going just 4-8 last season. Dallas is now 6-6 when shooting below 44.0% this season and 5-7 when having a lower FG% than its opponent.
Aggies Destroyed in San Diego …
Texas A&M's week of fun in the California sun ended with the Aggies flat on their backs.
The California Golden Bears ran roughshod over the Aggies, 45-10, in the Pacific Life Holiday Bowl before 62,395 people at Qualcomm Stadium on Thursday night.
It was a somber ending for what had been a turnaround season for 21st-ranked A&M, which had played an exciting brand of football after a disheartening 5-6 season in 2005.
The Aggies (9-4) lost three regular season games by a combined six points. They also won six times in the closing minutes.
There was no late-game magic this time in a bowl game that has a history of fantastic finishes.
The 20th-ranked Bears (10-3) allowed fans to hit the exits early after two third-quarter touchdowns for a 28-10 lead.
Cal needed to cover only 41 yards after an A&M punt netted zero yards. The Bears then muscled their way 72 yards, capping it with a 4-yard touchdown pass to Lavelle Hawkins on fourth-and-1. Hawkins was wide open after the Bears had rushed five times on the drive for 51 yards.
Cal rushed for a season-high 235 yards as its offensive line dominated A&M's defensive front six. Running back Marshawn Lynch had 111 yards on 20 carries with a pair of touchdowns.
Cal fans shouted "One more year! One more year!" when Lynch was announced as Co-MVP along with Cal quarterback Nate Longshore.
If Lynch opts to come out for the NFL draft, fellow junior Justin Forsett showed there might not be a dropoff.
Forsett, who wasn't heavily recruited coming out of Arlington Grace Prep, gutted the Aggies for 124 yards rushing on only eight carries.
A&M had no answer for the 217-pound Lynch and 186-pound Forsett, who were each tackled behind the line only once against a defense that had allowed only 123 yards rushing per game.
The Aggies held Texas to 70 yards rushing in a 12-7 victory, but Lynch had more than that by the end of the third quarter. Then Forsett tacked on 83 more yards in the last quarter.
"No one played good," A&M senior safety Melvin Bullitt said of the Aggie defense. "No one had a good game."
The Bears scored on seven of their last nine possessions after three three-and-outs following the opening kickoff.
Ouch. It may have actually been worse than the Cotton Bowl of 2004. Seriously.
Texas Tech loses; Knight waits for record …
Zito is rich; Rangers still have a void …
least Barry Zito promptly complied with the Rangers' request for an answer to their contract offer.
Rangers officials confirmed early Thursday they were told Zito will sign elsewhere. San Francisco, according to multiple reports, has agreed to a seven-year deal with the left-hander worth approximately $126 million.
The reported offer dwarfs the Rangers' final bid, which included $88 million in guaranteed money for six years. The offer was for six years at an average of $14 million per season. The offer also included a vesting option for a seventh season at $15 million. The option would have vested if Zito pitched 200 innings in the sixth year of the contract. If the option was not picked up, Zito would have received a $4 million buyout.
The Rangers tweaked their offer on Christmas to include the seventh season/buyout. The total worth, if he had pitched seven years, would have been $99 million.
"We made a heck of an offer," general manager Jon Daniels said. "[Owner] Tom [Hicks] really stepped up and offered to make a huge investment in our rotation for a long time to come. But Barry had a chance to stay at home. I can't blame him for doing that."
The Giants got into the bidding only after they lost Jason Schmidt to the Los Angeles Dodgers in early December. The New York Mets and Seattle had also pursued Zito.
Sorry, Jon. But when you lose an auction bid by $27 million, you did not make a “heck of an offer”. You lost the bid. 2nd doesn’t’ count in auctions unless you want to be able to tell the public how hard you tried. Similar congratulations were also extended for the posting bid on Matsuzaka two months ago when the Rangers lost that auction by $22 million. Did the Giants and Red Sox commit absurd financial suicide this winter, or did they want an ace and weren’t concerned with the price?
The following is not to say that the Rangers should have out-bid 7 years/$126 million. Honestly, I am not sure Zito is an Ace to begin with. It is to say that the Rangers should not be allowed to sign Lofton and Gagne to 1 year deals and claim that they upgraded their team. That isn’t allowed any more than the Stars should be allowed to say a 1 year deal to Eric Lindros was a financial commitment. 1 year deals are awesome for an owner who has lost his nerve in the spending game. By the way, who is the owner of the hockey team?
So the Rangers talk with great courage about their interest in Matsuzaka and Zito, but in both hands they folded when the competition went all in. It looks like the right move, I suppose, if you are interested in responsible spending and good business sense. It looks like the wrong move if you are interested in competitive baseball and winning. Silly Boston and San Francisco will no doubt not turn profits in 2007 for their silly spending, but time will tell if they will win more.
But, if you needed an ace, this winter was your chance…twice. They don’t grow on trees. They also don’t come cheap. So, you can pay the price or you can pat for your wallet and complain that spending has gone out of control.
Perhaps it is your fault, Rangers fans. We were all told that if more of you would go to more games, the Rangers would commit more money to the cause.
If you come, they will build it.
Mr. Hicks: There is a reason that Mr. Jones and Mr. Cuban are highly regarded here. More highly regarded than you, that is. It is called commitment to excellence. Not commitment to profit. That means there are times when they won’t finish 2nd in an auction. If they have to drastically overpay to accomplish their objectives, they see that as a fine alternative to the shrug and self congratulations that finishing 2nd in an auction brings.
Meanwhile, I shall look forward to hearing from all of your defenders who will assure me that $75 million is plenty on your payroll and that you tried your best to improve the team this winter. The other two owners in this city make more than their share of mistakes. But never is cash the deciding factor. Chasing the trophy is. Can’t wait to see how we can finish 3rd in a 4 team division again.
But, there is no doubt San Francisco broke the bank …
The seven-year, $126 million deal with the San Francisco Giants, which will become official after Zito’s physical examination today, was confirmed by a high-ranking baseball executive with direct knowledge of Boras’s discussions with various suitors in recent weeks. The deal was first reported by MLB.com.
Zito, 28, who spent his first seven major league seasons across the San Francisco Bay with the Oakland Athletics, will change his uniform without changing his lifestyle. He switches leagues but stays at home, on the coast where he grew up, and will continue working in a pitcher-friendly stadium, the spacious AT&T Park in San Francisco. He selected the Giants over the Mets, the Seattle Mariners and the Texas Rangers, whose decision to set a Saturday deadline for him to accept their offer accelerated the bidding process.
The Rangers extended a six-year, $84 million offer to Zito and recently added a $15 million vesting option for a seventh year, according to the executive, who did not want to be named because the deal with the Giants was not official. The Mariners visited Zito in Southern California, as did the Mets, who were considered the favorites to land him but declined to budge from a five-year offer worth about $75 million.
The Yankees became interested in Zito, too, but never made an offer because they first wanted to resolve the status of the 43-year-old Randy Johnson, who may soon be traded.
At least one general manager, the Mets’ Omar Minaya, was gracious in defeat. “They got themselves a very good pitcher,” he said of the Giants.
In pursuing Zito, the Giants took a similar route as the Chicago Cubs did with signing Alfonso Soriano to a $136 million deal last month. They offered a contract worth so much more money than what other teams had offered that Zito, and Boras, could not resist snapping it up.
Pitchers do not usually receive as handsome a contract as do position players because the stress of pitching makes them more susceptible to injury. But the Giants, eager to find a new face of the franchise after Barry Bonds departs, seemed to feel compelled to perhaps overspend for Zito. Until now, the largest contract given to a pitcher was the eight-year, $121 million deal Mike Hampton received from Colorado in 2000.
Zito will also receive an $18 million option for 2014 that will kick in based on innings pitched.
Oh No! …
Mike Tyson was arrested for driving under the influence and possession of cocaine after police stopped him leaving a Scottsdale nightclub early Friday.
Sgt. Larry Hall said the heavyweight boxer was stopped after his car almost struck a sheriff's vehicle while leaving the club at about 1:45 a.m.
"He showed signs of impairment, and voluntarily submitted to field sobriety tests," said Hall, a member of the Buckeye Police Department who was working in the area as part of a holiday DUI task force.
Hall said Tyson was placed under arrest after "showing more signs of impairment" during the field sobriety tests.
Police subsequently searched Tyson and found cocaine on him and in his car.
LA Times feature on Tito Ortiz …
I think I have to stay with Chuck over Tito, and Griffin over Jardine in a very close call.
Your first NFL Mock Draft of 2007 …
Hey Now …
American Idol winner Carrie Underwood has capped off an amazing year by snagging a new boyfriend, Dallas Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo.
She made a surprise Christmas Day appearance at Texas Stadium, hugging her new man on the field before the Cowboys' game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Now Tony, 26, who has been linked with Jessica Simpson, has confirmed that he and Carrie are a couple in an interview with a small-town paper in Charleston, Ill., where he played college football. The article will appear in Wednesday's Journal Gazette/Times-Courier.
Sports editor Brian Nielsen tells In Touch: "After I asked him all my usual football questions, I said, 'My wife really wants to know if the Jessica Simpson dating rumors are true.'
"He laughed and replied, 'No. Tell her I'm dating Carrie Underwood.'"
Carrie, 23, looked on in disappointment from the stands as the Cowboys were beaten 23-7. NBC commentators Al Michaels and John Madden openly wondered if she was too much of a distraction for Tony.
It wasn't Carrie's first visit to the stadium. She was there on Thanksgiving when she sang during the halftime show at the Cowboys' game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
Richie Whitt points out that the Cotton Bowl is here, and nobody cares …
Psssst. Hey, buddy, wanna buy some watches? No? OK then, how about a sweet deal on some Cotton Bowl tickets? I know, I know — Nebraska vs. Auburn doesn’t exactly hit close to home. But that’s the point. That’s why this year’s Cotton Bowl has become a buyer’s market. As in, $90 face value tickets are selling for as little as $40.
“It’s one of the worst Cotton Bowl markets I can remember,” says Scott Baima, who runs Dallas-based Texas Tickets and has been in the market for 25 years. “It’s no fun getting half the value, but that’s what’s happening. On the secondary market there’s just nothing.”
Nebraska lost to OU in the Big 12 title game, and Auburn lost to Georgia late in the season, so neither team arrives with much momentum, pizzazz or happy-camper fans. Oh, and the 10:30 a.m. kickoff probably isn’t helping interest. I’ll be at the game, me and my bowl of Tylenol cereal.
Reggie says no to Dancing …
Reggie Miller won’t be following in Emmitt Smith’s footsteps.
The retired Indiana Pacer’s star and TNT NBA analyst, 41, tells Us Weekly that he was approached to be on Season 4 of Dancing With the Stars, but decided to pass. The former basketball player said that he was flattered by the offer, but declined due to scheduling conflicts.
Another reason he said no? Blame reigning champ Smith. Miller tells Us, "Emmitt ruined it for all athletes because he was so good."
Vote for Rory. Not Pronger.
Amusing solution to Iraq