Avery looks to counter in Game 2 …
"Transition defense," Johnson said.
"Transition defense. Transition defense. Transition defense.
"Made or missed [shots], transition defense. We looked like a team without a system. And that's my fault."
He was not smiling, not trying to be funny. He was genuinely ticked off, as were his players.
The Mavericks were blitzed for 32 fast-break points and 72 points in the paint. Although the Mavericks got 74 points in the paint, they still were blistered by Steve Nash and the Suns' incessant running game.
"Obviously, we can't have guys standing in the corner ... admiring their shots," Dirk Nowitzki said. "This is not the series to do it. We got to sprint back and pick up whoever guy's in your area, even if it's not the matchup you want.
"It [Game 1] wasn't really a defensive effort. They got whatever they wanted. They got, like, 100 points in transition. They got whatever they wanted. So defense was very nonexistent."
Nowitzki, by the way, was asked whether Game 2 ranks as a must-win situation.
"Obviously," he said.
Oddly, Kevin Blackistone is ready to count on Marquis Daniels …Wow.
For a spell, Daniels became somewhat of an afterthought. In his third year, he had to prove himself all over again.
What better proving ground for Daniels, however, than right now, especially with Howard hobbled Wednesday in the Mavericks' stunning loss to the Suns in the Western Conference finals' opener at American Airlines Center? If he does shine, the likelihood that the Mavericks advance to the NBA Finals will grow exponentially.
But Daniels' final attempt to make a play Wednesday – lobbing the basketball beyond anyone's reach, including 7-foot Dirk Nowitzki – was not a great last impression.
"That was kinda strange," Daniels said of his incompletion.
It should be pointed out, however, that there was only a prayer of a chance for the Mavericks to save the game. Just half a second was left. If only Daniels could've been more like a faith healer than, unfairly, some sort of goat.
In Phoenix, They circle the wagons around Raja …
The Suns are using all of this as reference points and general reassurance.
"You know what? I haven't heard anybody say a word or feel bad for the team because of what happened to Raja," D'Antoni said. "I guarantee you that James (Jones), Leandro (Barbosa) and Eddie (House) are not over there saying, 'Oh, shoot.' They're saying, 'Oh, good. Now I can go bust somebody.' "
That's nice, but what really helps is the skill and brainpower of Nash. He will recalculate the team's options, recalibrate the attack and make it possible for the replacement parts to succeed. Besides, at their core, the Suns are visionary and lethal because of a simple combination: They are a great shooting team with a great deal of intelligence. They know how to get open. They know how to space the floor. They know how to beat stupid teams that possess more talent.
"We started dealing with this in training camp when we lost Amaré (Stoudemire), when the naysayers came out and said we weren't going to be a playoff team," Bell said. "Then we lost Kurt (Thomas). We lost Brian Grant. LB (Barbosa) was missing for four weeks or so. Go down the list, and when guys go out, we just don't hang our heads. . . . We just go out and play."
It's not going to be easy. It may be that the titillating triumph in Game 1 is as good as it gets in the 2006 postseason. Except these Suns don't blow away in a windstorm and don't run away from shadows.
At a time like this, those traits come in handy.
Nevin breaks out and saves the day ….
Phil Nevin could not remember another moment in his career as exciting.
A walk-off home run in the bottom of the ninth.
His entire team waiting at home plate to swarm him with excited congratulations.
An 8-7 Rangers victory over the division rival Oakland A's, delivered with his bat by a home run off A's closer Huston Street, to put the Rangers up two games in the American League West. The A's have now lost six straight games.
"To be honest with you, I don't get that emotional," Nevin said. "On the positive side anyway, I don't think I've ever been that emotional on a baseball field....For this team, it was a heck of a moment."
The moment was made that much more thrilling for Nevin because the month has been a nightmare.
He spent the first few weeks in a deep offensive slump, then showed up at the ballpark Tuesday to learn he would no longer be the Rangers' everyday DH and would cede at-bats to rookie Jason Botts. He got another look in the lineup Thursday, with Oakland lefty Brad Halsey on the mound, but began the game 0-for-4.
Nevin, who is in the final year of a four-year, $34 million contract, had to wonder what his future was with Texas. How could he show he should be in the lineup in limited opportunities?
To get the team a win, in a game they had trailed 7-0 midway through the sixth inning, was huge.
Matt Hughes to destroy Royce Gracie on PPV Saturday Night …
UFC continues to grow …
The UFC, which is now owned and operated by Zuffa, LLC, has witnessed tremendous growth over the past year, mainly due to its popularity among young male adults and the success of their reality television series, "The Ultimate Fighter" on SpikeTV.
"We can't be denied anymore … we are a real sport," said White on a recent conference call.
Since Zuffa, LLC and White took over, UFC has seen its popularity reach new heights. The reality television show has received higher ratings than both NBA and NHL playoff games when aired up against one another. More importantly the Internet and mainstream media are helping it grow.
"We are pulling in the numbers," White said. "The male 18-34 demographic that all newspapers are trying to get to read their papers. Our Web site is a real machine for us. We get a lot of hits. They can't go anywhere else to read it. So they come to us. More mainstream newspapers are coming to us to cover us like they would do boxing. They are noticing a difference in readership because of the UFC."
By popular demand, here is the Any Given Sunday Speech …
Facts about Jack Bauer …
Nash and Dirk’s duet …
Not excited enough for the Western Conference Finals tonight? Well, if this video doesn’t pump you up, nothing will.
Apparently, it’s Steve Nash and Dirk Nowitzki, back in their teammate days, singing a song to their friend Simon, whoever the heck that is. It just hasn’t been the same since these guys were dorking it out together.