The Mavericks make plans to change Game 2 …
While the world must decide what to believe, the only sure thing is that the locker room was not a disaster area after Game 1, a two-point loss to the Spurs. No need to call FEMA, which probably wouldn't make it to the scene until Game 6 anyway.
Instead, Johnson and his troops are entrenched, engaged and ready to see this thing through.
"More psychological wreckage would be if we'd have lost by 22," Johnson said. "We made a ton of mistakes. Don't get me wrong. But [if Game 1 had been a blowout] then you would feel probably this mountain is really, really hard to climb.
"But I think with the way we played – and didn't execute in a lot of situations – on the road in one of the most hostile environments in all of the NBA, I think we feel that we can get something done."
That was about the only certainty that came from the Mavericks between Games 1 and 2. As for the rest, it was hard to tell whether Johnson was being serious about anything or merely skirting the truth, yanking a few chains and giving no clues about what San Antonio can expect tonight.
But rest assured, adjustments of some sort are certainly forthcoming, such as guarding Duncan differently.
"I told our team: Never double-team Tim," Johnson joked. "We didn't want to ever double-team Tim Duncan. So again, I'll have to try to change some of my coaching mistakes."
Clearly, Johnson was taking a hit for his players. There were specific times when they were supposed to double-team Duncan. It just rarely got executed the right way.
And about that last-ditch play? Johnson swore it was a play – or at least a wrinkle – that his team had not run all season.
"That's a rookie coach," he said, again blurring the line between fact and fiction. "It wasn't the players' fault. I messed that one up. Pin that one on me. That's the first time we ran that play all year. So that was my fault. I'm not facetious. We have a way we want to attack. We'll just keep spelling it out."
I can’t believe it, but I am almost getting tired of Avery taking blame for everything. What a 100% adjustment from the Nellie era where nothing was ever anyone’s fault…
Bowen v. Dirk …
Bowen's defense is built on being a natural pest, staying chest-to-chest with an opponent. The tactics often rub other players the wrong way.
Spurs guard Michael Finley rushed to Bowen's defense after Monday's practice.
"I don't know what the 'bear hug defense' is," Finley said. "I played football and I never heard that term, and I definitely haven't heard it in basketball, so [Johnson] has to clarify what he means by bear hug.
"I'm from Chicago, and the only bears we had were the Chicago Bears -- the football team."
Asked if Bowen ever got into his head, Finley said: "Just the one cheap shot he did last year. We put that all under the rug. Bruce is a good defender, and you have to give him his props on that. You just can't let him get into your mind-set, and I don't think, mentally, he's gotten into Dirk's head. He's going to continue to make Dirk have a long night, and hopefully that's good enough for us to win."
In the San Antonio papers this morning, Buck Harvey ponders how Josh Howard slipped past the Spurs in 2003 …
Howard seemingly did everything well. Pro scouts liked the 6-foot-7 package, though most saw Howard falling toward the bottom of the LeBron-Carmelo-Wade first round. Several mock drafts, coincidentally, predicted the Spurs would take him.
"Howard is a versatile scorer at small forward," a West Coast newspaper wrote then, "who could complement defensive specialist Bruce Bowen."
The Spurs understood as much. But the two prospects who intrigued them more were Boris Diaw, Tony Parker's buddy who stars now for Phoenix, and Ndudi Ebi, a high-school project out of Houston who has since failed.
Howard? The Spurs were less fixated on him than they were creating cap room to sign Jason Kidd. Howard still earns less than a million dollars, making him the kind of bargain that Parker and Manu Ginobili once were. But unsure what the salary cap would be that summer, the Spurs wanted to free every dollar for Kidd.
In hindsight, the Kidd plan was as erroneous as the Spurs' analysis of Howard. They saw Howard as a slasher, and they already had one in Ginobili. Didn't they really need shooters to spread the floor for Duncan?
Even after coming up with a find with the 28th selection just two years before (Parker), they still didn't like the odds with another No.28. When Diaw and Ebi went off the board, the Spurs traded that first-round choice to the Suns for one in the future.
Gregg Popovich signed off on it with only one reservation. He knew Duncan liked Howard.
Then Dallas, drafting next, took Howard, and Popovich quickly second-guessed everything. Having just edged the Mavericks in the Western Conference finals, had the Spurs helped their rivals?
They have. But a lot of other teams missed then, too. If the 2003 draft were held again, Howard would go as high as fifth.
Death, Taxes, and Ben Wallace wins the Defensive player of the year award ….
"This guy is the anchor to what we do here," Dumars said Monday when it was announced Wallace had been named the defensive player of the year for the fourth time in five seasons. "The success we've had the last five or six years started when he showed up here. It's been a hell of a ride, and it's not done yet.
"Make no mistake, this guy is the cornerstone of everything we do. I am proud of everything he has done so far, and I look forward to many more years of him continuing to do those things for us."
Wallace, who will be a free agent this summer, has said repeatedly his goal and preference is to end his career with the Pistons. Dumars, in his own way, confirmed the feeling was mutual.
"(Signing Wallace) is our No. 1 priority," Dumars said. "Like I said, we look forward to many more years watching him here. I'll say this; he has earned whatever he's due to get. It's not pretend or made up. He's earned it on the floor. That all will take care of itself when the time comes."
The Pistons, almost certainly, will offer Wallace, 31, a contract that would make him the highest-paid player on the team -- if not in its history -- whether it is a maximum contract or not. It likely will be a four-year deal starting anywhere between $12 million and $15 million.
But the particulars of his next contract aren't that important to Wallace right now.
"It's there, and you think about it from time to time," Wallace said. "But I am not going to let that distract me from doing what I do to help my team win. My ultimate goal coming into this season wasn't to re-sign or talk about free agency.
"My ultimate goal was to win a championship. Last year, I felt like I left part of me down there in San Antonio. This year was about trying to reclaim what I lost. Like Joe said, everything will take care of itself."
Wallace, who still hasn't hired an agent and will most likely handle the bulk of his own negotiations, was asked if being named defensive player of the year would help drive up his asking price.
"Winning this award is something that's sort of expected out of me," he said, with a smile. "When we get that big gold trophy with the little ball on top (Larry O'Brien championship trophy), then we can talk about price tags."
That’s right. He represents himself. 5% is a ton of money for a no-brainer contract, right?
And yes, baseball is still being played, with Koronka stopping another losing skid ….
He has four quality starts – three or fewer earned runs allowed in six or more innings – in his first seven outings. Only he and Kevin Millwood, who will try and match Koronka's win total tonight, have gone at least five innings in every start this season.
Koronka (4-1) won without his best stuff Monday. He gave up seven hits, walked two and allowed three runs in 6 1/3 innings. But he showed some grit, avoiding the big inning that Rangers starters couldn't against the Yankees.
Koronka loaded the bases in the third inning, but he got two groundouts and a fly ball to hold the Twins to two runs. Then his offense sent him back to the mound with the lead.
Texas scored four runs in its half of the third, three coming with two outs from the two guys – Phil Nevin and Hank Blalock – who seem to thrive on two-out RBIs. Nevin and Blalock have driven in 34 of their 51 runs with two outs. The Rangers didn't hit a homer for the fourth consecutive home game. The last time that happened was July 18-21, 1999.
"Singles can help you score runs too," Mark Teixeira said.
Koronka's steadiness – he credits pitching coach Mark Connor with helping him shift to the middle of the rubber to throw better inside pitches – allowed the Rangers to win in spite of numerous base-running blunders.
Naughty Language Warning The Bob Knight Golf tapes …Guaranteed to make you laugh or your money back…
Javon Walker gets his money …provided his 2006 is good enough to justify the bonuses in 2007 and 2008…
According to a league source, Walker, acquired April 29 for a second-round draft pick, will get the $1.15 million base salary he had remaining from the contract he originally signed with the Green Bay Packers, then a five-year, $42 million extension from the Broncos. Included in the extension is a $1 million roster bonus the Broncos inherited from the Packers.
The key to the deal is the bonus payout, which according to the source is between $15 million and $16 million. Multiple websites have reported Monday the bonuses would be paid out as club options - most in 2007, the rest in 2008.
More evidence that the black man is not down with baseball anymore …
There were 69 African-Americans on opening-day rosters in the majors last month, which represented 9.2 percent of all 750 players. That is down sharply from 17 percent three years ago and 27 percent 30 years ago.
According to Northeastern University's Center for the Study of Sport in Society, MLB's percentage is dwarfed by the NBA's 80 percent and the NFL's 67 percent. Of the four major sports, only the NHL, with 1 percent, is lower than baseball.
Finally, we can go on with our lives: Aggie and Seahawk have settled! …
Texas A&M University and the Seattle Seahawks released the following joint statement Monday afternoon regarding the 12th Man trademark settlement:
"Texas A&M University and the Seattle Seahawks announced that they have agreed on the scope of Seattle's future use of the 12th Man trademark.
"The agreement resolves all of the issues presented in the pending lawsuit, which has been dismissed. "
"Neither side admitted any fault or liability. The Seahawks acknowledge Texas A&M's ownership rights in the mark and will continue to use the mark under license in connection with the Seahawks' operations, promotions and fan activities throughout the Pacific Northwest."
In an e-mail to university faculty, staff and students, A&M Chief Marketing Officer & Vice President for Communications Steven B. Moore stated:
"I'm pleased to inform you that, after months of negotiations, the university has reached an amicable agreement with the Seattle Seahawks resolving the controversy regarding the use of Texas A&M's 12th Man trademark. Under the agreement, the university has granted the NFL team a license to use the 12th Man trademark in a seven-state area in the northwest that encompasses the current primary broadcast area of the Seahawks. As is the case of all licensees, the Seattle Seahawks will pay the university a licensing fee and will state publicly that Texas A&M owns the 12th Man trademark each time it is used."
The Boys Blog tackles the Cowboys base defense; alternatives ….
Peter King’s MMQB on Reggie Bush, and Christopher ….