The Cowboys game is not a given this weekend! But, without Moss, the Redskins should not have enough: Dallas 21, Washington 20.
Aggie – Sooner? I have no stinking idea. I prefer A&M 24, OU 20.
And now, a weekend of camping awaits. Yippee.
Mavs fade down the stretch …
The Mavericks missed their first six shots of the fourth period, shot just 6-of-21 (28.6 percent) for the quarter and watched the Spurs make clutch play after clutch play. And they won the bump-and-grind game when it counted.
"I thought we were pretty physical and pretty energetic early on in the game, and we weren't that way as the game went on," Mavs coach Avery Johnson said. "When you are aggressive in our league, you get rewarded."
The Spurs were and did. They got to the free throw line 37 times, 21 more than the Mavericks.
The Mavericks worried going into the game that they were behind in their preparation for the season, thanks to too many minor preseason injuries that kept them from getting consistent work on all of their offensive schemes.
But San Antonio's defense had something to do with the fourth-quarter derailment. And so did the Spurs' backcourt as starters Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili outscored Jason Terry and Greg Buckner 35-14. The backups, Beno Udrih and Michael Finley, combined for 18 points off the bench to just four for the Mavericks' Devin Harris and Anthony Johnson.
JJT notes it is all jumpers again …
These Mavs played like Don Nelson was still coaching the team, not Avery Johnson.
It's blasphemous to say that, but for one game – a disappointing, 97-91 loss to the hated Spurs – it was true.
These Mavs shot too many jumpers. They took too many 3s. They didn't attack the basket. You do that against a team as good as the Spurs and you lose.
These Mavs should know better. A similar jump-shooting approach played a key role in the Mavs blowing a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals against Miami last year.
It's too early to overreact. One November loss, even a home defeat to the Spurs, really has no bearing on how the Mavs will fare this season. That said, the Mavs must learn from this defeat. To a man, they must decide consistently settling for jump shots is not an option.
We've seen that style recently in Dallas, Sacramento and Phoenix. It's fun, no doubt, but has yet to produce a championship.
"We looked like the Mavericks of the past," Johnson said. "That's not what we've been working on, and that's not what we are."
Gramps points at Dirk …
The last time the Mavs were in meaningful action, Mr. Nowitzki was missing big shots down the stretch. Nothing changed Thursday night, except the stakes weren't as high in this situation.
Dirk got off to a roaring start, hitting four of his five attempts in the opening quarter. The rest of the way, however, he was 5-for-15, failing to nail open looks in the final minutes.
But "stepping up" was a team-wide problem in the second half.
"I didn't like the way we played," Avery said, in an understatement.
Overreacting to a first-game loss to the Spurs is not necessary, but Johnson did
indicate he may be pushing the pedal a bit in coming practices.
"I've been know to be a pusher, and that's what it usually takes around here," he added.
Bowen, of course, never minds giving out a push, a shove, or whatever it takes, including a well-placed sneaker on a fallen foe.
But it was also Bowen who was nailing big shots when it counted, particularly a 3-pointer from the corner with 2:17 left, stretching a Spurs lead to four.
And, while the Mavs have been praised for adding veteran depth in the off-season, San Antonio also wasn't idle in this area. There was a first-game dividend when 7-footer Francisco Elson came off the bench for 12 points and six rebounds, plus some hounding defense on Dirk.
Rangers look close to a manager …
Daniels said he preferred to not speak expansively about the hunt for a manager to replace Buck Showalter, but Rangers insiders say the new manager could be named as early as Monday.
And the same insiders believe Wakamatsu is the leading candidate.
Daniels would only confirm that he is narrowing the field of candidates, saying: "It's been tough with people traveling and tough to get a hold of people, so until then, it's not fair for me to comment and have people read about it in the paper."
The most difficult candidates to contact at this point would be John Russell -- who managed the Philadelphia Phillies' Triple A affiliate in Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (Pa.) this season and is managing a team in Venezuela -- and New York Mets third base coach Manny Acta, who is with a team of major league players touring Japan.
Wakamatsu and Trey Hillman, manager of the Nippon Ham Fighters, are the only two candidates who met with Rangers owner Tom Hicks during the interview process. Oakland A's third base coach Ron Washington is expected to be invited back for an interview with Hicks.
Is Santana Moss playing …
Santana Moss, by far the Washington Redskins' most productive receiver since his arrival in 2005, missed practice again yesterday with a strained hamstring, making it uncertain whether he will play Sunday against Dallas. Moss has not been on the field for a full training session since suffering the injury in a Week 7 loss at Indianapolis, and has a history of hamstring problems.
Should Moss be unable to play, there could be more work for James Thrash, a special teams stalwart. Wide receiver David Patten, who is also nursing a hamstring injury, returned for practice and is listed as probable, while wide receiver Brandon Lloyd did not practice fully because of a shoulder injury. He, too, is probable. Moss has more receiving yards this season (435) than Washington's other four wide receivers combined (397), and is the primary target for quarterback Mark Brunell. He also is the only player able to repeatedly produce big plays in this passing offense the last two seasons, an area of particular significance given the Redskins' inconsistent attack in 2006.
"We don't want to go in without Santana, he means so much to the team," Coach Joe Gibbs said. "But at same time, it can happen and we've got some other players there, and we wouldn't change our thought process or what we try to do [on offense]. Some other guys have got to step up and make plays."
Yesterday was the last vigorous practice of the week, with Fridays usually featuring lighter work with less contact and Saturdays a walk-through. Moss, who set the single-season franchise mark for receiving yards in 2005, has been participating in the walk-throughs this week and attends meetings as usual, but again yesterday was out of his uniform and pads during the afternoon practice.
The Redskins made depth at wide receiver a priority after fielding no productive options beyond Moss at that position last season (Patten missed half the season after knee surgery), and Gibbs is counting on Lloyd and Anwtaan Randle El to fill the void if need be on Sunday. Both received substantial contracts in the offseason -- with about $10 million guaranteed and worth as much as $30 million over six years -- but have been spare parts thus far. They have combined for 29 catches, 331 yards and 1 receiving touchdown through seven games.
Neither Lloyd nor Randle El has posted more than 52 yards in a game, and only once has either caught more than five passes in a game. Brunell has been completing mostly short passes, often check-downs to running backs or tight end Chris Cooley, and frequently looks Moss's way first. Al Saunders, the associate head coach-offense, has been trying to spread the ball among his playmakers, but is still seeking real diversity.
Gregg Williams ready for Romo …
"He played well last week, against a pretty good defense," Williams said of Romo. "We have to play their offense. It doesn't come down to personnel like that. We have to play what we know about what they want to do. Coach Parcells wants to manage the ballgame. That position, when it manages very well, executes their offense very well. The young guy did a good job last week."
Williams said that Romo, who is inexperienced but has been in the league four years, wouldn't pose that much of a mystery.
"There's enough film on him in the preseason," Williams said. "We'll go back to last year's film and the habits or subtleties and mechanics that a guy has. He has to function within their offense. He has to do what they want done at that position, and he did it very well. I was very impressed."
This week’s Terrell story …he falls asleep!
Cowboys receiver Terrell Owens is falling asleep in team meetings, most recently on Thursday.
Owens told the Cowboys he had a sleeping problem before he signed with the team in the spring.
"I don't know what it is," Owens said after Thursday's practice. "I've never been diagnosed with it. It's nothing new for me to fall asleep in a meeting. It goes back to my rookie year in San Francisco. My receivers coach [George Stewart] knew I would fall asleep. He thought I was staying up late, and sometimes I did. When I did get to bed early, I would still get to meetings and fall asleep, and it's the same thing here."
Owens said he's not hanging out or staying up late.
He said he works hard studying film and the game plan. He said once he processes the game plan, the meetings and film work become redundant. When lights dim in a quiet room, he dozes off quickly. Owens said he also falls asleep fast on airplanes.
Cowboys owner/general manger Jerry Jones said the team has done its homework on Owens.
"Those are personal health issues, and we all have them in varying ways. I don't say that as though it's something that's irritating at all," said Jones, who said such things aren't discussed with those outside the team.
Aggies tough to beat in 4th Quarter …
A&M coach Dennis Franchione claims there's more to it than that — and the statistics back him up. The Aggies' defense has allowed 58 total points over the last two quarters of their nine games, an average of 6.4 points per game.
"The (defensive coaches) have set up a great vocabulary of communication with the players," Franchione said. "They start talking about this family on this side or this color on this side — which is how they group so many of their calls — and the players have got it.
"It's a credit to their system, their communication skills and teaching ability."
No. 21 A&M, which hosts No. 18 Oklahoma at 7 p.m. Saturday, has trailed or been tied in four of its nine games at halftime. The Aggies have allowed an average of 11.3 first-half points in their nine contests.
"It's all about play recognition," safety Melvin Bullitt said. "We don't make too many adjustments at halftime, but it's pretty interesting that everybody seems to think that we do."
Darnell said the difference between A&M's first and second halves is simple.
"(Opponents) take their shots, and once we've seen them, there's not a whole lot left for them to go do after that," Darnell said. "We just settle into it at that point."
Franchione pointed to an example in A&M's 25-19 victory over Missouri as a strong second-half adjustment.
"The (defense) changed coverage on one side," Franchione said. "Instead of playing a blanket coverage, they started playing one thing to one side and another coverage to the other."
Man will do time for forgeries …
The Ashwaubenon sports memorabilia dealer busted for selling faked Brett Favre autographs was sentenced to six months in jail and four years' probation Thursday.
Michael "Whitey" Van Lanen, owner of the now-defunct All Sports Marketing, also must pay $5,477 in restitution to people who bought fraudulent prints and must reimburse the state $1,442 for investigative costs. Brown County Circuit Court Judge William Atkinson also ordered Van Lanen to make a donation to the Green Bay Packers quarterback's Brett Favre Fourward Foundation, a gift that is expected to total about $8,000 once all court obligations are met.
Atkinson allowed Van Lanen work release during his jail stay, which means he will serve about 135 days if he behaves while incarcerated.
State Justice Department agents raided Van Lanen's Holmgren Way shop in January after undercover agents bought large framed prints which included high-quality photocopies of Favre's autograph.
And now email:
In the 7 years I've been in Dallas, I dont ever recall a less talked about Skins-Cowgirls game (Our Vi-Queens). What's really weird is that about 905 of the people I've spoken to out and about are so "matter-of-fact" that Dallas has already won this game. About 70% of the media is acting the same way.
I KNOW I'M A HOMER...but am I crazy in thinking Wash has a good shot at winning this game? The players are pissed, the fans are MORE pissed...it's a home game and really the only game that matters for them the rest of the way. If they can't get up for this game..>Screw em, until next year!! Both starting corners are playing together for the 1st time this year. I mean there is talent on this squad. AND DALLAS IS FAVORED ON THE ROAD???????????
Am I crazy or is this set up to smack Dallas in the face???
Hail baby, hail!!! (My smack-talk stick is just about on empty)
And now this from Ben and Skin:
This Saturday night at 6:30pm -- one hour before the Mavs tipoff with the Rockets -- do the right thing this time and make plans to watch The Ben and Skin Show on TXA 21. If you watch our show people will almost immediatly say that you look taller, food will taste 7% better and your neighbors will finally respect and fear your powerful authority. Not only will it make your life better in these incredible ways, but it will also teach you not to believe ridiculously outrageous claims.
The Ben and Skin Show is kind of like SNL meets the Mavericks meets the fake mustache meets The Ticket meets another fake mustache that's even more fake... it's hard to explain... just watch this behind the scenes footage (courtesy of the mysterious Quan Lee) and you'll get the drift:
Please be sure to forward this on to many, many humans with computers. We're all counting on you.
Oh, and remember love. See you Saturday.
Roger Staubach and Navy vs. Notre Dame 1964
Have a good sports weekend