Pistons stop a bad streak by spanking the Mavs …
The Pistons, after two ridiculous losses to Charlotte and Portland, showed that old Pistons attack-mode style to do what very few teams ever do -- they walked out of American Airlines Center with a 92-82 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
The Mavericks had won 22 straight games at home against Eastern Conference teams.
"We came in with the idea of getting back to our roots," coach Flip Saunders said. "We wanted to grind it out and control the tempo. We wanted to make it like a football game where we controlled the time of possession. We wanted to make them play defense and keep the ball out of their hands. I think if you kept the time of possession, it was like 75-25 in our favor."
The catalyst was Rasheed Wallace. He set the offensive tone right out of the gate with 10 quick points. He set the defensive tone with some aggressive play on the perimeter against Dirk Nowitzki and at the basket.
"Any time we play against guys like Dirk, or Kevin Garnett or Tim Duncan, you know you are going to get the best of Sheed," said Chauncey Billups. "It like he feels he has something to prove."
Wallace finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and two blocks. He was 5-of-8 on 3-point shots. He drained three 3-pointers in four possessions in the third quarter. On the third, he yelled glass and then banked it home.
Give me Dallas 31, New Orleans 30 in a game that shows us neither team is very good at stopping the other.
Parcells kept Payton from taking everything with him to New Orleans …
New Orleans Saints coach Sean Payton didn't get far when he tried to pry quarterback Tony Romo and offensive line coach Tony Sparano from the Dallas Cowboys.
When Payton left Bill Parcells' staff to join the Saints in January, he took linebackers coach Gary Gibbs with him to coordinate the defense. Payton also took
several players through free agency, trades and waivers.
But he quickly got shot down when he asked Parcells about Romo's availability.
"He was told to lay down on the couch and have some warm milk," Parcells said.
Payton also asked about offensive line coach Tony Sparano. Again, Parcells said no.
"It had taken me quite a while to get my staff in place," Parcells said. "My responsibilities are to this organization, not to New Orleans or Sean Payton. Once he became coach of New Orleans, he is the enemy. I'm not going to staff his staff for him.
"In Gary Gibbs' case, his contract was up and he had the opportunity to go. (The Saints) gave him a better job and title, and I wish him well. Had his contract not been up, I wouldn't have let him go either."
Parcells also said he wasn't pleased when Payton tried to sign safety Keith Davis. As a restricted free agent in April, Davis signed a two-year, $2.95 million contract with New Orleans. But the Cowboys kept him by matching the deal.
"(Payton) should have just called me up and said, 'Are you going to match the offer?' But he didn't, so he got scolded," Parcells said. "I said, 'You are just costing everyone money. Just call me up and ask if I'm going to match it.' I said, 'Don't do that. I wouldn't do that to you.'
"To his credit, he called (and apologized). We have a very good relationship."
Meanwhile, Brees returns to Texas Stadium …
As an Austin Westlake senior in 1996, Brees' five-touchdown performance sparked the Chaparrals to a 55-15 victory over Abilene Cooper for the Class 5A Division II championship.
It's Brees' only game as a starter at Texas Stadium, and he calls it one of his most enjoyable. He returned there with the San Diego Chargers for a game in 2001 but didn't play.
"I think I threw for two and ran for three in the championship," Brees said. "But I think a couple of those were sneaks into the end zone. You know how that goes, but it looks good on the stat sheet."
Brees hopes to forge another sweet Texas Stadium memory when the Saints (8-4) face the Cowboys (8-4) on Sunday night in a nationally televised game between division leaders.
NBC will certainly focus on how Romo has saved Dallas' season, but Brees' success also is compelling. With a league-high 3,649 passing yards, he's on target to join Dan Marino as the only quarterback in NFL history to pass for 5,000 yards in a season.
Brees also is among the league leaders in completion percentage (66.2), quarterback rating (97.4) and TD passes (20), making him the frontrunner for MVP honors along with former Chargers teammate and fellow Texan LaDainian Tomlinson.
"It's special to be in (the running) with him," Brees said. "We were in the Texas high school all-star game and were two guys passed up by all the (major) Texas schools. He went to TCU, one of the only schools recruiting him, and I went to Purdue, one of the only schools recruiting me. We met again at the Heisman Trophy presentation and said, 'Wouldn't that be something if we wound up playing for the same NFL team?'
"It was tough to leave San Diego because of him. We had been through a lot together professionally. But we still talk once every couple of weeks."
The Saints signed Brees, who became a free agent after five years with the Chargers, to a six-year deal worth $60 million March 14. He received an $8 million signing bonus and a 2006 base salary of $2 million.
Health concerns limited his number of serious suitors to two — the Saints and the Miami Dolphins. Brees chose the Saints after the Dolphins acquired Daunte Culpepper in a trade with the Minnesota Vikings.
My buddy, Mac Engle has obviously run out of ideas for stories, as he writes an essay on the top 5 sports bachelors in Dallas now that Mike Modano is out of the mix …
1. Tony Romo
He's 26, and he's the starting quarterback for America's Team. You do the math.
2. Julius Jones
His pickup line needs some work -- "Hi, I'm the guy who gets the ball to the 5-yard line all the time."
3. Terrell Owens
Fame. Money. Good shape. Great smile. But talk about skeletons.
4. Eric Lindros
He dresses well, and chicks always dig scars. But all of those concussions may lead to some odd conversations.
5. Dirk Nowitzki
He tends to stay in a lot, mostly to work on his jumper. And he's in bad need of a makeover.
OK, this is obviously an absurd list to begin with, but if we are going to entertain the premise then allow me to say Dirk is ridiculously low on this list. Romo may have the advantage, but other than that, Dirk is tops.
The latest on chasing Zito …
While Boras said he expected the Rangers to be among the teams still pursuing
Zito when he trimmed the list of contenders this weekend, the day's events left the Rangers realistic that they may not land Zito even if they make the most lucrative financial offer.
It's expected to take a six-year commitment perhaps worth $90 million or more to land Zito. The Rangers still have not made an official offer.
"My first choice would be to have Barry," Rangers general manager Jon Daniels said. "But if that doesn't work out, we will move on. We are working on some parallel paths."
The Rangers have continued to explore trades. Oakland, of all teams, might be willing to discuss one of its starters if the Rangers are willing to part with some prime young pitching. The Rangers are still surveying the free-agent landscape.
Daniels has made an offer to lefty Mark Mulder, a former teammate of Zito's in Oakland, and is expected to receive a counter offer from agent Gregg Clifton this weekend. Clifton said Mulder had been impressed by Daniels' willingness to fly to Arizona for a face-to-face meeting two weeks ago.
Mulder, who also has received significant interest from St. Louis, probably won't be ready for opening day. He is recovering from shoulder surgery, and mid-May may be the most realistic window for return.
Mulder, 29, would be viewed more as a potential post-All-Star break contributor.
The Rangers' best-case scenario would allow them to add Zito and Mulder to a group that already includes Kevin Millwood and Vicente Padilla (providing there were no issues with his physical Wednesday).
"Going into the off-season, I thought that in a perfect world, we'd add three starting pitchers," Daniels said. "We think two would be good, but one may end up being reality, too."
A longer shot is lefty Andy Pettitte. After some personal soul-searching, Pettitte decided Wednesday that he would play in 2007.
Agent Alan Hendricks said the Rangers would be a potential suitor for Pettitte, a Houston resident. The Yankees, however, could be a roadblock for the Rangers on Pettitte, as well. He spent the first nine seasons of his career with the Yankees, and they have also expressed interest.
"He has strong connections in Houston and New York," Daniels said. "But we will talk at some point to see if there is some mutual interest."
As for center field, the Rangers continue to remain in contact with Kenny Lofton and Jay Payton. While Lofton waits on the Rangers' pitching moves, Daniels had another conversation with Payton's agent, Craig Landis, on Wednesday.
Bad News: Klinsmann drops US National Team; Bob Bradley given job …
Now that Jürgen Klinsmann of Germany has withdrawn his candidacy, Bob Bradley of Chivas USA, coach of the year in Major League Soccer, will be named interim coach of the United States national team today, two American soccer officials said.
Klinsmann, the former star striker who led his native Germany to a third-place finish in last summer’s World Cup, ended negotiations with the United States Soccer Federation just when he appeared on the verge of being hired.
Klinsmann had seemed a perfect fit for the American team, given his familiarity with the United States system and the fact that he lives in Newport Beach, Calif. Klinsmann first told ESPN that he had withdrawn his candidacy, but he declined to discuss specifics.
“Financially, they basically had a handshake,” an American soccer official who was granted anonymity said of Klinsmann and the federation. “The question came down to authority and control.”
Klinsmann wanted more say in how the national team was operated than the federation was willing to give him, the official said.
Sunil Gulati, president of the federation, has scheduled a telephone conference call today. He declined to comment yesterday.
Gulati was believed to have favored a coach like Klinsmann who had the international recognition and the standing to assertively influence the direction of soccer in the United States.
Bradley, who formerly coached the MetroStars, now named the Red Bulls, is widely respected for his skills in identifying fledgling talent and developing young players.
Bradley, 48, won the M.L.S. Cup title with Chicago in 1998 and leads the league in career victories with 124. He will coach the 2008 Olympic team and will be given the opportunity to win the job as the full-time national team coach while other candidates are considered, an American soccer official said.
Youtube is down. So I don’t know how to leave you with comedy to start your weekend.
How about this:
Finally, today is Friday, so here are the Norm's Picks:
I know they are only still photos, but it isn’t my fault that youtube is struggling today.