Dirk and the Mavs get a win in the cold …
With the temperature hovering at eight degrees outside Tuesday night, it took awhile for the Mavericks to warm up.
But once they did, the Milwaukee Bucks found out the cold-hard facts on why the Mavs are the hottest team in the NBA.
With Dirk Nowitzki having the hot hand, the Mavs rallied from a 16-point deficit, ended the game on an 11-1 run and held off the Bucks 99-93 at the Bradley Center. Nowitzki scored 38 points and added 11 rebounds and eight assists in an MVP-type performance.
"Dirk Nowitzki is incredible," coach Avery Johnson said. "Sometimes I get caught watching him, he's so good."
The Bucks must have been watching Nowitzki, too. Of the Mavs' final 11 points, Nowitzki scored four, assisted on a 3-pointer by Jerry Stackhouse and delivered another assist to Jason Terry for the basket that put the Mavs ahead, 95-93, with 34.9 seconds left.
Stackhouse and Nowitzki closed out the scoring with two free throws apiece as the Mavs buckled down defensively and held the Bucks to just 35 points in the second half.
"This is a game we could have easily looked past for whatever reason, them having guys out," said Stackhouse, who scored 13 points. "But I thought we just kept grinding and kept grinding."
Despite missing All-Star guard Michael Redd, the Bucks led 68-52 midway through the third period. But early in the fourth quarter, Devean George went on a personal 9-0 run as the Mavs closed within 84-80.
Red Raiders own Aggies in basketball, too …
Tech stunned No. 6 A&M, 77-75, when Jarrius Jackson silenced the sellout crowd at Reed Arena with a buzzer-beating 10-foot jumper.
The Aggies (21-4, 9-2 Big 12) had won 21 straight home games. A&M's only two Big 12 losses have come to Tech (16-10, 5-6), whose NCAA hopes got a major boost.
The Red Raiders could have called a timeout after the Aggies tied the score with 6.2 seconds left on a 3-pointer by Acie Law, the latest addition to his long list of clutch shots. Instead, Tech quickly got the ball in to Jackson, who pushed it up the floor.
"It'd been a hell of a mistake if we'd called timeout, because we never would've gotten a break like that," coach Bob Knight said. "That's why these kids deserve an awful lot of credit."
Jackson got a step on Marlon Pompey, who went flying by him when the Tech senior guard pulled up. Donald Sloan appeared to be expecting a drive and set up to take a charge, giving Jackson a clean look at the basket.
Jackson matched his season high with 31 points.
After beating A&M, 70-68, in Lubbock for its second straight victory over a top-10 foe, the Red Raiders dropped their next five, Knight's longest losing streak since his first season at Indiana in 1971-72. The Aggies won their next five, including an historic victory at then-No. 6 Kansas.
Dat Nguyen gets a job with the Cowboys …As does Wes Phillips…
The Cowboys hired two assistant coaches Tuesday and are expected to add a third soon.
The Cowboys hired former linebacker Dat Nguyen as defensive quality control/linebackers coach and Wesley Phillips as offensive assistant coach/quality control. Wesley Phillips is the son of head coach Wade Phillips.
Tennessee wide receivers coach Ray Sherman, who interviewed with the Cowboys Tuesday, is also expected to join the Cowboys staff as receivers coach.
Sherman has worked for seven NFL franchises, coaching wide receivers, running backs and quarterbacks in addition to serving as offensive coordinator for Minnesota (1999), Pittsburgh (1998) and the New York Jets (1994). Sherman also coached for Green Bay, San Francisco and Atlanta.
The Cowboys will also interview Oakland Raiders running backs coach Skip Peete, Wisconsin offensive coordinator Paul Chryst and University of Virginia assistant head coach for offense/wide receivers coach John Garrett.
Peete joined the Raiders in 1998 as running backs coach. He is the brother of former NFL quarterback Rodney Peete.
Big Hockey game in Dallas tonight: Smith between the pipes …
Mike Smith, on a roll after coming back from a concussion, will start in place of a struggling Marty Turco when the Stars play Detroit tonight at American Airlines Center. The decision gives Turco, who has been going steady since January, time to practice, sharpen up and, most importantly, rest.
"He can use a couple days here," coach Dave Tippett said. "Smith is one of those guys, he missed three weeks and he should be playing more right now. That's where we are. You look at your team, at who needs rest or work, and how are we going to accomplish it all."
Turco admits that "I just haven't been myself the last couple weeks," and the next week will be good preparation for the stretch run in March and April.
"I think Mike deserves to play, especially off his [work] last week," Turco said. "And it's a nice break for me, too. It's been awhile. It gives me a week to relax and get back to work and rejuvenate."
Smith went 3-0 last week, including an impressive 1-0 victory over Anaheim on Saturday. While he's excited about the opportunity, he said there was no goalie controversy.
"It's just a bump in the road here, but it's just going to make him better in the long run," Smith said. "It's a friendly competition, and it's going to make both of us better to push each other. Come playoff time he'll be ready to go."
And if the playoffs started now, Tippett said Turco would be in goal.
"The only reason anybody is making question about it is because the guy behind him is a pretty
good player, and that's a good thing," Tippett said. "It makes us a good team. He's pushing. That's what we want."
Mike Modano said he's not worried about either goaltender's ability to play when necessary.
"Nobody has any panic setting in," Modano said. "It's great that Smitty's playing well, and Marty's just had a great run. I think more than anything it's getting [Turco] a break. He can get some rest and get re-energized."
I said yesterday that starting Smith over Turco is a no-brainer. Here is why Dave Tippett agrees with me:
• Marty Turco is now 1-8-5 against Detroit in his career. This is the only Western Conference team he has a sub .500 record against.
• In 15 games, he has given up 3 goals or more 9 times vs. Det.
• Ken Hitchcock was 13-13-3 versus Detroit in his stay here; Dave Tippett is now 2-7-5.
Detroit is coming off an embarrassment in Philadelphia, So expect them to be in a bad mood…
Well, historically bad, according to the Elias Sports Bureau folks (courtesy of ESPN):
Coming into Monday's game, the Red Wings were third in the NHL with 78 points and the Flyers were dead last with 36. In the last 20 years, only one other team won a game by at least five goals over a team with at least 40 more points. On March 17, 1996, the Senators defeated the Lightning, who had 43 more points than Ottawa, 5-0.
It's the most goals the Red Wings have allowed in the third period of a game since Oct. 9, 1993, when they gave up seven in the final stanza of a 10-3 loss at Los Angeles.
NHL.com looks at the Nagy acquisition …
Dallas, which has been able to win despite the absence of a go-to offensive weapon, should benefit greatly from the addition of Ladislav Nagy, obtained Monday in a deal that sent Mathias Tjarnquist and a first-round pick in the 2007 Entry Draft to Phoenix.
“Ladislav brings speed and skill to our hockey club,” Stars General Manager Doug Armstrong said. “We look for him to come in and make an immediate impact on our roster.”
The Stars certainly have an immediate need for offensive help, ranking 23rd in the League while scoring just 2.61 goals a game. Nagy’s 41 points are more than any current Star. Philippe Boucher, who led Dallas in scoring before Nagy’s arrival, has 39 points, ranking him 94th in the NHL. The Stars’ leading goal-scorer is Jere Lehtinen, whose 17 goals place him in a six-way tie for 81st in the league.
Dallas has been able to survive its lack of firepower because the Stars have the NHL’s fourth best defense, allowing just 2.41 goals per game.
“We’re just finding ways to win,” Mike Modano said.
The Stars have been able to manufacture those wins and make their recent move in the standings despite uncharacteristically shaky goaltending from Marty Turco. In his last two outings, the slumping Turco has a bloated 7.93 goals-against average and lowly .773 save percentage. Dallas coach Dave Tippett yanked Turco early in his last two starts, which the Stars went on to win over Colorado and Minnesota. Turco has now been pulled five times this season.
Guerin has a hat-trick while the Blues get beat again …
Pat Riley = sorry? …
We extend Pat Riley benefit of the doubt because he's Pat Riley. Anybody else with less aura and less jewelry would be getting savaged for how selfish and convenient his timing has appeared lately in deciding when to coach and not coach the champion Miami Heat.
Riley doesn't coach when the team is in last place or laboring or even bored. But Riley returns triumphantly whenever Shaquille O'Neal does. Riley suspends James Posey and Antoine Walker for fatness, and then leaves poor Ron Rothstein to take the beatings. Shaq is healthy? So is Riley.
The surprise isn't that Riley resumes coaching now that Miami is coming off its single most impressive regular-season victory in two years -- Sunday's blowout of San Antonio. The surprise is that he didn't hobble down the arena stairs in the fourth quarter and poke Ron Rothstein out of the way with one of his crutches.
Packaging buys you plenty in sports. Riley practically invented the coach as runway model, wrapped in Armani and discipline. He looked more presidential than Stan Van Gundy, whatever that means, and fans love believing in the authority figure as instiller of toughness.
Doesn't matter that, in crucial moments, Riley succeeded last season because he gave the ball to Wade and got the heck out of the way. When his choices at those moments for 18 years were Clarence Weatherspoon or John Starks, Riley lost.
How much does perception matter? Consider this: Let's say it wasn't Riley coming and going based on whether the Heat was winning or losing. Let's make it Nick Saban instead. How would you feel about it then?
Brilliant new NHL commercial from All-Star week:
Please watch the All Star game – Jeremy Piven