Mavs beat the Heat; almost make it look too easy …Interesting quote in this story about Dirk not liking the MVP Night promotion. I would think that would embarrass a man amongst his colleagues. Good job, Dirk.
The Mavericks beat the Miami Heat without Dwyane Wade, which meant it was perfect fodder for Shaquille O’Neal to escalate the banter between last season’s NBA finalists.
The Mavericks unveiled the Dirk Nowitzki MVP campaign, much to the superstar’s chagrin. But he did his part with a monster evening and a big second quarter by Jason Terry provided the juice for a 112-100 victory over the Heat at American Airlines Center.
It wasn’t enough of a showing to convince the Heat’s mammoth center of anything, especially considering the Mavericks beat the Heat last month in Miami without O’Neal in the lineup.
"They’re all right," O’Neal said of the Mavericks, who won their 10th consecutive game and at 45-9 are a mere 19 games ahead of the Heat. "They’re playing well. They play well at home. But they still can be beat."
Not by the Heat. At least not this season, unless there’s a rematch in the Finals.
If Wade’s absence – the guard who questioned Nowitzki's leadership was in Miami with a dislocated left shoulder – removed some luster from Miami’s only appearance here since winning the NBA Finals on this court, it didn’t show in the way the Mavericks handled business.
Nowitzki had 31 points, 11 rebounds and six assists. Terry had 21 points, but 16 of them came in the second quarter, when he hit seven of eight shots and staked the Mavericks to a 23-point halftime lead.
It grew to 32 at the start of the fourth, and only a terrible night by the Mavs’ deep reserves allowed the Heat to get back to respectability on the scoreboard.
Nowitzki, meanwhile, was a tad embarrassed by all the MVP hoopla.
"I’m not a big fan of that," he said. "I don’t think you should push for MVP, especially with so many games left.
"I don’t think there’s an award for mid-season MVP."
The Mavs’ winning streak was their third of the season spanning 10 games or more. They join Milwaukee (1970-71), Philadelphia (1980-81) and the Los Angeles Lakers (1999-2000) as the only teams in NBA history to accumulate three separate double-digit winning streaks in the same season.
Meanwhile, The Heat have issues with DWade’s shoulder …
Dwyane Wade is considering season-ending surgery to repair his dislocated left shoulder, which would be the biggest loss yet for the Miami Heat during their rocky reign as NBA champions.
The All-Star guard was hurt in the fourth quarter of Wednesday night's 112-102 loss at Houston. Wade flew home early Thursday in a private plane and was examined at a hospital by team physician Dr. Harlan Selesnick, who conducted a battery of tests.
"Wade is presently weighing his treatment options provided to him by the Heat medical staff," the team said in a statement. "Wade still needs to discuss these options with his family and Heat president and head coach Pat Riley, and will then decide what course of action to take."
Regardless of the decision, the Heat's bid to repeat was further weakened. They may hard-pressed merely to make the playoffs.
Stars going Duck hunting tonight; Mike Smith gets the start …makes you wonder who is the goalie in the playoffs if the two teams meet…
The Stars also received some interesting news Thursday that could force Armstrong into talks. Forward Patrik Stefan is expected to have hip surgery that will end his season. Stefan has been trying to play through the injury, but has decided he can no longer push his hip. Mix in that injury with Matthew Barnaby's post-concussion syndrome and Steve Ott's second ankle surgery, and there is the potential that none of the three players will be available for the playoffs.
"Our depth has been our strength all season," Armstrong said. "We have several players available in Iowa and we have key players returning to the lineup."
Brenden Morrow said Thursday that his rehabilitation has been going exceptionally well and that he remains on course for a March 21 return. Morrow, who suffered three severed tendons in his right wrist Dec. 26, has been told by doctors that he can not play before March 20. He said that schedule has allowed him to work on conditioning and lower body strength, so he should be fresh when the playoffs start.
Eric Lindros has been rehabilitating his sore groin and is close to returning to the lineup. However, he has been slowed by the flu. He has missed four games and will not play tonight, but, he said Thursday after practice, he should return soon.
Barnaby is also skating, but there is no real time frame for his potential return.
Ott is not skating, but he could return before the end of the season.
Smith gets start: Mike Smith will start in goal against Anaheim tonight. Smith made 32 saves in a 1-0 win against the Ducks on Feb. 10 and had a strong performance (29 saves) in a 3-1 loss to Detroit on Feb. 14. Marty Turco has played two games since then and Stars coach Dave Tippett said he wants to have a more regular rotation between Smith and Turco.
"We need both guys playing well," Tippett said. "We just got [Smith] going again, why would we want to get him away from that?"
Tippett said Turco will start Sunday against Vancouver.
Nagy moved: Tippett shuffled his lines Thursday in practice. Nagy was moved to a line with Mike Ribeiro and Loui Eriksson, while Niklas Hagman was moved into Nagy's spot on the top line with Mike Modano and Jere Lehtinen.
War in Buffalo …
Chris Drury went down. The rest of the Buffalo Sabres stood up.
The Sabres could only shrug the past five games as they watched their teammates limp off ice. But after their bloodied co-captain was helped off the ice by a hotly debated hit that they deemed dirty, the shrugs turned to punches. Lots of them.
The Sabres came out swinging at the Ottawa Senators on Thursday seconds after Chris Neil felled Drury during Buffalo's 6-5 shootout win. The Sabres felt Neil hit a defenseless Drury well after his second-period shot - the Senators disagreed - so they exacted revenge the only way they knew how. All 12 players on the ice fought as soon as the play resumed.
"You can't respond any other way," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said. "I was so proud of those guys."
Ruff threw the hard-hitting trio of Andrew Peters, Adam Mair and Patrick Kaleta over the HSBC Arena boards to line up against three of Ottawa's top scorers, Jason Spezza, Dany Heatley and Mike Comrie.
"We're an energy line, and there was absolutely nothing said," Peters said. "We decided to take matters into our own hands, and that's it.
"You take a run like that at anybody like that on our team, you're going to be faced with some problems."
Kaleta and Heatley jostled before the puck was even dropped. When the puck hit the ice, the melee began. Mair went at Spezza and caught him with a rock-hard left, leading Ottawa's Anton Volchenkov to jump in. With that, all 12 players on the ice dropped the gloves, including goaltenders Martin Biron and Ottawa counterpart Ray Emery.
"The hit on Dru was dirty," Biron said. "We've lost a lot of guys, and when a leader like that gets taken down . . ."
The battle resulted in an even 100 minutes in penalties, 63 for the Sabres and 37 for the Senators. And that was just six seconds after Drew Stafford fought Neil to avenge the hit.
Biron and Peters were ejected, along with Emery. The Ottawa goaltender fought twice. After scoring a takedown on Biron, he got to his feet and saw Peters ready to challenge him.
"I thought it was brutal," Senators coach Bryan Murray said. "I thought it was embarrassing. I think there should be suspensions, and there probably will be."
Added Ruff: "I don't condone the tail end when Andrew's emotion ran a little bit hot. But everybody's emotion . . . mine was running a little bit hot. With their goaltender, maybe that was a little bit too far. But at the same time, they knocked one our best players, they knocked our captain out of the lineup with what I believe was a dirty shot. You don't lay down after that. You don't lay down."
While the referees were sorting out the brawl penalties, Ruff and Murray engaged in a screaming, finger-pointing session at the benches, with Murray standing on the boards. They were debating the legality of the Neil hit, and the back-and-forth continued after the game.
Here is the video of the fights, pay special attention to Ray Emery, the smiling goalie…
ESPN looks at the Aggie Football team …
After a 2006 season that included so many close losses, Texas A&M seemed close to turning around its fortunes in coach Dennis Franchione's fourth year in College Station. The Aggies lost three regular season games by a combined six points -- a four-point loss to Texas Tech and one-point losses to both Oklahoma and Nebraska -- but then rallied to beat Texas in the finale, ending a six-game losing streak in the game that matters most.
Then Texas A&M played California in the Holiday Bowl.
And it wasn't even close.
The Bears blasted the Aggies 45-10, and Texas A&M lost for the ninth time in its last 11 bowl games and failed to finish in the final top 25 poll for the seventh consecutive season.
So as Texas A&M heads into spring practice and begins preparations for the 2007 season, are the Aggies closer to becoming a real threat in the Big 12 South, or closer to putting their coach back on the hot seat, where Franchione seemed to sit ever since he arrived from Alabama before the 2003 season?
"The Holiday Bowl left a nasty taste in our mouth, but we know what we need to do," said Jorvorskie Lane, the Aggies' 270-pound tailback. "We want to compete in the Big 12 and with everybody in the nation. We're still not satisfied with a 9-4 record. We were looking for a 10-win season last year. In 2007, we want to be Big 12 champions and compete for a national championship."
Irvin wants to do radio …
M ichael Irvin said ''there is nothing I love more than talking football and doing exactly what I was doing at ESPN.'' But whether he lands another network TV gig is very much in doubt.
Still, for a man who just lost a job he adores, Irvin sounded remarkably upbeat about his future in a phone conversation this week. The former University of Miami star spoke of how he now has the flexibility to pursue other interests, including movies and a radio call-in show.
Irvin said ESPN would not permit him to do a program for 790 The Ticket or Sirius Satellite Radio last season.
''I want to have a presence [in Miami],'' Irvin said, unsure if talks with The Ticket would be revisited. ``I want to do my own radio show. I enjoy radio more than anything. It's an opportunity to talk to the fans. I see Boomer Esiason and Cris Collinsworth doing [television and radio], but ESPN wouldn't allow that stuff.''
Though Irvin wants to remain on television, none of the NFL rights-holders appear interested.
CBS and NFL Network said they won't pursue Irvin. Fox (where Irvin previously worked) and NBC also aren't expected to hire him.
Irvin -- who appeared in the movie, The Longest Yard -- wants to do more acting.
''The Bible talks about . . . trying to maximize all of your gifts,'' he said. ``God frowns upon being given many gifts and not using them.''
Irvin said ESPN didn't give him a specific reason for his ouster.
FA Cup Schedule …
Entertainment Weekly looks at Lost …
P1 camcords Dan from a distance
Dirk makes Rolling Stones Video