I am up against it today, so mostly just cut and paste. But, don’t let that ruin a big sports weekend…
Mavericks return with big win at Detroit …
Is there a need for the playoffs with all of these "previews?"
For the second time in five days, the Mavericks found themselves in one of those games with a Finals feel. Unlike the instant classic with Phoenix, they were able to close out Detroit for a gritty 92-88 victory Sunday afternoon at the Palace of Auburn Hills.
"Man, that was a good win," said Josh Howard, shaking his head.
The Mavs (54-11) opened up their season-high six-game road trip by snapping their two-game losing streak to the Pistons. Detroit beat the Mavs 92-82 in early December at American Airlines Center.
The clash of the Western and Eastern Conference leaders, billed as a potential NBA Finals preview, didn't reach the dramatic heights of Wednesday's double-overtime loss to the Suns.
Still, there were plenty of tense moments against the Pistons, who had just come off an impressive 5-0 West road trip. Playing without injured point guard Chauncey Billups, Detroit led by as many as 10 in the first half.
The Mavs were able to control the tempo in the second half, mainly by winning the battle on the boards and clamping down defensively. That's not the easiest task against the physical Pistons.
From Detroit, commentary of the game …
It's not that the Mavericks proved they could win a grind-it-out defensive, Eastern Conference-type game.
It's not that they exposed any weakness or established any kind of dominance on the Pistons.
Look, both of these teams know they can beat anybody, anytime, anywhere. A win or a loss in the middle of March wasn't going to change that one way or another.
No. What this game showed is something the Pistons should have learned by now -- their margin of error against elite teams is small. Every player has to be on the same page, especially at crunch time, or things can go very wrong.
That's what happened here Sunday.
Chauncey Billups sat out with a strained left groin muscle. Flip Murray again filled in nobly with 18 points, six assists, four steals and two turnovers. Billups' absence didn't swing the balance in this game.
Richard Hamilton, who took three stitches over his left eye after running into Chris Webber's elbow late in the game, managed just 13 points. Shockingly, he missed five of seven free throws in the fourth quarter, two that would have tied the score with 2:45 left.
"It was like someone popped a balloon on us," coach Flip Saunders said of the missed free throws.
That was the obvious difference in the outcome, and Hamilton was more than willing to accept the blame.
"If I step up and make those free throws, then it's a whole different story," Hamilton said. "After I missed, they were able to come down with some confidence. I make them and it's a whole different situation."
But there was something more covert, and possibly something more serious, that ultimately sunk the Pistons on Sunday. Rasheed Wallace jumped off the page in the fourth quarter. He became upset at the strategy Saunders deployed against the Mavericks' small lineup in the fourth quarter.
When asked where the game got away from them, Wallace said: "Honestly, I choose to keep that to myself. We didn't get a couple of stops, they hit a couple of shots. Give them credit."
The Mavericks went small two minutes into the fourth quarter -- three guards and Josh Howard at power forward, with Dirk Nowitzki -- and quickly erased the Pistons' four-point lead. Saunders chose to stay with a big lineup (keeping Antonio McDyess and Webber on the floor) for five possessions. The Mavericks ran off an 11-2 run and took control of the game.
Stars beat Phoenix in exciting fashion …
The smorgasbord of scintillating moments was so bountiful Sunday at American Airlines Center, no fan could have gone home hungry for more.
Especially when you mix in a 5-4 overtime victory for the Stars over the Phoenix Coyotes.
But while the win helped keep Dallas (43-24-5, 91 points) in a tight mix for fifth place in the Western Conference, the entertainment value was what people were talking about as they exited.
"It was intense," a smiling captain Brenden Morrow said. "It was the kind of game we needed."
Morrow, playing in his second game since missing 33 with a wrist injury, scored a goal on a beautiful drive to the net where he had to deflect in a Stu Barnes pass with a defender hanging all over him.
Mike Ribeiro scored the game-winner in overtime on a rebound at the net, but many of his teammates were chattering about the third-period goal in which he showed inhuman patience, faking Phoenix goalie Mikael Tellqvist with a forehand, then going to his backhand around Tellqvist and then back to his forehand to stuff the puck just inside the post.
"That's the kind of goal people might try in practice," said Niklas Hagman, who scored his 17th goal of the season. "I mean, he waited and waited and waited. ... And that move. It was something."
Of course, who will forget the night in Nashville. Besides, the punch, the Stars are mad at the class of Nashville …
Nashville Predators management did a disservice to the game of hockey Saturday night by not informing the crowd of Mike Modano's achievements, Stars president Jim Lites said Sunday.
And further, coach Barry Trotz's comments praising Jordin Tootoo for showing calm when punching Stephane Robidas was "patently ridiculous," according to Lites.
"Their owner, management, public relations people, coaching staff – I think they all failed the game," Lites said. "It's because of people like Mike Modano that they even have a team in Nashville. He has helped pioneer the game in the South, and for him to be treated like that in a milestone moment ... it's just a horrible thing."
The fact Modano was approaching Joe Mullen's record for goals scored by an American-born player was not mentioned over the arena's public address system Saturday.
Nothing was said when Modano tied Mullen at 502 goals nor when Modano broke the record at 503. Instead, the crowd booed Modano for his part in a skirmish that led to Tootoo being penalized and continued to boo him the rest of the night.
"I understand it's a competitive situation, but we're also working together to sell
the game," Lites said. "They get more money from revenue sharing than any team in the league, they voted against the new schedule because they wanted to have an easier schedule for themselves. They take and take and take and take and never give back, and I'm sick of it."
Here is the footage from the Tootoo Punch, from the Nashville broadcast. I say he gets 5 or 6 games off.
The Nashville paper reports …
One of the top NHL analysts in the business believes Predators forward Jordin Tootoo should be suspended for the blow he struck to charging Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas on Saturday.
Bob McKenzie of Toronto-based TSN said Sunday he thinks the NHL will suspend Tootoo for at least half a dozen games. The Predators have nine games left in the regular season.
"Is it a suspendable offense? There's no question in my mind that it is,'' McKenzie said. "My only question is how many games it will be. My guess is six to 10. I'd be surprised if it carries over into the playoffs, but you never know.''
The NHL has so far not offered any comment on the situation, but the Predators don't play again until Wednesday.
So if the league does choose to take action, it could wait until before that contest to do so.
Texas Bounced …
The best player on the floor will be the best player on the couch for the rest of the NCAA Tournament.
Texas star Kevin Durant's season came to an unceremonious close Sunday after an 87-68 thumping at the hands of surprising Southern California.
Nick Young led USC with 22 points in the runaway, which left Durant -- the freshman front-runner for national player of the year -- to decide whether to leave college for the NBA.
"I don't think that's an appropriate question right now," Durant said. "I'm just worried about this team and what we can be next year as a team."
As he often has this season, Durant led everyone with 30 points and added nine rebounds for fourth-seeded Texas (25-10).
But he never came close to dominating this East Regional game. Many times when he got the ball, the offense ground to a halt for the Longhorns, who fell behind by 17 early in the second half and never made a serious run.
So was Wisconsin …
Weekly NHL Column from Duhatschek …
Link of the Day: Crazy Sports Tattoos from Sports Illustrated …
Bob and Dan in Mobile
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