Tuesday, April 10, 2007

Tuesday in Bondage



It may not be the big prize, but the NUMBER ONE SEED in the WEST has been won by the Dallas Mavericks. We are certainly in a holding pattern right now, but we should not overlook the steps that are being taken by this team. They beat the Clippers last night to clinch


If the Mavericks and Clippers hook up the first round, it'll be the No. 1 seed vs. No. 8.

The Mavs locked up the front end of the deal Monday night, clinching the league's best record and the Western Conference's top spot, beating the Los Angeles Clippers 96-86 at American Airlines Center.

For the first time in the franchise's 27 years, the Mavs (64-13) put together a regular season unequaled in the league. They have home-court advantage throughout the playoffs, including the NBA Finals, should they return.

"It's special," coach Avery Johnson said. "You can't discount it. We didn't come into the season trying to be No. 1 or whatever. We came into the season trying to end this year with a win. There's only one team can do that.

"If we continue to pay attention to detail and don't skip a step and don't think too much of ourselves, we have a chance of kicking it into another gear."

The Southwest Division champs -- only the franchise's second outright division title -- have five full games left to rest, prepare for the first round and not worry about where they finish.

Clinching early has its privileges. But it's hardly the end game.

"You work hard to get the home-court advantage; you lose one game, and it's all gone," Jerry Stackhouse said. "It's about going into the playoffs playing well, also. So we want to close this season off strong as well go ahead and put ourselves in position to maybe get guys a little healthier and rest."

Johnson talked about having the "perfect plan" to prepare his team for the postseason. It now begins in earnest.

Dirk Nowitzki and Stackhouse won't accompany the team to Minneapolis after today's practice. Both will sit Wednesday against the Timberwolves and Johnson will sit two rotation regulars Friday with Utah coming to town.

Johnson wants to get in at least one dress rehearsal, a game with a playoff-type rotation, before the season ends April 18 at Seattle.

"We still want to win the rest of the games no matter who's in uniform," he said.
The Mavs will face the West's eighth team in the first round. Golden State (38-40) is currently eighth, just head of the Clippers (37-39), but Denver and the Los Angeles Lakers also are possibilities.

However it unfolds, the Mavs have a courtside seat for the next nine days. They plan to enjoy the view and not fret about getting stale in otherwise meaningless games.


Meanwhile, tomorrow is the first day of the rest of the Dallas Stars’ life. And, Let’s hope they are up for it. Honestly, this series seems so close. Everything is close. I have a sneaky suspicion that it is going to come down to Marty Turco …and you know what that could mean…


Turco's regular-season accomplishments during his four seasons as the Stars' No. 1 goalie have been many. He broke the NHL record for lowest goals-against average in his first go-round as a starter in 2002-03. He tied Ed Belfour's team record for wins in a season in 2003-04 and then broke it in 2005-06. This season marked his third appointment to the Western Conference All-Star team.

But the playoffs have brought him only frustration. Last season, the Stars were a popular pick to reach the Finals but were gone after five games in the first round against Colorado. With Turco in goal the last three postseasons, the Stars have won one of four series.

"One thing I've realized is I can only control the present and how I'm prepared for the future. And, add to that, I can only control what I do on the ice," Turco said of the lessons he has learned this season. "I can't worry about the other team or what's happening in our game. I only need to worry about my job and committing 100 percent of my focus to that.

"It [playoff failure] was disappointing at the time, but I don't think about it now. Sure, there were bad goals and bad luck. And I wish we would have won more. But you learn from it, and you move on."

Learning has been Turco's mantra this season. He has learned about diet and exercise – cutting out junk food and improving his flexibility. He has learned about prioritizing – turning down opportunities for socializing and team bonding to focus on his daily routine. He has learned about handling pressure – and blocking it out.
"There are distractions," he said, "but you have to be able to accept that, process that and then cast it aside."

Whether it's casting something aside or taking it head on, Turco will have extra pressure.

"I think Marty has a lot to prove, and I think he knows that," Stars center Mike Modano said. "The pressure is good pressure, just to quiet the critics. I think he wants to be a great player, and great players are made in the playoffs."


Morrow speaks


Marty [Turco] and I have talked all year. He doesn't hide from what people are saying about him and the pressure he's under and what he's done in the past. There isn't one person in this locker room who blames Marty Turco. I believe that 150 percent. There is not one guy who believes in himself more. He knows he'll hear about it until he has success, but once he gets that people are going to remember that instead of last year's playoffs.

I think it will have to take a game or two for them to pull Marty, unless we are trying to shift momentum somehow. But if it is Mike [Smith], we believe in him. I don't know if the best word is young and dumb, but that is how I made it my first year. You don't feel the pressure. You are just so excited to be there.

I don't think we want to think about playing for [coach Dave Tippett's] job. We are playing to win. We're playing to have success. We're playing to win the Stanley Cup. And if you put too much thought into what's going to happen if you don't have success, you are not thinking about the right things. But I love him as a coach. He's a great players' coach and, if we lose, it will be the players' fault.

When Dallas won the Cup my first year, I felt like: 'This is something I could get used to doing every year.' But once you've been here a few years, you realize that doesn't happen every year, you realize how hard it is, you realize the pressure.


Many are concerned about the television coverage of the Stars. If you live locally, fear not. All the games are on locally

If you live out of market, you better have Versus. Or I think you may be out of luck…


Here's the Stars' TV schedule for round one. All the games are being covered on either Channel 27 or FSN. Versus is also covering six of the seven games nationally, but the Versus games will be blacked out locally because they will be on 27 or FSN.

1 Wednesday, April 11 at Vancouver (GM Place) 9 p.m. My 27/VERSUS
2 Friday, April 13 at Vancouver (GM Place) 8 p.m. FSN Southwest/VERSUS
3 Sunday, April 15 at Dallas (American Airlines Center) 8:30 p.m. FSN Southwest/VERSUS
4 Tuesday, April 17 at Dallas (American Airlines Center) 7 p.m. My 27
5* Thursday, April 19 at Vancouver (GM Place) TBD My 27/VERSUS
6* Saturday, April 21 at Dallas (American Airlines Center) 7 p.m. FSN Southwest/VERSUS
7* Monday, April 23 at Vancouver (GM Place) TBD My 27/VERSUS


Good previews of all 8 NHL series

Rangers creep back toward .500


Ian Kinsler homered in each of the Rangers' first two games, but of course, nobody expected the second baseman to hit 162 home runs this season.

Nobody expected those two round-trippers to be his only two hits of the year, either.
But that was the case until Monday, when Kinsler snapped out of a three-game hitless streak with a career night at the plate in an 8-4 victory over the Devil Rays.

In a sixth-inning outburst, Kinsler's RBI single broke open a game that the second baseman himself had tied with a two-run double in the fourth inning. In addition to those two RBI, Kinsler went 4-for-4, his most hits in a game in two major league seasons.

"He was perfect," said manager Ron Washington, who praised his entire offense and its 15-hit night. "We as a group have been trying to get our act together."
Thanks to a six-run sixth inning, Texas' hitters were able to secure starting pitcher Brandon McCarthy's first victory as a Ranger.

McCarthy struck out five and allowed two runs in six innings. But he knew his night was over when he went to the dugout before the Rangers' onslaught.

"You usually kind of hold out hope in that inning and it usually never seems to materialize," McCarthy said. "That time it did. The bats were just waiting to explode, you could kind of tell that."

After Hank Blalock and Nelson Cruz strung together two-out singles, Kinsler drove home Blalock with the game-winning single.

"We all knew what was going on," Kinsler said. "[McCarthy's] throwing a gem, and we've got to help him out."

The Rangers went on to bat around in the sixth, chasing starter Edwin Jackson. The Rangers had six two-out hits in the frame and eight in the game; they were just 8-of-59 (.136) with two outs in the six previous contests this season.

"Two-out hits, I can't say enough about that," Kinsler said. "You've got to get your two-out hits if you're going to be a winning club."

Blalock was 2-for-4 and Cruz was 3-for-3, as the bottom of the Rangers' order continued to be more productive than the top. Four of the first five hitters in the lineup are under .200, while Blalock, Cruz and Kinsler are all hitting .333 or better.


Kevin Durant goes bye bye



Texas freshman Kevin Durant will declare for the NBA draft, the Dallas Morning News reports, citing two unnamed sources close to the Longhorns basketball program.
Durant could declare his intentions as soon as Tuesday, according to the report. However, a Texas spokesman told the Morning News that neither he nor coach Rick Barnes were aware that a news conference announcing Durant's intentions was imminent.

The Houston Chronicle reported that Durant is expected to make a decision by the middle of this week.

Durant and his family did not talk to reporters after the team banquet Monday night in Austin, Texas. Barnes said he expects Durant will make an announcement soon.
"I think he'll make a quick decision," Barnes said, noting that Durant's family would remain in town with him for another day or so. "Now it's a matter of [Durant and his family] deciding and putting it together."

Barnes said Durant has not yet told him what he'll do.

"He's made history. No one's done what he did this year. He swept every major award
as a freshman. It's a year we may not ever see again by anybody. It's remarkable," Barnes said.


In other news, we have good UEFA Champions League today. Man United try to stay alive at 1:30 against Roma on ESPN2, and on delay, Chelsea and Valencia at 4 on ESPN Classic.

Kevin Durant Rules



Marshawn Lynch’s ride

5 comments:

Brad said...

My NHL sports pants are going so crazy right now.

Bob...post game from the compound after a couple of OT's tomorrow at 2am?

No?

cracker1743 said...

Ian Kinsler won't stand for commenter spares trash talking his teammates.

Cap It said...

when is someone going to invent 'Rivo' so i can record 'the compound' while i'm at work?

Popsicle Stick Chick said...

Love Bob's bondage blogging. Oh wait...

guy said...

female + tattoo = ho