Friday, November 16, 2007

Devin Figures Out the NBA

Does beating the Spurs ever not feel good? Is it pathetic? Sure. Is it sad? Absolutely. I don’t care. I love beating those guys.

I think Devin is finally ready for this challenge.

The blog is going to be a bit short today, so let’s get to the meat.

Mavs beat down Spurs with defense

There were no champagne corks popping in the Dallas Mavericks' locker room. No amount of confetti drizzled from the sky inside the American Airlines Center.

After the Mavericks easily dispatched of the rival Spurs on Thursday night, and by a resounding score of 105-92, there was hardly any celebration at all.

If you ask Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse, there was good reason for that. The Spurs aren't the
Mavericks' rivals.

"We don't have all this reverence of the San Antonio Spurs that everybody else has," Stackhouse said. "They're a good team, and we respect them. But at the end of the day, every time we step on floor, we feel we should win the game."

Josh Howard scored 23 points and Devin Harris poured in 14 of his 18 in the fourth quarter as the Mavs used a raucous first half to pound the NBA champs before a sellout crowd of 20,468.

A turnover-fueled 11-0 run in the second quarter helped the Mavericks open up a 19-point lead. The Spurs never drew nearer than 10 after that.

Tim Duncan had 24 points for the Spurs, and Manu Ginobili neared a triple-double with 25 points, nine rebounds and seven assists.

That wasn't enough to keep the Spurs (7-2) from falling to 0-2 against in-state foes, a daunting mark given their next game: tonight at home against Houston at the AT&T Center.

The Spurs were undone in the first half by an unlikely enemy — turnovers. The best in the NBA at taking care of the ball, the Spurs had nine turnovers in the first half, eight of which came off Dallas steals. The Mavericks turned them into 17 points and sent the Spurs into halftime with their largest deficit of the season, 59-40.

"They played more aggressive than us," Ginobili said. "We didn't take care of the ball. Every time there was a help, they took it out of our hands. Against a great team, that's unforgivable."

The Mavericks (6-2) relied heavily on an amped-up defensive effort to smother the Spurs, much to the delight of coach Avery Johnson.

In addition to the turnovers, Dallas bothered the Spurs into missing 29 of their 43 field goals during the first half. The Mavs were especially hard on the Spurs' starting backcourt of Tony Parker and Michael Finley, which finished with a combined seven points and one field goal — all of which came from Parker.

How did Golden State effect the Spurs-Mavs? …read on…

Stephen Jackson said he talked to a few Spurs last summer, and Jackson said they thanked him for his help. Jackson's Golden State, after all, had eliminated the Mavericks.

"They know they have problems with Dallas," Jackson told reporters recently.
The Spurs know. They know the Mavericks can put size on Tim Duncan and speed on Tony Parker. They know, as it was both in 2006 and Thursday, the Mavericks also can shoot a little.

They know, too, the franchise with the best chance to stop a repeat isn't Houston or Phoenix or Boston.

It's the only one that has beaten them in the playoffs over the last three years.

Jackson said Manu Ginobili was among the Spurs who thanked him last summer, and Ginobili denies saying exactly that. "I just told him I enjoyed watching the series," Ginobili said.

Popovich repeated that. Asked Thursday night if he gave a sigh of relief after the Mavericks lost, Popovich said, "I don't remember thinking that way."

Popovich was busy at the time. The Denver first-round series was sticky and, besides, the Spurs were in no place to worry about the third round. They had Phoenix next.

Still, nearly everyone in San Antonio and Phoenix saw Golden State's upset for what it was — an opening. A 67-win team was gone.

Popovich still calls the Mavericks "arguably the best team in the league," but they are more than that to San Antonio. They are built to match up with the Spurs.

They play defense, and they have size. And whereas Golden State had athletes who could take advantage of what Nowitzki can't do, the Spurs don't.

Thursday reaffirmed that, as well as something else.

If they haven't already, they should thank Jackson.

Devin Harris is coming on strong

Apparently, Devin Harris has been the Tony Parker starter kit for long enough.
Playing against the MVP of the NBA Finals, Harris dominated. Either that or it was one of the slickest rope-a-dopes you'll ever see.

Parker and the San Antonio Spurs didn't seem particularly eager to unveil any sort of "A" game Thursday night. The Mavericks may have had something to do with that.

Undeniable was the strong first quarter that Harris had, leading the Mavericks to a big early lead. They then saw the point guard throw down a virtually perfect fourth quarter to cap a 105-92 lashing of the Spurs, who came in with the Western Conference's best record but looked very much like the same slow starters they have traditionally been.

Even with the arena looking like an oversized bowl of lime sherbet because of the team's "Green Out" promotion at American Airlines Center, the Mavs couldn't have suspected that this night was going to be such a sweet treat. Or that the defending NBA champions would be left green with envy.

But that's the way it worked out. The Spurs had nothing but praise for Harris, who had 18 points and five assists, but more importantly helped pester Parker into 1-for-11 shooting. Parker was 1-for-6 in the first quarter, when the Mavs rolled to a 33-18 lead.

"He's shown a lot more confidence," San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. "He's not worried about making mistakes. He's taking the open jumpers that are given to him and attacking the rim. He's always been a good defender, but I think he's shown a lot more confidence offensively."

It's exactly what Avery Johnson and his staff have wanted to see for the last two seasons. Harris had four points and four assists in the telltale opening quarter. The lead never dipped under double figures in the second half, largely because Harris was 6-for-6 and had 14 points and a steal in the fourth quarter.

On to the Cowboys, where 3 of the last 4 opponents have looked like they would be a handful for the Boys. Only the Patriots proved to be. Now, they have 2 games against teams that don’t appear to have the weapons to matchup. Answer me this, how does Washington score 28 on Sunday? I don’t see it.

Cowboys 31, Redskins 17

No WR’s healthy for Campbell

The irony of the situation wasn't lost on Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell. At a time when the coaching staff has shown signs of opening up the game plan offensively, the Redskins are running out of wide receivers.

Top receiver Santana Moss has been sidelined recently because of a bruised heel; James Thrash has a high-ankle sprain; Antwaan Randle El has remained in the lineup despite a hamstring injury; and Brandon Lloyd broke his collarbone in practice this week, ending his season. It's difficult to play a wide-open style on offense without healthy wide receivers, Campbell said, and the Redskins' unit is in bad shape.

"How do you think it makes me feel as a quarterback?" Campbell said after practice at Redskins Park yesterday. "Right when we start to do some different things as far as a passing standpoint goes, all your guys are getting hurt. It's like a bug going around. And to have them going out with one of the biggest games of the year coming up, and we're already short-handed, it makes it tough."

As the Redskins (5-4) complete preparations today to face the NFC East-leading Dallas Cowboys (8-1) on Sunday in Irving, Tex., the state of the receiving corps is high on Coach Joe Gibbs's list of concerns. Gibbs and Al Saunders, associate head coach-offense, expanded the use of the no-huddle offense in last week's 33-25 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles, and Campbell and the wide receivers were productive in the up-tempo scheme.

Randle El is on track to play Sunday. Keenan McCardell had a touchdown reception
while playing a bigger role against the Eagles, and the little-used Reche Caldwell could become more involved in the game plan. The Redskins also signed wide receiver Jimmy Farris after Lloyd was injured.

But with so many questions about the health of the unit, are the Redskins capable of playing a fast-paced style against the Cowboys?

"We have confidence in all our guys, and there are definitely things we feel like we're capable of as an offense, passing or running the ball," Campbell said. "No matter who's in there, we feel like we can be successful as long as we execute and follow the game plan. But you'd rather have all your guys, especially when you're playing an exceptional team like Dallas. If you don't have everybody, it's like you're fighting an uphill battle."

Moss bruised his heel in a 23-20 victory in overtime over the New York Jets on Nov. 4. After sitting out the entire week of practice before the game against Philadelphia and the first two practices this week, Moss plans to "do a little something" today, he said. But
Moss, also inactive for an Oct. 7 game against Detroit because of a groin injury, cautioned that he still wasn't sure about his status for the upcoming game.

Moss said he would try to practice today and then determine whether he will be able to play in the game.

Big Matchup, Small Audience

When the National Football League released its television schedule before the start of the 2007 season, no one looked at the Nov. 29 game between the Green Bay Packers and the Dallas Cowboys on the NFL Network as some kind of clash of the titans.

Everyone circled New England at Indianapolis Nov. 4 on CBS-TV. No one circled Packers at Cowboys.

Green Bay was not expected to be an elite NFC team this season. But at 8-1 that's exactly what they are. The game has come to circle itself.

Packers at Cowboys easily becomes the biggest game in the short history of the NFL Network.

That might be good news for the NFL Network but it's not good news for NFL fans, since most of them don't have access to the NFL Network, which this season carries a package of eight games, the same number as last season, when it started carrying game telecasts.

The NFL Network kicks off its schedule on Thanksgiving night with Indianapolis at Atlanta. The Cowboys appear again on the NFL Network on Saturday Dec. 22, when they play at Carolina. The network will conclude its schedule Dec. 29 when the New England Patriots visit the New York Giants.

So the NFL now has this glorious Dallas-Green Bay marquee game, between national teams with rich and winning traditions, a game you would want to broadcast around the solar system, and it's going to be partly hidden under a bushel basket since many of the major cable providers in the country do not carry the NFL Network.

Bryant Gumbel and Cris Collinsworth will call one Packers game this season and it happens to be a colossus, although not on the level of Patriots-Colts, which featured two undefeated teams.

The game could be one for home-field advantage throughout the playoffs.

"You just try to picture the Green Bay Packers having to go to Dallas to play in the NFC Championship Game," Collinsworth said. "In my mind, that's still a little bit of a stretch. But if the Cowboys have to come back into Lambeau Field to knock off Green Bay, that's a little bit of a stretch for me, too. So, big game."

Barry Bonds indicted

The number 762, which today looks very much like the final number, is an asterisk unto itself.

Barry Bonds hit what may very well be the final home run of his career on Sept. 5 against Ubaldo Jimenez, a young man who was born just two years before Bonds hit his first home run. Seven-hundred-sixty-two has the authenticy of a curbside Rolex, the honor of Ben Johnson's 9.79. There is nothing commissioner Bud Selig needs to do. Doubt and disgrace are lined up to be its perpetual companions.

The number 732 is what counts. Officially, the case number is 3:07-CR-00732-WHA, the United States of America vs. Barry Lamar Bonds. You tell me the team that would dare sign a 43-year-old designated hitter who is under indictment by the federal government, which officially has called him out as a liar and a cheat of criminal proportions. Given Bonds' instinct to resist, and given the delusional world in which he has created for himself, you would expect he is prepared for a lengthy and costly legal fight, a fight that would seem to subsume whatever playing days he might have had left. It could be years before he goes all Marion Jones on us, like Pete Rose gone clean, if the day ever does come at all.

Think about it: the all-time home run leader is forced into exile by a federal felony indictment. Doesn't exactly have the ring of a Mastercard commercial with tinkling piano music, now does it? And you can bet nobody in the Major League Baseball offices is too broken up over it. They will root hard for Alex Rodriguez to get to 763 quickly.

On days like this I go back to what Gary Sheffield once told me he told Bonds the one winter they shared a house, workouts and, apparently, some wonder cream. "Barry," Sheffield said he told Bonds one particular day when he was fed up with Bonds' attitude, "you treat people like [garbage] enough, it's going to come back to haunt you. People will look for reasons to get you."

LA Times Column on Bonds is solid

Sure, everyone suspected Bonds took steroids. Absolutely, everyone wrote that Bonds probably took steroids.

Heck, Commissioner Bud Selig was so sure Bonds was going to be indicted for lying about steroids, he refused to publicly applaud him during his chase of Hank Aaron's home run record last summer.

Everyone -- except perhaps the exceptionally deluded San Francisco Giants fans -- saw this indictment coming.

But we had no idea how it would feel once it arrived.

It feels slimy. It feels sick.

To hear Thursday that even the federal government is now so certain he took steroids, it is betting its 95% conviction rate on it?

It feels like the back of Barry Bonds' neck looks.

It is grotesque and surreal.

Not one of the bloated Bonds 762 homers connected like this one.

This would be like the recent Michael Vick federal indictment, but only if Vick were Joe Montana, and only if the dogs were discovered to have thrown most of his touchdown passes.

This would be like the recent NBA referee scandal, but only if an official actually spent a decade fixing every game involving Michael Jordan.

Dang, the phony really was a phony.

His 73 homers in 2001? Liar.

His .812 slugging percentage in 2004? Liar.

His 351 homers after 1998, when he allegedly began using steroids out of jealousy for Mark McGwire and Sammy Sosa? Big fat liar.

Some folks say Bonds should be exonerated because, at the time of his alleged use, steroids were not outlawed in baseball. Bad argument. They were illegal without a prescription.

Other folks say that this is only a charge, not a conviction, so Bonds should be given the benefit of the doubt. That benefit has been foolishly extended for four years.

Time's up. Game over. On federal indictments, the government swings and misses even less than Bonds did.

You'll notice, we write about Bonds' career in the past tense. That is because, as a baseball player and future Hall of Famer, he is now officially finished.

As a surly, aging slugger, he was going to have trouble finding work this year even without the indictment. The legal questions will turn him positively radioactive. He's done.

He was also going to have trouble entering the Hall of Fame simply because of the same whispers that have kept out Mark McGwire. Now, there is probably no way he will even be eligible.

The moment he is convicted in this case -- convicted of anything involving lying about steroids -- Selig will undoubtedly ban him from baseball for life.

And, I just can’t take Tech tomorrow night:

Oklahoma 38, Texas Tech 34

Roenick and Hatcher’s moment. Those were the days…

Back to the Future – Biff is on the show today


Jay said...

I am one of those poor suckers without the NFL Network. In Little Rock now and at the mercy of apartment cable, I need to find a friend I suppose. I wish the NFL Network had worked out a deal with cable companies BEFORE they started broadcasting games, I think they're shooting themselves in the foot right now.

Lance said...

Cable TV is evil, it always has been and always will be. Anytime you're locked in with no choice it's never a good thing. Thankfully now that I have a house I can have DirecTV, so I never have to worry about being stuck with cable (and missing games) ever again.

TheDude said...

I hate to say I told you so, and I know I told absolutely no one here, but... I freaking told you so!

Also, for anyone that applauds "it's a good day Evan!" A-Rod for doing and end-around on Boras to get back to the Yankees, me and Evan Grant say pull yer head out.

Jay, Christi and Andrew said...

Wow, a blog full of links followed by comments full of links. I don't know that I have that kind of time...

breatnyS said...

Good defense by the San Antonio Spurs drama boys, if only we could patch up the difference, this will be a San Antonio good season. They are running, switching in defense, rebounding see those efforts. We don't have yet the Spurs team down.

I which I could see some Spurs games live. I was looking for tickets all the good seats on ticketmaster were taken I had to check broker. And man you don’t want to do that especially for the San Antonio Spurs. Thanks god there sites like Ticketwood which work as comparators here is the site
Spurs Tickets

I like slam dunks that take me to the hoop my favorite play is the ally-hoop,
I like the pic n roll,i like the given goal its basketball yo, yo lets go!
Go Spurs Go!!!