What is more surprising? That a) The Mavericks lose 3 in a row! …
Dallas continued its lazy offensive habits and optional defense, getting hammered in the second half for a 110-98 loss to the Wizards. Washington was without its best player, Gilbert Arenas, but the rest of the team played so well that the game was never in doubt down the stretch.
Butler had 35 points, a career-best five 3-pointers without a miss, a team-high eight rebounds and two steals.
It was the Mavericks' third consecutive loss and their first at home after starting the season with six victories at American Airlines Center.
"We're not very good offensively right now," coach Avery Johnson said. "We've been real spotty with our offense, and defense. We're not getting enough contributions throughout the 48 minutes like we were in the real early part of the season.
"The energy hasn't been there. We don't really like where we are right now. We've been here before. We've lost more than three in a row before. I don't think championship teams can afford to get used to losing two or three in a row."
This is the Mavericks' longest losing streak since they opened last season 0-4.
They could blame Butler, who was sensational in every aspect.
But that would be overlooking their own problems.
The Mavs were lazy on offense, settling for too many jumpers. They were 3-of-21 from 3-point range. They shot 39 percent for the game and just 22-of-62 (35.5 percent) in the last three quarters. A big first quarter by Dirk Nowitzki masked problems that became obvious later in the game.
Dallas' sluggish offense wasn't helped by the fact it couldn't stop the Wizards.
By the time the final four minutes rolled around, Johnson had waved the proverbial white flag, sitting most of his regulars. It was then that former Maverick Antawn Jamison missed the second of two free throws, but got his own rebound and banked in a short shot. It was a final indignation for a poor all-around showing in the second half.
Or, b) That the Stars have won 6 in a row! …And they actually deserved this one by grinding down the Islanders…
Sometimes they've been pretty. Sometimes they've been ugly. Heck, some have even been pretty ugly.
But if there has been one constant in the variety of games the Stars are playing right now, it's this: They've all been victories. They added another one to that total Monday night.
Mike Modano scored two goals, including the game-winner 35 seconds into overtime, as the Stars beat the Islanders 3-2 at Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum. The Stars have now won six in a row for the first time since Jan. 23-Feb. 1, 2006.
The Stars also took a four-point lead over the idle Ducks in the Pacific Division.
Once again, it wasn't the most fundamentally sound game the Stars have played. But it didn't matter as the Stars once again found ways to win.
"As opposed to finding ways to lose, it's a lot more fun this way that's for sure," coach Dave Tippett said. "We thought they were going to come out hard, that's their reputation. But we weathered that storm."
Marty Turco stopped 23 of 25 shots and looked solid outside of an early gaffe, when he came out too far and got beat on a shorthanded goal. Tippett said that had more to do with errors up ice than with Turco.
"Great when I'm in the net," Turco joked afterward. Even Brenden Morrow got his dig in: "We've seen worse."
Jeff Halpern also scored the 100th goal of his career.
Just like Sunday against the Rangers, the Stars didn't get off to a fantastic start. But as the game wore on, the Stars stayed strong. They showed their mettle late when a penalty gave the Islanders a power play, on which they scored the game-tying goal. Instead of getting on their heels, the Stars kept driving.
And that driving led to them controlling the puck the entire 35 seconds of overtime before netting the winner.
"A majority of [the victories] have been ugly," Modano said. "We get outshot, and our goalie's been saving us. But we find ways to win. That's the positive, I guess."
In Aggieland, Gil Lebreton has a word or two about the Mike Sherman hire …
Whew. What an exhausting "national search."
Don't be surprised, though. Athletic directors with self-aggrandizement issues don't like hiring superstar, $3 million football coaches, especially when the athletic department doesn't have a lot of spare cash sitting around lately to begin with.
And so, alas, Texas A&M AD Bill Byrne did not introduce Steve Spurrier, Tommy Tuberville or Rich Rodriguez as the Aggies' new head football coach Monday.
Instead, we heard things like what a "great fit" Mike Sherman is at A&M. We heard how much his former players love and respect him. And we heard that the former Green Bay Packers head coach was always at the top of Byrne's list -- all three days, or 12 months, or however long you think Byrne had been greasing the exit ramp for Dennis Franchione.
Sherman is a solid choice -- pardon the safe euphemism. He may lack Spurrier's charisma. He may not have Tuberville's college résumé. And unlike Boise State's Chris Petersen, he made no one's Next Hot Thing list.
But Sherman was a successful NFL head coach and, before that, a respected college assistant. And somewhere in those nearly 30 years of coaching, maybe Mike Sherman learned how to be the next Pete Carroll.
Southern Cal's Carroll sits atop a dauntingly short list of former NFL head coaches who have achieved success upon returning to the college ranks.
And there's the rub. If it was so easy to jump from the pros to the BCS top 10, more coaches would have done it.
Sherman has never been a college head coach, especially at a university with the lofty expectations of Texas A&M. And while Sherman claimed to know the neighborhood -- "I know the landscape here. I know the high school coaches here." -- he left College Station more than 10 years ago. The high school coaches he knew are probably long gone.
He does not carry the reputation of an offensive genius. All you have to do is watch the Houston Texans play to see that.
Sherman, the Texans' offensive coordinator, said Monday that he wants to have an "attacking" defense and run an "attacking" offense. More safe euphemisms.
If AD Byrne wanted an innovative genius as head coach, he would have hired one. Right?
Maybe not. Byrne, despite promising a "national search," said that A&M interviewed only one candidate.
He obviously meant that revelation as a compliment to Sherman, but before Aggies hyperventilate, they need to remember that athletic directors use search firms to hunt for coaching candidates nowadays. Often, the search firm makes the final recommendation.
Byrne said that he performed his "due diligence" anyway.
"I've been in this business a long time," he said. "I know a lot of head coaches on a personal basis. I know a lot of NFL coaches.
"We had a full evaluation of coaches all the way down the line. Mike was our top
No Spurrier? No Tuberville?
No, they were always only the stuff of Aggie dreams.
From what we've seen -- and it's been in clear high-def these past two months -- guys like Kaiser Bill Byrne don't want an ornery, independent rascal like Spurrier. They don't want an expensive, well-credentialed coaching star like Tuberville.
Sherman will finish the season in Houston …
Sherman was officially announced as the coach of the Aggies on Monday, he plans to finish the NFL season as the offensive coordinator for the Houston Texans.
"It's obligation, it's honor," Sherman said. "I owe it to [Houston coach] Gary Kubiak, [and owner Bob] McNair to finish this season. I told Gary over the phone that I'm going to work harder so you don't ever question what I'm giving this organization."
Sherman will spend most of his time until the end of the season in Houston. The Texans have five games left through Dec. 30, unless they make the playoffs. Houston (5-6) is two games behind Cleveland in the wild-card race and four games behind in the AFC South.
The one area Sherman can help the Aggies while in Houston is on the phone with recruiting. A&M doesn't have a lot of work left to do with this class of 23 commitments.
"I was hired to be the head football coach, and I'm going to make phone calls [Monday] as far as recruits and make sure we have people still on board and maybe attract some other ones that maybe aren't," Sherman said. "It will be a busy month, for sure."
As far as what kind of offense and defense he plans to use, he said some of that will be determined by what he has in terms of talent.
"It's predicated on personnel," Sherman said. "I don't want to say we're going to be this or we're going to be that without actually studying our personnel -- see what's best for us right now."
And his cash …
New Texas A&M coach Mike Sherman agreed to a seven-year contract with a base salary of $1.8 million, less than the $2 million his predecessor, Dennis Franchione, was making.
According to athletic director Bill Byrne, it was Sherman who offered to take the smaller salary.
"He said, 'I would rather take less and go out and get the best assistants in the country,'" Byrne said. "He will be free to go out and hire the best assistants that he can possibly get."
Sherman has not hired any assistants, but said he has talked to a few coaches and doesn't think it will take long to compile a staff.
"I want to get it in place as quickly as possible, but not at the expense of making a bad decision," Sherman said.
He said he wants to hire coaches who understand what Texas A&M is about.
Hard to believe, but Redskins Star Sean Taylor, dead at 24 …
Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died early Tuesday from the gunshot wound he suffered a day earlier in his Miami home.
"He did not make it through the night," said Taylor's attorney, Richard Sharpstein, who called the incident "a ridiculous, unnecessary tragedy."
Taylor, 24, a Pro Bowl safety whose rocky first years in the NFL had given way to what teammates called a newfound maturity, died at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he had been taken after being shot once in the leg early Monday morning. Police are investigating the incident as a possible home invasion.
Sharpstein said he was informed of the death by Taylor's father, Pedro Taylor, who called him around 5 a.m. with the news. He told CNN that the elder Taylor "was overwrought with grief and called me to tell me that Sean was with God . . . They're just overcome at this particular point with the loss of a son and father and friend and just an incredible person."
The bullet severed Taylor's femoral artery, causing massive blood loss. He underwent seven hours of surgery, and there were some initially optimistic signs after he emerged from the operation early Monday evening. Described at first as "unresponsive and unconscious," Taylor had squeezed a doctor's hand and made facial expressions, Redskins officials and a family friend said, providing some hope.
But the trauma proved too great. The bleeding "could not really be stopped, only curbed a bit," Sharpstein said.
Taylor died "a couple of hours ago" surrounded by some family members, family friend Donald Walker said shortly after 6 a.m. "Things turned for the worse," Walker said by phone from Taylor's mother's house. There "seemed like a lot of hope after he responded to the doctor's command. But he lost a lot of blood."
Redskins Park was mostly quiet Tuesday morning as grim-faced team officials trickled into work. A small bouquet of white flowers had been placed at the main entrance and flags were lowered to half-staff. Fans, who had gathered Monday with candles, returned Tuesday morning to huddle near Taylor's parking spot. The team posted a brief statement on its Web site saying only that Taylor's family had notified the team "that Taylor passed away."
Idiocy from Paolantonio …
Right, Sal. Favre is over-rated. I realize he has more Wins, Touchdowns, Completions, Attempts, and soon Yards than any QB ever, but he is over-rated. Sounds like a great book.
ESPN's Sal Paolantonio is the author of the new book, "The Paolantonio Report: The Most Overrated and Underrated Players, Teams, Coaches & Moments in NFL History." Here are his five most overrated quarterbacks of all-time:
1. Joe Namath: His legend has much more to do with his Super Bowl III performance and his prolific off-field antics than his career stats.
2. Brett Favre: His image in the media has been hyperinflated to the good ol' boy routine, and that's why people like him.
3. Terry Bradshaw: He was ultimately an average quarterback who was surrounded by the greatest cast of talent ever assembled on one NFL roster, including eight Hall of Fame players.
4. Ken Stabler: His only accomplishment was winning the 1976 Super Bowl where the Raiders mostly ran and the defense stifled Fran Tarkenton.
5. Tony Romo: He barely made the team, and after one season of play he became a full-fledged superstar without really accomplishing anything to deserve it.
Classic Sean Taylor - lights up punter
Ref Claims Giving him the business