Mavs win in New York, Knicks still a mess …
A big lead lost was as much the focus for the Mavericks as the victory after they hung on, 99-89, over the embattled New York Knicks. Considering the Mavericks were up by 23 in the third quarter against a team that had been humiliated by Philadelphia by 28 points two nights earlier at Madison Square Garden, the Mavericks were having a hard time celebrating this one.
"The last three minutes of the third quarter were absolutely pathetic," coach Avery Johnson said. "The guys that were in there let the whole team down.
"I thought Devean George was going to be able to play the whole fourth quarter. But we had some individuals that let him down, and they didn't carry their weight out there on the floor while they were in there and they know who they are."
The group in question was Brandon Bass, Jason Terry, Jerry Stackhouse, DeSagana Diop and Josh Howard.
What Johnson had hoped to do was rest his regulars down the stretch. And with a 22-point lead with under four minutes left in the third, it was a reasonable goal.
But the Knicks carved the gap to 16, then finally to seven in the fourth quarter before the Mavericks held on. Johnson said the issue was addressed with the group that was on the floor.
It sure sounded like Johnson was throwing a wet blanket on the win, although he said that's not the case.
"Ain't no wet blanket," he said. "We won by whatever margin, and with the way we've been playing, for us to win two games in a row, ain't no wet blankets over here. Warm blankets. Warm, dry blankets."
That much is true. There's nothing that will help a lukewarm team than a visit to New York these days. The Knicks are in turmoil, starting with coach Isiah Thomas, who has been given a vote of confidence by ownership but remains a vocal target of fans.
With 8:55 left in the third quarter and the Mavericks up by 20, the locals could stand it no more. The chant was a rip-off of the hallowed "Let's Go Yank-ees" chorus.
"Fire I-say-uh (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap). Fire I-say-uh (clap, clap, clap-clap-clap)."
It should be noted that Madison Square Garden was still full, presumably with people who paid to get in.
The Mavericks, meanwhile, got a season-best 36 points from Dirk Nowitzki, including 34 in the first three quarters, when the Mavericks opened a large advantage.
A couple of buckets from Jason Terry in the fourth quarter kept New York from getting closer than seven points.
Stars and Oilers play an exceptional 5-4 Overtime game Monday ….
Sergei Zubov is somewhere near 10th in All-Star voting for defensemen.
But he's first in the league in scoring among blue-liners.
That seems the perfect dichotomy for one of the league's most underrated players.
Zubov had a goal and three assists Monday, including setting up Brenden Morrow's game-winner in a 5-4 Dallas Stars overtime win against the Edmonton Oilers.
The four-point night tied Zubov's career-best (his sixth four-point effort) and gives him 28 points for the season – two better than Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom.
He quietly goes about his job, but the guys who get to see it in here understand what he means," Morrow said. "We know how valuable he is."
He's pretty much the Stars' MVP so far this season. Zubov has four goals and 24 assists, and he is a big reason the team's power play ranks among the league's top five. He is one of the key reasons the Stars are 16-11-4 and back in first place in the Pacific Division.
Morrow, who has 16 points with the man advantage this season, said he and Zubov noticed Oilers breakdowns in overtime after Jussi Jokinen drew a slashing penalty to put the Stars on the power play.
"We tried that play about 30 seconds before, and it hit a skate or I flubbed it," Morrow said. "But he always puts it on the tape, and he made a great pass to me for the winner."
Zubov also made a great pass to Jokinen that resulted in a Mike Modano tap-in goal in the first period. He fed defenseman Matt Niskanen for his second goal of the season, and then converted a perfect pass from Antti Miettinen for a goal in the second period.
While Zubov clearly was the show, the Stars also had some great supporting performances. Miettinen contributed two beautiful assists while playing on a line with Morrow and Mike Ribeiro. Niskanen finished with a goal and two assists and was plus-3. Steve Ott pushed the grind line along. Ribeiro had a goal and an assist.
On to football, where Peter King wonders about the ticket prices in Dallas …
So you wonder how important Romo is to the Cowboys? He came along not at the right time, but at the perfect time.
The Cowboys began selling tickets to their new stadium in Arlington last week, and the prices floored some buyers. Lower-bowl seats will have one-time personal seat license (PSL) fees between $16,000 and $150,000, which will give each ticket-holder the right to purchase seats at the stadium for the next 30 years. Those who pay the license fees will have to fork over $340 per ticket for 10 games -- eight regular-season, two preseason. Team Marketing Report claims that the previous highest PSL price was $12,000 per seat in Carolina, and that Gillette Stadium, home of the Patriots, did not have PSL fees when it opened.
The prices seem other-worldly. That's putting it mildly. Dallas owner Jerry Jones is fond of saying the public will determine the market. If he sells out the new palace, either Texans are flush with more money than the rest of the country, or they'll mortgage their futures to make sure they see how far Romo can take this team in the next few years.
Anthony Smith is now famous …
There are permanent guests at Guantanamo Bay who wouldn’t have traded places with Anthony Smith yesterday.
We’ll never know exactly what Smith was thinking when he decided it would be wise to guarantee victory this week, but by the end of last night’s 34-13 thrashing at the hands of the Patriots [team stats], it was pretty clear what he had wrought.
The Patriots fans in attendance for garbage time serenaded the second-year Steelers safety with chants of, “Guarantee! Guarantee!” while his sorry visage was splashed across the scoreboard.
“You can’t feel sorry for a guy that throws himself into the fire like that,” said Pats cornerback Ellis Hobbs [stats].
Not only did Smith work the Patriots into such a frenzy that even quarterback Tom Brady [stats] was smacking helmets with him during some first-quarter trash talk, he also had a direct hand in the two longest plays of the day.
He bit on a play-action fake to spring Randy Moss for a 63-yard touchdown in the second quarter, then failed to get back on the wide receiver throwback from Moss to Brady to Jabar Gaffney [stats] for a 56-yard score.
When it was over, Smith reaped what he had sown. And the Patriots were only too happy to turn his words into added motivation.
“It’s almost like when you go to a pizza shop and you order your pizza and you say, ‘I want extra sausage,’ ” Patriots safety Rodney Harrison [stats] said. “There’s nothing wrong with extra sausage.”
Smith’s night of misery started early. He was stretching before the game when a battery of TV cameras rushed him. He tried to act nonchalant with a boom mike in his face, but eventually scuttled toward midfield.
He didn’t move fast enough. Harrison was leading the Pats DBs on a lap when he crossed paths with Smith and unleashed a torrent of God-only-knows-what in Smith’s direction.
“I just said, ‘Hey, you never know what’s going to happen,’ ” Harrison said. “It might be a long day.”
Smith cursed. Harrison laughed. Welcome to the eye of the storm. Enjoy your stay.
Vick gets 23 months …
Michael Vick, the former Atlanta Falcons star who has traded his No. 7 jersey for a black-and-white-striped jail uniform, stood expressionless in a federal courtroom Monday and apologized to the court and his family for his involvement in a dogfighting ring. But for the judge about to decide Vick’s fate, those words were not enough.
“I think you need to apologize once again to the millions of people who look up to you,” United States District Court Judge Henry E. Hudson said.
“Yes, sir,” Vick answered.
Hudson then sentenced Vick to 23 months in prison, more than Vick’s co-defendants in the case — and also more than the 12 to 18 months prosecutors originally suggested, as part of Vick’s plea agreement.
Hudson said Vick had lied about the extent of his role in the dogfighting operation, which had lasted six years. The judge and prosecutors said Vick had an active role in the killing of pit bulls housed on his 15-acre property in rural southeastern Virginia.
Because Vick had not admitted to his full participation in the execution of the dogs, the prosecutors agreed to the sentencing guidelines of 18 to 24 months. Michael Gill, an assistant United States attorney, asked Hudson to sentence Vick at the high end of that range.
“You were instrumental in facilitating, putting together, organizing and funding this cruel and inhumane sporting activity,” Hudson told Vick in a courtroom packed with animal-rights activists and Vick’s family and fans. “While you have acknowledged guilt and apologized, I’m convinced it was not a momentary lapse of judgment on your part. You were a full partner.”
Vick, 27, pleaded guilty in August to bankrolling a dogfighting operation, Bad Newz Kennels, and to helping kill six to eight dogs. He voluntarily entered prison three weeks ago, in Warsaw, Va.
Based on federal guidelines for good behavior, Vick’s sentence could end as early as the summer of 2009, meaning he may be able to play that season. What complicates, and perhaps would prevent, a possible comeback are state dogfighting charges Vick faces in Virginia, for which he could serve additional jail time. That trial begins in April.
Fukodome coming to America …Rangers? Oh wait, that would make too much sense…
Japanese outfielder Kosuke Fukudome told the Chunichi Dragons he will not return next season, saying he wants to make a move to the major leagues.
Fukudome, who became a free agent last month, informed the Central League club of his decision Tuesday.
"I won't be playing for a Japanese club next season, I'll play in the majors," Fukudome said. "I appreciate the fans who supported me for nine years. I hope that the fans continue to root for me when they see me playing in the United States."
Fukudome is regarded as one of the best outfielders in Japanese professional baseball. The 30-year-old was a key member of the Japan team that won the inaugural World Baseball Classic in March 2006.
He had surgery on his right elbow in August and sat out the Japan Series, but has 192 homers and a .305 batting average over nine seasons with the Dragons, who won their first championship in 53 years on Nov. 2.
Fukudome has drawn interest from the Chicago Cubs, the San Diego Padres and the Chicago White Sox.
The Padres have made an offer to Fukudome, calling it "one of the two or three biggest offers" in team history.
Fukudome, I think
Lebreton hopes that Milton Bradley isn’t all the Rangers have planned in the winter of 2007 …
The Rangers have needs. They have holes to fill in their lineup. They have, thanks to the Yankees, at least $21 million stashed under owner Tom Hicks' mattress.
So that can't be it. That can't be the end of their free-agent holiday shopping spree.
Reports indicated that the Rangers had come to terms Sunday with free-agent outfielder Milton Bradley. But let's be reasonable. General manager Jon Daniels isn't -- he can't be -- finished rounding out the lineup yet.
Let's review, though. The Rangers made a run at free-agent center fielder Torii Hunter, who instead took the big bucks and headed for Disneyland. Center fielder Andruw Jones, gone to the Dodgers. Closer Eric Gagné, reportedly headed for Milwaukee. Reliever LaTroy Hawkins, signed with the Yankees.
Phillies outfielder Aaron Rowand, no mention of the Rangers. Ditto, it appears, for Japan transfer Kosuke Fukudome.
And just when you thought the last bus to the bottom of the AL West was about to leave the station, reports say that the Rangers have agreed to terms with Bradley, whose eight-year major league career is paved with trades, injuries and knucklehead incidents.
Hmm. As I recall, the signing of Alex Rodriguez in 2000 was greeted with a tad more tickertape and civic celebration.
"We said when this off-season began," Daniels said Sunday, "that we were looking for multiple pieces. Our outfield remains a priority."
He hasn't turned off his cellphone, in other words.
Meanwhile, who's going to play center field?
Daniels isn't saying, which has become the club's modus operandi lately. The theory, I think, is that the best free-agent shopping philosophy is the kind that you don't talk about.
Yes, the Rangers are still interested in Fukudome, according to major league sources. They're also reportedly interested in center fielder Mike Cameron.
But that didn't stop them from reuniting Bradley with Ron Washington, his former third-base coach in Oakland. And if Rangers manager Washington feels that Bradley's temperament won't cause problems here, it seems rash to doubt him.
The latest Bradley temper tantrum directly led to late-September knee surgery and prompted the cloud that hovers over the early part of his 2008 season. Before the deal is officially announced, Bradley's knee is going to have to pass a physical.
His head? Well, who knows?
We've all heard the stories. The ball-tossing story with the Dodgers. Ripping off his Los Angeles jersey after a home fan threw a plastic bottle at him. A shouting match with his Cleveland manager. Feuds with Jason Giambi and Paul Lo Duca.
But let's be fair here. The incident in San Diego last season was investigated by Major League Baseball, and it was umpire Mike Winters who was suspended, not Bradley.
There are some who say that Bradley, 29, has calmed and matured considerably since having a son three years ago. Again, consider the Ron Washington factor. Why would Washington, who has plenty on his shoulders as it is, agree to add Bradley if he felt the outfielder was going to disrupt the Rangers' clubhouse?
Some strong Cowboys email:
So, in 2004, Dallas gets Buffalo’s first round pick for the next year, thinking that the Bills would stink and the pick would be top five. Instead, Buffalo almost makes the playoffs at 9-7 and the pick turns out to be No. 20 and Marcus Spears.
Fast forward to 2007. Dallas gets Cleveland’s first round pick in 2008, thinking that the stinko Browns would continue to be the stinko Browns and produce a top five selection. Instead, they are cruising toward a playoff spot at 8-5 and that pick looks like a mid-20s selection.
The lesson? If you’re a bad team, trade next year’s first round pick to Dallas and you’ll have a good shot at making the playoffs next season. Meanwhile, don’t trade your first round pick to New England because you are likely to suck badly (see San Francisco).
By the way, from the “I wonder if he still thinks that” category, here’s a smarmy little tidbit from Mickey Spagnola from a couple of seasons ago telling us why trading down to take Julius Jones over Stephen Jackson was genius and all those who thought differently are idiots who, in Mickey’s words, “don’t know the difference between Oregon State and Ohio State.” Classic Mickey smugness on display:
Dave in Tulsa
2008 Cowboys opponents:
If I calculated it right this should be it.
NFC South 1st Place Team TBD as of 12/5/07 Tampa Bay
NFC North 1st Place Team TBD as of 12/5/07 GreenBay
Learis In Valley Ranch
Terrell Owens want you to have abs like him …
Need a tree? Steal it! …
Was it the Grinch who stole the Christmas tree?
Actually, it may have been two Grinches.
A man and a woman are suspected of grabbing a Christmas tree Dec. 1 from a Wal-Mart Supercenter, tossing it into the back of a red truck and driving off.
The theft happened shortly before 8 p.m. at the store in the 1600 block of West Texas 114.
The tree was valued at $52.36.
Witnesses told police that the couple walked up to the tree on display in front of the store and snatched it.
There was no information on the tree's whereabouts, but a cave above Whoville would be a good place to start.
Milton Bradley is totally normal
Hasek – Gaborik