Avery Johnson's search for the right starting lineup to complement Jason Kidd might be finished.
In making his second consecutive start, Jerry Stackhouse provided the size and scoring punch at shooting guard that Johnson envisioned. Even better, Jason Terry gave the Mavericks instant offense as the sixth man. The results were clear.
But the Mavericks' 108-79 victory came at the expense of the New York Knicks, the NBA's equivalent of an asterisk – not that Johnson cared.
"Well, we're trying to draw some conclusions, OK?" Johnson said. "We need some small victories within these games. ... One of them is Jet shooting the ball well of the bench."
In this case, the focus has been finding a shooting guard to start alongside Kidd.
Fitting the pieces together has not come quickly or easily. The Mavericks are 6-5 since the acquisition of Kidd, although they have won their last two games impressively.
First, Johnson tried Devean George, who lacked the necessary offense. Then, he went to Terry, who had the scoring but lacked the size.
"We ran into some major issues with both Jet and Kidd starting together that we have to take a long look at," Johnson said.
Specifically, the pairing of the 6-2 Terry and the 6-4 Kidd forced Kidd to guard the Kobe Bryants and Manu Ginobilis of the Western Conference.
"We were too small," Johnson said.
So into the lineup went the 6-6 Stackhouse, who had developed into one of the league's best sixth men with the Mavericks.
"We're moving forward with this one at this particular time," Johnson said. "The only option we would have is Eddie Jones, probably when he gets healthy. But right now, I like Stack in there. I don't care who we're playing against, I like Stack in there."
Terry went back to the bench, where his mission will be to bring offensive punch.
Big Ben with a good sports plan …
But whatever the case, you can enjoy Ben's sports brain on full display when you check out the Mav Games in person at the AAC and notice the corner of the building where they are keeping track of J Kidd's dimes just like baseball fans tally K's for a dominant pitcher (trust me Ranger fans - this is something that is done where great pitching is expected).
Ben thought it was a great idea to keep fans involved with Kidd's always intriguing stat line and called Mav's Marketing guru Paul Monroe - who then proceeded to make it happen quickfast in a hurry. Don't worrry - Flava's vision ain't blurry.
Tim MacMahon banned! …
Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban has instituted a new policy banning full-time bloggers from the team's locker room, drawing an official protest from The Dallas Morning News, which employs the only writer so far banned.
In an e-mail sent to Cuban on Monday, Bob Yates, deputy managing editor/sports of The Morning News, wrote that the policy "is a veiled attempt at retribution" against Morning News reporter Tim MacMahon, who has been blogging about the Mavericks since 2006.
Cuban told MacMahon to leave the locker room on Feb. 29, the same day MacMahon wrote an item critical of Mavericks coach Avery Johnson.
Yates wrote that the policy, issued by the Mavericks over the weekend, contradicts language on the team's season media passes, allowing access to all media areas, including locker rooms.
In addition to writing items that appear only online in the dallasnews.com Mavericks blog, MacMahon gathers quotes from players for the beat writers who cover the team. Those quotes often appear in the newspaper.
MacMahon attempted to enter the Mavs' locker room before games Thursday and Saturday but was stopped both times.
"I can assure you that I am not singling out Tim MacMahon," Cuban wrote in an e-mail response to a reporter's questions. Cuban said he never read MacMahon's posts and had no idea MacMahon had been blogging so long. He said someone did bring the Johnson item to his attention, along with the fact that MacMahon was a blogger.
"I don't care what Tim writes, then or now," Cuban wrote. "What I do care about is being fair to all bloggers."
The Mavericks' new policy denies locker room access to writers whose "primary purpose is to blog." The policy states that the team does "not have enough room in the locker room, nor enough media passes to fairly accommodate everyone."
In an e-mail exchange with a reporter, Cuban acknowledged that MacMahon is the only writer who has been excluded from the locker room so far. He wrote that if he becomes aware of other writers whose primary purpose is blogging, he will prevent them from gathering material in the locker room, too.
The dispute has attracted the attention of the NBA, which has no policy on bloggers.
JJT says no to Pac Man ….what a radical opinion…
Memo to Jerry Jones: Don't even think about acquiring Pacman Jones.
Not today. Not next month. Not ever.
He ain't worth it.
You can't trust him. How could you? We have 44 strip clubs in Dallas. Another 14 in Fort Worth. And eight more in Arlington.
You don't have enough security to prevent him from "making it rain" in Dallas-Fort Worth. Even if you did, he could fly down to Houston on his off day and find 45 more strip clubs. Or head to Austin, which has 14 strip clubs. Or San Antonio, which has 20 topless joints.
Pacman is currently serving a suspension for violating the NFL's player conduct policy time after time after time.
He didn't even play last year, and there's no guarantee league commissioner Roger Goodell will let him play this year. You know why? He makes dumb decision after dumb decision after dumb decision.
But it's easy to see why the Cowboys have had internal discussions about whether to acquire Pacman.
He's a phenomenal talent. A game breaker. A difference maker. The kind of player who can change the game on defense and special teams any time he touches the ball.
That's why Tennessee took him with the 6th pick of the 2005 draft, despite his off-the-field issues at West Virginia.
If Pacman had the slightest bit of common sense, he'd be one of the NFL's most popular and marketable players. Instead, he's the poster child for why fools and their money soon part.
Jerry, though, is desperate to win.
He's embarrassed by the 11-year drought without a playoff win. And he's frustrated by last year's debacle against the Giants, which is what it was, regardless of New York's Super Bowl win.
Jerry is so desperate, you know he's willing to add Pacman to the roster, whether it's signing him as a free agent if he's released, or working a trade with Tennessee.
Understand, the thought of adding Pacman to the Cowboys' roster is not revolting because of his numerous off-the-field issues. Professional sports is not about signing boy scouts and choir boys, it's about winning championships.
Teams don't have a moral responsibility to sign players who do charity work and provide our children with outstanding role models. Considering the outrageous ticket prices, a team's first commitment to its fans is putting a winner on the field.
And finally, the only sports story I can get fired up about this morning, Liverpool, amidst all of the Hicks insanity, are ready to take Inter out of the Champions League today….
Fernando Torres To put Inter to the sword …
Mass celebrations invariably attract unwanted guests and two will have haunted Internazionale as the Italian champions commemorated their centenary until the early hours of yesterday morning. The prospect of facing Liverpool with a two-goal deficit and minus two first-choice central defenders would dampen the revelry at any club desperate to transfer domestic dominance on to a Champions League stage. The blossoming partnership of Fernando Torres and Steven Gerrard intensifies Inter's hangover.
The mutual appreciation that produced Torres' 25th goal of his debut season in English football and Gerrard's 19th of the campaign against Newcastle United is not confined to the pitch. Liverpool's leading goalscorer heralded his captain as "maybe the best player in the world" yesterday and for Gerrard, whose 10th league goal equalled a season's best on Saturday, the knowledge he no longer carries the club's hopes alone is as uplifting as his recent freedom to attack and the five successive victories that have reinvigorated Rafael Benítez's team. One week on from Cesc Fábregas' dismantling of Milan at San Siro, Gerrard expects a second Spaniard to inflict further misery on their city rivals.
"We will be looking to play on the counter-attack at the San Siro and Torres plays that game better than anyone around," said the Liverpool midfielder, who has played off the forward in the last five games. "Not only can you stick the ball over the top and let him chase it, but look at Marseille - he'll make things happen by himself too. He roasted [Marco] Materazzi in the first game. He [Materazzi] might think he was hard done by, but he could have been booked for a bad tackle before he had even had one yellow, never mind two, and it just shows how easily his pace and strength unsettled a World Cup winner. The lad who comes in for Materazzi won't be looking forward to his 90 minutes against Fernando."
Mike and the Mad Dog and their engineer
Amazing camaraderie on television, no?