Dirk Nowitzki has missed one game this season, and it was a forgettable one for the Dallas Mavericks.
They were hammered by Houston when Nowitzki was benched by an NBA suspension on March 6.
Now the Mavericks are staring a lot more than just one game without their best player. The schedule, despite two games upcoming against the Los Angeles Clippers – including tonight's – is demanding. Five of the next seven games are on the road against playoff contenders.
So what do the Mavericks do without Dirk?
"We've just got to play hard as hell – every day, every game," forward Brandon Bass said. "It's got to be a team thing. No individual is going to replace him."
Bass is one of the options coach Avery Johnson has. Bass could replace Nowitzki at power forward in the starting lineup. Malik Allen also is an option.
The Mavericks could go small, with Josh Howard sliding over to power forward and
Devean George, Eddie Jones or even Jason Terry filling out the starting lineup.
Jason Kidd now becomes even more of a focal point for the Mavericks than he has been since he was acquired in a Feb. 19 trade. The Mavericks are 9-8 since, and they still haven't beaten a winning team since Kidd's arrival.
"Without Dirk, we're going to have to make the extra pass and do the little things –box out, not foul as much, don't put teams in the bonus," Kidd said.
"The beauty of this is nobody's really talking about us. We have to put up wins without him."
Sherrington tries to look on the bright side …
Give Avery Johnson this much: He may not coax the best out of his point guards, but he sure slings a mean metaphor.
Just when Dirk Nowitzki's injury provided the rest of the Mavs an excuse to fold, Johnson magnified their dilemma.
"There's no Dirk coming out of a phone booth or anything," Johnson said. "They've got to stop looking."
Moral: If the Dirkless Mavs are going to salvage this season, they're going to have to save themselves.
And that's why Nowitzki's absence really is a good thing. Bear with me on this.
The Mavs can go one of two ways: They can close ranks and hold off Golden State and Denver, proving their mettle and getting a much-needed jolt when Nowitzki returns going into the postseason.
Or the Mavs can continue to flop-flop-flop along on a flat tire as they have since the Jason Kidd deal, a ride that should only get bumpier without Nowitzki, and slide off the road into the lottery.
Frankly, I'm not sure which is better. Tells you all you need to know about this season, doesn't it?
Consider the first possibility: No matter how much you hated the Kidd trade, he's certainly drawn the best from Nowitzki and Erick Dampier, of all people.
Nowitzki hasn't played this well since he earned all those MVP votes. He wanted a change at point guard, and he got it. Kidd's presence, particularly when he's pushing the ball, makes Nowitzki's life easier.
Question: So if Nowitzki's playing so well with Kidd, what's wrong?
Answer: It isn't the defense, despite warnings by the trade's critics.
If you think it's Kidd's shooting that's killing the Mavs, let me tell you a story.
A Mavs assistant confided after the trade that Kidd's indelicate shooting touch would keep him from succeeding.
Of course, that was the trade that sent Kidd from Dallas to Phoenix a dozen years ago.
Kidd has dragged his woebegone shot through a Hall-of-Fame career.
And the assistant with the scouting report? He's been out of the league for years.
If it's any consolation, Kidd has been working on his shooting. A few media members with attention-deficit issues were distracted Monday from Nowitzki's impromptu news conference by the sight of Kidd putting up jumpers.
A few of us even counted.
"How many is that?" someone would whisper.
Bottom line: Kidd will never be a good shooter, but he can be better than he's been lately. He simply must keep shooting. And not worry that Johnson will pull him after the next brick.
Michael Irvin welcomes Pac Man …I could take this opportunity to goof on Irvin’s show, but instead, please allow me to advise you to only listen if you do not want him on the Cowboys.
Because, if you do want Pac Man to play for the Cowboys, once you hear him talk for a while, you will change your mind. He should not be allowed to do interviews.
Embattled Tennessee Titans cornerback Adam "Pacman" Jones was scheduled to land in Dallas on Monday night in advance of an appearance on the Michael Irvin Show on ESPN Radio (ESPN-FM 103.3) on Tuesday.
Why do a local radio show when national types would love to have him? Perhaps because the Dallas Cowboys – the team Jones has stated he'd like to play for – appear to be his most serious suitor.
Jones' agent, Manny Arora, said last week it was his understanding that the Lions and Patriots were also showing interest in his client. Hours later, Lions GM Matt Millen told The Detroit News that his team had not and would not make a play for Jones. According to a source, the Patriots are not interested in acquiring Jones.
A source said last week that the Cowboys and Titans have held preliminary discussions on a trade, which could be completed while Jones is still under suspension.
Jones would be more marketable if reinstated before the NFL draft, set for April 26 and 27. Arora has been working on getting the suspension lifted before then, but the league has only said that it would evaluate Jones' case before training camp.
Jones has three years left on the deal he signed after Tennessee selected him with the sixth pick in the 2005 draft.
Jones, 24, hasn't played in an NFL game since the 2006 season, when he was suspended for violating the NFL conduct policy after numerous off-the-field incidents.
And now on to the AJ Abrams portion of the show. Yesterday, the program was stopped down after I had gone on a “Texas Shorts look Ridiculous” rant that pointed out the guy with the goofiest look is AJ Abrams. I then said he is an Iverson starter kit with the #3, the ink, and the arm sleeve.
Well, then Longhorn caller shouts me down saying that a) Abrams doesn’t like Iverson, b) he has no tattoos, and c) he hurt his arm.
Honestly, given that I have watched 2-3 Longhorns games all year, and given his conviction in his voice, I backed off thinking maybe all this college basketball this weekend is running together and somehow I got it wrong.
Abrams loves Iverson …
It's 45 minutes after last Thursday's practice, Boston College-Virginia Tech football is on the training-room TV -- no one in this college sports cocoon, apparently, is interested in Game 2 of the World Series -- and Longhorns guards D.J. Augustin and A.J. Abrams are caught up in their own banter. Augustin is in the hot tub, doing some preventative maintenance for the season ahead, in which he will no longer be Wooden Award winner Kevin Durant's sidekick but rather the team's unquestioned leader. Abrams, Texas' biggest three-point threat, is dangling a foot in the cold tub; he has been relegated to the sidelines because of a nagging toe injury. The topic of discussion is which NBA players they prefer to study on DVD film edits.
"D.J., cover your ears," says Abrams, knowing full well this won't happen. He turns to me and says, in addition to a Dee Brown and Chris Paul tape, "I have some A.I. footage."
Augustin takes this as his cue to chime in: "A.J. loves Allen Iverson. If you ever get in touch with Allen Iverson, let him know that A.J. loves him."
Augustin proceeds to claim -- despite Abrams' vehement protests -- that both the arm sleeve and leg tattoo Abrams sports are Iverson tributes, calling him "Little Allen." This is the real Augustin, not the quiet, serious kid we saw on the floor last season, when he averaged 14.4 points and 6.7 assists as the 'Horns finished 25-10. Behind closed doors he is an instigator. Assistant coach Ken McDonald, in a pop-culture reference that's lost on the current team, has taken to calling Augustin "Eddie Haskell."
He also has tattoos, and wears an arm sleeve because of Iverson…oh well…
John Stockton would not be proud of DJ Augustin's “shorts”…
Nike System of Dress is ruining basketball …
the biggest trend this year is the expansion of Nike's other recent design template, the System of Dress (first showcased by several teams during last season's NCAA tourney), which features snug-fitting jerseys with so little ornamentation that they look like simple sleeveless tees.
At least more six teams are adopting the System of Dress this season (they'll be listed in a sec), and that's fine by Uni Watch, since the no-frills jerseys generally look pretty sharp. Granted, the same can't be said about the extra-baggy shorts, but that problem extends to plenty of non-System teams too. Actually, the biggest problem with the System of Dress is the hopelessly awkward name -- who wants to say, "System of Dress" even once in this lifetime? Fortunately, Uni Watch is at the ready with a substitute moniker: Since the System is tight on top and billowy on the bottom, much like a gown, Uni Watch will henceforth refer to it as Frocks for Jocks.
Nike's stupid System of Dress …
Review of John Adams, episodes 1-2 …
Review of John Adams, episode 3 …
AJ Abrams racks his coach while wearing his incredibly huge shorts
Stanford’s Student TV highlights the Lopez twins