Friday in Sportstown….
The Mavericks returned and there is some good and some same ol same ol. But, for the most part, too many easy baskets for them and too many jumpshots for us.
Sigh. But, wow. The Thriller Dance was Boffo. Amazing job, Mavs Dancers/ManiAACs.
By the way, when the question was Josh Howard for Ron Artest, it didn’t seem like any major upgrade. But, how the heck did the Rockets get Artest for Bobby Stinking Jackson and stuff? Artest for Jason Terry? Artest for Eddie Jones and stuff?
Just making sure that he couldn’t have been added here. He seems to understand the relative concepts of defense, hustle, and grit.
And, he is insane.
4th Quarter fade in opener …Cavs on Monday, Spurs on Tuesday…
The Mavericks want to play faster, which they did in the season opener.
Too bad they couldn't slow the Houston Rockets to something less than a blur.
The defense, as they say, is a work in progress after the Mavericks were outrun in a 112-102 loss to the Rockets, a team that managed just 82 points 24 hours earlier against Memphis.
Worse, Houston didn't play Tracy McGrady a single second in the fourth quarter, when they outscored the Mavericks by 11 and limited them to 6-of-24 shooting. The Mavericks won't panic about 0-1. But they departed American Airlines Center knowing that there isn't going to be anything easy about this process.
"This whole year is going to be a dogfight," said Jason Terry. "The fast break was good when we got it. But you have to get stops to get it. We didn't get the stops."
Down 95-93 midway through the fourth quarter, the Mavericks surrendered a layup and a 20-foot jumper to Ron Artest. That was the beginning of the end as they scored only a technical foul free throw while the Rockets went up 108-94 with 4:13 to play, a run capped by Artest's 3-pointer.
Artest finished with 29 points. Yao Ming had 30. The Mavericks wasted large nights from Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard, who combined for 61 points through three quarters but didn't have a field goal in the fourth until the last three minutes when the cause was essentially lost. Everybody in a Maverick uniform faded in the stretch.
The Mavericks did look comfortable with the new offense, running up 37 fast-break points.
"We had shots that didn't go in, but the [lack of] consistency on D is probably the biggest factor," Rick Carlisle said after his Maverick coaching debut. "Our aggressiveness was good. We just needed to be better."
Offensively, he said the results weren't bad, in spite of the awful fourth quarter.
"We converted about 15 of 18 fast breaks in the first half, and if you can get the
ball upcourt and score at that kind of efficiency rate, you have to do it," Carlisle said. "There's going to be a formula that is going to be right for us. We're not Loyola Marymount from the late '80s. We're not Phoenix from the last four years. But we have to use Jason Kidd's abilities to generate easy baskets to the best of our ability. At the same time, we got to do it in a way that doesn't erode our defense."
As Kidd said: "We put up enough points. But we didn't stop anybody."
Also, I think the Cowboys can compete for a while on Sunday, but put me down for Giants 24, Cowboys 13…
Rafa Vela looks at the Giants advantages …
I’m looking at the Cowboys-Giants matchups and I see lots of statistical similarities. But there’s one stat that’s a Giants walkover:
New York — 4
Dallas — 13
The Giants have turned the ball over in only two games this year, once in their season opener against Washington and three times against the Browns, their only loss so far.
Dallas turned the ball over in every game until last week’s Tampa Bay game. That blank sheet let them outlast the Bucs 13-9.
Which gets us to this week. I’ve seen lots of calls for Brooks Bollinger to start over Brad Johnson. Please. Raise your hand if you think Bollinger can go four quarters against the Giants rush, in an offense he’s trying to learn on the fly and not commit a turnover.
Bollinger has played a Jim Johnson scheme once. He replaced Kelly Holcomb in a 23-16 loss to the Eagles last year and was a respectable 7-10 for 94 yards. But that was in a Vikings uniform. I don’t know if he’s got the Cowboys’ scheme down, having missed all of training camp.
The Giants are a blitzing team. They’re good and it and they have to be. I’m not impressed with their secondary, which has two new safeties and Aaron Ross regressing in his second year. They’re going to do what they do, overloading the middle of the line, overloading a side, bringing corner blitzes and playing zone and man behind them. They’re a 4-3 version of the Cowboys.
This will leave room for the type of throws Johnson can make. Slants, crosses, hooks, curls and seams.
If Dallas is going to compete, they’ll need another close game, of the type that they played against the Bucs and the type which the Steelers played against New York last week. It’s too much to ask Dallas to stop the Giants run. They’re averaging 5.1 yards an attempt. But they need to drop this at least a yard. Hold New York under 4.0 yards a carry and the game goes to Eli.
More on the Giants ground and pound …
But when we are talking an NFL offense that features balance, that is deep across the lineup, that forces defenses to cover all areas of the field, that compiles big plays and also sustains long drives, this Giants model and mold is distinguishing itself.
It has not lost a fumble. For two straight games it has not allowed a sack. It leads the NFL in rushing offense (157.3 yards per game). It leads the league in runs of 10 or more yards (37). It ranks third in total offense (378.9 yards per game). It ranks sixth in scoring offense (27.3 points per game).
It features three running backs (brute Brandon Jacobs, versatile Derrick Ward and spunky Ahmad Bradshaw), each of whom give a defense something different to handle. It has four receivers (lanky Plaxico Burress, savvy Amani Toomer, crafty Steve Smith and tireless-worker Domenik Hixon), each of whom have double-digit numbers in catches and retain four of the top five slots in Giants receptions. Behind that wave is Sincorce Moss (a two-touchdown receiving game this season), rookie Mario Manningham and Super Bowl XLII hero David Tyree, who has been battling a hamstring injury.
Tight end Kevin Boss continues to mature, quarterback Eli Manning is steady to spectacular, and the offensive line is a cohesive, often-times dominating unit.
Add it up, and that is not your basic NFL offense.
That is an enviable offensive cache. It is an offense with a concrete identity.
First, the Giants will try to run the ball down the throat of Dallas to see how it responds. Then it will look for play-action. The Giants offense, due to Cowboys injuries in the secondary, could be facing a trio of rookie cornerbacks (Mike Jenkins, Alan Ball and Orlando Scandrick) for much of the game.
Thus, the Giants might be tempted to take more deep shots in this clash.
"We're going to try to run the ball, win up front and keep mixing," Manning said. "Overall, we try to get rid of the ball fairly quickly in the passing game. We try to get to second-and-3s in our offense. Simple stuff -- but it's hard to come by. We've got variety."
They've got attitude.
"Our offense does not back down from anybody," Ward said. "We're not the most glamorous offense or have the name like 'America's Team.' They had 13 Pro Bowlers last year. We had one. But we get the job done."
Finally, our last big topic is Tech and Texas. I swear I have no feel for this one. I fear teams trying to go in to a night game at Lubbock, as I think Tech and their crowd kick it up a notch.
But, I also have learned that Colt McCoy ’08 is on a different level – and I need to stop expecting Colt McCoy ’07 to show up.
So, I have a half-baked reason for both teams to win and then I consider the poor defensive stats for both. I guess, I take Texas in a close call because I have confidence in their major wins against Oklahoma and Missouri and Oklahoma State. I know Tech is good, but I don’t know how good. They have two very impressive wins – the obliteration of Kansas State and Kansas on the road, but how good are those two teams? Not better than any of the 3 teams Texas just got done with.
I have no doubt Tech can win this game, but if forced to pick, I have to stick with Colt and the Horns: Texas 42, Tech 38
Notes from the showdown …
Can Texas keep running the top-12 gauntlet? - The Longhorns have already subdued No. 1 Oklahoma, No. 11 Missouri and No. 7 Oklahoma State in successive weeks and is now set to face No. 7 (BCS) Texas Tech on Saturday. With a win, the Longhorns will become only the second team in college football history to beat a top-12 squad four weeks in a row. Notre Dame did it in 1943. Easier said than done - especially in its first true road test during the streak.
Texas Tech's defense on third-down plays - The biggest struggles during Tech's two most recent losses have been stopping Texas' offense in critical plays. Texas clicked on 17 of 27 third-down plays and was 5-for-5 on fourth-down plays against the Red Raiders in those two games. Tech's improving defense has to do a better job Saturday night in order to spark an upset performance.
Colt McCoy Gold!
AP’s Tech-Texas preview