Thursday, February 24, 2005

Mavericks make themselves at home in Utah

The Dallas Mavericks are thriving on the road. They are good at home, but they are terrific on the road. As they push toward the playoffs, I might suggest they drop the name Dallas and just go with "Mavericks", start staying in hotels even when they play home games in Dallas, and ask the fans who fill American Airlines Center in Dallas to boo them now and then for motivation.

How good are the Mavericks on the road? After beating the Jazz 101-83, Dallas is now 19-7 on the road. That ties the Mavericks with Seattle and Phoenix for the fewest road losses this season. How impressive is a 19-7 road record? As of now, only 8 teams in the NBA have a winning road record. Six in the Western Conference and only two in the East.

Something rare to note, Dallas and Phoenix are the only two teams in the league with better road records than home records. Both teams are good at home, but they really crank it up on the road.

Making an effort? Local papers contend the Jazz were still on vacation and weren't making of an much effort. I have a hard time agreeing with that angle. That is nothing more than kicking a young dog while he is down. The Jazz did endure their worst shooting night of the season at 30.7%, but played even on the boards and blocked some shots. Dallas is a good team, and while Utah was somewhat out of sync, battling injuries, and out-matched on talent, I don't think it was simply a lack of effort.

Some quick shots....
  • Dirk Nowitzki is terrific. I worried in his younger years he would become a big guy content to bomb three pointers and skip playing defense, passing, or even attempt driving to the hoop. Credit Dirk for growing his game. Last night he posted 29 points while having an off shooting night (7-21), because he drove to the hoop and drew fouls (15-16 FT). I even saw him play some good defense and he picked up 8 rebounds. He is worth the price of admission and does much to dispel the stereotype of soft euro players.
  • Seeing Raul Lopez gone for the season with injury gave me an idea for the ultimate solution. Bring back John Stockton. Okay, it would never happen and we love John too much to put him through this kind of a season, but think of the benefits to young Keith McLeod of watching Stockton. In addition, Carlos Boozer would get to see what it could be like with passes coming at the right time and right place, not to mention cross screens in the lane that would actually get him some open lay-ups.
  • Here a block, there a block. Last night 7 of the 10 Jazz players who played longer than one minute of game time blocked a shot.
  • Resting during the all-star break? Andrei Kirilenko traveled all the way to Russia for a quick visit. Memhet Okur went to Hawaii with his wife. So much for taking it easy and resting up for the 2nd half of the season. AK47 and Memo combined to shoot 3-17 last night, but word is they racked up a bunch of frequent flyer miles.
  • You can't play Dallas without thinking of Mark Cuban. Mark is a super-fan, who became an owner, and remained a super fan. You can check on Mark by reading his blog, titled "BlogMaverick", which covers much more than just the Mavs. I can't recommend enough that you check out his commentary on the NHL.

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