Tag:Dallas Mavericks
Posted on: February 2, 2012 12:23 am

Report Card: An upside down kind of night

Posted by Royce Young

It was a pretty wild Wednesday in the NBA with some close games, some massive blowouts, some top teams losing and some big stat lines. Let's grade the action.

Serge Ibaka

What a game from Oklahoma City's paint protector. Ibaka set a franchise record with 10 blocks and finished with an unconventional double-double with 11 rebounds to go with it. He only had four points, which is a shame because a points-rebounds-blocks triple-double is pretty awesome. But Ibaka's impact in the Thunder's win over Dallas can't be understated.

Steve Nash

Nash went for 30 and 11 assists but that's not the best thing from his game against the Hornets. He also became the Suns all-time assists leader with 6,522 passing Kevin Johnson's mark of 6,518. Oh, and the Suns won, scoring 120 points. Just the way it should've happened for Nash.

Overlooked East teams

The Pacers beat the Timberwolves by 10 in Minneapolis and the 76ers beat the Bulls in Philadelphia. Two big wins for teams that are in the top half of the East, but that don't command the same kind of respect or attention as the Bulls or Heat. Andre Iguodala was fantastic defensively on Derrick Rose and Danny Granger poured in 36 for Indiana.

Russell Westbrook

With co-star Kevin Durant struggling a bit, Westbrook took over for the Thunder scoring 33 points to go with four assists and six rebounds. As he tends to do, Westbrook hit a dagger 3 with a minute left to ice the game for Oklahoma City. The six turnovers though were the only blemish in his line, but he had a fantastic game and showed why his scoring can often be incredibly valuable to the Thunder in close games against good teams.

Brandon Jennings

The Bucks won and Jennings scored 31. So why a C? Because he went 9-25 from the field and quite frankly, I was having trouble finding a C tonight. Jennings was pretty good though. He hit seven 3s, dished out eight assists and didn't turn the ball over once. He loved to shoot and does it without conscience, so the 31 points on 25 shots shouldn't really come as any kind of surprise.

Top East teams

While the Pacers and Sixers won, the Heat and Bulls both lost. Miami wasted a 40-point effort from LeBron and 23 from Dwyane Wade as Chris Bosh didn't provide much help at all with only nine points as the Heat lost to the Bucks. A Bucks team missing Andrew Bogut, mind you. Those type of games happen to everybody, but both the Bulls and the Heat definitely revealed a few dings in their armor. Neither executed well offensively and neither were able to consitently find baskets whether in transition or the halfcourt.

Dallas shooting

Credit the Thunder defense, but the Mavericks were absolutely awful shooting the ball Wednesday. Dallas shot only 35.7 percent from the field and went just 8-38 from the floor in the second half. Dirk Nowitzki clearly isn't entirely right as he went just 2-15 from the field. Dallas was without Jason Kidd and Lamar Odom, but that doesn't matter if you only hit 35 percent of your shots. Ten of those shots though never had a chance as Serge Ibaka was blocking them, but still.

Toronto Raptors and Charlotte Bobcats

The Suns scored 120 points. The Raptors and Bobcats combined for 132. The Raptors lost 100-64 to the Celtics and the Bobcats lost 112-68 to the Blazers. Scoring has been ugly on some nights in the NBA this season, but good grief, those are some major league whippings right there. The Bobcats and Raptors aren't good to start with, but an NBA team should be losing by 40 or 44.
Posted on: February 1, 2012 1:37 pm
Edited on: February 2, 2012 1:28 pm

Who's contending and who's pretending?

Posted by Royce Young

Are the Lakers and Celtics challengers for a championship, or for just a postseason appearance? (Getty Images)

Almost every team has played 20 games so far this season, which is a pretty nice sample size to make a semi-educated judgment on just how good some are. We know there are a lot of competitive teams in each conference. Teams that have a quality roster, a decent record and a chance at the postseason.

But what's coming into focus more and more is who is for real and who is for fake. Not in the sense of who is actually good and who is fool's gold, but what teams should we be really watching for to make a push at a championship?

In the same way there's no reason to waste time saying the Wizards and Hornets are not contenders, I don't need to tell you that the Oklahoma City Thunder, Miami Heat and Chicago Bulls are obvious contenders. They aren't just contenders, they're the title favorites as of now. Those three teams have clearly separated themselves a bit from the pack, but that doesn't mean that there isn't another team lingering as a potential title threat. This time last season nobody was really looking at the Mavericks as a team poised to hoist the Larry O'Brien trophy.

So let's break down the current field of playoff contending teams and separate the contenders from the pretenders.

Orlando Magic

After an 11-4 start, a good number of people kind of came around from "They have to trade Dwight Howard right now" to "Maybe they should keep him and make a run at it." Now, after a week of complete stinkage, maybe it's time to take another good look at blowing the hinges off the organization and starting over. If you're consistently having trouble getting out of the 60s, you're not going to win a seven-game series against a good team.


Philadelphia 76ers

A 15-6 record and the best point differential in the league is not something to be ignored. A 4-4 road record indicates that maybe the Sixers aren't quite ready to step into the conversation of competing for the East. I'm going to choose to ignore that. The Bulls and Heat are clearly the class of the East, but it's not hard for me to picture the Sixers taking down one in a seven-game series. Their depth, defense and determination will have them right in any game they play.


Utah Jazz

Rewind to last season. Jerry Sloan had resigned and Deron Williams was traded. It was understandable that the Jazz would finish out the season in the lottery. That was the plan. Get younger, find some cap flexibility and plan for the future. Except that didn't work out. The Jazz aren't a franchise that deal with losing much so this season wasn't just going to be one of tanking. But they're overachieving. They have some nice wins on the resume, but a core of Paul Millsap, Al Jefferon and Gordon Hayward aren't making a title push.


Indiana Pacers

I want to believe. I really do. The Pacers are a fun team and their resurgence over the past two seasons has been something else. David West was a nice addition and Roy Hibbert is playing really well. They've built up their resume with some good wins over the past couple weeks, but I don't see how they improved in the area that killed them last postseason -- fourth quarter execution. Danny Granger is a good player but can't shoulder the load of getting tough, key baskets in crunchtime. I can't see them beating the Bulls, Heat or even 76ers.


New York Knicks

I almost didn't even include them in this list. And not for the reason the Bulls, Heat and Thunder aren't in it. Unless Baron Davis has a superpower in that beard, the Knicks aren't getting out of the first round, and that's if they even get there. Serious obstacles are going to have to be overcome before this team actually competes for a championship.


Dallas Mavericks

It appears the championship hangover is finally wearing off. But for a while there, the defending champs had us concerned. They looked flat, uninterested and worst of all, not as good after losing J.J. Barea, Tyson Chandler and DeShawn Stevenson. But the Mavs are finding their form a bit and if Lamar Odom can ever finally wake up, Dallas goes eight deep with a nice rotation. And as long as that tall German guy is on the roster, they're a tough matchup for anyone.


Houston Rockets

As I was writing down the teams I needed to mention for this, I didn't have the Rockets. And then I looked at the West standings and their record and said, "Whoa, the Rockets are 12-9? When did that happen?" I think they're going to be players at the trade deadline, but as the team stands now, they're position in the West's top eight will probably be short lived.


San Antonio Spurs

Could the Los Angeles Clippers -- the Clippers -- really be contenders? (Getty Images)
You just wait. Gregg Popovich knows what he's doing. Manu Ginobili will be healthy soon and the Spurs are going to go on a run of games in late February or March where they win like 14 of 16 and rocket up to third in the West. It's coming. I know it is.


Los Angeles Clippers

I picked the Clippers to finish second in the West but also wrote that they weren't a contender. I'm confused about the Clippers. But they definitely showed a little something this past week with a win in Denver and a win against the Thunder. Part of the reason many doubted that the Clips were ready to contend was it looked like they needed another piece for some depth. But they may already have it as Mo Williams is making a strong case for Sixth Man of the Year. Two top 15 players, a monster rim protector inside, a solid identity and veteran leadership -- the Clips kind of have it all. Only two things are holding them back -- Vinny Del Negro and a 35-year history filled with miserable failure.


Atlanta Hawks

I'll put it simply: The Hawks made no dramatic improvements to a team that's basically been the definition of pretender and then their best player was injured for pretty much the rest of the season. Their winning record without Al Horford has been a bit of a mirage as they've fortunately found a soft spot in the schedule at the worst time. Playoff team, yes. Title contender? Nah.


Portland Trail Blazers

For about five minutes, the Blazers had everyone talking about them as the prime contender to challenge Oklahoma City in the West. And then they lost their next five of eight and have slipped out of the top eight in the West. There's really not that much distinguishing this Blazer team from the one the was eliminated in last season's opening round. Is Ray Felton an upgrade over Andre Miller? Jamal Crawford an upgrade over Brandon Roy? LaMarcus Aldridge has become a legit superstar, but I don't see him carrying this roster to the Western Finals.


Memphis Grizzlies

I fear the Grizzlies were that classic chic preseason pick that everyone kind of likes that ends up going down in flames. Some would call that the "Houston Texans Disease." But Memphis didn't stumble into the second round of the postseason by accident. They upended the Spurs and then were a seventh game on the road away from advancing to the Western Finals. They're an enigma right now without Zach Randolph, but if he comes back healthy, the Grizzlies could be a nightmare matchup for teams in the playoffs.


Boston Celtics

After all of that, the Celtics are back to .500. They're 10-10 and have eased some of the fears that they might miss the playoffs. But they haven't been able to restore confidence that they're a team that's dangerous in the postseason. Kevin Garnett can't jump, which is a problem. Their offense completely fizzles for long stretches. They're actually relying on key production from guys like Mickael Pietrus and Chris Wilcox. The Celtics aren't bad, but I think ubuntu is on life support.


Denver Nuggets

Can team ball really win? Well, it's winning now and looking pretty darn good doing it. The Nuggets ran into a bad matchup last postseason and the Thunder took care of them in five games. I wouldn't say they necessarily improved this offseason after losing Wilson Chandler, Kenyon Martin and J.R. Smith while adding Rudy Fernandez, Corey Brewer and Andre Miller, but Al Harrington is playing wonderful basketball, Ty Lawson is blossoming and Danilo Gallinari shows flashes of being a star. Winning this way isn't easy, but I wouldn't rule the Nuggets out.


Los Angeles Lakers

The Lakers are 2-7 on the road. They've only scored 100 points three times this season. For any other team, we'd say that's a major red flashing sign that they aren't for real. For any other team, we'd look at their offensive struggles, their chemistry issues and the fact they're looking older than ever and easily write them off. But this is the Lakers, the home of Kobe Bryant and you don't do that. But I'm going to. Point guard is a massive issue, they have no depth inside and I still have absolutely no idea why they traded Lamar Odom for nothing. This team subtracted a key piece from a group that got swept out of the playoffs by the Mavericks and they expect that adding Josh McRoberts and a new coach is going to push them over the top? Unless the Lakers have a big trade coming down the pipe, the Lakers as currently constructed aren't going anywhere.


Posted on: January 30, 2012 12:40 am
Edited on: January 30, 2012 1:35 am

Report Card: Heat, Mavs, Lakers roll on Sunday

Posted by Ben Golliver and Matt Moore

LeBron James topped Derrick Rose in their first head-to-head match-up of the season. (Getty Images)

Your nightly report card gives you a big picture look at what happened each night in the NBA. Grades are granted based on team or individual performances, and are graded on a curve for each element. Leave your own grades in the comments.

LeBron James jumps over John Lucas III to dunk

Words can't really express how ridiculous this dunk is from James. If you haven't seen it at least 10 times by the start of work on Monday all of your co-workers will hate you. Watch it over and over again. There's not enough plusses to add at the end of this "A." This deserves to be in the "all-time greatest dunks" conversation. -- BG

Miami Heat

The Heat have to feel pretty, pretty, pret-tay good with how Sunday's smackdown with the Chicago Bulls played out. Looking dominant for long stretches even with Dwyane Wade struggle and Derrick Rose going for 34 points, the Heat escaped after two late misses at the charity stripe from James. Chris Bosh was a crucial X-factor, contributing 24 points (on just 14 shots) while grabbing 12 rebounds and hitting all eight of his free throw attempts. James was a monster and he torched the Bulls, who were down Luol Deng due to injury. -- BG

Los Angeles Lakers

L.A.'s road struggles run so deep this season that it's no exaggeration at all to say they exited the Target Center with a big win on Sunday night. Hot shooting from deep was an obvious key -- 8-for-19 as a team, including five bombs from Bryant -- but the Andrew Bynum / Pau Gasol combination combined for a ridiculous 49 points and 13 rebounds, including 12 points in the game's final five minutes. Minnesota committed just four turnovers on the night, out-rebounded L.A. 52-41 and took 25 more attempts from the field, yet still wound up on the losing end of this one. You don't see that every day. The Lakers' shooting (40-for-79 as a team) had everything to do with that.  -- BG

Jason Terry

There will come a time when Jason Terry is not in this league and that will be sad. Too often Terry gets overlooked for the understandable idolization of Nowitzki. But Terry's ability to find, create, and deliver huge shot after huge shot should be remembered for a long time by fans in Dallas and across the league. He has an uncanny ability to make the right decision of whether to continue to the basket for a layup or pull-up, and just when you think there's no way he delivers a score, he nails it with nothing but nylon in the ball's trajectory. The bench mob won the battle for a while, but it was Terry who helped the Mavs win the war. You limit Dirk Nowitzi to ten points and this happens. Jason Terry, the itch that you can never scratch. -- MM

Vince Carter

Carter went Vinsanity for much of the first half, nailing pull-up jumpers, getting to the rim, and when the game needed a rebound and a stop for the Mavericks, Carter delivered both down the stretch. Carter providing that kind of performance for the Mavs makes them an entirely different team in the backcourt and it shows the value of his free agent signing for Dallas. Off a steal late in the game instead of pushing for a layup against two defenders, he wisely slowed the game down and set up Jason Terry for a huge shot to close the gap in the fourth quarter.  -- MM

San Antonio Bench Bombardment, LLC

Gary Neal played point guard, ran an offense and sliced and diced his way to 19 points. Danny Green and James Anderson, who have both spent time in Austin with the Spurs' Developmen team (along with Neal) hit big shot after big shot against the champs. Tiago Splitter brought 8 points and 7 rebounds in 26 minutes to help fuel the comeback. Matt Bonner played terrific defense, for crying out loud. It was simply insane, how well the Spurs' bench played, particularly in the fourth quarter, scoring on 8 of 9 possessions at one point. It was an inspiring performance that was nearly enough, had a buzzer beater with .5 left in regulation from Danny Green not been a fraction of a slice of a piece of a hair follicle too late. B+. -- MM

Gregg Popovich

How many coaches have the guts to keep their bench in that long and let them ride it out, even in overtime, to trust those young players to deliver? Two? Maybe? Popovich didn't get the win but rested his starters, nearly pulled it out, gave his young guys valuable experience, and sent a message to the first team. The fact it almost worked is pretty insane all by itself. -- MM 

Derrick Rose

This might seem like an incredibly harsh grade, but ask yourself whether if Rose would give himself anything better than an "F" after he bricked two late free throws that had major endgame implications? Rose had some "holy crap" moments against the Heat, feathering in pull-up jumpers and runners and finshing after contact time and time again. But while he put up 34 points and got all four of his teammates into double figures, he came up empty at the end and shot just 11-for-28 from the field. He protected the ball well, his teammates left some assists on the table for him by missing open shots and he was missing Deng, who would have been huge. He had Chicago in it until the very end. But he goes home with frustration, just like after the 2011 East Finals. That's got to feel below average. -- BG
Spurs' Starters

Spurs' Starters: Listless, uninspired, sloppy. If they were scoring (Tim Duncan), they weren't defending. If they were defending (Kawhi Leonard), they were shooting poorly. The bench mob redeemed the Spurs' effort, but San Antonio largely just "didn't have it." -- MM

Tony Parker

9 points on 11 shots. 4 assists, 2 turnovers, and a benching for Gary Neal, who's not a point guard, to run point. And he was outplayed by Roddy Beaubois a fellow Frenchman much younger. So yeah, a poor night for TP. D-. -- MM

Carlos Boozer's Family

Poor Boozer got punked hard by his family on national television. Of course this would happen to him. -- BG

Posted on: January 29, 2012 11:08 pm
Edited on: January 30, 2012 1:09 pm

Jason Terry and the Mavericks' survival plan

Jason Terry helped the Mavericks survive against a Spurs bench run Sunday night. (Getty Images)

By Matt Moore

DALLAS -- The Dallas Mavericks, as much as any team in the league, know that this is not anything like a normal season. There are games packed on top of games packed on top of games. Dirk Nowitzki is still trying to get into his normal game condition, evidenced by his struggles in his first game back. The Kardashians are prowling the arena along with the realities of their television show, and have we mentioned the schedule is insane?

Those are just some of the reasons that led Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle to call this year, "wacky" after the Mavericks' 101-100 win over the San Antonio in Dallas Sunday night.

"It's a wacky year," Carlisle said, "and there's a lot of things going on with crazy scores and leads and deficits disappearing, so you've got to be ready for anything. We're fortunate, but it's a good win. "

Wacky. Much like this up and down win that did not come easy. The Mavericks held a strong lead in the third quarter, lead by Vince Carter who finished with 21 points on 8-15 shooting. But then, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who Mavericks guard Jason Terry later called "a mastermind" and who Carlisle called "the greatest coach really ever in this game," pulled his starters. Completely. With 2:12 to go in the third quarter. From there on out it was entirely bench players, and instead of a weak surrender, the trio of Danny Green, Gary Neal, and James Anderson poured in a flurry of lay-ups and three-pointers. The bench squad scored on 8 of 9 fourth quarter possessions to take the lead. Another blown lead in a wacky year.

"We gotta keep working," Carlisle noted after the game. "I love the fact that we came back from nine down in the fourth. It's a tough position to be in, but the guys fought and got it tied and in overtime we were able to get out of here."

"Getting out of here," that's probably the theme of the NBA season for almost all the teams caught in this hellacious compacted schedule. It's some sort of weird, mutant version of the age old cliche of "survive and advance." In this year with so many outliers, teams need depth, and they need pacing, and they need some luck. The Mavericks have had little of that this year, but having the kind of veterans they do gives them the experience to get through crazy games like Sunday's.

Compared to their struggles to start the year, the Mavericks recovered, played like World Champions, and finished off the non-stars in overtime. It takes experience, it takes veterans, it takes a mindset to "survive." Oh, and Jason Terry, that helps too.

"I was locked in," Terry said after he finished with a game-high 34 points on 14-23 shooting and 4 assists in 37 minutes.

His is always the second name on the Mavericks behind the Big German, but lost in the Lamar Odom trade and the free agency departures and the injuries is the fact that Jason Terry still wears Mavericks blue. And he's a survivor. Terry has made huge shot after huge shot for the Mavericks throughout the years and on Sunday showed why the Mavericks will keep learning, keep adjusting, and keep improving as veterans do even in a wacky year, and will be there at the end, when the playoffs begin.

"I watched the film [from the first meeting between the two teams] and there were some shots that I know I would make if I got them again," Terry said. "I said if I continue to get those same looks and opportunities that I'm going to be aggressive and take them."

It was Terry taking and hitting big shots along with the kind of consistent team effort on defense and the glass that got the Mavericks back in control. It was also players like Carter, who have been around long enough to make the plays when they need to, especially against an inexperienced crew like the upstart bench mob from San Antonio. Carter later said this season comes down to simple survival.

"That's what it's going to be about it. It's going to be about survival. Every guy on the team has to be ready to play, because you just never know."

What the Mavericks do know is that they have guys who have been there, done that. Other teams may have more youth, more depth, fresher legs and more wind. But does having the veterans in a season like this, even with the wear and tear on older bodies, help the Mavs in their mindset?

"I think so," Carter said. "And just making sure your young guys are prepared."

Carter complimented Roddy Beaubois, starting at point guard yet again for the injured Jason Kidd. "My hat's off to Roddy. It gets to where he's not playing big minutes, and he plays spot minutes and then he gets the start. To play like that, it gets a salute from me."

Veterans putting the young guys in a position to make plays, and Jason Terry hitting big shots when the Mavericks need them. If the Mavericks are going to survive this year, that's the approach they want to have. It's not about the division lead the Mavericks took Sunday night with the win. It's not about getting Nowitzki back into the rotation or worrying about blowing a lead to a group of bench players. 

This season is not about being perfect. It's about survival. And the Mavericks are as well prepared to survive as any team in the league.
Posted on: January 29, 2012 7:51 pm
Edited on: January 29, 2012 8:18 pm

Report: Jason Kidd (calf strain) out 1 week

Posted by Ben Golliver 

The Dallas Mavericks will reportedly be without starting point guard Jason Kidd for a week or more.

The San Antonio Express News reports that Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters that a calf strain suffered by Kidd in the first quarter of a Friday night game against the Utah Jazz will keep the point guard out for "at least a week."

Kidd, 38, did not suit up for Sunday's game against the San Antonio Spurs. In his place, Carlisle started third-year guard Rodrigue Beaubois.

A one-week absence would cause Kidd to miss four additional games. The Mavericks travel to Phoenix to play the Suns on Monday, return to Dallas to host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Wednesday and the Indiana Pacers on Friday and then embark on a 3-game road trip that includes stops versus the Cleveland Cavaliers on Feb. 4, the Denver Nuggets on Feb. 8 and the Minnesota Timberwolves on Feb. 10.

Kidd is averaging 4.1 points, 4.4 rebounds, 5.1 assists and 1.6 steals in 28.7 minutes per game this season for the Mavericks. He missed some time earlier in the year due to a back injury.
Posted on: January 26, 2012 2:12 pm
Edited on: January 26, 2012 2:13 pm
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Posted on: January 26, 2012 3:29 am
Edited on: January 26, 2012 3:37 am

Report Card: Lakers get revenge in Battle of L.A.

Posted by Ben GolliverMatt Moore and Royce Young

Lakers' Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol proved too much for the Clippers. (Getty Images)

Your nightly report card gives you a big picture look at what happened each night in the NBA. Grades are granted based on team or individual performances, and are graded on a curve for each element. Leave your own grades in the comments.

Los Angeles Lakers

In the rematch of the Battle for L.A., the old guard finally emerged victorious over the up-and-comers. Pau Gasol set the tone for the Lakers early, Andrew Bynum made several key plays late, and the duo combined for 42 points, 16 rebounds, 5 blocks, 4 assists on 15-24 shooting while playing heavy minutes and dishing out plenty of trash talk. In a feisty, intense game filled with technicals and skirmishes, the Lakers kept their heads and executed down the stretch. Lakers coach Mike Brown will surely like the shot distribution -- 13 for Gasol, 11 for Bynum and 17 for Kobe Bryant -- and the end result, a 96-91 gutsy victory. Solid way to end a 3-game losing streak. -- BG

Blake Griffin's whirling dervish

Even in defeat, Clippers All-Star forward manages to do something jaw-dropping. Griffin was a high-energy freight train throughout, finishing with 26 points and 9 rebounds, but his most impressive play was more graceful than forceful. Sizing up Gasol in the low block, Griffin dove into the paint and rose for a spinning reverse flip shot that almost defies description.

"The guy's shooting a 360 jump hook," said Bryant, according to ESPNLA.com. "You have to enjoy and admire his stuff. It's pretty sensational stuff." Take a look at the video below. -- BG

The Fired-Coach Effect

It never fails. Worked for Sacramento earlier this season. Worked for Washington on Wednesday night in a romp of the Bobcats who all of a sudden are the worst team in the league. The Wizards made a point Wednesday. For a night, anyway. -- MM

New Jersey Nets

Every bad team (except Charlotte) gets a good grade! A great win of the Sixers that was all about beating up on what is usually a very good perimeter defense for Philadelphia. Their burst in overtime was particularly impressive with Jordan Farmar and Deron Williams leading the way. -- MM

Dirk Nowitzki's color commentary

Dallas Mavericks All-Star forward has been sidelined this week as he attempts to work himself back into shape, but one thing that doesn't need any boot-camp training would be his vocal chords. Nowitzki filled in as a color commentator during Dallas' home loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves and reacted hilariously to a Jason Terry to Brandan Wright alley-oop. "Oh my God!" Nowitzki screetched. "Shut it down! Let's go home! That is a wrap." Watch, listen and love.

Indiana Pacers

This was one of those "I watch the game, then look at the score, then my brain shuts down because the two element are incongruous. It seemed the Bulls were all over the Pacers, but the Pacers were incredibly patient and never got rattled by the Bulls' pressure in Chicago. Roy Hibbert essentially had his way with Joakim Noah. Danny Granger was bothered by Ronnie Brewer, all the way to 22 points and on 16 shots and nine rebounds. Really, this could have been a more convincing win had Darren Collison and Joakim Noah not played wretched in all things related to point guard game management. Paul George was efficient and the Pacers' defense on Derrick Rose deserves an award all its own. Even without Luol Deng and Taj Gibson, a huge win for the Pacers on the road as they start to build their resume with wins over L.A. and Chicago in the past week. -- MM
Detroit Pistons

They pass! They lost, yes, but the improvement shown in their close loss to the Heat on so many levels is enough to warrant a passing grade for this downtrodden team. With Tayshaun Prince out due to personal reasons, Austin Daye flourished, filling up the scoreboard while Brandon Knight and Greg Monroe both contributed. There's a young core in Detroit worth watching, if they can just scrap and claw their way to the front of the rotation. -- MM

Dallas Mavericks

Really? You lost on banner night to the Heat and rings night to the Timberwolves? Really? Maybe no more celebrations on game nights, Mavs. -- MM

Russell Westbrook

The Thunder's second star has picked up his game lately but took a step back Wednesday against the Hornets. Westbrook started the game 1-10 from the floor and finished just 4-14 for 14 points. And he also turned it over seven times. It was one of those Westbrook games where he made some crucial plays, but for the most part, was a touch out of control and didn't make great decisions. Twice he went for highlight reel jams only to be denied at the rim by a Hornet big man. OKC won, but Westbrook wasn't great. -- RY

Posted on: January 25, 2012 2:25 pm
Edited on: January 25, 2012 2:26 pm

Dallas Mavericks championship ring preview video

By Matt Moore

The Dallas Mavericks receive their 2011 NBA Championship rings Wednesday night in Dallas. The Mavericks decided to wait until this game after their season opener against Miami due to the opener coming on a holiday. So what do they look like? There's a preview video that the Mavericks floated Wednesday morning. It's got the whole "working to be a champion" vibe going. 


Considering Mark Cuban's comments about possibly not getting rings, nothing to get super excited about, but it's still striking to see that image of the ring with "Nowitzki" on it. After so many years, Dirk Nowitzki really will have a ring tonight, along with the rest of the Mavericks after one of the most exciting NBA playoffs in history.

(HT: Dime
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com