26. Moral Victory? : The View from Dallas

Snips and clips from the Mavericks' camp, plus:


  • Interview with European hoops genius Harald the Norsktroll
  • Haiku Game Review
  • Fried Rice
  • Blazers/Mavericks Recap
  • Popcorn Machine
  • The Basketball Jones



Dirk's 4th Quarter Emergence Helps Down the Blazers

by TCat75, Mavs Moneyball (SBN)

Well, I doubt there are a bunch of ecstatic Maverick fans after this one. The Mavericks did secure a win, but it was once again a close win versus a weaker team, where a comfortable double digit lead slipped away.

The defense, the Maverick's cornerstone this season, was just mediocre. For a team whose offense is going to struggle at times when jump shots go down, that will not do the trick. That's why this game went down to the wire, rather than being an easy win by a superior team.

Props to the Blazers, who did play very well. How can you not feel awful for Brandon Roy. He was my ideal shooting guard, who could just about do it all, and now he's barely a starter in this league. How many minutes would he play a game for the Mavericks right now? Wesley Matthews' 17 may seem high, but he's been solid all season. * * *



Mavericks Waste Another Lead, But Escape with Win Over Blazers

by Eddie Sefko, Dallas Morning News

Once again, the ability to get a big lead was no mystery to the Mavericks.

Keeping it, however, remains akin to figuring out quantum physics.

The Mavericks had Portland down by 17 points in the third quarter and once again were fighting for their lives deep in the fourth quarter. At the end, Dirk Nowitzki came alive after Caron Butler had kept the Mavericks afloat earlier and they pulled out a 103-98 win over Portland at American Airlines Center on Wednesday night.

Nowitzki had 12 points of his 21 points in the fourth quarter as the Mavericks broke loose from a tie game in the final minutes. It was their 20th win in 25 games, the second-best start in franchise history after 25 games, with only 2002-03 (22-3) rating better.

"Great finish," coach Rick Carlisle said of Nowitzki's night. "It was kind of a junked-up game with the amount of zone they played and other guys were going to have to step up. Down the stretch, we were able to find ways to get Dirk the ball so he could sort of be the fulcrum of what was going on."   * * *



Dirk Again

posted by peppersquared to RealGM Mavericks message board

I love [Dirk] more than you do, but you can't run the offense thru a guy standing in the corner. They way were playing right now I'll take the win.

Thank god Terry didn't end up on Miller in the 4th.

Aldridge was a beast tonight.



The Difference: Dallas Mavericks 103, Portland Trailblazers 98

by Rob Mahoney, The Two Man Game (TrueHoop)

* * *
Dallas really made an effort to lose this game in the second half, but Dirk Nowitzki (21 points, 7-14 FG, five rebounds, three assists, three steals, two blocks, three turnovers) was having none of it. 12 fourth-quarter points for Dirk, including all four of the Mavs' field goals in the game's last two minutes. Nothing fancy, unless you still think a seven-footer shooting fading/leaning turnaround jumpers from all over the court is somehow unusual. * * *

Nowitzki brought his usual heroics, but Caron Butler (23 points, 10-19 FG, seven rebounds, four assists) was surprisingly the Mavs' most consistent scorer. *  *  *

The Mavs still can't hold onto a lead, but I always wonder if that should really merit legitimate concern. It sounds damning; after all, if good teams are marked by their high point differentials and the Mavs can't seem to protect their sizable leads, it doesn't exactly speak to high quality. That said — and I hope to say this without advocating some kind of "any win is a good win" evaluative framework — there's still some merit to this kind of execution, even if it isn't consistent throughout the game. It's not a perfect win, but I'm not sure it's worthy of an asterisk, either. * * *



No Lead Safe, but Mavs Snag Win

by Jeff Caplan, ESPN Dallas/Fort Worth

What do the Dallas Mavericks have in common with a yo-yo?

OK, so it's not the most creative analogy, but you get the point: up and down, up and down, up and down. The Mavs are having crazy issues with holding big leads. They might be the only team in the league that dreads blowing somebody out. They just can't seem to do it.

Wednesday night's 103-98 win over the Portland Trail Blazerswas the latest in a line of four blown leads in a row at home against competition -- three teams at least -- that are below .500. The Blazers fell behind by 17 only to whittle it down to nine in a matter of minutes and they had it tied 2:07 left to go in the game.

Caron Butler's team-high 23 points and Dirk Nowitzki's late-game heroics with 12 of his 21 points coming in the fourth quarter saved the day. The Mavs move to 4-1 on the season-long six-game homestand and 20-5 on the season, their second-best start in franchise history behind the 22-3 start in 2002-03. * * *



Dirk Nowitzki's Finish Propels Dallas to 103-98 Victory

by Bryan Gutierrez, Mavs Moneyball (SBN)

* * *
As they had done during their win streak, the Mavericks opened up a big lead, this one reaching 17 points early in the third quarter. But again, the Mavericks struggled to protect the double-digit edge, allowing an 11-0 Blazers run to give the team hope. "We had a big lead there again, and just hit a bad stretch again," Nowitzki said. "We just couldn't get any stops."

Over their last six games, the Mavericks have only had 2 quarters in the second halves of games out of a possible 12 where they held opponents below their quarterly averages. The Mavericks came in to tonight's game allowing 24.3 points in the third quarters of games and 22.5 in the fourth quarters.  *  *  *

"Again, we found ourselves up only two and we had to figure out how to get a basket, because their zone was effective," Jason Kidd added. "So, we went to Dirk a couple of times to get them out of the zone, and he responded and made big plays for us. Again, when we win ball games, we always look at the defensive side first, and we got stops when we needed to." Jason Kidd was a zone-buster of sorts, the Mavericks shot 18.8% from three point range (3-16) and Kidd shot 3-3 from long range. * * *

A critical advantage for the Mavericks was the +9 in free throws made (20-11), Portland missed 7 free throw attempts and Dallas only missed one. "We had a good night (at the free-throw line). And in a game like this that's a tight game, every point is going to count," Carlisle said. * * *


There might be a couple late-appearing things added later...

The Bottom Line:

1. Blech! That was a 17 point lead in the 3rd Quarter that just about got choked away for keeps, coming on the heels of the debacle against the Bucks.

2. Dirk is the man.

3. A win is a win, we reckon... That makes 20.






Talking hoops with international basketball supergenius Harald


Good morning, Norskie! Or should I say good evening? Tell us a little bit about yourself — what's your name, how old are you, where do you live, what's your favorite food, and how on earth did you get into the Portland Trail Blazers? How did you find Blazers Edge?

My name is Harald, I'm 32, and I currently split my time mostly between Germany and the US East Coast, where I attend graduate school. I work as a management and IT consultant and former product manager, so I travel quite a bit which I also enjoy to do on my own. I've been to about 50 countries in all. In recent years I have lived in Norway, Germany, the UK, China and Taiwan for a year, and briefly in Kenya and Tanzania.

I watched the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona, and for some reason I fell more in love with Drexler than with Jordan though I also really liked those 90s Bulls teams. At that time there ironically was more NBA on European free TV networks than there is now, so I could follow the NBA pretty well. I also played NBA Live and regularly made the Blazers my team. Initially I probably liked the name, the logo, the colors more than any particular player or roster. They just looked cool.

In the early 2000s I had projects in Vancouver B.C. and in Portland and went to a few games. I have to admit I probably haven't seen more than a dozen games in person in Portland. The last Blazers game I watched live was the loss to Boston in January. No Oden, no Roy, but otherwise a pretty good game.

Anybody who has been around Blazers Edge more than about, oh, three days is probably familiar with your posts, which are always extremely intelligent and perceptive and based on the best sources. What they might not realize is that you are writing from Europe and that English is not your first language. How the HELL did you learn English so well and how do you find enough hours in the day to read as much about basketball as you clearly do?

I started learning English when I was about 12, then continued it through high school as a "major". My teachers were pretty good, but I credit a lot of my reading comprehension and maybe my too passive writing style to a Time magazine subscription for some 15 years now. I also went to a US high school in Connecticut for about a year and to college in London, so my accent is pretty messed up with some Scandinavian, German, British, and American English influences.

I'm probably spending a bit too much time on following basketball since it's just a hobby. I've tried to reduce my activity, and indeed a few FanPosts I had started to draft were overtaken by reality, including one about Rudy's motivation and another about the very depressing injury history of Greg and Brandon. I've also dedicated much of my free time to big projects, like an update to a map showing the birth places of all NBA players, which was based on an idea by another blogger.

You're one person that I don't have to ask the dumb question "Who will you root for in the playoffs if the Blazers don't make it?" because I know that you're a Dallas Mavericks guy. To what extent is this secondary affinity related to the presence on their roster of the Large German Man, Dirk Nowitzki? How long have you followed Dirk's career? Have you ever seen him play live?

I have followed Dirk since about the time he was acquired by the Mavericks on draft day. The sisters of my father and their families live in Texas, but to my embarrassment they aren't really basketball fans and my one cousin who is became a Spurs season ticket holder. I failed in that regard.

I really liked the Mavs teams with Dirk, Nash, and Finley. Even having Rodman for a handful of games at the tail end of his career was fun. Later I really liked the Dirk, Harris, Terry, Daniels, Howard combo. The 2006 playoffs were great, Dirk driving in game 7 of the semi-finals against the Spurs in the last seconds to force overtime and then win it is still one of my favorite basketball memories since that Spurs team was red-hot and the series so so close. Cuban is a cool owner too. He absolutely is an over the top self-marketer, but also someone who really cares about his team and wants it to win at all cost which I vastly prefer over any cheapskate owner.

I have seen Dirk play live a few times, not while he was still playing in Germany but later on the national team and a few times in the US, the last time also in January when I was in Boston and the Mavs beat the Celtics with Dirk pounding on Rasheed, which was fun.


How big of a star is Dirk in Germany? Is he prominent in German advertising?

He's the most recognizable basketball player — maybe a few people would also know who Kobe and LeBron are. When he's in Germany in the offseason he gets invited to the largest general-interest evening TV shows and sports talk shows. His "girlfriend problems" before the last playoffs got discussed at length in the most-read tabloid newspaper. Large Dutch bank ING has made him their marketing face, so he gets some TV presence from that.

Basketball isn't all that big compared to soccer in Germany. And during much of the NBA season the TV channels in Germany, Norway, Sweden, Finland, and parts of Eastern Europe fill their weekend programming with winter sports the way US networks fill theirs with college sports and NFL. So basketball gets squeezed out.

Maybe he would have been bigger at home if much of his career wasn't before DVRs for time-shift viewing, and if the games where on a major free or basic cable network comparable to ABC, NBC or ESPN. That only happens for the Olympics, and there basketball gets drowned out a bit with all the events, yet Dirk was the flag bearer for Germany in Beijing and that was a big deal. He stated it almost meant as much to him as winning an NBA title.

I recall that you had some sort of exposure to the serious way that some international sports organizations approach testing for performance enhancing substances and you felt that the testing procedures of the NBA fell far short of the sort of rigor needed to truly stop the use of performance-enhancing drugs. Is that an accurate summary of your views? How widespread do you feel are the use performance-enhancing substances are in the NBA? 

In my youth I was a semi-pro track and field athlete, mainly middle distance running (800m, 1500m). I reached the top 5-10 level nationally and was about 10 to 12 seconds off the world record level when I was 17. But unlike in soccer or US pro sports nobody can make a living from that level of performance. The peak in track and field is incredibly narrow, only a handful of name-brand athletes can really get rich while maybe 200 more can make it a living.

My peak active time was just after the collapse of the Eastern European countries where politically-motivated systematic doping unfortunately was the norm. One of my coaches was a former East German decathlete whose health had been ruined by anabolic steroids even though he had quit early. It wasn't worth it to me to try and push through by getting on such a path. I probably wasn't talented enough anyway, but I can see how someone who makes international championships and just falls short would perceive it as an option to compete with more naturally gifted athletes. Nobody talks about 4th place and down and sponsors aren't impressed either.

In basketball, it's of course a bit different. In sports that require a complex performance like soccer and basketball, improving skills is just as important as improving athleticism. I'm unsure how widespread the use is in the NBA, but subjectively I think it never was as bad as in baseball. Still, it has probably been a bigger problem than the league would like to admit, considering 1 or 2 stars can make or break a team. Rashard Lewis is the most prominent recent case, and he's not exactly the bulkiest guy compared to college times you see running around.

If David Stern called you up on Monday and asked you to design a new testing procedure for league-wide implementation, what changes would you advise?

If you are serious about containing PED use, the way to go is lots of unannounced tests in training — so especially during the offseason. There need to be blood as well as urine tests, freezing of samples to screen them with improved procedures later, and you could also implement so-called blood profiles to see what the natural level of an athlete is for certain markers.

This was proven to be effective in cross-country skiing and biathlon, where they take out athletes for a week if their markers exceed limits as a "precautionary measure" even without finding anything. I am guessing that teams wouldn't like to see a starter suspended for a week as a "precaution" too often. And well, if you get caught as a repeat offender they would have to hand out very severe sentences comparable to other sports — such as 2 seasons. Suspending someone for 10 games is something of a joke.

Unlike about 99.957% of NBA fans, you also actively follow professional basketball in the European leagues. If you were to give a short primer on European basketball, where would you begin? Is there one European league superior to all others, and how many teams are in it? Are there several European leagues worthy of note and how do they interrelate with one another? Do the Euroleagues limit the number of American players the way that Japanese baseball limits the number of gaijin (outsiders) in order to build a national following for national players — or can teams be freely assembled?

I don't watch nearly as much European basketball as NBA, but yes I do follow at least the international competitions and the occasional big national game. I would need to get paid to watch two French or Lithuanian teams play each other.

On a national level the Spanish ACB is arguably the best league with a broad number of quality teams — unlike, for example, Russia or Greece where it's just 2 or 3 top teams — some of which could beat an NBA team every once in a while. The Euroleague matches up the best European teams in a yearly continental championship with group stages, playoff games and Final Four "one and done" event in a major city.

Most leagues play 1 game in their national leagues and 1 game in their international league (1 Euroleague, 2 Eurocup, 3 Eurochallenge) per week, which is a model derived from soccer. It is extremely rare to play more than 3 games per week.

Most leagues have limits on the number of non-European Union players a team can use. Some such as Germany do not, which makes it an attractive destination for college players who didn't quite make it in the NBA. Some countries have special status for some countries — a number of African and Caribbean nations are "affiliated" to the EU for work permits making those players eligible. And for South American players it's quite common to suddenly discover your Italian or Spanish ancestors to be eligible for dual-citizenship.

Every time I see footage of European league action, it seems like the stands are more empty than Memphis — and the buildings aren't as large either. Are the European leagues in financial trouble? If they are not, how are they managing to stay afloat when the NBA — with bigger crowds and gargantuan TV and merchandise revenues — claims to be losing money hand over foot? What is the average total payroll of a European team? What's the biggest payroll?

I'm not sure about that. Arenas definitely are smaller, there are only about 5 NBA-ready arenas in Europe that could one day be used by an "NBA Europe" division. But many teams fill their arenas, and local fans in some cities are often crazy about their teams even if basketball isn't that big on a national level in many countries. The fans of some teams in Lithuania, Greece, Germany, Spain, and maybe Italy could easily rival the loudness of the Rose Garden for important games.

The biggest payroll is probably maintained by teams like Real Madrid and Barcelona, which are cross-financed by their respective soccer "departments". A few billionaire pet projects such as CSKA Moscow and the two teams in Athens (Panathinaikos and Olympiakos) probably can pay NBA-style salaries as well. But there are no more than 10 teams in Europe who could.

Juan Carlos Navarro is allegedly the highest-paid European player at around 5 million Euro per year. For a while it was Josh Childress, not exactly an NBA superstar. Salary data is not readily available — I don't know of a free site like ShamSports or Storyteller for European basketball that aggregates everything.


Can you give us the name of a European player that is more or less "under the radar" in terms of hype and scouting that you feel might develop into an NBA talent? Who are a few of the greatest European professionals that, if they decided to come to the NBA, would emerge as legitimate NBA stars?

If I knew someone who was a surefire superstar, I would call up Rich Cho and urge him to sign him.

I'm pretty high on the 6'5"+ Russian PG Alexey Shved who has great handles for his size and plays defense, but he went undrafted in 2010. Reportedly that's what he wanted over going in the 2nd round. I think he had a knee injury leading up to the draft, too.

Rumor has it that the third Gasol brother Adria, although picking up basketball later, could be just as talented as Pau and Marc. He was 6'5" when he was 15 and 6'8" at 16 (beginning of 2010) and he's still growing. He still looks a bit lanky, and unfortunately the name doesn't sound intimidating if you ask me. But might be worth a shot in a future NBA draft if you think talent runs in the family. But with his name he'll hardly fly "under the radar". He had his first knee injury already, so that should work well.

Juan Carlos Navarro could have been a legitimate NBA player, but after the Grizzlies traded away Pau he wanted no part of a rebuilding project when he could make the same money in Spain and be a way bigger deal there. Some other Spanish and Greek veteran Bigs and Guards could be rotation players in the NBA, but hardly would be superstars. Similar for other veterans like Lithuanian Wing Ramunas Siskauskas.

Pete Mickeal is a US expatriate playing for Barcelona who could have made it just as well in the NBA in the mold of a player like Matt Barnes.

In the likely event of an NBA lockout of the 2010-11 season, do you anticipate many NBA players playing in Europe for at least that season? 

I could see a few players heading over, but the majority would probably just wait. Kobe seems very in love with Italy, so maybe he would play there. And he is indeed a big deal in Europe. He would have options to choose from. Paul Pierce also has insinuated that he could see his career ending in Europe. Dirk has a standing offer from a German team in Berlin and likely also from Munich where his national team coach is employed as well as from his original home team in Wuerzburg.

A lot of the veterans would probably use the time to just rest their bodies, so rather young guys (who also still really need the money to finance their families and/or lifestyle) would dare to make the jump.

Assuming that the NBA lockout is settled expeditiously with no major changes to the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which three European players do you think would be the most highly sought-after in the next NBA draft? Break down the game of each -- how big are they, who do they play like, what are their strengths and weaknesses, and where do you see each fitting in in the NBA?

We are entering the years of players born in the 1990s.

Donatas Motiejunas, a Big from Lithuania, plays for Benetton Treviso in Italy. He seems to be a surefire lottery pick whenever he declares. Scouts compare his game to Bargnani and at the high end to Nowitzki as a multi-talented big man. I'd probably go with Bargnani since he doesn't yet have anything close to Dirk's strength or speed or winning mentality. Slight bonus: He's left-handed, which always gives defenders some trouble to adapt.

There is another highly-ranked Lithuanian with Jonas Valanciunas, who also happens to be a Power Forward or Center, but appears to be less mobile and skilled.

Enes Kanter, a Big from Turkey is another worthy of mention. He's not currently on a team. Technically he will not even be an international player since he played high school in the US and wanted to play NCAA for Washington and then for Kentucky where he enrolled, but his Turkish team deliberately ruined his eligibility by paying him as a junior player. Since he really wanted to play in the NCAA, it seems likely that he also wouldn't mind joining the NBA as soon as possible, maybe with a short stint in the D-league or back in Turkey for the rest of the year. He broke Nowitzki's scoring record during his Nike Hoop Summit appearance in Portland putting up 34 points versus Team USA, and dominated the competition at international junior championships. He's already about 6'11" 260 pounds and could maybe add more to that frame. At the high end, he could become a player like the former Florida guys, Horford and Noah.

Jan Vesely, a Forward from the Czech Republic, is another. He plays for Partizan Belgrade and is supposed to be under a new contract until 2013, perhaps with buyouts, so he would be another stash and wait candidate. He's a highly athletic forward with pretty good ballhandling skills. Some scouts compare him to Jerebko who surprised a few people in his rookie season before tearing his achilles. Remember that Ben categorized Jerebko's shot as broken during the Blazers workout. Vesely isn't looking much better so far. He's a diamond in the rough.


Which NBA teams do you think are doing the best job of scouting talent in Europe?

The best job is being done by the Spurs, hands down. They didn't just get two major stars in Parker and Ginobili, they also identified and targeted Scola, Splitter and US players who had developed abroad like new backup PG Neal. And they would have taken Batum if the Blazers hadn't jumped over them. They still have a Georgian PF parked on Petteri Koponen's team who could be an NBA talent.

But I think the Blazers with Jason Filippi are doing a fine job to identify players. I had seen Batum and would have pegged him as an NBA talent, but I didn't expect him to become so good so quick. The T-Wolves seem to be doing a better job with Tony Ronzone scouting in Europe. OKC has landed a hit with Ibaka. I think just about all teams whiffed on Marc Gasol. You could have seen during the 2006 world championships in Japan that he was already a defensive force and could handle players established NBA stars like Brand, Brad Miller, Bosh. He even gave problems to the young Dwight Howard.

Which of the so-called "Eurostash" of players drafted by Portland but still playing in Europe, if any, do you feel are most likely to come over to the NBA and to be reasonably successful there?

I think Joel Freeland is the guy most able to help the Blazers going forward, think ideally David Lee but 6'11" tall. He puts up very solid numbers in Spain and in the Euroleague and does so efficiently with PERs above 20.

Now whether he'd really come over in 2011 or 2012 is a different story. Maybe if Przybilla and Camby are no longer on the roster the Blazers could really use him to add depth and have someone else matching Aldridge, Roy, and Oden in age.

One of my least favorite moves by former Blazer General Manager Kevin Pritchard was his decision to essentially give away Sergio Rodriguez to move up a couple slots in the draft to select.............. not Omri Casspi, but Victor Claver. That was about the dumbest thing I've seen in my life, it made no sense then and makes even less sense now, given Casspi's success in the NBA. I LOVE the way that dude plays... Anyway, to make me feel better: do you feel that there was a method to KP's madness? Is there any hope of Victor Claver ever playing in the NBA?

I don't think it was a terrible move. When the pick was announced I was rather surprised and angry they passed up on DeJuan Blair three times — for whatever reason. Casspi and Claver are at a fairly similar level. The Blazers also had seen Batum own Casspi in direct matchups. Finally, Casspi wanted to come over immediately and at that time the Blazers still had Travis, Martell, and Nico on the roster with no playing time for another forward available. So they "punted," taking a guy coming off an ankle injury who might have gone in the late lottery in some draft classes and could develop on someone else's dime.

Realize that Claver is still just 22. He has recently made progress again under a new coach and has reached the top 15 to 30 in the Spanish league in categories like True Shooting Percentage and PER. His team won the Eurocup last year, the second league, and he won a "rising star" award for that league, which can be seen as a sort of mix of between Rookie of the Year and Most Improved Player. But he largely disappeared in the Final Four as well as in the playoffs where they got beat by Freeland's Malaga.

Claver might be more athletic than Luke Babbitt — he won the equivalent of the ASG dunk contest in Spain. On the floor he would likely fill a similar role to him or Dante and that's not that attractive to the Blazers or him when he could continue to get paid in Spain. On the national team he had a scrub role last summer, and at that time a disgruntled Rudy probably didn't tell him great stories about life on the Blazers should he have asked.

So before entering the NBA I would like to see him become a more dominant player who is clearly the #1 on an ACB playoff team and able to fill a boxscore consistently, not just every few games. Pending further breakout progress I currently don't see a bright future for him in Portland, but I envision him instead as being a part of a larger deal.


*   *   *








Roy scored just four points

No one having a fit though

He's out of the way





Here's some more wackiness from the twisted tongue of goofy Uncle Mike...



Rice needs to work on the prescience this evening...

 "Things are easier when you get to the rim, like Brandon Roy is trying to do..." (On cue, he's stymied. A 12 foot jumper..... CLANK!)


Game tied at a mind-bogglingly pathetic 14-14 with about 90 seconds to play in the 1st Quarter. MB digs it...

MB: "Portland has the scoring tempo in their favor, at least initially."


Nic with an offensive rebound and a putback jam...

"He looks like Amar'e Stoudamire on the boards tonight!!!"


Ricey loves himself some Will Ferrell...

"This looks like a Jackie Moon movie — lots of Alley Oops!"


Somebody sent Rice a Spanish dictionary for having butcherd Greivis Vasquez's name.

Rice: "You know the cookie nazi?"

MB: "The soup nazi?"

Rice" "....the soup nazi... Well, he was the dictionary nazi."


And furthermore...

Rice: "I don't have your address, so I'm not sending your book back!"




Game 26.

Blazers 98 at Mavericks 103.

December 15, 2010.

Blazers' record is now 12-14, the Mavericks are 20-5.

Tonight, just to change things up a little, I'm gonna impose a rule: there will be just 1 word allowed for each point the Blazers score in each quarter. A 40 point quarter gets a 40 word summary, if they go for 9 points again, it'll be a bit shorter. Ready? Begin...

1. DAL 17, PDX 14: Blazers up 2 midway. Ineffective Roy pulled at 4:30. Ten straight misses, 28% shooting.

2. DAL 51, PDX 39: Lots of zone. Blazer bench made shots and took a little lead. Barea was strong. Tied midway, but Blazers suck, Mavs don't — double digit lead.

Halftime Entertainment: Sicko: "Little Star" (1996)  (cover of a song by Cub)

3. DAL 78, PDX 68: Why are we still here? Oh, I know: Wesley Matthews. He put up 14. Lead cut to 5 points at 2:15. Nate's smallball lineup couldn't maintain. Blazers shot 65%.

4. Dallas chucked bricks from downtown. LMA was goin' nuts and he tied it inside of 3 minutes. LMA season high with 35, but Dirk won the dogfight and the prize. FINAL SCORE: DALLAS MAVERICKS 103, PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS 98.


Fun fact: 

............................................. 2006-07 and 2010-11 NBA MVP Dirk Nowitzki is only 32 years old.


Let's take at this thang graphically, shall we?


Ya gotta click THIS-HERE LINK to see the swell graphs, that's the way these things work... Ready? Set??? GO!!!

Now here are a few observations about the Popcorn Machine material from me to you:

A. A couple decent little comebacks in both the 2nd and the 4th Quarters for the Blazers. Nic and Dante were instrumental in the 2nd quarter turnaround and LMA was almost a deity during the second.

B. LMA had 20 points in the 4th Quarter. This is, so far as I am aware, the biggest scoring explosion by any Blazer in any quarter this season. For a guy who usually withers and wilts at the end of the games, or who is widely perceived as doing so, this was a massive, massive step forward. LMA and the Blazers came up short, but it was still a very positive night for Portland's hopes this season.

C. Brandon Roy's 4 points tied him with Patty Mills as the teams #7 scorer. Still, that's what it's going to take for Portland to beat people — Brandon getting the hell out of the way instead of trying to get to 20 through volume shooting.

D. Nic came back a little tonight, getting to 11 points and playing some D. Rudy still looks out of sorts.

E. Dirk had a dozen points for Dallas in the 4th and was their big pony leading them to the win.



Finally, let's gather round for another installment of THE GREATEST THING IN THE WORLD, eh?


This is Thursday morning's episode...

Here's the Wednesday morning episode

The Basketball Jones is a NBA blog and video/audio podcast, written and recorded five times a week by J.E. Skeets, Tas Melas, Jason Doyle and Matt Osten. Assume that there will be a couple Not Suitable For Work words used in any given episode.


Photo Credits: Harald Norsktroll: Courtesy Harald Norsktroll. Dirk Nowitzki: Donna McWilliam, Associated Press. Juan Carlos Navarro: Manu Fernandez, Associated Press. Omri Casspi: Steve Yeater, Associated Press. All photos tweaked heavily in Photoshop by Tim Davenport.