Saturday, November 13, 2004

NBA Game Log: Nets-Mavs

November 11, 2004
By Anthony Peretore

Over the course of the 2004-05 season, I will be taking in hundreds of nationally televised NBA games on TNT, ESPN, and ABC. However, the majority of my viewing (thanks to my convenient southern Connecticut location) will revolve around Knicks and Nets telecasts thanks to the kind people at MSG and the YES Network. For most of these games I’d rather be watching paint dry or having open-heart surgery, but hopefully I can gather enough interesting facts and humorous antidotes to satisfy your reading pleasure. I will try my best to assess each team in the league at least once to make things fair. In addition, with all the basketball I’ll be watching hopefully I can start to improve on my picks (ouch!). Enjoy…

While most people my age spent their Saturday afternoon recovering from hangovers, working off their beer bellies at the gym, or watching college football, I spent mine with Spero Dedes, Kelly Tripucka and the rest of the YES Network for an afternoon Nets-Mavericks game. Yes, that’s right, I some how managed to stay awake (for the most part) for an entire Nets game while somehow fighting off my constant yearning to watch “Kindergarten Cop” on Encore! Surprisingly, this game was fairly close until the end when the Mavericks finally pulled away for a 94-78 victory over Rodney Buford and co. (Speaking of Buford, the guy shot 2-16 from the floor, including 13 straight misses to end the game and yet Nets Coach Lawrence Frank still warranted him 32 minutes) In the end, this game allowed me to come away with several solid opinions of both teams along with two hours of rather entertaining humor.

The most important realization that I came away with from this game is that the Mavericks could be a much better team if they had far less talent. Let me explain. Take a look across the bench at Nets star-in-the-making Richard Jefferson. Now that he has as many minutes as he desires and no other legit stars around him, his game is being polished in every possible aspect. He’s learning how to create better shots, fight through double teams, make quicker decisions, find open teammates and become a better team leader, among other essential progressions. With 35-40 minutes of playing time each night, he has the chance to steadily improve his game and mold into a well-rounded NBA star. The Mavericks on the other hand, have so many weapons that there are just not enough minutes to allow them the chance to mature and develop as NBA players. Jerry Stackhouse for instance, received 40 minutes of PT today due to Michael Finley being placed on the injured list. The result: the ex-Tar Heel dropped 28 points on 10-18 shooting in the Mavs victory. Although Stack has averaged 26.8 minutes per game coming into today’s match-up, these were not the same consistent minutes he was awarded today. When given significant spurts of time, Stackhouse (and about four other Mavericks) could be a very solid player in this league as evidenced in his first nine seasons. However, with the logjam of 2s and 3s the Mavs have (Stack, Finley, Daniels, Howard, Terry) there is no chance for any of these players to develop into a dependable second scoring option behind Dirk. A Mavericks team based around just three stars, say Nowitzki, Finley and Stack, could produce a much more focused and better all-around team than their group of six stars does now. Dirk is the perfect player to build around as witnessed today with 7 rebounds, 7 assists and 4 steals to go along with his 31 points. The problem is without the constant pressure to be a star every night, it leads to frequent lapses in his game which have been and continue to be detrimental to Dallas’ success in the playoffs. Mark Cuban needs to take a step back and realize that being the George Steinbrenner of the NBA isn’t going to produce the same results for his Mavericks organization as it does for the Yankees. He needs to deplete this high-octane offense and create a team based more around Dirk Nowitzki and a word used very little in Dallas, defense.

I also had no choice but to jot down all of the hilarious subplots going on during this game. It's not like I went into this article thinking there would be tons of humor in a Nets-Mavs game, but all these things were just screaming for attention. Here's a few:

  • First of all, Alonzo Mourning is absolutely out of control on the court. I watched him for two minutes and he picked up a 3 second violation (in the paint for at least 6 seconds) and two personal fouls. He almost dislocated Stackhouse’s shoulder yet screamed at the ref for making such an obscene call. It was like he just busted out of prison and was still accustomed to those rules, throwing players to the ground, elbowing everyone in sight, sitting in the paint for as long as he wanted, and just making awful moves down low. Now, I know we should sympathize with ‘Zo for all that he’s been through in the past few years, but with the temper he had out their today, players were scared to be anywhere around him. I could see Brian Scalabrine saying some smart ass comment to Mourning in practice like, “Take it easy old fella” and ‘Zo absolutely snapping and beating Scalabrine to a pulp. Oh well, it couldn't make him any uglier than he already is and 'Zo will get the trade he desperately wants.

  • At the 6:20 mark of the first quarter, Richard Jefferson broke the world record for reverse dunks by a basketball player. Get a new dunk dude. The tomahawk, 360, two handed jam, anything but that patented reverse, we're all sick of it.

  • To make matters worse for Buford (if that’s really possible) rookie Devin Harris absolutely posterized him in the second quarter. Harris stole the ball and raced down the court, finishing with a thunderous one handed dunk over a trailing Buford. Great game Rodney.

  • I figured out who Lawrence Frank reminds me of. He’s a combination of Neil Patrick Harris and Derrick from the latest “Road Rules.” I thought, damn Doogie's a pretty good coach, the Bulls should contact Eddie Winslow or Jonathan Bower.
  • Now my halftime story. The exciting Fred Hickman got to interview former Bulls head coach and current Nets’ assistant Bill Cartwright. Unfortunately, I had never heard Cartwright speak and had no clue that his voice has the ability to send you into an immediate slumber and I passed out before I knew it. His voice resembles James Earl Jones if he smoked a Newport 100 every seven minutes, but in a much milder tone like he's reading a story to kindergartners before their afternoon nap. Add to that him discussing the upcoming season for the hapless Nets, you can see why I was drooling all over the couch in 2.3 seconds. I woke up to Hickman laughing hysterically while Cartwright gave him a look that would have made Mike Tyson cry. Apparently, Cartwright and fun don't go together, hence the result of his tenure as Bulls' coach. Great nap, great interview, back to the game.
  • Marquis Daniels reminds me of a guy from "Onyx" or like a washed up actor from the movie “Juice.” Good luck to anyone guarding this guy. Looks like he could have a switchblade on him and that tattoo on his neck even if it says "teddy bear," scares the crap out of me.
  • Listening to Nowitzki talk is great as it is, but hearing him muffle out “Nice pass Stack” with that German accent and an oversized mouthpiece in, made my whole afternoon worthwhile.

  • The greatest shot however, came in the last two minutes with the Nets down by double digits. The camera zoomed in on the injured Ron Mercer in his suit on the sidelines and the announcers, in their sad voices, discussed Mercer's injury like he was a 10-time All-Star fighting to get back to the court. Do they realize Ron Mercer is not going to make any difference on this team?

    Well, after being very hesitant to spend my Saturday with Kelly Tripucka and whoever the hell Spero Dedes is, I actually caught a very enjoyable afternoon NBA game. Watching these random games is actually much more fun than I could have ever imagined. During the week, hopefully I’ll have the time to catch a few ESPN, TNT and MSG games which means a lot of Walt Clyde Frazier which is accrobatically stupendous. Until then, I’m going to go catch the afternoon slate of college football games...


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