Mavericks-Hornets: Tuesday news wrap

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Published: April 22, 2008

It's game day, and with it comes a massive dose of news articles and blog posts. Some highlights…

To start, here's an observation from Elias over a ESPN.com

  • Paul is the first player in league history to have at least 35 points and at least 10 assists in his first NBA playoff game.

Nice.

Mike Freeman of CBSSports.com recalls the Nets firing Byron Scott in 2004, and essentially calls Jason Kidd a damn fool for instigating the whole thing…

  • The relationship between Scott and Kidd turned ugly in December 2003 when Kidd and Scott got into a locker-room screaming match following a blowout loss. Before Scott's firing, Kidd spoke to management and stated the team needed a coaching change. See: back, stab it.

    We now understand how bad a maneuver listening to Kidd was. Kidd has proven to be one of the more selfish players in the sport. He's Ko-Me Bryant-lite.

Via the HR boards: Nuggets head coach George Karl admits that he'd rather have faced the Hornets in the first round…

  • Karl admitted before the game Sunday he'd prefer facing No. 2 seed New Orleans rather than the No. 1 Lakers in the first round. "I'm not going to deny we were rooting to play New Orleans," he said. "We wanted to play the more inexperienced team."

Jim Eichenhofer of Hornets.com delivers a nice post-practice Q&A with Byron Scott yesterday…

  • Q: Do you worry about making too many changes from what you did in the regular season, because of the perception that it sometimes creates (that a coach is panicking)?

    Scott: Well, one day recently I woke up at about 5 in the morning, because I was really thinking about making some changes to what we do defensively going into the series. But once I got up out of bed, I said "We're going to do what we've been doing all season long." We've been one of the top-five defensive teams, so why change? It's a matter of doing what we do better and harder. I don’t scrap what we do all season long to try to come up with gimmicks to beat certain teams.

Henry Abbott delivers a lengthy post on the confrontation between Dirk Nowitzki and David West in Game 1. Well worth a full read. Some people continue to think Dirk should have retaliated with some floppy fight moves, while more level-headed folk seem to agree that Zee German did the right thing by doing nothing…

  • Let's be honest: if the Mavericks had won that game, nobody would have said anything. Instead, they lost, and there is pressure on all involved to explain why the Mavericks lost. It has to be somebody's fault. You could make a strong case out of the team's habitual inability to slow supernova guards like Chris Paul. You could point to how well Jannero Pargo draped himself all over Jason Terry. You could also wonder when, exactly, Josh Howard will be ready to play his game again.

    None of that is as sexy as signing up the most obvious Maverick for the most obvious criticism. Dirk Nowitzki, fair or not, has a place in many NBA fans' imagination as the big man with the soft heart. Seeing him not react to this seemed to be in keeping with a perceived longer term beta-dog attitude.

Hornets Hype thinks the TNT guys blew the whole thing out of proportion

  • Seriously? Would anyone have really noticed if Sir Chuck and Co. hadn't gotten up to their old tricks during halftime coverage yesterday, talking about how they're "from the 80's, man" and they would have punched him or sent a thug after him? mW just watched the clip and noted that the way this whole thing has been blown out of proportion seems more homophobic than anything else. "OH MY GOD. YOU CANNOT LET ANOTHER MAN TOUCH YOUR FACE! THE WORLD WILL END!"

In the Dallas Morning News, Eddie Sefko reports that Avery Johnson wasn't happy with his team's reaction to the situation…

  • "We need players to not back down from anybody," Johnson said. "That's what the playoffs are all about. More than Dirk doing something about it, I would have liked for somebody else on the team, preferably at the center position, to do something about it."

Mike Fisher's response to that over at Dallas Basketball…

  • Yes, Avery, the 7-0, 265-pound Damp would've been a helluva guy to enter the fray… except he would’ve had to come storming off the bench to do so, thus earning an automatic suspension for the next game. 

Over at the Best of New Orleans Blog, Alejandro de los Rios says the attendance could have been better for Game 1

  • Now, I hate to nitpick, 17,446 is a lot of people (and I did say at the time that it was loud in there), but the Hornets drew 18,280 against the Celtics a month ago. Moreover, the Hornets had announced that Game 1 was actually sold out, meaning people had tickets but still decided not to go.

In case you were wondering what Chris Paul was doing last night, know that he was hanging out at Commander's Palace with Drew Brees, Les Miles and George Bush

At the Hive tells us what the Hornets should keep from Game 1, and what they should lose. Offensive rebounding makes the first list…

  • I've re-watched the game twice since Saturday, and each viewing reinforced this- Tyson Chandler got good rebounding position very infrequently (compared to his normal games). Now that seems contradictory to his 15 board total, but a ton of his rebounds were long tip outs on shots he couldn't have possibly grabbed. Dallas is an excellent rebounding team, so "stealing" boards could be essential again. Erick Dampier is great at boxing out, but he doesn’t have Tyson's athleticism to stretch out and bat away long boards.

Eddie Sefko has some notes ahead of Game 2. Among them…

  • Everybody talks about Chris Paul's 35 points and 10 assists in Game 1, but after West started 1-of-7 from the field in the first quarter, he finished by making 7-of-11 shots in the final three quarters, when the Hornets took control.

Over at Mavs Moneyball, Jake wonders if the Hornets are experiencing momentum heading into Game 2, or is it just the overconfidence of youth?

  • The truth is that you never know what is going to happen, and feeling too good about a big win can lead to catastrophic losses. That's a very important lesson, and, you know, there's a team that learned that lesson first hand. Yes–the one that had a 2-0 lead over the Heat in the NBA finals. It remains to be seen if the Hornets are going to learn that lesson at the hands of the Mavs.

In the Times-Picayune, Teddy Kider talks about the Hornets decade-long losing streak in Dallas, and quotes Byron Scott on the topic…

  • "The team that we have right now is a whole lot different than the team that's been playing over there for the past decade," Hornets Coach Byron Scott said Monday. "I don't know. Obviously, the last three years, I took a team in there that won 18 games. And the last two years, we had some pretty decent teams, but we haven't had a team this good. So I don't put a whole lot of thought into the fact that we haven't won there in 10 years. I don't really care that much about it anyway."

John DeShazier focuses on Bonzi Wells today, praising his play with the Hornets, and the trade that brought him to New Orleans. Bonzi appears to be liking it here…

  • "After 10 years, being from a little, small country town (Muncie, Ind.) like I'm from, to be on this stage and have a world champion like Coach Scott have confidence in you, it just makes me feel good," Wells said. "I just want to contribute and be a good teammate. All the stuff I've been through in the past, I'm just happy for positive things to be coming out about me."

Eddie Sefko expects the Mavs to throw different defenses and multiple defenders at Chris Paul in Game 2…

  • Mostly, the Mavericks have to mix things up against Paul. If Howard guards him for a few possessions, expect to see Johnson follow that with Jason Kidd or perhaps Eddie Jones, or even Jason Terry.

    While Terry has never been confused with some of the game's great defensive guards, he gives a different look against Paul.

Chris Paul and Byron Scott quoted by John Reid in today's T-P…

  • "It all comes down to what's going to happen when we step out on that court," Paul said. "We're going to be aggressive, and I know they will probably trap a little bit more. Like they said, they are going to make me play defense; I played defense the other night. It's going to be interesting, and I'm excited to see what happens."
  • "We faced all types of defenses you can face as far as Chris is concerned," Scott said. "Like I told our guys, if they are sending a guy at Chris it means it's four against three. We have to do a real good job of attacking them, and we're ready for that."

Also from Reid's article…

  • Dallas has lost seven consecutive road playoff games. The Mavericks have not won on the road since the 2005-06 season, when they defeated the Phoenix Suns to earn a trip the NBA Finals against the Miami Heat.

Nakia Hogan tells us all about the growing buzz surrounding the Hornets in New Orleans. Apparently 1,500 new season-ticket holders are on board for next season, and bars around the city are now doing big business on game days. A quote from a season-ticket holder…

  • "I tell you what, if it isn't (where the Saints were in 2006), it is very close. Everywhere I go people talk to me about the Hornets. The buzz is always about the Hornets. I don't go to too many places where we don't talk about the Hornets."

Over at WWLTV.com, Ralph Malbrough lists three reasons the Hornets should win the series, and three things that might stop them from doing so. He believes Chris Paul is built for the Playoffs…

  • Certain guys can't wait for the playoffs and all that it involves. Michael Jordan, Larry Bird, and Magic Johnson loved the playoffs. They didn't so much feel the pressure as they thrived off the intensity.

    Chris Paul will be one of those guys. I really believe that. Of course since the media hasn't seen him do it yet they won't predict Paul will be a stone cold playoff killer

Jim Eichenhofer comes up with some key questions for Game 2 over at Hornets.com. He expects Dirk to get more scoring help than in the opener…

  • Realistically, what are the odds that Josh Howard (4-for-16), Jason Terry (3-for-7) and Jerry Stackhouse (2-for-9) will combine to shoot 9-for-32 from the floor again in a game during this series?

    Give the Hornets' underrated defense credit for doing a solid job against the Mavericks' No. 2 through No. 4 scorers, but this trio also missed several open shots. If they are given some of those same looks, Dallas has to expect better results. After a lackluster Game 1, it's easy to forget how dangerous these three Mavericks can be. Keep in mind that their respective NBA career-highs are 47, 46 and 57. Howard's 47-point game came in December vs. Utah.

Morris Peterson is keeping a blog over at Hornets.com throughout the Playoffs. Yesterday he talked about preparations for Game 2…

  • We have to play the whole game like we did in the second half of Game 1. If we do that, we'll give ourselves a chance to win. We held Dallas to 40 points in the second half, and that's how you win games in the playoffs. Our offense will come around, because we know we have a lot of guys who can score. Defensively, if we dictate the tone early, it could be a good game for us. 

In the Dallas Morning News, Jean-Jacques Taylor says the Mavericks are dead if they don't start running more, and points out a few things the Hornets are doing to limit fast breaks…

  • Even when the Hornets score, Chris Paul often denies Kidd the ball. Paul is also trying to force Kidd to turn his body to receive the inbounds pass instead of catching it while he's running up court, which slows him down a tad.

    On the break, Kidd likes to throw long passes to Josh Howard or Dirk while they sprint down the wing. The Hornets are defending those passes.

Also from the DMN, David Moore wonders if Avery Johnson still has what it takes

  • Johnson had the magic touch after taking over for Don Nelson. He brought the Mavericks back from an 0-2 deficit to beat Houston in his first postseason series as a head coach. He inserted Devin Harris into the starting lineup against San Antonio the next season, a move that tilted that series in favor of the Mavericks and helped propel the team into the Finals for the first time in franchise history.

    Now, he's a coach with a 2-9 record in his last 11 playoff games. He's respected but is saddled with the public perception that Pat Riley and Nelson schooled him. 

Randy Galloway of the Fort Worth Star-Telegram says Dirk can't be expected to do it alone for Dallas, but his teammates haven't been stepping up…

  • We expect to see a defensive clamp on Dirk. What this does is serve as invitation for another Maverick to go out and carry the load. We know the outcome of that. Not good. 

And finally, there's a nice article from Jan Hubbard over at the Star-Telegram about Dirk's leadership role. At the foot of that piece, Jan lists three things the Mavs need to do better in Game 2: Help out Dirk, cut off the lane, and get out and run.

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