Hornets-Mavericks: Tuesday news wrap

Published: April 29, 2008

Game 5 gets going this evening at 6 Central. Ahead of that, we've got the usual dose of Hornets-Mavs chatter from around the web. Dig in.

The big news this morning is about Avery Johnson canceling Mavs practice yesterday. Then his team decided to go ahead and practice anyway. Jeff Caplan tells the story in the Fort Worth Star-Telegram…

  • On the brink of elimination, and perhaps significant changes, the Dallas Mavericks players took matters into their own hands Monday, taking the practice court without their head coach.

    About 32 hours before the start of tonight's Game 5 against the New Orleans Hornets, Avery Johnson met briefly with his team and called off practice. He told players they'd reconvene on the team plane. The players, Johnson said, then made other plans.

    "Somebody amongst the players decided that they thought they needed to have some sort of practice, and they proceeded to go on the practice court and have a players-only practice," Johnson said Monday evening during a hastily arranged media session in the lobby of the team's New Orleans hotel.

Eddie Sefko has more quotes from Avery Johnson in the Dallas Morning News…

  • "We're in a situation where I don't know if we need another drill," Johnson said. "We've been having drills and scrimmages since the first day of training camp and if you don't have it by now, I don't know if you're going to have a CliffsNotes session and get it.

    "I was just thinking about keeping the legs fresh and meeting on the plane. But they decided they needed to go down on the court and do something. We'll see what type of carryover it has."

And still more from AJ in the New York Times

  • "I think over all these men have been very loyal to me," Johnson said. "It's just a tough spot for us. Maybe another team at that particular time was just a better team. But it's not because the men don't listen or don't try. But again, this is a team that hasn't been together for a while. We've tried to incorporate a very tough situation. And we just haven't had the type of carryover like we want. But we're still alive."

Kevin Sherrington believes the Mavs saved themselves a headache by canceling practice…

  • Still, by skipping an official practice — and the media confab afterward — the Mavs surely avoided another round of embarrassing questions

From Mike Fisher over at Dallas Basketball

  • I told Hardwood Paroxysm about the practice late on Monday night, and HP shot back quickly: "What they need is a Mavs players'-only game, where the Hornets don’t show up."

Meanwhile, a poster at Hornets Asylum reminds us that Byron Scott pulled a similar move not so long ago, canceling a Nets practice back in 2002 when they trailed the Celtics 2-1 in a Playoff series. New Jersey went on to win 4-2.

Actually, now I think about it, that probably isn't the biggest news of the day. Byron Scott being named Coach of the Year has to be bigger, right? Here's the lead in from ESPN's AP article

  • As recently as the 2004-05 season, the New Orleans Hornets were an NBA joke with an 18-64 record. It looks like the coach of that team, Byron Scott, will get the last laugh.

    Before the Hornets take on the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of their first-round Western Conference playoff series on Tuesday, Scott will be named the NBA Coach of the Year.

In the Times-Picayune, John DeShazier says the award is nice and all, but Byron would rather keep winning than pause for celebration…

  • This award should validate Byron Scott and give him reason to smirk just a little, except no matter how many times you ask or ways you probe, the guy genuinely has never seemed particularly interested in validation, outside interpretation or peer adulation.

    Just winning.

Quotes from Byron Scott courtesy of John Reid in the T-P…

  • "I told our guys we could win at least 55 games this season," said Scott, whose team can eliminate the Mavericks from the playoffs tonight. "I just saw how hard they worked before the season, with Chris Paul calling up guys to come early before training camp started. Chris and David West weren't happy about the way last season ended with us not making the playoffs."

    "These guys wanted to prove everybody wrong. Just about everybody had us making the playoffs as either an eighth or seventh seed, and it didn't bother us that we stayed under the radar for most of the season."

Jerry Stackhouse's thoughts on Byron's award…

  • "I guess that kinda makes me look like an asshole then, doesn't it?"

(Okay, I might have made that last one up.)

At the Hive has the best blog post about Byron's award…

  • This is a man who suffered through an 18-64 inaugural season with his new team, and was forced to move to an entirely new city for two years. This was a coach that saw his top 4 players miss a combined 126 games just a year ago. This was a man who witnessed his coaching credentials viciously attacked by Jason Kidd and the media, and who was called "a sucker in my book" by a player who has played basketball one entire standard deviation below league average.

Moving on, and the NBA decided yesterday afternoon that Jason Kidd would not be suspended for his attempted decapitation of Jannero Pargo in Game 4. Pargo's reaction to the ruling is in the Dallas Morning News…

  • Pargo, who was thrown to the floor as he attempted a layup, said he has no problem with the league's decision.

    "Not at all," said Pargo, the Hornets backup point guard, on Monday after the New Orleans Hornets completed practice. "I think he did exactly what he was supposed to do.

    "It's the playoffs. You don't want anyone to score, no matter what the score is. He wanted to give a hard foul, and that's what he did."

    New Orleans had a 16-point lead in the fourth quarter of Game 4 when Pargo took a bounce pass from Chris Paul on a fast break. Kidd collided with Pargo, wrapped his forearm around the back of Pargo's neck and slung him to the court.

    "He has that old-man strength that kind of threw me down," Pargo said.

Mavs Moneyball ran a poll for their readers asking if they wanted Kidd suspended for Game 5. Note they didn't ask if he should be suspended, but if Mavs fans want him to be suspended. Last I checked, 172 people had voted, and 58% of them preferred Dallas to be without Kidd's services in Game 5. Ouch. 

Dave D'Alessandro writes of Kidd's demise in the Newark Star-Ledger…

  • At around 9:30 tonight, the Dallas Mavericks' season will end in what is likely to be one of those classic, made-for-TV moments, with shots of Mark Cuban fuming and Dirk Nowitzki scowling and the TNT boys yukking it up with their gone-fishing leitmotif to commemorate the moment.

    We'll never truly know how Jason Kidd feels about it, because he'll hide behind his practiced, stone-faced equanimity and spout the usual platitudes about how the Mavs were beaten by a better team, which is absolutely accurate.

Also from the above article, D'Alessandro ridicules the importance of Playoff experience…

  • That's the worst part about these playoffs: Everyone assumes that experience is the most important ingredient to postseason success, but history is replete with examples of young legs prevailing against the old guard.

    Last year, it was the Chicago kids sweeping Shaq, and LeBron demolishing the Pistons.

    This year, it's Tony Parker vs. Steve Nash, and Paul vs. Kidd.

    Sometimes it's so one-sided you want to avert your eyes.

In the Star-Telegram, Jan Hubbard is the latest to ridicule the Mavericks trade for Kidd

  • Allow me to make a few points about Devin Harris, whose days as a scapegoat for the Dallas Mavericks' first-round loss to Golden State last year apparently are nearing an end.

    One of the criticisms of the 25-year-old point guard is that he does not make other players better.

    Really? I bring you Josh Howard's statistics from the Warriors series last year: 21.3 scoring average, 51.5 percent shooting and 9.8 rebounds per game.

    I bring you Howard's statistics from the current series against the Hornets: 12.8 scoring average, 25.9 percent shooting and 6.5 rebounds per game.

David Moore has similar thoughts in the Dallas Morning News, as he talks about the big deals backfiring for the Mavs and Suns

  • And what has happened to these fierce, Western Conference matchups we all anticipated? Every series could be over in five games or less as the top four seeds advance. The results so far indicate the gap between the top four teams and the rest of the conference is greater than these also-rans care to admit.

From Byron Scott's post-practice Q&A yesterday

  • Q: Regarding the play where Jannero Pargo was flagrant fouled by Jason Kidd, Dallas has been talking about playing more physically. Do you feel like you've gotten them out of their element by them playing that way against you?

    Scott: Reading some of the papers the other day, Mark Cuban was saying that (the Hornets) were the physical team and that (the Hornets) were trying to intimidate (the Mavericks). I'm trying to figure out what team was he watching? We haven't been an intimidating team all season long. But right now we're playing aggressive basketball. That's the bottom line.

A couple of player quotes from Les East's Game 5 preview in the Baton Rouge Advocate…

  • "It's really been throwing me off my rhythm and it's also been affecting my team because they're used to me being out on the floor," Chandler said. "So I've got to try to stay out of foul trouble, I've got to try to stay in the game."
  • "I think we have to be confident, there's no pressure on us," Kidd said. "We just have to relax and play and take one quarter at a time. If we can do that, then we can send it to another game."

More player quotes, this time from Jeff Duncan in the T-P…

  • "We can't relax," forward Peja Stojakovic said. "We can't rely on the home court. We've got to play the same way that we did in Dallas, with the same intensity and focus."
  • Julian Wright: "When you have someone down, you kick 'em on the ground. That's what we're trying to do. We (feel) like we definitely can close it out (Tuesday night), and that's what we're going to try to do."
  • "We've got to show some heart, compete until the end, never give up," Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki said after Game 4. "Win one game. We want to win one game. It's a tough place to play, we all know that, but we've just got to find a way to dig it out."

Henry Abbott raves about Julian Wright over at TrueHoop, dedicating a whole post to the Hornets rookie…

  • He's clearly long, and he looks pretty strong. But all of that means nothing without your game face on.

    Julian Wright now has his game face on.

More from Fisher over at Dallas Basketball, this time addressing the Dallas crowd bailing early in Game 4

  • I must say, I sensed nothing wrong with the Sunday night crowd. Late game. School night. Team struggling. Fan base with high expectations. Lots of energy for three-and-a-half quarters. And then, a 19-point deficit with five minutes left and a big chunk says "F-it." Forget those boob-job-and-cocaine-crowd stereotypes; a lot of people who'd painted their faces and ruined their voices simply decided they'd had enough heartbreak, is all.

I thought some of you might find this interesting: John Denton of HoopsWorld has a lengthy article on flopping in the NBA. Dirk Nowitzki's name isn't mentioned, but there is this quote from Jeff Van Gundy…

  • "Whatever they can do to eliminate it would be great because it's gotten out of control," Van Gundy said. "Whether it's with technical fouls, fining players after the fact by reviewing film or expulsion from the league, whatever it takes. I'm for whatever it takes to get rid of it."

Fresh quotes from Tyson Chandler on his official site…

  • "Some nights like this you're glad it's a team game and not an individual game. I stayed in the game and took a look at what was going on in the first half. And I knew tonight I had to get those guys out. I had to get Bass out, I had to get Dampier out. I was going to sacrifice myself. I knew I wasn't going to get rebounds. I was going to have to get them out so other guys could come in and get the boards."

Satire, from an ironically-named site…

  • A source within the Dallas Mavericks organization has confirmed that owner Mark Cuban is attempting to undo the much-ballyhooed trade for point guard Jason Kidd, "hopefully before tonight's game."

An abbreviation of the Game 5 preview by the DMN's Eddie Sefko…

  • Who's hot? David West.
  • Who's not? The Mavericks.

And finally, be sure to leave your "congratulatory messages" for Byron Scott over at the Big Easy Buzz blog. Use real nice words and your comment could show up in the next GameTime program at the Arena.

Oh, wait, one more: Check out some YouTubeness over at Hornets Hype.

Okay, I'm done.

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