Archive for February 9th, 2008

The San Antonio Spurs were trailing the New York Knicks in the final seconds of regulation when Manu Ginobili began his pursuit of the basket. From a defensive point of view, the conventional thinking would be one of two things.

Foul him. Or, let him score. So long as the passing lane was contained, and any Spur beyond the three point line was covered.

Fred Jones and Zach Randolph converged, but were late in arriving. Tim Duncan screened Renaldo Balkman, who dropped off his man -Michael Finley, alone in the right corner- to defend Ginobili. Less than two seconds remained, and the guard was still in control of the ball.

As Ginobili’s momentum pushed him past the end line, he released a pass to Finley, who promptly sent the game into OT.

“It was designed for Manu to do what he did,” said Gregg Popovich, the Spurs coach, startled that someone would dare ask him about such a risky play, albeit one that the champs have executed to perfection in the past. “That’s what Manu does.”

The fact this was a set play -the Spurs call it ‘Hammer’- is believable. The fact that it still worked despite Isiah Thomas’ warning, following a timeout, is unbelievable.

Well, maybe not that unbelievable.

“Yes, we talked about that,” Thomas said, after the Knicks lost their eighth straight game. “It didn’t happen but that’s okay. We will learn [from this], and move on.”

Mavs notes after beating Grizzlies

Dallas Mavericks notes after beating the Memphis Grizzlies Friday night.

Jerry Stackhouse returned to action tonight after missing the last 8 games with a strained right hamstring. He finished the game with 7 points, 3 assists, 1 steal, 11 minutes off the bench.

Erick Dampier was unavailable tonight due to a sprained right ankle. Gana Diop started in his place and contributed 8 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, 26 minutes.

Diop’s 12 rebounds were the most since he came down with 11 vs. DEN (1/27).

Dallas improved to 2-1 when at least 3 reserves score 10+ points. Tonight, Devean George (14), Brandon Bass (13), Jason Terry (11) had at least 10 off the bench.

George’s 13 points (6-8 FGs, 1-2 3FGs) marked a season-high. (previous high was 12 at UTA, 12/26).

Memphis’ Rudy Gay recorded his 7th double-double of the season (team-highs 18 points, 12 rebounds).

The Mavericks have won their last 3 games by an average of 10.3 points per game.

Dallas has now won 10 straight games over Memphis – 14 games when including the 1st round sweep of the Grizzlies in the 2006 NBA Playoffs.

The Mavs have won 9 consecutive home games. They lost, 81-88, vs. CLE (12/27) at AAC.

Tonight’s attendance was 20,315 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 259 consecutive regular season games at AAC and 297 games including the postseason. Dallas currently owns the longest running sellout streak in the NBA. The Sacramento Kings previously held the streak but failed to sellout their home opener this season. The Mavs are now ranked #10 on the all-time NBA sellout streak list.

This game marks the second and final of two meetings between Washington and Phoenix this season.  Phoenix was victorious in the first meeting this season, 122-107, at Verizon Center on December 7.  The Wizards and Suns split their season-series in five straight seasons, and in six of the last seven campaigns.  Washington swept the Suns in 2001-02, but needs a win tonight to avoid being swept by Phoenix for the first time since the 1999-00 season.

The Wizards won their lone game in Phoenix in both of the two previous seasons.  Washington last lost in Arizona on December 18, 2004.

Washington will look to snap a season-high six-game losing streak.  With a win against the Suns, the Wizards will avoid their first seven-game losing streak since March 5-16, 2004.

Wizards forward Andray Blatche finished with 14 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks as a starter in Washington’s last game.  In six starts this season, Blatche has averaged 15.3 points, 11.0 rebounds and 2.8 blocks per game.  With the Clippers’ Chris Kaman, Orlando’s Dwight Howard and Houston’s Yao Ming, Blatche is one of only four players in the NBA averaging at least 15 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks per game as a starter this season.

In Washington’s last game (L, 111-100 at DEN, 2/8)…Antawn Jamison had a team-high 21 points in defeat…Andray Blatche grabbed a team-high 10 rebounds and scored 14 points to record his fifth double-double of the season…Nick Young connected on 7-of-13 field goal attempts and 5-of-6 free throws en route to scoring a career-high 19 points…Darius Songaila finished with a season-high 15 points…DeShawn Stevenson’s 15 points gave Washington five players in double figures in scoring…Already with Caron Butler, Gilbert Arenas and Etan Thomas sidelined due to injury, Antonio Daniels was limited to less than seven minutes of action with right knee tendinitis.

Last time vs. Phoenix…(L, 107-122 vs. PHX, 12/7)…Seven Wizards scored in double figures; the only time this season in which seven different Wizards scored 10+ points apiece in a game…Andray Blatche scored a team-high 19 points, and with his 10 rebounds recorded a double-double…Roger Mason contributed 15 points…Nick Young finished 13 points on 6-of-11 shooting…Antonio Daniels led the Wizards with seven assists…Phoenix’s Steve Nash established a new Verizon Center-record with 19 assists.

Last season vs. Phoenix…The Wizards and Suns each won a game on the other’s home court…Caron Butler averaged 29.0 points in two games vs. Phoenix…Phoenix’s Steve Nash accounted for 34.5 points and 13.0 assists per game against Washington…The Wizards’ win came via a 144-139 overtime decision in Arizona on December 22; a game in which Washington’s Gilbert Arenas set a new US Airways Center scoring record with 54 points.

Wizards-Suns connections…Caron Butler and Phoenix’s Shaquille O’Neal were part of the Lakers-Heat trade that sent Shaq to Miami and made Butler a Laker…DeShawn Stevenson and Phoenix’s Grant Hill are former Orlando Magic teammates…Antawn Jamison and Steve Nash played together in Dallas…Jamison and Suns Head Coach Mike D’Antoni represented the United States in FIBA World Championship play in 2006…Suns’ rookie DJ Strawberry played collegiately at the University of Maryland.

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