The big news during this game was the report that Grandma-ma himself, Larry Johnson, native Dallasite and father of 24 kids by 39 women (you do the math), has fulfilled a promise to his mother and got his degree from UNLV a good 17 years after he left early as the #1 pick in the 1991 NBA draft. Good for him. I think he wants to be a teacher. If the students get out of line, he can just show them game film of his days playing for the Knicks against the Miami Heat. That should scare them straight.
1. Chris Kaman - Kaman's really emerging this year as a solid big man in the absence of Elton Brand. He's a beast, and I mean that both literally and figuratively. I mean, I almost blew my own mind as I was trying to debate with myself whether or not he looks uglier with long hair or short hair. There's really no right answer. Anyway, Kaman had a monster game (pardon all the puns) with 24 points on 11 of 18 shooting, 19 rebounds, 5 assists, a steal, and 3 blocks.
2. Josh Howard - Howard was fairly quiet, but he still managed 15 points, 8 boards, and 2 assists. Not a real sexy line, but it was better than everyone else on the court except Dirk, Harris and Kaman.
3. Devin Harris - The Mavs started crapping away the lead in the 3rd quarter, but Harris clicked his amp to 11 to ease the Mavs back into control. He finished with 21 points on 8-13 shooting, 2 boards, 2 assists and 2 steals.
- Dirk's Digits: Dirk started off hot, scoring 14 of his 30 for the night in the first frame. He did it by using his post game, too, which is a treat. He was getting to the line, he was getting the bounces, and he finished with his 3rd straight 30 point game. You have to go back almost a calendar year (Jan. '07) since his last 3 straight 30+ point games. Dirk finished with his 30 points on 11 of 17 shooting, 6 boards and 3 assists.
- ESPN came in late to this game because of the Boston-Chicago game, which was an absolute blowout. If I'm not mistaken, ESPN has 25 different channels. I still don't understand how they can't start their games on time, and move the less exciting games that are running over to one of their other channels. Maybe it's not as feasible as I would hope, but it sure would be cool to watch the whole Mavs game instead of coming in 5 minutes late because the Bulls are losing by 25 and are still ignorant enough to keep fouling and prolonging the game. Nobody wants to see that except die-hard Celtics fans.
- One of the announcers compared Clippers guard Richie Frahm to Tony Romo. That makes sense. Frahm is the most important offensive component on one of the most historic franchises in the history of sports, he's a millionaire, he's an overnight sensation, and he dates hot, blonde pop stars like most people go through loaves of bread. ***3 Cheers Sarcasm Alert!***3 Cheers Sarcasm Alert!***
- The one thing that the announcers did get right was by giving immense credit to the Mavs scouting department (read: Donnie Nelson) for finding Brandon Bass. I would tend to agree. And even Bass isn't comparable to Romo, but he's closer than Richie Frahm.
- I don't really sympathize with teams that have injury issues. I mean, them's the breaks, right? But I can feel a little sorry for the Clippers, because they have been without their All-Star power forward Elton Brand (who gives you about 20-10-5 a game), Shaun Livingston (their Devin Harris-esque point guard), and All-Star, veteran champion Sam "E.T." Cassell for the entire season. I don't think Brand and Livingston are coming back at all this year. That's hard to overcome when you could have been in the playoff mix with all those components healthy.
- The Mavs went on a 16-4 run near the beginning of the 2nd, and then closed out the quarter with a 12-5 run and wound up ahead by 12 points. Lo and behold, Avery's still not happy. Why? Avery says there are still things they aren't doing well. Turns out he's right as the Mavs start pissing the lead away in the 3rd, but the team responds. Sometimes it's how you coach with a solid lead or a decent winning streak that makes a difference, rather than how you coach when you are behind or on a losing streak. I think it's easier to coach to pride than to coach to the sense of invincibility.
- Speaking of which, if Avery's still coaching (and I have no reason to believe he wouldn't be), I could easily see both Stackhouse and Jason Terry becoming bench coaches for him. It's not so much that I think that Stack and JET would make good assistant coaches (which I do), but they have transformed into loyal servants of the Little General, physical embodiments of Avery on the floor, showing the same fire, leadership and motivational tactics that Avery pushes from the sidelines. Everyone talks about how we need a leader, and we need it to be Dirk or Howard, but I think having essentially 3 or 4 Avery Johnsons going to battle each game, that might be good enough.
- Speaking of JET, he was shocked that he was pegged for the halftime interview. He thought it should have gone to Dirk, but he was more than willing to oblige. He just made sure to mention that he wasn't the one that should have been doing the interview. See there? Leadership. Teamwork. Avery (just with a more palatable voice).
In summary, the Mavs are starting to get their groove back, the Clippers aren't starting to get their health back, and Larry Johnson can finally get that job he always wanted to help support the kids. Thanks, DeVry! Go Mavs!