There were just too many elements conspiring against the Mavs going into last night’s game in Denver. Facing the second part of a road back-to-back in the Mile High altitude is bad enough, but it gets worse considering the previous game was a grueling 48-minute track meet at Golden State. On top of that, Dallas was without Shawn Marion (back) and Erick Dampier (knee). And finally, Carmelo and Chauncey were back after missing time with respective ankle injuries. Stir it all up, and you have Dallas getting almost 40-pieced in what amounted to a scrimmage for the Nuggets … Eduardo Najera started at center again (why?) and got yanked after four minutes for Drew Gooden. Then Gooden proceeded to spend the night looking at the Pepsi Center hardwood; every time Nene (21 pts) or Birdman (14 pts, 10 rebs) dunked on him, Drew hung his head and examined the floor like he’d lost an earring … Chris Webber said the Mavs aren’t a true contender because “they don’t have any defensive stoppers.” Ummm, The Matrix might want a word with you. What C-Webb should have said is Dallas doesn’t have enough defensive stoppers … Carmelo scored 19 before sitting out the fourth quarter. “I approached this game wanting to see what I could and couldn’t do, and I found out I could do pretty much what I’ve been doing,” he said afterward … Jamal Crawford is going to win Sixth Man of the Year because he’s provided exactly what the Hawks needed: Somebody who can take over enough fourth quarters that you can’t solely key in on Joe Johnson. Last night was Crawford’s turn to dominate late, as he dropped 14 of his 28 points in the fourth to take down the Grizzlies on the road … Great line from C-Webb during this highlight: “I don’t see how (Zach Randolph) can rebound over Josh Smith when he can’t get over two phone books, but Josh can jump over his neck.” Z-Bo finished with 20 points and 14 boards, while Smith had 17 and six … T.J. Ford had a couple of good games while Earl Watson was out for a family funeral, so Earl came back playing like a man paranoid about losing his spot. Watson was JACKING in the first quarter of Indiana’s loss to the Bulls, turning the ball over, out of control — basically doing everything that got T.J. benched in the first place. Ford came in and played well as a sub, but neither guy had much for Derrick Rose (21 pts, 7 asts) … After the Bulls went right at Mike Dunleavy Jr. four or five times in a row, Stacey King said, “If your small forward can’t defend in this league, you’re going to lose a lot of games.” Somewhere in New Orleans, Jeff Bower was nodding vigorously … If Kevin Durant does the “Dougie” dance right before a game, will he get as much flak as LeBron for dancing during a game? We’ll see … Post-dance, KD hung 33 points on the Blazers in a win, a big step up from the last time he saw Portland and Martell Webster held him to 3-for-20 shooting. Nic Batum primarily guarded Durant this time, and while he’s got the length, he doesn’t have the strength to disrupt KD’s game at all … Other stat lines from Tuesday: D-Wade had 17 points, seven assists and five steals as the Heat held Houston to just 66 points in a win; LeBron put up 32 points and 11 dimes to beat the Nets; Carlos Boozer made his “I should be an All-Star” statement, handing Chris Kaman and the Clippers 34 points and 14 boards in a win; Andre Iguodala scored 24 to lead Philly over Minnesota; Andrew Bogut‘s 17 points, 18 rebounds and three blocks wasn’t enough to get Milwaukee past Detroit; Gerald Wallace put up 17 points and 13 boards in Charlotte’s win over Washington; and Tyreke Evans went for 27 points, 10 boards and six assists in Sacramento’s OT win at New York … Tonight marks the Dick Vitale New Year, a.k.a. Duke at North Carolina. True, the Tar Heels aren’t even ranked in the Top 25 and the Blue Devils are in the Top 10, but you should know by now none of that matters in this rivalry. But if you must get into the numbers, consider that UNC is 11-3 at home while Duke is 2-4 on the road. Players to watch: Duke’s Jon Scheyer is legitimately one of the best guards in the country as has made himself into an NBA player this year, while Carolina’s Will Graves will be an X-factor if he gets off to a hot start shooting the rock. Who do you got? … We’re out like Najera starting …
Smack / Feb 10, 2010 / 3:48 am
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