Finding some answers in the wake of the Mavericks' 12-game win streak coming to an end at the hands of Washington, 106-97 . . .
Finishing off a tasty dozen
How does a team like Mavs rout the Wiz (107-80 in Dallas on Nov. 21) and then have the tables pretty much turned on them?
Teams with good players like the Wiz don't like getting beaten that way. So with Gilbert Arenas, Antawn Jamison (who used to play in Dallas), Caron Butler, of course -- players who are awfully good, the potential is there for turnabout.
Dallas is playing so well, so maybe they took the Wizards a little bit lightly. You don't see the Mavericks trailing after one quarter very often.
You think the Mavs' 0-4 start ultimately helped spur this streak?
I do. Mavs coach Avery Johnson got a sense of his new players right away. The losing streak brought them together early. And we can't forget that Dirk Nowitzki, Erick Dampier and Devean George all were not on top of their games coming into the season, for various reasons.
Devin Harris was a big key to this dozen run, right?
With him playing well and getting significant minutes, that allowed Jason Terry to go to his natural position at the 2 guard. Lace up the track shoes, the Mavs want to run.
OK, so after getting beaten by the Wiz, what adjustments should the Mavericks make Tuesday in New Jersey?
This is interesting to me. I think their attitude should be, "We're a very good team, we don't need to make adjustments." If they think they need to make adjustments, well, that would be of greater concern.
Can you say something bad about the East here for good measure? Like how a wrecking ball doesn't make adjustments when it's demolishing a building.
The East is fascinating to me, because of the seeming lack of difference between teams near the top and those at the bottom. Still a lot of good players there. The East will catch its stride.
Of course, you have a notable history with Dallas, working with Nowitzki (and Steve Nash) for two years starting in 1999.
We spent every single practice together for two years. They put in the work like the great ones do. With Dirk, it's good to see the ways he's emerged as a leader.
What do you recall about first working with him?
He was a good shooter. But what you emphasize is the importance of being "on balance." If you're not balanced, you're not going to make the shot consistently in the game. And when you learn how to counter every defensive strategy, you become supremely confident. Now, when he's shooting the ball well, you can't stop him.
Who's looking like they can't be stopped in the West?
The Mavs have the Spurs' number right now. Of course, the Suns are right there. Utah too, but I'm not sure they're quite as good as their record.
ESPN analyst Kiki Vandeweghe, who was the Nuggets GM for five years until last spring, played 13 NBA seasons, averaging 19.7 ppg for four teams from 1981-1993.
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Lakers guard Kobe Bryant is helped by Ronny Turiaf and Trainer Gary Vitti after spraining his ankle against the Pacers. "It should be a lot worse, the way I came down on it," Bryant said. "I'm happy that I feel the way I feel right now. I don't know about Wednesday [vs. Hornets]." Bryant finished with 21 points in 22 minutes in a 101-87 win.
SAY WHAT? Which of these players has scored 20 or more points in the last 7 games: Chris Bosh, Gilbert Arenas, Eddy Curry, Joe Johnson or LeBron James? Answer? Only Curry. You can close your mouth now.
D.C. CONSENSUS: If someone asked you "who is the most underrated player", how would you answer without studying stats? I [Thorpe] was asked, and I said "Caron Butler." Am I wrong?
MISSING GRIZ: Whenever Mike Fratello sends Jake Tsakalidis into the game, you always get the feeling that the opposing players know that they will be playing 4 on 5 for the next few minutes.
AK AND 1: The streetball play of the night was pulled off by the Utah Jazz, as Andrei Kirilenko drove and dished the ball between his legs to Carlos Boozer for a two-hand throwdown. Just like Jerry Sloan taught them, right? Don't forget, Pistol Pete was a Jazz man.
Contributors: David Thorpe, Royce Webb
• New York forward Jared Jeffries, out all season with a broken left wrist, is closer to getting back on the court. The Knicks said before the game that Jeffries is "progressing excellently" and was cleared after an exam Monday to begin weight training and contact drills Tuesday. The Knicks hope he can play in seven to 10 days.
• Gilbert Arenas was held under 20 points for the third time this season on Saturday night in Chicago. In the previous two instances in which Arenas failed to score 20 points, he averaged 36 points in the following games. Last season, Arenas was held under 20 points 14 times, and he averaged 33.1 points in his next games.
• Golden State G Jason Richardson, the team's leading scorer last season, was not with the team Saturday due to soreness in his surgically repaired left knee. ... Golden State's 14 points in the first period were their season low. It was also the fewest points given up by the Spurs in an opening quarter this season.
• Utah coach Jerry Sloan is 999-662 in his career.
• Utah rookie Dee Brown had a career high seven points, five more than he had ever scored in an NBA game.
Former Jazz G Mo Williams left the game after the first half with a lower back injury. Williams had five assists for the Bucks.
-- The Associated Press
Dallas streak stopped at 12
Chris Birck/Getty Images
Spurs center Fabricio Oberto was among 12 San Antonio players in the scoring column in a 129-89 rout of the Warriors.
Quotes of the Day
-- Andrew Ayres
Mike (Montana): If you could re-do any of your preseason after what you've seen, are there any you'd change?
John Hollinger: Of course there are. I'd change tons of things. I make preseason picks based on what I think the greatest probability is based on what I know at that time. But once the games start, the available information increases exponentially. We didn't know Kevin Martin or Monta Ellis would play like this, or that Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Chris Webber would lose their mojo, or countless other things. Now we do, so that changes the picture dramatically.
The Spurs defeated the Warriors Monday, 129-89. It was the most points that the Spurs have scored in a non-overtime game in over 11 years, since winning 129-99 over the Warriors on Feb. 26, 1995, when Bob Hill was the head coach. Their previous most in a non-OT game under Gregg Popovich was 127, on Jan. 8, 2000 against the Magic.
And it was their largest margin of victory in more than eight years, since a 109-67 win over the Kings on Jan. 10, 1998.
The Spurs scored 75 points off the bench Monday, the most by their substitutes since the bench scored 77 points on Nov. 20, 1987.
The Wizards (0-8) and the Clippers (0-6) are the only teams in the NBA that have not won a game on the road this season. And both were playoff teams last season.
They have a while before they will approach the longest road losing streak to open a season.
-- ESPN Research