Answering a few questions after the Dallas Mavericks beat the Shaq-less Miami Heat, 99-93, in the two teams' first meeting since last spring's NBA Finals.
Seeing the Mavericks in 3-D
This a satisfying enough win for the Mavs?
I don't think they're putting a whole lot of stock in it. Without Shaq, it's not a championship-quality game. It's not a revenge game.
Fair enough. So where do see Dallas going from here?
They seem to have the whole package -- they can play small, play big and play quick. The only thing don't have is an interior post game with their bigs -- but they can post several guys including Josh Howard. Dallas is the team that I feel that it's going to be there in the end.
Great teams need a catchy moniker. Give us your best coinage for Dallas, please.
The Mavs had a down time, but they're back. Now Dallas has the three Ds -- Deep team, great Defense and Dirk.
3-D, pretty visionary. And Miami's owns "15 Strong." Any repeat feat in order for the Heat?
I think they can go back to the finals. They're only six games out of the No. 1 spot. If Shaq comes back, he doesn't have to be Shaq of 3-5 years ago to be a great asset.
Just his presence changes things. Dwyane Wade won't be able to hold up carrying the load without him. I think Wade's going to get worn down. But Shaq can relieve the pressure when he's back and healthy.
Melo's coming back Monday. What are the Nuggets' chances of catching the Jazz for the Northwest title?
I don't think they will. The Nuggets finish the season with 13 of their last 18 on the road. They haven't even played Phoenix yet. So they have the Suns and Spurs three more times each, and Dallas for two. While Melo was out, they went 7-8 in the 15 games. I think George Karl would definitely take that. But 11 of those games were at home.
Please pick a final record for the Nuggets.
46-36. They might finish somewhere in the 6-7-8 spots. They're going to be one team the top teams don't want to see in the first round.
KG had no business going over there. Seems there's no rhyme or reason to these penalties when based on violence.
An Atlantic Division team has hit the .500 mark. Will the Nets hold off the Raps and Knicks the rest of the way?
Yes. I've been waiting for New Jersey to come on. Richard Jefferson's health is a question now. But I don't think a lot of casual fans know about Nenad Krstic, who was giving the team 16 ppg at the center position before he was lost for the season.
Mikki Moore, a former teammate of mine, is giving them a lot -- he offers good size, he's a good athlete, gets follow-up shots and he can beat his man down the floor and then get the ball from Kidd.
Jon Barry, who retired last year after 14 years in the NBA, joins Bill Walton and Mike Tirico on the call for Wednesday's Spurs-Rockets game (ESPN, 9 p.m. ET)
Tom Olmscheid/AP Photo
Kevin Garnett, who served his one-game suspenson Sunday after throwing a punch Friday at Detroit's Antonio McDyess, came one connection from a Melo-like time out.
The Suns became the eighth team in NBA history to have two winning streaks of at least 13 games in a season with its win over Minnesota on Sunday. Phoenix won a franchise-record 15 straight from Nov. 20 to Dec. 19.
• Of the seven other teams that have had two winning streaks of at least 13 games, only two -- the 1946-47 Washington Capitols and 1996-97 Utah Jazz -- did not win the NBA title.
• Phoenix opens a five-game road trip Tuesday night at Washington, the team that broke the Suns' 15-game streak on Dec. 22.
-- The Associated Press
Something's up with Kobe Bryant, whose New Year's resolution seems to have been to shoot less and pass more -- but only in the first half. The Lakers have played 10 games this month, and during that time Kobe has taken 71 percent more shots in the second half (111) than in the first half (65); but he has recorded 87 percent more assists in the first half (43) than in the second (23).
On Saturday night, Bryant took only three shots from the field in the first half as the Hornets built a 59-51 halftime lead against the Lakers. The Hornets held on for a 113-103 win.
Stack Smokin: A Tiny Modicum Of Revenge
Eliot J. Schechter/ Getty Images
Count Heat forward Udonis Haslem among those floored by the Mavericks. The teams meet again Feb. 22 in Dallas.
Quote of the Day
-- Andrew Ayres
When the Nets earned their 20th win Saturday, it was the fourth longest a division leader took to reach 20 since the NBA went to a divisional format in 1970-71.
-- Michael E. Jackson, ESPN Research
Will the recent trade with Indiana end the Golden State Warriors playoff drought? Find out what executive vice president Chris Mullin thinks in this conversation with Chad Ford.
Rasheed Wallace was thrusting a bottle of orange soda straight at my chin after he came over to me at the Pistons' practice facility for some civilized discourse regarding this Daily Dime lead.
Of course, what constitutes civilized discourse is not the same to everyone.
So as I explained to Sheed that pointing a soda and screaming obscenities at me was not my preferred way to conduct an adult discussion, he kept yelling, "Did you ever hear the word 'hate' come out of my mouth?"
That was actually the second discussion I'd had on the subject in the course of a half-hour, the first coming when coach Flip Saunders patted me on the back and said he wished I had chosen a different word than "hate" to describe his less-than-ideal relationship with Wallace.
Fair enough. Hate is a strong word, and the words that preceded it in the column -- "discord and disharmony" -- were sufficient. I myself once made the point to Reggie Miller that hate is an especially strong word when he used it prior to a playoff meeting against the Knicks. And yes, Miller replied, it is a strong word -- and a fitting one. He really did hate the Knicks.
The dynamic between Saunders and Wallace is something the Pistons are still trying to work through as Saunders goes through his second season as head coach. Saunders and I discussed how it has been tricky for him to figure out which buttons to push with the league's most temperamental player.