The NBA: The Burden of Champions

Dirk Nowitzki and the Mavs will have to climb
a higher mountain this season if they want
to repeat as champs.

*Unless otherwise specified, all images are by the Associated Press.

“Champions keep playing until they get it right.” – Billie Jean King

Judging by how they’ve been doing so far, I guess the Dallas Mavericks still have a lot of playing to do before they get everything right.

The Dallas Mavericks, THE Dallas Mavericks who stopped Miami from achieving manifest destiny last year, are 15-11 so far. They’re tied with, ahem, the Houston Rockets for second spot in the Southwest Division right behind the San Antonio Spurs. Together with Houston and Denver, Dallas is tied for fourth out West.

Not too shabby.

But not exactly sterling.

These Mavericks, a very different-looking team from the one that gave everyone not from Miami Christmas Day last June, have not lived up to expectations. If your expectations were pretty high, that is.

We all know who didn’t return. Tyson Chandler. DeShawn Stevenson. Caron Butler. JJ Barea. That’s a who’s who of last season’s heroes right there.

All playing elsewhere. All NOT in Dallas.

Instead we have Delonte West, Vince Carter, and Lamar Odom. Not too bad on paper, but they haven’t translated into long win-streaks for the Mavs.

It’s a good thing Dallas won against Denver in their previous game because all but two of their remaining games in February will be against teams at .500 or better. That’s 8 potentially tough games out of 10. The other two are against the Nets, which they should win, and against the Knicks, which, looking at the way J-Lin is playing, should not be overlooked.

This could be Dallas’s acid test. If they manage to survive the remainder of the month with more wins than losses, then perhaps things are on the upturn.

If not, well, perhaps they can watch game tapes from last year’s magical run and pat themselves on the back for that one-and-done.

To keep on playing until one gets it right. To keep at a high level. To keep at a championship level. That is the burden of champions.

After the JUMP, key stat-stuffers for today’s games:

CLE over LAC, 99-92 – The Cavs won’t win many games without Kyrie Irving, especially against top-caliber competition from the West. This night, however, Ramon Sessions stepped up and scored a season-high 24 while handing out 13 dimes as the Cavs withstood Irving’s absence due to a concussion.
MIL over TOR, 105-99 – The Bucks continued their mastery over the Raptors, winning for the 7th time in 8 meetings as their 3Ds – Delfino, Drew and Dunleavy – combined for 61 points. Brandon Jennings, meanwhile, seems to have gotten mired in a slump as he followed up his season-low 3-point performance against the Suns with a 3-for-12 effort here.
NYK over WAS, 107-93 – And the Linsanity continues! Jeremy Lin followed up his career-high 28-point game against the Jazz by scoring 25 markers and handing out 10 dimes against the Wiz. Consequently, all three Lin “breakout” games have resulted in three straight wins for the Knicks. He got lots of help from Tyson Chandler, who had 25 points and 11 boards, and Steve Novak, who ended up with 19 markers.
SAS over PHI, 100-90 – Wow. Tony Parker’s probably making a late run at an one of the All-Star reserves slots. The fiery Frenchman scorched the Sixers for 37 points, shooting 50% from the field, making all 13 of his freebies and delivering 8 assists. What’s even more impressive is he played “only” 38 minutes (almost a point-per-minute!) while getting ZERO fouls.
ORL over MIA, 102-89 – I’ll try to be as objective as I can, which is not saying much. Big D and Ryan Anderson paired up for 52 points as the Magic hit 17 treys for the big win over their cross-state rivals. Howard also added 24 rebounds to his tally while Anderson grabbed 11 of his own. This is the Magic’s 4th win in 5 games, and their 9th over the Heat in their home arena.
DET over NJN, 99-92 – Greg Monroe is the next big thing in Michigan. His 20-point, 12-rebound effort cemented his status as Detroit’s next good big man. The Pistons beat the Nets for their 3rd straight home win, while Deron Williams’s crew stumbles to its 4th loss in a row.
ATL over IND, 97-87 – This should be the year Josh Smith sees his name on the East All-Stars roster. J-Smoove nailed 28 points and collared 12 caroms as the Hawks snapped their 3-game skid by beating the Pacers. Now that the Hawks have no more games left before the All-Star reserves are announced, the question is do Smith’s stats (nearly 16 points and nearly 9 rebounds a game) add up to his first All-Star selection, or will he be outside looking in again?
MEM over MIN, 85-80 – Rubio and Ridnour has a sour night as the Timberwolves handed the Grizz their first win in four games. Still without leader Kevin Love, the Wolves found the going tough against Memphis. Both teams shot terribly from the field, but it was Rudy Gay’s 19 points and 9 boards that proved to be the big difference.
CHI over CHA, 90-67 – Derrick Rose returned to action to score a pedestrian 6 points, but the Bulls didn’t really need their star to put up star stats. The Chicago frontline picked up the slack, with Carlos Boozer, Joakim Noah, and Taj Gibson finishing with 18, 13, and 14 points respectively. The Hornets have now dropped 7 in a row, and their 22nd game in their last 24.
DAL over DEN, 105-95 – The Mavs halted their 3-game slide by beating a hobbling Denver Nuggets quintet. Dirk Nowitzki redeiscovered the form that helped him lead the Mavs to last year’s title run, scattering 25 points. Denver missed the services of leading scorer Danilo Gallinari again, though Arron Afflalo and Nene returned to the active roster. Still, Dirk and his crew left the Nuggets with their fourth straight loss.
HOU over POR, 103-96 – With Kyle Lowry stepping out of the game in the third and the starters weary on this road trip, coach Kevin McHale chose to go to his bench. They delivered in a big way, scoring 66 total points. Chase Budinger led the way with 22 while Courtney Lee added 16 to hand the Blazers only their 3rd loss at home this season.

Super Scorers (Top scorers of the night!)
Tony Parker (SAS) – 37
Deron Williams (NJN) – 34
Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 33
John Wall (WAS) – 29
Josh Smith (ATL) – 28

Ragin’ Rebounders (Top rebounders of the night!)
Dwight Howard (ORL) – 24
Kris Humphries (NJN) – 16
Blake Griffin (LAC) & Marreese Speights (MEM) – 15

Dwight Howard is making it a point
to continue leading the league in rebounds.
(image by Sam Greenwood/Getty Images)

Dynamic Dishers (Top playmakers of the night!)
Jose Calderon (TOR) – 15
Ramon Sessions (CLE) – 13
Chris Paul (LAC) – 12

Terrific Thieves (Top thieves of the night!)
Josh Smith (ATL) – 5
Ronnie Brewer (CHI), Goran Dragic (HOU), Carlos Delfino (MIL), & Mike Conley (MEM) – 4

Boomin’ Blockers (Top blockers of the night!)
Larry Sanders (MIL) – 4
A LOT with 3

Sharpshooters (Top 3-point shooters of the night!)
Carlos Delfino (MIL) & Deron Williams (NJN) – 6
Steve Novak (NYK) & Ryan Anderson (ORL) – 5

Carlod Delfino's hot shooting helped the Bucks
trounce the reeling Raptors.

Feb. 8, 2012 First Five
C – Dwight Howard (ORL) – 25pts, 24rebs, 4asts, 3stls, 2blks
F – Blake Griffin (LAC) – 25pts, 15rebs, 1ast, 1stl
F – Josh Smith (ATL) – 28pts, 12rebs, 5stls, 3asts, 3blks
G – Tony Parker (SAS) – 37pts, 8asts, 3rebs, 1stl, 1blk
G – Deron Williams (NJN) – 34pts, 7asts, 6 treys, 2rebs, 1blk

Josh Smith tried to make a case for an All-Star selection
against the Indiana Pacers.
(image by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)

Honorable Mention:
Dwyane Wade (MIA) – 33pts, 3blks, 2rebs, 2asts, 1stl
Ramon Sessions (CLE) – 25pts, 13asts, 2rebs, 1stl, 1blk
Jeremy Lin (NYK) – 23pts, 10asts, 4rebs, 1stl, 1blk

For a full summary of the day, here’s today’s NBA Daily Zap:

Next Post »
1 Comment

I'm no longer certain the place you are getting your information, but great topic. I must spend a while learning more or understanding more. Thank you for excellent information I was searching for this information for my mission.
OBi110 Voice Service Bridge and VoIP Telephone Adapter