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Day After Links

"It's a game we've got to win. It's a situation where we've lost two here in a row on the road. It's a game at home where we've lost too many already. It's a division opponent.

"There are so many reasons for it to be whatever you want to call it: a measuring stick, a good game, whatever. It's a game we have to be focused and ready to play. It's going to be big for us."

- Tim Duncan

Avery Johnson said after the game that it's just January and nobody will remember this game in the playoffs. I bet the Spurs will.

There's a part of me that almost feels like the Mavs didn't deserve to win that game. Dallas was extremely frustrating to watch at times tonight. Dapmier was completely ineffective, almost fouling out in 12 minutes. The offense looked horrible in the first half. Devin Harris got in early foul trouble. Avery Johnson didn't go small until forced in the fourth quarter even though it seemed like the logical thing to do.

And then I realized I was just used to watching Dallas beat up on the Seattles and Hornets of the Western Conference. I think I'd forgotten how good San Antonio is, especially at home when they've lost two in a row and have a extra days rest on their opponent. They're without question the best team in the league -- besides Dallas of course.

So when a team can go into San Antonio and hold them to ten made field goals in the entire second half they deserve to win. This was as big as a must win for San Antonio as a team can possibly have in January and Dallas beat them by playing one good half. But that half was phenomenal.

In the final two quarter Dallas outscored the Spurs 50-34. San Antonio shot 32% (10/31). In third quarter Dallas had more offensive rebounds (6) than San Antonio had total rebounds (5). For the half, Dallas won the rebounding total 26-14.

Greg Popovich had good things to say about the Mavs after the game.
"Without a doubt, they're the best team in league," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "When you consider both ends of the court and depth and performance, they've got it all.

"They've got a well-balanced team in regards to putting their personnel together. It fits, roles are established, stars are becoming stars and Avery [Johnson] has obviously done a good job instituting his system. That makes them the best team right now."
As did Manu Ginobili.
"We needed it badly, but we just couldn't take it. We just have to give them credit and realize that we have to improve a lot. The good thing is the season is young still, we have a long way to go so we've got a big challenge here."
The tables have definitely turned in this rivalry.
Dirk Nowitzki remembers the days when the Mavericks were the little brother in the I-35 rivalry. It wasn't so long ago.

"We'd go down there over the years, and we always tried to think positive and think we could beat them, but we never really did," Nowitzki said. "That's not really great for your confidence."
Charley Rosen did what he does best, breaking down each team, and came to a firm conclusion.
Unless something dramatic occurs -- like a plague of Dallas injuries or suspensions, or else some colossal trade engineered by San Antonio -- the Mavericks have the Spurs at their mercy.
I definitely recommend reading Rosen's entire article - it will make you smarter.

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Mike Monroe from the San-Antonio Express reports that Avery Johnson played some tricks last night.
As the Spurs ran their offense in front of the Mavericks' bench in the second half, Duncan was well within earshot of Johnson's unique inflection. So the Mavericks coach instructed his defenders to double-team Duncan every time he caught the ball in the low post.

Turns out it was a ploy, a wrinkle that perhaps only Johnson could have executed against his old teammate. Johnson had privately ordered his defenders not to follow his directive.

Johnson had set up the tactic by aggressively double-teaming Duncan nearly every time he caught the ball in the post in the first three quarters. Duncan grew wary of the double teams and did a good job of finding open teammates.

"They came (at me) just about every time in the beginning," Duncan said. "In the fourth quarter, Avery just stood over there on the bench and yelled like they were coming, but they didn't."

It was a masterful mind game won by his old teammate, and it rankled Duncan to admit it.
Love it.
Whale Killer


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Down in the D-League: Mensah-Bonsu is tearing it up with the Flyers. He had 15 points last night and grabbed 18 rebounds - seven offensive.

Pops is averaging 10.6 rebounds in seven games with Fort Worth.

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Injury Update: Not much thankfully. Stackhouse continued to have his minutes watched closely last night but looks OK.

And Dirk is contagious.
Nowitzki still isn't fully recovered from the nausea that came with flu-like symptoms.

"It's going around the whole team," Johnson said. "Doctor Z [team internist Dr. J.R. Zamorano] said not only with our team but in his general practice, he's seen more stomach viruses and flus and stuff like that than in all of his years. All of us are feeling it."
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Around the NBA: Houston beat Utah. McGrdy had 44 points and the 70 year old Dikembe Mutombo had 19 rebounds.

Dwight Howard made his first NBA three pointer last night.