Mavericks reportedly filing official protest over end of loss to Hawks

For the second time this season, an NBA game is subject to an official protest by one of its teams.

According to Marc Stein of the New York Times, the Dallas Mavericks have filed an official protest over the ending of Saturday’s game against the Atlanta Hawks. The Mavericks claim that the rules were misapplied, and Hawks center John Collins’ game-winning basket with 8.4 seconds left should not have stood.

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Originally posted on Larry Brown Sports | By Grey Papke | Last updated 2/23/20

Luka Doncic Wears Kobe’s Shoes With All Nine Crash Victims’ Names Written On Them

Dallas Mavericks star Luka Doncic honored not only Kobe Bryant, but all nine victims of the helicopter crash that took the life of the NBA legend and his daughter on Sunday.

Doncic showed up to Monday night’s game against the Oklahoma City Thunder wearing Kobe’s shoes with “RIP” in front of the names of all nine victims.

Kobe, of course, was lost in the crash, along with his daughter Gianna, and seven others: Alyssa Altobelli, John Altobelli, Kerry Altobelli, Christina Mauser, Sarah Chester, Payton Chester, and Ara Zobayan.

May they all rest in peace.

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Originally posted on Sportsnaut  |  By Jesse Reed  |  Last updated 1/27/20

Mavericks will Retire No. 24 in Honor of Kobe Bryant

Kobe Bryant spent all 20 of his seasons in the NBA as one of the fiercest rivals of the Dallas Mavericks. That included the Los Angeles Lakers great winning five NBA titles.

None of that matters on this Sunday. Hours after Bryant’s tragic passing at the age of 41 in a helicopter accident that also claimed the life of his daughter, among others, the Mavericks are paying their respects.

Owner Mark Cuban announced Sunday evening that no Mavericks player from here on out will wear No. 24, a number made famous by Bryant. The team has decided to retire said number.

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Originally posted on Sportsnaut  |  By Vincent Frank  |  Last updated 1/26/20

NBA Players Who Should Be First-Time All-Stars

There are only so many available slots on NBA All-Star squads, meaning recognizable veterans and rookies attempting to break through glass ceilings are ultimately snubbed in fan voting and player-selection processes each season. Twenty-year-old Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant is an example of a player who could be an odd-man-out by February. The human highlight reel leading all first-year pros in scoring and assists is the uncrowned Rookie of the Year heading toward All-Star weekend, but he’ll likely have to wait until next winter to receive his first paid trip to the exhibition contest. 

Meanwhile, a pair of special NBA sophomores are all-but-guaranteed to represent their respective conferences and teams in Chicago. They could be joined by a member of their draft class who enjoyed a breakout first half for a club that punched above its weight considering its tumultuous and disappointing offseason. While All-Star competitions across different sports theoretically should feature the best vs. the best, adding a feel-good story to the mix would propel the status of an athlete who is still anonymous to the majority of casual fans.

Luka Doncic 

Last January, in-arena cameras appeared to capture the exact moment Dallas Mavericks then-rookie Luka Doncic learned he hadn’t made the All-Star team. Spoiler: He won’t have much to worry about this month. The 20-year-old who was the MVP of the opening half of the campaign (debate yourselves) began 2020 leading the Western Conference in fan All-Star voting, and he was averaging 28.9 PPG, 9.6 REB, and 8.8 AST on Jan. 15. Ben Rohrbach of Yahoo Sports recently offered the following: “Only two players have ever posted a 28-9-9 over a full season — Robertson and Russell Westbrook — and nobody has done so at age 20.” 

Trae Young  

We understand Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young remains a defensive liability who sometimes seems to give minimal efforts in that aspect of his game. To borrow from ESPN personality Stephen A. Smith: We don’t care. The 21-year-old second-year pro currently leads all point guards in offensive real plus-minus, he sits in the top four overall in PPG (29.1) and AST (8.5) and he produced such impressive figures while John Collins served a 25-game suspension. The Hawks are awful — the worst team in the league. In time, discussions will arise regarding if Atlanta or any team can build a championship roster around a player who is a human traffic cone on defense. None of that should affect Young’s All-Star status. 

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By Zac Wassink  |  Last updated 1/15/20

Why Mavericks’ Luka Doncic is so good, so quickly

Luka Doncic is 20 years old. Watch him play basketball, however, and he looks more like a player who has spent 20 years in the NBA. Before he can even legally drink in the U.S., Doncic has wedged himself near the top of league leaderboards in points (30.6) and assists (9.6) per game, ranking third and second, respectively. For his latest feat, Doncic took down LeBron James — the only player ahead of Doncic when it comes to dropping dimes — and his Lakers on Sunday in Los Angeles, 114-100.

Perhaps it wasn’t a coincidence that Doncic — who scored 27 points, dished out 10 assists and grabbed nine boards against L.A.  —  continued his incredible early season run against James. That’s because LeBron was the last player to have the monster impact Doncic is having just a year out of his teens. If you’re trying to figure how this young Slovenian star is pulling this off, here’s a key number: 3,441. That’s the minutes Doncic played professionally before he even stepped on an NBA floor.

When he was just 16, Doncic began his career with Real Madrid, a team in Spain that competes in two of the best competitions outside the NBA — the ACB, Spain’s top domestic league, and Euroleague, the intercontinental competition that pits Europe’s best clubs against each other. For three years, Doncic honed his game against former NBA players and top international stars, a vast improvement in competition faced by players who spend just a lone season in the NCAA.

That experience is exemplified by Doncic’s passing. He plays chess, with some flair, whereas most NBA players play checkers. Doncic whips passes to the weakside corner, lob balls into space where only his teammates can catch, or uses his eyes to bait defenders away from the true target about to receive his pass.

While we often think of assists as a lone category, what Doncic is really doing is creating points without shooting the ball himself — 24.6 points per game, according to NBA.com’s tracking data. During his last season in Spain, Doncic averaged a whopping 1.275 points per possession on passes out of pick-and-rolls, per Synergy Sports. That mark was the best in Spain and fifth best in any league outside of the NBA. So it shouldn’t really be a surprise that Doncic has carved up the NBA with his ball movement.

What is a little surprising is how Doncic has scored. Scroll through Twitter during his rookie year last season and you’ll find plenty of highlights featuring Doncic using some crafty dribble and footwork combination before launching a step-back jumper. This ability to create space before launching a shot helps Doncic balance his elite passing. And this season, the Mavericks’ forward is attempting more “open”  shots per game than any other player besides the Clippers’ Kawhi Leonard. (“Open” is the term NBA.com uses to define shots where a defender is four to six feet away.)

Open shots don’t necessarily mean that there isn’t a high degree of difficulty either. Because Doncic incorporates so many step-backs — NBA.com has him at 102 since he entered the league — it sort of masks where he’s at as a shooter. Doncic was considered a good but not great outside shooter before he entered the NBA. The one flaw in his game is that he shoots 33 percent from beyond the arc, so it’s scary to think where Doncic will be should he improve in that area.

If you are looking for an area where Doncic has already improved, it’s his commitment to attacking the basket. He averages 18.3 drives per game this season, according to NBA.com data, up from 14.7 during his rookie season. This mindset of going downhill more has helped Doncic up his free throw rate from .409 last season to .484 this season. In raw numbers, that means Doncic is averaging just a shade under three more free throws per game.

Getting to the free throw line is really where a lot of the NBA’s offensive stars have separated themselves from other players. In his first season in the NBA, Doncic was in the middle of the pack at getting to the line. This season, the only players ahead of the Mavericks’ star are Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Houston’s James Harden — pretty good company as far as offensive powerhouses go.

This evolution to Doncic’s game is one that would have been hard to see coming. For all the benefits of honing his craft in Europe, the spacing is quite different there. The international line is shorter and there are no rules, like the NBA’s defensive three seconds, to keep hulking big men from planting themselves in front of the basket. Doncic has clearly figured that in the NBA’s new spacing craze, he’s going to encounter far less resistance heading to the rim than he ever could have imagined while playing overseas.

This combination of passing, shooting and driving have added up to Doncic propelling Dallas to the top of the NBA’s offensive hierarchy. The Mavericks are first in the league at 116.1 points per 100 possessions. The return to health of Kristaps Porzingis, as well as some other new additions, has boosted Dallas’ attack, but make no mistake, the key to it all is Doncic.

In the 648 minutes Doncic played entering Sunday night’s game, the Mavericks posted an amazing 117.1 points per 100 possessions. When the Slovenian star sits, that number “plummeted” to a still-solid 110.1 points per 100.

Although Doncic and Dallas are not excelling on defense, the team clearly is improving. With Sunday night’s win over the first-place Lakers (17-3), the Mavericks are tied for fourth in the Western Conference. For those looking for a better indicator of the team’s performance, Dallas also boasts the conference’s second-best point differential, trailing only the Lakers.

It’s a good bet that James is going to be looking over his shoulder the rest of the season to see how Doncic and Dallas perform. And when he does glance back, the player who took the NBA by storm en route to one of the best careers in league history might be looking at a player a lot like his old self.

By: Brett Koremenos

https://www.yardbarker.com/nba/articles/why_mavericks_luka_doncic_is_so_good_so_quickly/s1_13132_30694136

Rick Carlisle: Social media puts pressure on stars to generate highlights

Dallas Mavericks head coach Rick Carlisle believes that NBA superstars are under enormous pressure to make highlight reel-worthy plays to appease fans hungry for such content on social media, an issue that concerns him when it comes to young star Luka Doncic.

“Social media has created really an undue pressure on guys like Luka to generate highlights,” Carlisle said, via Tim MacMahon of ESPN. “[Fans] want to be seeing stuff every day on their phones.”

Doncic, the reigning NBA Rookie of the Year is on a meteoric rise to superstardom, and rightfully so, as his second season is starting off on a remarkable, if not unprecedented, trajectory.

Doncic does admit he sometimes tries too hard to make the flashier play instead of the smarter one.

“That’s what I do. I like to enjoy the game,” Doncic said. “I like to be an entertainer. Sometimes it’s good to be, sometimes it’s too much. I just like to enjoy playing basketball.”

Carlisle of course recognizes social media isn’t going anywhere. He nevertheless believes Doncic has his priorities in the right order.

“I understand that he’s a performer, he’s an artist,” Carlisle said. “It’s important for him to feel that he is out there doing a job to win a game, but also he’s an entertainer. I get that. What the great players in history of sport have in common is they can take the understanding of the entertainment side and fit it into the team concept and still make winning the priority.

“There’s no doubt in my mind that for Luka Doncic, winning is the No. 1 and most important thing, hands down.”

While social media obviously can be a pervasive presence when it comes to the day-to-day experiences of the modern superstar athlete, there has long been an abundance of outlets that celebrated NBA player highlights, from the “Top 10 Plays” list on “SportsCenter” to programs like “NBA Inside Stuff.”

However, social media without question has a greater potential to exert a toxic influence on NBA superstars. Carlisle presumably is simply highlighting how Twitter and the like has changed the game in that regard.

https://www.yardbarker.com/nba/articles/rick_carlisle_social_media_puts_pressure_on_stars_to_generate_highlights/s1_8061_30591848

By: Jason Rowan

Celtics Beat Mavs, Win 16 Straight

Written by Tim MacMahon at ESPN.com

The Boston Celtics’ 16-game winning streak has been built on big comebacks and consistent crunchtime dominance.

The Dallas Mavericks became the most recent victim Monday night, as the Celtics rallied from a 13-point deficit in the fourth quarter to pull out a 110-102 overtime victory, fueled by All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving’s spectacular efficient, season-high 47-point performance.

It marked the eighth comeback win during Boston’s streak, which is three games shy of tying the franchise record set during the 2008-09 season. The Celtics trailed by double digits in five of those comebacks, including their past three games, when they trailed the Golden State Warriors by 17, the Atlanta Hawks by 16 and the Mavericks by 13 before pulling out wins.

“Teams make their runs and we just stay the course,” Irving said after single-handedly outscoring the Mavs by a 17-12 margin in the final 12:47 of the game. “We’re just unwavering in our approach, and I think that we’ve been that way. In the last few games, we’ve been down quite a few, so for us it’s just about battling back when teams get a comfortable rhythm, whether it’d be in the first half or the second half. As a group, we continue just to stick together throughout anything and everything.”

Irving, playing with a clear plastic mask to protect the minor facial fractures he suffered earlier this month, followed up a 30-point performance in Saturday’s win over the Hawks by becoming the first Boston player since Larry Bird to score 45-plus points while shooting 70 percent or higher from the floor, according to ESPN Stats & Information.

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Mark Cuban Thinks The Mavs Wouldn’t Be Rebuilding If Part Of The East

Written by Tim MacMahon at ESPN.com

Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban cited the dominance of the Golden State Warriors and depth of the Western Conference as reasons for the direction of his franchise.

“We’re rebuilding. Right?” Cuban said during the ESPN broadcast of the Mavs’ 88-77 win Sunday over the Phoenix Suns in the Las Vegas Summer League. “There’s no question about it. If we were in the East, we would not be rebuilding. We’d be handling things completely different. I think I’m going to kidnap [commissioner] Adam Silver and not let him out until he moves us to the Eastern Conference.

“Given where we are, given where the Warriors are and what’s happening in the Western Conference, it kind of sealed what we have to do.”

Dallas is coming off a 33-49 season, the franchise’s first losing campaign since 1999-2000, when Cuban purchased the team midseason. The Mavs missed the playoffs for only the second time in the past 17 seasons and used its lottery pick to select point guard Dennis Smith Jr., whom coach Rick Carlisle immediately projected to be the starter next season.

The Mavs’ had dual goals last summer: attempting to acquire players who can be part of the franchise’s foundation after Dirk Nowitzki’s retirement but trying to build a team that gave Nowitzki a chance to compete in the playoffs during its golden years. A slow start, which occurred in part due to an Achilles tendon injury that sidelined Nowitzki for most of the first two months of the season, contributed to the Mavs’ midseason decision to emphasize the youth movement.

Dallas parted with two stopgap veterans at the trade deadline, waiving point guard Deron Williams and dumping center Andrew Bogut in the trade with the Philadelphia 76ers that sent center Nerlens Noel to Dallas.

The Mavs have been mostly spectators during this free-agency period, aside from re-signing the 39-year-old Nowitzki to a hometown-discount, two-year, $10 million deal and acquiring Josh McRoberts in a salary dump from the Miami Heat. They intend to re-sign Noel, a restricted free agent who hopes to drive up his price by receiving an offer sheet from another team.

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Dirk Takes A Paycut to Help Mavs Win Next Season

Written By Eddie Sefko at Sportsday.com

Dirk Nowitzki will be taking a massive pay cut this season — not that that’s anything new for him.

Nowitzki and the Mavericks on Thursday were close to agreeing on a two-year contract that would pay him $5 million per season, with the second year at the Mavericks’ option, two sources said.

It’s essentially the same contract he signed last summer, just for $20 million less. The second season of last year’s deal was only guaranteed for $5 million.

Retaining Nowitzki was a formality. It will be his 20th season, all with the Mavericks and the only question was how much of a hometown discount he would give them.

Contracts can be signed anytime now as the moratorium period ended at 11 a.m. Thursday.

What Nowitzki’s deal does is free up enough money to make sure the Mavericks can match any offer restricted free agent Nerlens Noel gets, even if some team ponies up with the maximum $24.75 million.

The Mavericks and Noel still are in negotiations.

Nowitzki has given the Mavericks steep discounts in the past and last year, when other free-agent dealings didn’t pan out, he was rewarded with the $25 million deal.

He’s been the face of the franchise for nearly two decades — and has given no indication that this season will be for sure his last.

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Tony Romo Sat On The Bench During a Mavericks Game, But Didn’t Play

Written by Todd Archer at ESPN.com

If Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban had his way, Tony Romo would not only have dressed for Tuesday night’s game against the Denver Nuggets, he would have found his way into the game.

When he approached NBA commissioner Adam Silver with the idea, Cuban said, “I told him what I was going to do and said, ‘Fine me if you don’t like it.'”

Silver told Cuban the contract would not be honored, which killed the idea but did not stop the Mavericks from honoring the former Dallas Cowboys quarterback.

“Signing him and stuff like that, would have been too much for a lot of reasons,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said before his team’s 109-91 loss. “No. 1, he’s a football athlete that’s not ready to play in an NBA game. That’s very risky. No. 2, to sign a guy with all of our requirements from a physical standpoint with the hours and hours of screening and all that kinds of other stuff, it just wasn’t worth going there. And that’s not really what this is about.”

There has been some criticism of the Mavericks for how they chose to honor Romo. Cuban believes it falls in line with how the Mavericks have honored other Dallas stars, such as Mike Modano, Ivan Rodriguez and others.

“Anybody who thinks a layup line is disrespectful, hasn’t watched an NBA game,” Cuban said. “We’ve got people shooting half-court shots at every break, we’ve got kids for ball boys … We’re entertainment. And if they’re so self-important they can’t recognize that, it’s on them. Not me.”

Romo admitted to feeling a little out of place after going through his first — and only — Mavericks shootaround on Tuesday morning.

“I feel like they’re all 7 feet tall,” Romo said. “They’re all long and lean. I look like a turtle out there next to these guys. But it’s a special group of guys who are talented and the NBA is a special fraternity.”

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