Posts Tagged ‘DeShawn Stevenson’

Lopez Injury Hurts Nets On Two Fronts

HANG TIME NEW JERSEY BUREAU – The compressed NBA schedule has claimed another victim before the season even gets started, and the victim was one of the more durable players in the league.

The New Jersey Nets took one on the chin Wednesday when Brook Lopez suffered a stress fracture in his right foot in the first half of the team’s final preseason game. Lopez will have surgery to repair his fifth metatarsal on Friday.

The potential effects of Lopez’s injury are two-fold.

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Spurs Emerge As Suitor For Butler

– For the latest updates check out: NBA.com’s Free Agent Tracker

The San Antonio Spurs have emerged as a strong suitor for free agent forward Caron Butler, according to a source.

Butler, the Mavericks’ forward who is coming off a knee injury suffered on New Year’s Day that caused him to miss the rest of last season, is one of the most sought-after small forwards in free agency. He is currently being pursued by the Heat, Bulls, Spurs, Clippers, Nets, Pistons and Bucks, according to the source. The Sacramento Kings were also initially interested in Butler, but have fallen off the hunt in the last couple of days. Butler, who works out in Chicago in the offseason with trainer Tim Grover, is expected to meet with the Bulls sometime in the next few days before making a decision on where he wants to go.

Butler could still re-sign with Dallas, but the Mavericks apparently have concerns about their status as a luxury tax payer going forward. With several other free agents to also decide on, including center Tyson Chandler and guards J.J. Barea and DeShawn Stevenson, the Mavs won’t be able to keep all of them.

San Antonio could be looking for a replacement for veteran Richard Jefferson, who has struggled in his first two seasons there after being acquired in the summer of 2009. Butler would be a perfect fit in the no-nonsense Spurs’ locker room, and with Tim Duncan entering the last year of his contract, and guards Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili on the backside of their careers, San Antonio is preparing to transition quickly from the post-Duncan era with a new core group including guard Gary Neal, center Tiago Splitter, forward/center DeJuan Blair and rookie forward Kawhi Leonard, acquired in a Draft night trade with Indiana for guard George Hill.

Stevenson, Mavs Take It Personal

MIAMI – As far as heroes go for the Dallas Mavericks these days, DeShawn Stevenson has to rank pretty high on the list.

How many guys lose their starting job (to J.J. Barea) in The Finals and then come back even better? Stevenson did exactly that, going from the starting shooting guard spot to super sub as the Mavericks won three straight games to finish off the Miami Heat in six games.

Stevenson turned into a 3-point assassin off the bench in those final three games, nailing nine of his 14 attempts from deep, including making 3-for-5 Sunday night to finish off the Heat.

Waxing the Heat was extra sweet for Stevenson, whose personal beef with LeBron James predates their time with their respective teams, as Tim McMahon ESPNDallas.com made clear:

“It makes me feel good, man, to beat him, to beat that Miami team,” Stevenson told ESPNDallas.com in an AmericanAirlines Arena hallway after the Mavs clinched the title with Sunday’s Game 6 win. “The way they act, the way they treated Dirk [Nowitzki], all the things that they said were very classless. To win on the court the way we did it, it was wonderful.”

Make no mistake about it, this series was an extension of The 2006 Finals series between these same two teams. The fact that only four players, two from each side, remained from that series means nothing. The universal disdain between both sides was hard to miss — from the mocking of Nowitzki by James and Dwyane Wade to the near ruckus that broke out early in Game 6 when Stevenson and Udonis Haslem bumped into each other on their way to their respective benches during a stop in play.

“A series like this gets personal,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “It gets personal because we have guys that say things, and they do it to get themselves going. Then they have the incident with the camera and the coughing and all that stuff. You get to Game 5, Game 6 and it becomes personal. Our guys took it personally.”

Pushing All The Right Buttons

MIAMI – When quizzed about his packing habits for the final stanza of The Finals, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle wisely put the brakes on sharing too much.

“I’ve got a lot of respect for all of you,” he told us Saturday. “I feel like I’ve gotten to know you well. But I don’t believe at this point I’m ready to share the number of pairs of underwear I packed. I just don’t know that that’s the right way to go.”

That’s another move Carlisle has gotten right during this series. The coaches have been reduced to bit players, for the most part, courtesy of all the other headline-stealing issues surrounding this Mavericks-Heat matchup.

But after five games, it’s clear that Carlisle is pushing all the right buttons. Tweaking his starting lineup, J.J. Barea for DeShawn Stevenson, sparked the Mavericks to back-to-back wins. Subtle shifts to where the Mavericks’ offense is initiated from has helped solve the Heat’s vaunted defense. And with Brendan Haywood injured, Carlisle has tapped both Ian Mahinmi and Brian Cardinal for crucial minutes at the most critical moments of the season. And Carlisle’s game-management abilities have always been held in the highest regard by league insiders.

“Well, I think he’s pushed the right buttons I think all season long,” Dirk Nowitzki said. “He’s challenged us in ways.  Sometimes he’s backed off.  Sometimes he’s letting J[ason]Kidd run the show.  Sometimes he feels like things are not going the way he wants to and he’s clamping down a little more.  So I think that was the challenge the first two years, to find a good mix between playcalls and freedom and still play enough defense to win.  And I just think he found a good mix and he found all the right buttons to motivate us every single night to get to this spot.”

Meticulous attention to detail and tireless preparation are not mutually exclusive traits of Carlisle and his staff. Still, the maneuvering has landed them here, 48 minutes away from claiming the Larry O’Brien trophy. Whatever Mavericks’ video coordinator Mike Shedd is showing in those film sessions is on the money.

“I think every series, every time you go through a game, win or lose, you have to look at the film,” Nowitzki said. “You adjust.  Sometimes it’s major things, sometimes it’s minor things the media doesn’t even pick up.  It might be little coverages.  So I think every coach goes back after a game and adjusts, and we’ve done good so far.  I think the major change was obviously starting J.J.”

A reporter tried to coax Carlisle into admiring his own handy work after the Mavericks’ Game 4 win, but he refused to bite.

“Who is this guy?” an amused Carlisle responded.

You can forget about Carlisle patting himself on the back. That won’t happen, even if his team finds a way to finish this series tonight or even in a Game 7.

If the Mavericks win it all, Carlisle won’t have to say a word anyway.

Setting The Record Straight On ‘Cough-gate’

MIAMI – Just so we’re clear, Dwyane Wade and LeBron James never mocked Dirk Nowitzki specifically. And even if they did, they were only toying around like that to mess with the media and not the Mavericks’ star.

At least that’s the Wade James version of what transpired before Game 5 of The Finals in Dallas, where James and Wade played to the cameras as they walked out of American Airlines Center.

Saturday afternoon here at American Airlines Arena, we got the latest twist in “Cough-gate.” And while Wade, James and every one of Nowitzki’s teammates that was asked about the footage tried to downplay its significance, Nowitzki was surprisingly pointed in his response to being spoofed by the competition.

“I just thought it was a little childish, a little ignorant,” Nowitzki said. “I’ve been in this league for 13 years.  I’ve never faked an injury or an illness before.  But it happened.  It’s over to me.  It’s not going to add anything extra to me.  This is the NBA Finals.  If you need an extra motivation, you have a problem. So we’re one win away from my dream, what I’ve worked on for half of my life.  This is really all I’m worried about.  This is all I’m focusing on.  And not really offthecourt stuff that happened. “

The video footage of Wade and James poking fun added an extra layer of telenovela-style drama to a fascinating series that didn’t really need any extra spice. The games have been well-played, tightly contested and full of breathtaking plays from both sides.

Really, the only thing that seemed to be missing was some genuine disdain for each other by the two sides, the rematch of the 2006 Finals storyline didn’t carry much weight since so few of the principles this time around weren’t involved then. And no offense to DeShawn Stevenson, but his longstanding feud with James hasn’t gained much traction either.

All that changed when Wade and James walked down that hallway and started in on their comedy routine that Wade insists wasn’t directed at Nowitzki.

“First of all, it wasn’t fake coughing. I actually did cough,” he said. “And with the cameras being right there, we made a joke out of it because we knew you guys were going to blow it up. You did exactly what we knew. We never said Dirk’s name. I think he’s not the only one in the world who can get sick or have a cough. We just had fun with the cameras being right there in our face about the blowup of the incident, and it held to be true. You blew it up.”

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Opportunity Knocks For LeBron

HANG TIME HEADQUARTERS – So what’s after “now” and “never?”

Game 6.

In its own way, much more the crucible than a seventh game could ever be.

Once The Finals get to Game 7, the intense, smothering pressure is back on both teams, the glaring spotlight as potentially blinding for anyone who stares into the moment rather than just plays.

Now LeBron James finds himself dangling over the edge of the cliff for the first time in these “it’s-all-about-us” playoffs.

Never will King James and the Heat live down this monumental flop no matter how many future championships — “not five, not six, not seven…” — are out there over the horizon.

Pull it off and he rides into glory. Come up short and anything that comes later will look like a limousine with a license plate reading: 2LTL2L8.

This is the platform that James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh put themselves on ever since that night last summer when they danced and celebrated amid the smoke and noise on the stage.

But nobody set themselves up more than James, who put himself on the dissecting table with the nationally-televised “Decision” and brought the basketball world to this point with what was previously believed impossible– delivering an unsatisfying triple-double of 17 points, 10 assists and 10 rebounds.

That’s because when the game was on the line Thursday night, James evaporated in the final six minutes, missing two of his three shots, had no rebounds, no assists and a turnover.

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DeShawn better off DeSilent

DALLAS — You’d have to agree with everything DeShawn Stevenson said about LeBron James.

“He helped us out. When he’s like that, it’s good for us. It’s positive for us.”

Yes, LeBron played right into the Mavericks’ hands, collapsing in the fourth quarter like a bankrupt business in winter.

“I don’t think he was in the same attack mode as he usually is.”

We’ve seen lambs in a more ferocious attack mode at a petting zoo than LeBron in Game 4.

“I don’t know what was happening.”

Join the crowd.

“He wasn’t himself.”

Clearly, he was someone else: Erick Dampier.

“He checked out.”

Yes, like a man with an alibi.

Repeat: Everything Stevenson said had the ring of truth. Here’s the problem: When a superstar just dug himself a hole the size of Dirk’s fever, it’s probably best to let him climb out of it without throwing him a rope. You know, the old let-sleeping-dogs-lie theory. Instead, DeShawn just gave LeBron some motivation to digest, if scoring 8 points in a playoff game wasn’t enough.

And also, it was DeShawn talking. They have a history, you know.

The player who once famously called LeBron “overrated” took it upon himself to be very honest about LeBron. Which is refreshing, really, it is. That said, his assessment of LeBron’s vaporization would serve him and the Mavericks better if it came at the conclusion of the series, so it can’t come back to bite DeShawn in the neck tattoo.

LeBron seemed to shrug it off.

“He’s been talking for a long time, since the old Washington-Cleveland days,” said LeBron, with a grin. “I don’t let that get to us. Talk is cheap. We don’t get caught up in that too much.”

DeShawn wasn’t the only Maverick trying to get into LeBron’s head (can they let us know what’s inside?). Jason Terry, always willing to express himself to anyone who’ll listen, spent a few minutes chirping at LeBron in Game 4. At least that seemed to fire up Jet more than James, because Terry had his best performance of the series.

The aftermath of LeBron’s lowest playoff moment ever was fairly routine, otherwise, at the team practices. Chris Bosh said he expected a more involved effort, as does everyone, the Mavericks included. Stevenson included.

“He’s a great player,” Stevenson said. “He’ll play harder. He has to. He has the same pressure as Jason Terry had.”

Uh, not quite.

LeBron has double.

Barea For Stevenson In Mavs’ Starting Five

DALLAS – In an effort to jumpstart its stagnant offense the Dallas Mavericks will start J.J. Barea in place of DeShawn Stevenson for Game 4 of The Finals tonight at American Airlines Center.

Barea has started just twice all season, both wins and both before the All-Star break (Feb. 4 at Boston and at Charlotte on Feb. 5). Barea scored 26 total points on 11-for-25 shooting in those games.

Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle would not confirm the lineup change before the game. But Stevenson did.

“There’s a lineup change and we just have to go out there and play,” he said.

When asked if it was a change designed to spark the sluggish Mavericks’ offense, Stevenson said he wasn’t completely sure why the change was made.

“I think so,” he said. “I don’t know what it is. But at the same time we have to worry about stopping Dwyane Wade and LeBron James.”

Barea’s averaging just 4.3 points and shooting .217 from the floor against the Heat in this series. Now he’ll be on the floor with Dirk Nowitzki, Tyson Chandler, Shawn Marion and Jason Kidd to start the game.

According to NBA.com’s StatsCube, the starting lineup the Mavericks will deploy tonight has played a total of 43 minutes together (over 22 games) all season and been outscored 85-73 in that time. But that lineup played six minutes together in Game 3 of this series and outscored the Heat 15-4 during that stretch.

Stevenson, a starter in all 18 games during the Mavericks’ playoff run, started 54 games during the regular season. If he was bothered by the change, he didn’t show it. He said he’d have no problem coming off the bench if it’s for the good of the team.

“I want to win a championship,” he said, “so no matter what it is, I’ve got to do it.”

Mavs Wake Up To Identity Crisis

MIAMI – When the Dallas Mavericks sit down this morning to review the footage from Game 1 of The Finals, they might need a little help identifying the men in the blue jerseys on the screen.

They were outrebounded by 10 (46-36), gave up a staggering 16 offensive rebounds, shot a dismal 37 percent and took just 67 shots. It was a totally uncharacteristic performance from a Mavericks team that had dominated the opposition consistently in those categories leading up to The Finals.

“That wasn’t us out there,” Mavericks guard DeShawn Stevenson said, pointing repeatedly at his team’s rebounding woes as the most glaring deficiency in their 92-84 loss to the Heat Tuesday night. “We’ll go back and make our adjustments, but that rebounding is about heart and effort. And we didn’t come with the right amount of either of those things in regards to our rebounding to deal with this team. They have plenty of athletes over there, guys that can jump out of the gym. You have to reach out and put a body on somebody and box him out or he’ll jump right over you.”

The Mavericks had to worry about the same sort of thing happening against the Lakers and Thunder in previous series, but found ways to combat the opposition’s edge (be it real or perceived) in athleticism. And for as much as they were bothered by the Heat on the boards, they returned the favor defensively, as both teams shots below 39 percent in the game.

“You hold a team to 38 percent and 92 points, for us that’s usually a victory,” Shawn Marion said. “To score 84 points is very rare for us. To get 67 shots as well, even to shoot 37 percent.”

Playoff basketball is all about possession basketball. And the Mavericks didn’t have nearly enough offensive possessions, due in large part to their being outworked on the boards, to find their comfort zone.

“The biggest issue is there’s ten more times we don’t have the ball and they have it,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “So the possession of the ball is key … but we have to play better all-around basketball. We have to make more shots.”

While the Heat would love to continue on this grind-it-out path — “sometimes we have to win when it’s not necessarily pretty for us offensively,” Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said — the Mavericks are not interested in playing “Eastern Conference” basketball in Game 2 and beyond.

“I think we have to be a lot more aggressive,” Tyson Chandler said. “I felt like it took us a while to get going, whether it be Finals jitters or whatever the case may be, it took us a little while, and they were able to capitalize on that. Normally, we come out and strike first and really get moving. We never seemed like we could get into an offensive rhythm.”

Mavs Recognize Significance Of Game 1

MIAMI – DeShawn Stevenson and the Dallas Mavericks didn’t come all this way to lean back and survey the landscape in Game 1 of The Finals.

There will be no feeling out process for the Mavericks in their heavyweight matchup with the Miami Heat tonight (9 p.m. ET on ABC). There’s no time. The sense of urgency for these Mavericks is very real and it began long before they showed up here and started soaking up this South Beach sun.

They have to push the issue from the start tonight at American Airlines Arena knowing that if they have any chance of winning this series, they’re going to have to win a game here anyway.

“I think we have to come out that way, the way the series is, the 2-3-2 [format] being what it is,” Stevenson said. “It doesn’t matter what game it is, we’re going to have to at least one here. So why not tonight? The pressure is on us to come out here and win a game.”

The Mavericks know better than anyone how crucial a Game 1 win on the road can be in these playoffs. They stunned the Los Angeles Lakers at Staples Center in the conference semifinal opener, then did it again in Game 2 on their way to sweeping the two-time defending champions out of the playoffs.

“We’re coming out firing,” Jason Terry said. “That’s our mind-set, that’s our mentality and that’s when we’re at our best.”

The Mavericks also know the danger of easing into any game. They allowed the Oklahoma City Thunder to beat them to the punch in Game 2 of the Western Conference finals and were forced to go on the road and win a game just to regain their home court advantage. So they have good reason to focus all of their energy on the opener here tonight.

“We’re not coming into this game trying to ease our way into anything,” Tyson Chandler said. “We want to come out guns blazing. We felt like we tip-toed in a couple of series when we wanted to feel the emotion or whatever and it cost us. We want to come out ready. You understand what you’re playing for. This isn’t a regular season game. This isn’t even a regular playoff game. This is The Finals. It’s the last two teams standing and you’ve got to give everything you’ve got.”