Isn't it about time the Cavs, Lakers and any other teams that considered trading for Jason Kidd send a big thank you to Mark Cuban for paying the freight on a player who offered the Mavs little down the stretch and almost nothing in Game 4? Even freed of the responsibility of guarding Chris Paul, Kidd struggled to make any sort of mark on the game, missing five of his six shots and handing out only three assists while committing two turnovers in 29 minutes. Worse, he failed to get the Mavs moving at an up-tempo pace or get anyone on his team the easy shots for which he was brought to Dallas. Considering the $19 million salary Dallas picked up and the 4-11 mark the team put up against opponents who were .500 or better after the deal, it's fair to ask if the Mavs would have been better staying pat. Devin Harris may not have the All-Star appearances to his credit, but, at age 25, he certainly is a lot more spry than a 35-year-old point guard with a knee surgery in his not-too-distant past. And while center DeSagana Diop -- like Harris part of the Kidd trade -- would not have helped Dallas' scoring woes, his defense would have provided another big body for Paul to have to maneuver around. But this is what Kidd wanted, what he openly campaigned for in pleading for the Nets to trade him to Dallas. Kidd got what he wanted. Think Dallas did?
Far too many pundits wondered why David West (above) deserved a position in the All-Star Game this season. Any questions now? West struggled with his shot early, but with the Hornets likely to receive the Mavs' best shot coming out of a halftime in which the Mavs trailed, West was flawless: an 18-foot jumper, an assist to Peja Stojakovic for three, another hoop, a rebound, a foul drawn on Dirk Nowitzki and two free throws made, another 18-footer followed by a little 8-footer and another assist to Stojakovic for a wide-open three. Once the smoke had cleared on the first five minutes of the third quarter, West had scored 10 of the Hornets' first 14 points and left Dallas scrambling the rest of the half. Well-mannered and thoughtful in the locker room, West continued to set an aggressive tone on the floor -- giving Dirk Nowitzki an extra shove and barking at Cuban as he left the game in the fourth quarter -- against a team that is proving increasingly fragile.
Nowitzki may lose this series, but he may gain a measure of respect back for the hard-nosed manner in which he is competing. After torching the Hornets in Game 3, Nowitzki worked for every one of his 22 points and 13 rebounds in Game 4. Further, he verbally prodded his team to pick up the pace, an exhortation only Jason Terry and reserve Brandon Bass seemed interested in heeding. The soon-to-be-former MVP rightly took the blame for last year's upset at the hands of the Warriors, but not this year, not with the effort he is giving while his team burns down around him.
Jannero Pargo's 11 points and six rebounds were undoubtedly helpful, but more important was his role in getting the Hornets running. With Dallas hitting shots inside, New Orleans was forced into more of a half-court tempo in the first quarter, a situation that stifled Paul a bit and laid bare the Hornets' thin post game. As Dallas grew cold from the field in the second (hitting only 7-of-24 in the frame), Pargo pushed those misses down the throat of the Dallas defense and engineered a 15-8 run to tie the game. With the Hornets' sea legs under them, Paul slipped back into form, helping put the finishing touches on a 17-2 advantage on fast break points and a four-point halftime lead.
It says something about a team when its hardest worker is among its lowest paid. Bass, he of the $770,610 salary, finished with 12 points and nine rebounds. His work on the glass helped the Mavs outrebound the Hornets 47-42, which provided one of the only victories of the night for Dallas.
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