Tuesday, December 30, 2008


Where to start? With so many problems in Valley Ranch, that is a very tough question. Like very, very tough. The players lack heart, the coach lacks assertiveness, the team lacks chemistry, and the owner lacks decision making skills. Thus, it is hard to place the blame on one person or on one aspect of this team. All they way around--every angle--the 2008 Dallas Cowboys are a failure of a team. And that may be an understatement. Sp, instead of harping on everything that went wrong and will continue to go wrong, we at DallasDedicated want to look at the glass being half full. If that's possible. Let's look at how the 'Boys can get out of this rut:

1) Let's assume that Wade Phillips remains the coach as Jerry Jones says he will. This leaves us with a few options:

a) Get new Coordinators

Worst case, get rid of Jason Garrett, who has gone from coaching phenom to the coordinator every defense can't wait to face. His schemes are too simple (says Tony Romo, "his schemes are too simple") and he has no variation in his play calling. Wade Phillips, so long as he can get the defense to play in crunch time, can handle the D. In fact, he is a great defensive coach. Since taking over the play calling duties from Brian Stewart, the defense improved dramatically. The offense, however, Romo-less or not, has not been up to par. Or even up to bogey...if that's a phrase. It's definitely not a talent problem, we know that. But Garrett had 10 games to get stand out Roy Williams involved, and never did. How do you get a complimentary threat opposite Terrell Owens and not even utilize him at all? On top of that, you could argue--very convincingly--that Terrell Owens wasn't even used near his potential. Both receivers deserve to be very frustrated. Let Garrett take the Detroit job and look elsewhere for a coordinator that can properly use his weapons.

b) Let Phillips "change" as he says he will.

I don't know how a grown, 62 year old man can change the way he is. The mild manners of Phillips couldn't have been more exemplified than when he sent out the punt team on Sunday against Philly and Romo--by himself--sent them back off. I don't see how Wade can instill discipline in this team after all the breaks and excuses he has made for them. The players WANT discipline, just ask Bradie James, he's been open about this. James, Zach Thomas, and others have been critical of the squad's chemistry. But, when asked about this problem Wade brushed it off as "not a problem". Great. More Confusion. But change is still an option, supposedly.

2) Let's assume Jones goes back on his word and decides to relieve Phillips of his duties (which isn't looking likely)

a) Hire Mike Shanahan. He is a proven winner, and an offensive specialist. He has a great record of keeping his players under control as well. Lastly, and most certainly, he really had no cause for his firing this week. He will assuredly be one of the hottest coaches on the market. Though not likely, don't put it past Jones to go back on his word and pursue this vacancy no one foresaw. However, what an option this would be--definitely one to brighten the spirits of Dallas fans. Update: ESPN News is reporting that Dallas is a possible destination for the ex-Denver coach. Impossible, you say? We will see.

b) Hire someone else. Before Shanahan went on the market, the only real option was Bill Cowher, who wants too much control for Jones' taste. I believe this is one of the reasons Jones decided to keep Wade on staff--the lack of options had he decided to fire him. So consider this option hopeless.

Only a few options for Cowboys fans this offseason--few of which seem to satisfy the fans after another disappointing season. Jerry Jones can whip out the pocket book as often and as heavily as he wants, but we've come to learn that doesn't build chemistry...or a Super Bowl win...better yet, a playoff win. Or a playoff appearance, for that matter. Something has to be shaken up in order to avoid a repeat of this season. So far, though, nothing seems to be in the works. If the only change we can count on is "change" from Wade Phillips, don't have any expectations for the 2009 season, even if it is in a billion dollar stadium.

Coming this week: The First Annual Dallas Sports Awards 2008


Wednesday, December 24, 2008

Holiday Links Galore

It's Christmas eve, and DallasDedicated is here to stuff your stocking with a few links from around the Dallas sports area...

*Dirk tells the Dallas Morning News that he wouldn't think twice about taking a pay cut in 2010 if it meant that the Mavs could use the money to make the team reach his goal of a championship. This really shows just how true of a team player Dirk is. While LeBron is talking about where he may end up come 2010 and that he would go to Europe for $50 million, Dirk acts like he always has...selfless.

*Speaking of the 2010 free agency, Mark Cuban has some plans of his own.

*What drives Cowboys third-string turned starter Tashard Choice? The fact that 10 running backs were selected over him.

*Proof that Santa is real: Last night, the Dallas Stars not only held their opponent to 2, but scored 8 (!) of their own!

*T.O. is talking again, but this time it is that Roy Williams needs the ball more. Welcome to the club Owens!

*We all take for granted the fact that professional athletes have familes and personal lives of their own. The Mavs play on Christmas night tomorrow, which has got to be distracting to have to "work" on a holiday. The Mavs, however, consider it a mixed blessing.

*Marc Colombo got an early Christmas present of his own, a four-year deal.

*Gerald Green sighting! He talks to the FW Star-Telegram about his lack of playing time as of late.

*Stars may be last in the Western Conference, but their play has picked up and winger Loui Eriksson is last week's First Star for the NHL.

*Is Cowboys offensive coordinator Jason Garrett in a hot seat of his own?

*While the main page of DallasDesperados.com says that 2009 Season Tickets are cheaper than ever, you should know that the AFL has suspended the upcoming season. So if you bought your friend some AFL tickets for Christmas, you might wanna reconsider putting that under the tree.

*Not only is Jason Terry playing out of his mind this season, he also was given the NBA Community Assist Award for the month of November. Nice goin, Jet!

*Sergei Zubov is out for the season, so is Morrow, yet DM News writer Mike Heika argues that the Stars could climb the standings pretty easily if they get a hot streak going, because no other team has had a hot streak? Ummm, works for me

Merry Christmas to you all, enjoy yourselves. Mavs tip-off at 9:30!


Coming this week: Who is the Most Valuable Player out of all Dallas sports? We will analyze it all.

Monday, December 22, 2008

The Real Washington Wizards: An Interview with Truth About It

With a win last night in the Nation's capital, the Mavericks are back on track, sitting at 15-11 and only a half game behind both Phoenix and Utah. After the game, we caught up with Truth About It, a Washington Wizards blog, and exchanged some questions. You can view our interview with them here. Below is the Q&A session we had with him:

1) What has been the biggest problem with the Wizards this season?

To start the season, it was the defense and the absence of Brendan Haywood. The Wizards gave up a ton of threes last year (led the league in most allowed, 683, and tied the best opponent 3P%, .386), and that trend continues this year. But without Haywood patrolling the paint, the Wizards have had to pack their match-up zone closer to the hoop, allowing for copious amounts of free ball movement around the perimeter.

Lately, the Wizards have struggled mightily on offense in crunch time. There is no one like a Gilbert Arenas to take the focus off Caron Butler or Antawn Jamison, and when teams concentrate their defense on those two, no one else has been stepping up to put points on the board.

Combine those two factors and you easily arrive at the conclusion of a 4-21 record.

2) I noticed that the Wizards are 0-8 in games decided by 7 or less points this season, is this a coaching problem or a personnel problem?

See above, or this post: Wizards-Sixers Game 24 Recap: Losing A Clutch Mentality, for more on the Wizards and close game failure.

As far as the coaching thing, the firing of Eddie Jordan is looking more and more like a bad idea. His replacement, Ed Tapscott, previously director of player development, and whose only prior head coaching experience includes an 8-year stint at American University in the 80s, is not really an Xs and Os guy. Heck, he's been having the 31-year old Wes Unseld, Jr. draw up crunch time plays in the huddle.....call me unimpressed.

3) How much is Gilbert Arenas missed? With him being gone so long, is he still considered the building block of the franchise or do you think the front office has moved on?

Gilbert Arenas is missed a ton, and some may make the case that considering the results from last season to this season, both sans Agent Zero for the most part, the Wizards miss Brendan Haywood even more....but that's neither here nor there.

Thing is, with signing Arenas to a 6-year, $111 million contract over the summer, he is kinda stuck in the "franchise player" role. And...I'm fine with that. I have hope that he can come back as the old Gilbert, but if not.....well, that's what we call the 'Curse O' Les Boulez' in DC.

4) What improvements do Washington need to make to get back into playoff contention?

Pray to the gods of health from every religion in the world.

And the children, somebody has to think about the children.....the Wiz have a ton of promising youth: Andray Blatche, JaVale McGee, Nick Young, Dominic McGuire. These guys really need to develop. Blatche a versatile 6'11" big (think poor man's Garnett/Webber...no wait, change 'poor man' to 'junkie') and is in his 4th year. He was horrendously disappointing in the early going, but has come along lately. Young and McGuire, both sophomores, have the potential to be an elite scorer and glue guy/perfect role player respectively. And McGee: 7'1" with no shoes, 7'6" wing span, sick hops, some 3-point range on his jumper, mom was a WNBA player.....the kid just needs to get some strength and more instinct and he will be more that alright.

5) _______ is the best player five years from now.

JaVale McGee.

Thanks again to Truth About it, and good luck to the Wizards.


Friday, December 19, 2008

Sleeping With The Enemy: Baltimore Ravens

In an attempt to keep things fresh, we here at DallasDedicated are introducing a new column style that we will use from time to time, dubbed "Sleeping with the enemy." As the title entails, we will give a pretty in depth scouting report of the opposition, in hopes to educate you, the fan, a little more than the regular game preview would allow. Since this Saturday's game against Baltimore is still a necessary victory, we figured it was a perfect time to unveil our new idea. We're geniuses, we know.

For Starters:
The Ravens have never lost against the Cowboys. This is being technical, and only counting the "new" Baltimore team. Nevertheless, they are 2-0 all time, outscoring Dallas 57-10. Right now, the Ravens are in a similar position as your home team: 9-5 and in second in their division. They are 16th in scoring offense, but 3rd in team defense. Their defense is what has helped an average offense become a solid playoff threat.

Biggest Strength:
The bruising running backs that Dallas stopped last week--the New York Giants--ran over the Ravens in week 11 for 207 yards. But...yes, there is always a but...the Giants are the only team to gain over 100 yards on the ground against them this season. Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs lead this run stop; the team allows a paltry 3.4 yards per carry by opponents.
The good news for Dallas fans is that the Ravens rush defense has seemed much more effective against speedier backs than against the bruiser-types. RBs like Ronnie Brown and Brian Westbrook particularly struggled--neither averaged over 3 yards per carry. However, more contact-oriented backs (Read: Barber, Choice) have performed better: Ahmad Bradshaw ran up 96 yards on only 9 carries and Jamal Lewis ran 12 times for 56 yards. This could give a (hopefully) healthy Barber a nice opportunity to close in on the 1,000 yard mark.

The Rest of the "D":
The Ravens pass rush is nothing special... Or should we say nothing to worry about. The sack leader is Terrell Suggs with 7.5 and the Ravens have 30 overall, which is minuscule compared to the 52.5 of Dallas. The Secondary, though, is very solid. The squad has posted 22 interceptions (compare that to the 8 of Dallas), with veteran safety Ed Reed leading the way with 5. Reed is someone Romo will want to avoid at all costs, especially given his knack for returning INTs for TDs. An interesting side note: released DB Evan Oglesby signed with the Ravens and has played in 5 games thus far, recording only 6 tackles and recovering a fumble.

The Offense:
Rookie Joe Flacco guides an average offense that hasn't helped him too much by way of the running game. Flacco hasn't been poor or strong this season, just, said as best we know how: rookie. With 2500 yards, 13 TDs and 12 INTs, he will finish his first season respectably. His favorite target is WR Derrick Mason. He has caught 68 balls and is really the only real threat at WR. Mark Clayton is the second wideout, and only has 33 catches. Watch for Tight End Todd Heap, as he has been a perennial standout. The Ravens only throw about 185 yards a game, so don't expect much explosion.

When running the football, Baltimore has a three-pronged attack. The bulk is handled by Le'Ron McClain, a fullback who has 7 touchdowns on the year. Willis McGahee and Ray Rice also will get substantial carries, but McClain has handled most of the work in the past few weeks. Do not expect any big plays from the running game; rather, a solid, pounding-away-styled attack.

Final Report:

Ravens Run Defense= 4.5/5

Ravens Pass Defense= 4/5

Ravens Rush Offense= 3.5/5

Ravens Pass Offense= 2/5

Total Team Rating (TTR): 14/20

Cowboys Rush Defense= 3.5/5

Cowboys Pass Defense= 4/5

Cowboys Rush Offense= 4/5

Cowboys Pass Offense= 4.5/5

Total Team Rating (TTR): 16/20

Prediction: Cowboys Win 27-13


Monday, December 15, 2008

Expensive Mistakes Cost Mavs

The Dallas Mavericks couldn't overcome a slow first quarter and fell to the Denver Nuggets tonight, 98-88. Shooting only 35%, the Mavs couldn't capitalize on a third quarter comeback in which they came back from 14 to tie the game. Credit must be given to the Nugs--namely J.R. Smith-- and their ability to turn on the after burners and pull away. But, Dallas had chances in the 4th quarter to cut the lead from 10 to single digits, but had some costly turnovers.

The return of Josh Howard wasn't much more than a rust-removal for #5. He logged 14 minutes and shot 1-5 from the field, racking up 7 points. He looked out of place and shape, but who can blame him? Carlisle did a good job of getting him enough minutes to acclimate J-Ho back to the NBA game yet not put him in a situation that would highlight his rust. His return is greeted with happiness by fans, but some players (Barea, George, Wright, Green, etc.) will be relegated back to the end of the rotation, despite some heavy signs of improvement. Barea will likely continue to get more minutes, but look for Gerald Green to be marginalized. A thought that has been somewhat overlooked: over these last 12 games without Howard, Dallas has gone 9-3. Adding him back to the mix will only help.

Tonight, though, the bright spots were few and far between. Courtesy of back to back three pointers by Jason Terry, the Mavs cut the deficit back to 10 points. Jason Kidd, however, had a swing pass intercepted by Billups, killing the momentum and allowing J.R. Smith to score another basket. After the lead was cut to 9 a couple minutes later, Dirk got a rebound and tried a quick down court outlet to Devean George, which was intercepted by Melo. On the next senquence, still budding with hope, Barea tried to push the ball up and overthrew an open Dirk and the ball went out of bounds. These costly turnovers shot down any chance of a comeback, and the Nuggets were too much to handle.

On the positive side, give credit to Devean George. He played stellar defense, had two steals (caused many more, that was not a generous stat) and hit two key three pointers in the third quarter comeback. Dirk overcame an slow first quarter and exploded for 16 in the third and finished with yet another double double.

Dallas almost pulled off a win on the off night of all off nights, which is the sign of a good team. Next up the Mavs have Toronto on Wednesday night, New Jersey on Friday and Washington on Sunday. Three winnable games that can move Dallas up in the Southwest Division standings. Looking at the rest of the West, the Jazz lost tonight, leaving them only a half game ahead of the Mavs. The Phoenix Suns were victorious, creating a bottleneck in the Western Conference playoff race. The standings as of tonight:

3) San Antonio.....15-8---5 GB
4) New Orleans.....13-7---5.5 GB
5) Houston.........15-9---5.5 GB
6) Phoenix.........15-10--6 GB
7) Portland........15-10--6 GB
8) Utah............15-11--6.5 GB
9) Dallas..........13-10--7 GB

I know, I know, it's only 25 or so games into the season. But how exciting is this season's playoff fight going to be? This could shape up to be one of the best finished in years. So, even if the Mavs aren't meeting your expectations, you can count on some great basketball games to be played night in and night out for the rest of the season. This is one year in which every game truly counts, and the competition for those 8 spots is going to be fierce. Sasha Fierce. (My excuse to put a Beyonce pic in here)

Coming Tomorrow: The Arena Football League has called off its 2009 Season. We will give you the information and tell you how this effects Dallas sports and the Desperado players.

Coming Soon: Ever wondered who the most Valuable Dallas Player is? Dirk? Tony Romo? Josh Hamilton? We will break down who deserves the crown of Mr. Dallas.


Sunday, December 14, 2008

Giant Slayers

After a very distracting week, the Dallas Cowboys pulled it together (like they said they would) and convincingly beat the NY Giants, 20-8. With Terrell Owens making comments that were not in the team spirit, the 'Boys were, to say the least, in a bit of turmoil. Compound that with some player's admitted frustration of lack of control by the coaches, today's game seemed bleak. It got even more bleak when the offensive line (which wins the Most Similar to Water Award this week) allowed two Giants to tag team Romo and give him a back contusion. However, Tony was resilient and tough, and played through it in obvious pain. This win keeps Dallas in control of their playoff hopes, and winning out will seal the deal. Here are some major takeaways from tonight's game:

1) The Owens, Romo and Witten Issue

Writing this after the game changes a lot. First of all, if anyone else watched the post-game interview, this should now be classified as a "non-issue". Witten, the poor guy, is like the kid who was standing next to the kid who pulled the fire alarm and still got in trouble, and is on a mission to prove his innocence. Romo's sarcastic answer about the team playing the issue up to deflect the game's pressure was a comical and genius way to signal the end of controversy. In fact, all three were laughing and talking at the end of the game and through the interview. So, it all appears good again, as Wade Phillips assured us it would be; however, the cynic has to wonder if the same reaction would have happened had the Cowboys lost.

Now normally, we here at DallasDedicated are not ones in favor of deflecting blame, but Terrell Owens did make a great point tonight. In the interview he said he didn't know where "half of this came from" and that ESPN's Ed Werder fabricated and exaggerated the conflict. He has a point. Ed Werder is notorious for his bating players into controversial answers to provocatively framed questions. This is why many players--Chad Johnson, Clinton Portis, to name a few--refuse to talk to him anymore. Werder relies heavily on his use of "anonymous sources" for his big stories. Moreoever, look at this video shot by a fan in which he called out Werder for so heavily using his "anonymous sources". It gets somewhat heated, and Ed's little goon provides great comedy.

That sums it up nicely. Werder has done nothing but stir up fire in Dallas, and hasn't even had to name where he got any information. So, T.O., two thumbs up from us for airing him out on National TV.

2) The Defense

What a defensive spectacle tonight's game was. Eli Manning was sacked 8 times--three times by DeMarcus "every" Ware and twice by Greg Ellis. Equally as impressive was the pass defense, which only allowed 146 passing yards and intercepted two passes (both courtesy of Terence Newman). And the biggest stat: NO touchdowns. If the defense continues to play at this level, watch out Carolina...or New York...or whoever else. Playing defense against a relatively weak Baltimore offense should not be an issue. Ever since the play calling has shifted from Brian Stewart to Wade Phillips (which has now been admitted publicly, by the way), the defense has been one of the best, if not the best, in the NFL. The Giants were only 3-13 on third down, and the D didn't allow them to get into any rhythm whatsoever.

3) Tashard "The People's" Choice

For the second game in a row, Choice was amazing at the right moments. He finished with 91 yards rushing on only 9 carries and 52 yards receiving, leading the 'Boys in both categories. He single-handedly put the game out of reach. The new debate: Is Tashard someone the Cowboys need to keep as a viable third back, or is he more valuable as offseason trade bait? That's a rather depressing way of looking at it, but it is a real scenario. As much as we at DallasDedicated are fans of Choice, we don't know if his potential will be fully tapped as a third running back behind Marion Barber and Felix Jones. Jerry Jones is all about maximizing his team's value, and he may very well deem Choice a great way to improve the offensive line. But on a happier note, another great game for Choice and scary potential for this fourth-round rookie.

In other news, the Stars have announced that embattled center Sean Avery will not play as a Dallas Star again. A very interesting stance by a team in the dregs of the NHL. Brett Hull and Tom Hicks have chosen a peculiar time to be moral. More on that in the following days.

Also, the Mavs continues to roll, improving each game and still Howard-less. 13-9 and only 1 1/2 games out of first in the Southwest.


Monday, December 8, 2008

Hey JJ, It's Your Best Week Ever!

The Mavericks have been on a high as of late (no pun intended J-Ho). After Saturday's win versus Atlanta, the Mavericks are now a respectable 11-8 and have a winning record at home after starting the season 0-4 at home and 2-7 overall.

Jason Terry has been clutch in the 4th quarter, racking up big shot after big shot to put opponents away. Dirk has shot a ri-dirk-ulous 52 percent this week. Nowitzki even told TNT sideline reporter Craig Sager after the win against Phoenix that he hasn't shot well this season to this point. Are you kidding me Dirk? Devean George has gotten consecutive starts and has finally started to play up to his potential on the defensive end. Shawne Williams had a career-high 12 rebounds against Phoenix, alongside Erick Damp's pwning of Shaquille O'Neal. Also this week we have seen Brandon Bass finally starting to feel comfortable within Carlisle's system and is back to the Bass we saw last season. Bass even finished off Saturday night's win with back-to-back ferocious slams. Not to mention that all this has been done without the important J-Ho on the floor. While all these players are having a great week...for JJ Barea, it is his Best Week Ever!

To think, just one week ago there were rumors that the Mavs were interested in the exiled Stephon Marbury for the backup point guard role for Dallas. That was before the JJ Barea Show . Following the Clippers game, we here at DallasDedicated praised Speedy JJ on his wonderful game. Little did we know that it was just the beginning of his hot streak. JJ had 15 points and the game-winner that night against the Clips, and he followed that with 18 against Phoenix. Monday night, however, Barea was the best player on the floor. Mike Bibby couldn't keep him in front of him, and JJ was a problem for the Hawks defense all night long. There were 3 pointers, a buzzer-beater to end the 3rd, and a circus-type reverse layup over Zaza Pachulia in the beginning of the final quarter to draw not just the AAC crowd to their feet, but also fellow teammates. There were even traces of "MVP! MVP" as Barea went to the bench in the middle of the 4th quarter.

Have we mentioned that this guy is not even 6 feet in height? ! All of a sudden teams are having to start game-planning against Barea. All of a sudden Barea's slicing and dicing in the lane is making Mavs fans forget that point guard that does similar things in Jersey. All of a sudden the offense no longer looks stagnant without Jason Kidd, who was earlier believed to be the only legit point guard on the Mavs.

This could all be a fluke. Barea's shooting star could burn out once J-Ho gets back into the rotation (who could return Tuesday). Opposing teams might start not ignoring JJ and shut him down. No matter what happens, one thing is for sure...JJ Barea is having the Best Week Ever!


Coming later: Cowboys. I'm too heartbroken to type anything else...

Thursday, December 4, 2008

Sean Avery Apologizes

"I would like to sincerely apologize for my off-color remarks to the press yesterday from Calgary," Avery said. "I should not have made those comments and I recognize that they were inappropriate.

"It was a bad attempt to build excitement for the game, but I am now acutely aware of how hurtful my actions were. I caused unnecessary embarrassment to my peers as well as people I have been close with in the past.

"I apologize for offending the great fans of the NHL, the commissioner, my teammates, my coaching staff and the Dallas Stars management and ownership. As many of you know, I like to mix it up on and off the ice from time to time, but understand that this time I took it too far."

We will see if this will lessen the length of the indefinite suspension. The Stars have to be missing Sean Avery, as their one and only winning streak of the season ended Wednesday night with the 5-2 loss to Edmonton. Besides Mike Modano's two goals, the Stars looked dreadful. While Avery is a great player, he wouldn't have helped much as the Stars were manhandled all evening. Marty Turco only stopped 17 out of the 22 shots he faced, ending any hope that he is starting to get back to his old form. Will we see a Turco apology to Stars fans for his poor play? Doubtful.


Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Speedy JJ Caps Dramatic Mavs Comeback

Remember that fast little mexican rat from those Saturday morning cartoons? The Mavericks have a speedy little rat of thier own, this one from Puerto Rico. Speedy JJ came big for the Mavs last night, and he did it in front of the sold out AAC crowd, a crowd that also included his parents. With just a minute to play and the Mavs down 2, Eric Gordon missed a relatively easy baseline jumper. The Mavs scooped up the rebound and took off down to the other end of the floor with not one fan in the stands seated. JJ Barea caught the ball on the left wing perimeter wide open, and without any hesitation, heaved up a three-pointer. Nothing but net, and the Mavs had their first and only lead. That would be the last made basket, as the Mavs got the crucial defensive stops they needed to get the win.

Speedy JJ's three concluded a comeback from 14 down that took place with a small-ball lineup of all small-ball lineups. Rick Carlisle decided to use JJ, Kidd, and Jet all together in the final 4 minutes. We haven't seen a lineup like this from Rick Carlisle in not just this season, but never in his entire coaching career. The shots wouldn't stop falling for the Clippers, so Rick decided to go small and insitute a 2-3 zone defense for the closing minutes. It had to be encouraging for the Mavs to have every single assistant coach standing and shouting out defensive schemes during the fourth quarter comeback.

While Dirk's numbers were, well, Dirk-like (29 points and 10 boards), what got the win for the Mavs was the play from the bench. Barea wasn't the only one who rose to the occasion with the absence of Antoine Wright, Stack, and J-Ho. Shawne Williams got legitimate playing time (18 points) and showed his defensive prowess and boxing out skills. In the final quarter, Carlisle put his trust into not his two centers, but instead Brandon Bass. Bass was 6-for-8 from the floor with 14 points and 7 rebounds. Barea's clutch three-pointer was not his only shining moment, as Speedy JJ finished the game with 15 points and 6 assists in 25 whole minutes of action.

The biggest bench player, and arguably the MVP of the game, was none other than Jason Terry. Clutch shot after clutch shot happened for the Jet in the final quarter, which has become a trend during this Mavs run of winning 6 of their last 7. Terry scored 26 points, seven in the fourth, and is now averaging 22 points per game over the last seven games. And he’s scored 46 points in the last four fourth quarters. He has been HUGE lately and the Mavs now have a winning record because of it.

Things looked bad at the beginning of this season, as the Mavs quickly feel to 2-7. Now? The Mavs have a winning record, are just 2 games back from first in the division, and the next 6 games are at home. By Christmas Day, the Mavs could be all the way in the lead of the division they once finished first in just 2 short seasons ago. This run of winning 6 of the last 7 games have shown a high amount of emotion and will that hasn't been seen by this Dallas team in quite some time.

WIERDEST STAT OF THE NIGHT: The fact that Jason Kidd had 0 points. I didn't even realize this until looking at the box score after the game. However, Jason Kidd did everything else, as he had 8 assists and 7 boards (5 of them offensive). He was only credited with 4 steals, but he caused at least 8 turnovers with his defense.

Another weird stat was the fact that Devean George was given the start. I realize Josh Howard is injured, but is George really the best option at SF? He has not shown me anything that deserves a starting spot, and I doubt it's any different within the Mavs coaching staff.

While their record says otherwise, this LA Clippers team is on the rise. The recent acquisition of Zach Randolph has given this team a new kind of swagger, and it took quite a comeback from Dallas to get the win. We will see if the Mavs get off to a better start Thursday night as they host the Phoenix Suns.


Star Trek: Captain Out, Sloppy Seconds, and Much More

The Dallas Stars had a magnificent run last season. NHL critics had written off Dallas to do anything if they even made the postseason. The Stars responded to the negativity by showing guts and heart as they rolled their way to the Western Conference Finals, before losing to the over-matched eventual NHL Champion Detroit Red Wings.
This season has been almost the exact opposite of the previous one. Critics had this team in a fight for first in the Pacific division and as a Stanley Cup contender. Head coach Dave Tippett was granted a contract extension, youth was added to the lineup on the back and front ice, and the enforcer pest known as Sean Avery was brought in to solidify the identity of the hockey team once and for all.

Let's fast forward to the now: The Stars are 24 games into this season, and they sit in a three-way tie for last in the Western Conference. The goaltending, something that the Stars have taken pride in year after year with Marty Turco behind them, hasn't been even close to previous seasons. The defense has been lackluster, and the powerplay has been even more dreadful. To make things worse, the heart and soul of the Stars, Brenden Morrow, is down and out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. That's not all though, as the most recent catastrophe has just been confirmed. Sean Avery, the biggest move of the NHL offseason, has just been suspended indefinitely by the NHL for his comments this week.

How have things gotten to this point? Let's first examine the goaltending, which has been anything but excellent this season. Marty Turco has been extraordinary for the Stars since his first start back in 2002. Turco has an NHL career goal-against average of just 2.15. This season has been a completely different story, where Turco's GAA currently sits at 3.48 with a save percentage of just .874% and 0 shutouts. Benching Turco to get his head right is not the answer either, where the backup Tobias Stephen is an unproven young goaltender who has not gained his trust with the coaching staff yet. Turco must get better, and the defensemen must relieve some of the pressure.

Brenden Morrow is the unanimous leader and voice of the Stars. His sole presence on the ice helps instill confidence throughout the team. With the only hope the Stars have of having their main man on the ice with them is during a postseason run, most NHL fans have written this team off. And that was before the Sean Avery incident.

Sean Avery is a hockey player like no other. During the season he gets in countless of fights on the ice and scores many goals. Yet, in the offseason he dates gorgeous supermodels and actresses while interning for Vogue Magazine. Avery is the most hated player in the NHL, yet the most wanted on their team. Avery may be a pest and run his mouth a little too much sometimes, but he takes care of business on the ice. Think of him as the hockey-version of Terrell Owens. I have never understood why so many people are so quick to disregards his talents and demand he change his attitude.

ESPN ran a graphic this morning on Sportscenter that was entitled "Sean Avery Timeline: Last 4 Years", yet there were no hockey stats or hard checking highlights. In fact, the timeline just had 3 facts on it.
2008: Called Martin Brodeur a "fatso" after being snubbed in handshake line
2006: called Ducks broadcaster Bryan Hayward an "embarrassment" and "terrible announcer"
2005: fined for criticizing Colin Campbell, NHL Director of Operations

ARE YOU KIDDING ME?! We are really going to hate on a guy because he called another player a "fatso"? This isn't Little League, this is the National Hockey League. These are grown men playing a sport professionally. People are acting as if Sean Avery took his skate off and attacked Brodeur with it. Sean Avery's latest comments came Tuesday night, and this time it cost him.
"I'm really happy to be back in Calgary; I love Canada," the Ontario native said. "I just want to comment on how it's become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds. I don't know what that's about, but enjoy the game tonight."
Avery's ex-girlfriend, actress Elisha Cuthbert is dating Calgary defenseman Dion Phaneuf; she had been previously romantically linked to Mike Komisarek of the Montreal Canadiens. Avery also dated Rachel Hunter, the former Sports Illustrated swimsuit cover model who is now the girlfriend of Los Angeles Kings center Jarret Stoll. Is this really worth a suspension? He isn't getting into fights with bodyguards or taking a weapon into a nightclub. All Sean Avery did was joke about how Canada steals his "sloppy seconds". While I can see other team's fans wanting him gone, even within the Dallas community there is hatred towards Avery. Stars owner Tom Hicks has backed the commissioner's decision, and this morning Dallas Morning News ran an editorial demanding Avery to be released from the team. Was there a law passed that made making a "sloppy seconds" remark a crime?

If last night's 3-1 win against Calgary was your first time to catch a Stars game this season, then you may not be able to believe all of the Stars' struggles this year. Turco stopped a ridiculous 36 shots. In fact, Tuesday was just the third time this season that Marty Turco held the opposition to fewer than two goals. It is also the first time this season that Dallas has strung together two wins in a row. Could Sean Avery's suspension be the turning point to the Stars gaining focus and start to climb the standings? While things have gotten bad, the Stars are only 4 points behind the 7th and 8th seeded spots in the Western Conference. This season is anything but over. Sean Avery will return, Morrow will be available in the postseason, and Turco should return to his elite-stopping status. Dallas just needs to get their identity back quickly before this window of opportunity closes.

COMING LATER: With the nail-biting win from the Mavs last night against the Clips, Dallas now has a winning record and just 1.5 games back from first in their division. 3 short weeks ago people were panicking and losing faith, but DallasDedicated promised you good times ahead. We will get into this more later tonight.

This week: Part 2 of our "Holiday Hangover" will bring you everything Dallas Cowboys, who have a crazy month ahead of them. Stay tuned!


Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Holiday Hangover

It's been awhile, how is everyone doing?
As December is now here, it is now a very crucial month for the three sports franchises currently in season.

For the Mavs, they begin their second longest homestand in team history tonight against the new look Clippers. Dallas is 8-8, and this month will show us once and for all what this Mavs team is made of. Will they take advantage of the homestand and gain momentum heading into 2009, or is this team really done?

For the Stars, things are going from bad to worse. What seemed like an early season struggle has turned into a snowballing nightmare as the Stars now sit last in the NHL. To make matters worse, their captain, Brenden Morrow, is out for the rest of the season with a torn ACL. Also, Sean Avery has been suspended indefinitely for his comments about "sloppy seconds" (more to come on that tomorrow).

The Cowboys seem to have a lot of momentum following the Thanksgiving stuffing of the Seahawks (that sounds like a Rachael Ray dish). Dallas now sits at second in the NFC East with just 4 games remaining. Will Dallas get enough wins to get one of the two Wild Card playoff spots?

We will break it down into 3 parts, starting with the Stars tomorrow. Stay Tuned!