Gameday Dish: Mavericks vs. Suns

Copyright 2012 NBAE - Photo by David Liam Kyle/NBAE via Getty Images

The Dallas Mavericks travel to Phoenix tonight to take on the Suns. One of the more interesting subplots in this evening’s contest is a first-of-its-kind fan promotion cooked up by Phoenix team president Jason Rowley to boost ticket sales.

If the fans aren’t completely satisfied with their experience tonight they get their money back.

The Suns (7-12) just returned from a six-game road trip in which they went 1-5, losing their last four in a row.

They played on Tuesday night in Memphis and took a tough Grizzlies squad to overtime before succumbing 108-98.

The Suns were led by PG Goran Dragic and F Luis Scola. Dragic had 19 points and 7 dimes, while Scola went for 16 points, 8 boards and 3 steals.

Phoenix has the difficult task of trying to rebuild after losing Hall-of-Fame PG Steve Nash. They’ve added nine new players to their young roster this season, and head coach Alvin Gentry is still trying to figure out which five guys deserve to start night in and night out.

Copyright 2012 NBAE - Photo by Glenn James/NBAE via Getty Images
Dragic has done a solid job running Phoenix’s offense. But the Suns have been struggling with team defense, allowing 102.9 ppg, which ranks dead last at 30th in the league.

Meanwhile the Mavericks (8-10) have dropped 4 of their last 5 including last night’s loss in Los Angeles, where they got steamrolled by the Clippers, 112-90, and committed a season high-tying 22 turnovers.

One of the few bright spots for coach Rick Carlisle was the play of newly signed veteran PG Derek Fisher. In his second game with Dallas, D-Fish scored 15 points and went 3 of 5 from behind the arc.

With team leader Dirk Nowitzki still out after having knee surgery, the Mavs need someone to step up and provide vocal leadership while steadying the team for the long haul of 64 more games this season.

Tune in to TNT tonight at 10:30 PM ET to see if the Phoenix Suns put on a show for the home crowd and earn a win that will go a long way towards guaranteeing their fans a good time.

Gameday Dish: Thunder vs. Lakers

The Oklahoma City Thunder (38-12) sit atop the Western Conference with 16 games to go in the regular season and lead the entire NBA in scoring per game at 103.7.  Tonight they venture to SoCal to take on the Los Angeles Lakers, leaders of the Pacific Division at 31-19 and a rugged 20-4 at Staples.

NBA scoring leader Kobe Bean Bryant (28.3) will be welcoming back longtime backcourt mate Derek Fisher. D-Fish, who was traded two weeks ago to the Houston Rockets and then bought out and signed by the ring-hungry Thunder, played 13 years for the Lake Show and helped them win five championships over that span. Look for the Hollywood crowd and ex-mates to give Fisher lots of audible love.

This evening’s 48 will be the second time these two sides have squared off this compacted season. On February 23rd in OKC, the Thunder brought some lightning in the form of MVP candidate Kevin Durant.  KD had 33 points on 12 of 22 shooting, and OKC won 100-85. Durant, the 2X NBA scoring champion, currently sits just below the Mamba at 27.8 ppg.

Coach Mike Brown’s crew played on Tuesday night at Golden State and prevailed 104-101. Kobe had 30, Pau Gasol pulled down 17 boards and C Andrew Bynum had a seat on the bench after jacking up an ill-advised,
bizarre 3-bomb. A few Laker players, including Bryant, have clashed with Brown in his first year at the helm of the team. Brown is in a tough spot taking over one of the league’s most scrutinized teams for the 11 X champ Phil Jackson.

The Thunder have the second best road team in the NBA with a 16-8 record away from the Sooner State. On Tuesday in Portland, PG Russell Westbrook brought the sizzle. The one-time UCLA Bruin and LA native went 16-26 for 32 points and dished out 8 dimes in OKC’s 109-95 victory. KD went 10-14 for 25 points in the game.

A ‘W’ tonight would mean a lot to both sides. The Lakers sit just 2 games above their intra-arena rivals the Clips for the division. And though the Thunder lead the West, they have the surging, deep, veteran Spurs on their heels, trailing the 1-seed by only 2.5 games.

As the usual entertainment stars from stage and screen align in their primo seats, the historical, milestone variety will cosmically line up too. Fifty years ago today, Laker HOF teammates Elgin Baylor and Jerry West became the first and only teammates to both score 40 or more points in a playoff game. Interestingly, the tandem of Durant and Westbrook has accomplished this feat twice just this season.

Tune in to TNT, Marv and me at 10:30 PM ET to watch these Western Conference stalwarts do battle.

Fratello’s Fun Stats

The 10 oldest players in the NBA this season are:

1. Shaquille O’Neal, 38

2. Kurt Thomas, 37

3. Grant Hill, 37

4. Juwan Howard, 37

5. Jason Kidd, 37

6. Theo Ratliff, 37

7. Steve Nash, 36

8. Marcus Camby, 36

9. Derek Fisher, 36

10. Antonio McDyess, 36