First Impressions: Mavs Smack Jack & Bucks
Stephen Jackson possesses a sort of unrequited hatred for the Mavs. A few weeks ago, someone asked the Bucks forward for his thoughts on the Mavs having won the NBA championship. Captain Jack feigned ignorance – and played ignoramus, too.
"Dallas sucks to me," Jackson said. Jackson's Mavs-related calling card is his participation with Golden State in the 2007 playoffs, when his eighth-seeded Warriors "punk-‘em'ed'' their way to a rare upset of the No. 1-seeded Mavericks. To hear Jackson talk about who "sucks,'' you'd think he had a thick resume of success against Dallas.
In fact, Friday in Dallas marked the 24th time the outspoken Jackson has opposed the Mavs, and with his Bucks' 102-76 loss, his personal record against the Mavericks is 8-16. Which … well … sucks.
"(Jackson) is a competitor and he lets you know about it,'' said Dirk Nowitzki, who scored his 23,000th career point in the victory, Dallas' fourth straight. "Yeah, we had a little conversation (during the game), but he was talking to everybody out there. … We were talking about (championship) rings, talking about all sorts of stuff, life in general.''
Life in general is pretty sweet for the Dallas Mavericks, who are now 7-5 after an 0-3 start to the season. Nowitzki became the 23rd NBA player with 23,000 points, hitting that mark when he made a free throw with 7:17 left in the first half. He finished with 11 points, placing him at 23,008, third among active players behind Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett. Dallas was able to win easily with Nowitzki playing just 22 minutes.
The Bucks have now lost seven consecutive road games, this one with Jackson flapping his gums but not really helping Milwaukee put up much of a fight.
Jackson's career numbers against Dallas coming into Friday: 17.1 points on 44.6-percent shooting, with 4.6 rebounds, 3.2 assists, 1.7 steals and 3.4 turnovers. Does he play better against the Mavs? No, as those stats essentially mirror what Jackson's done against all opponents in his 12-year career.
But in this game? Jackson was innocuous, with seven points (including 1-of-5 from the arc), five rebounds and five turnovers. The Mavs don't "hate'' Jackson and really, there are numbers that suggest they might like to see him coming.
While Jackson's involvement in that 2007 playoff upset is his career peak, it seems to also be a career aberration. He hasn't been on a team that's beaten Dallas since March 13, 2009, when he was still with the Warriors. That was four years ago and three teams ago and his record against the Mavs since that time is now … 0-6.
Jackson is often a storyline for things that have little to do with basketball. This was the case once again as his on-court yammering at Nowitzki was his only impact.
Meanwhile, the home team was flexing its defensive muscle (Dallas has held its last nine foes to 86.7 points per) while getting a Dallas-career high of 16 points from Vince Carter (11 of those in the first six-and-a-half minutes of the game), benefitting from Jason Terry's 17 (including a trio of 3's), and relying on crowd-pleasing efforts from Roddy Beaubois (15 points on 7-of-12 shooting), Delonte West (inspired quarterbacking in the place of injured point guard Jason Kidd) and Shawn Marion (finding his elusive range with a pair of 3's). Even newcomer Yi Jianlian, scoring his first points as a Mav, got in on the act. The Dallas crowd chanted the 7-foot Yi's name every time he touched the ball after entering the game with six minutes remaining. The native of China made a basket and a free throw.
"It was fun,'' said Yi. "It is fun to play for a champion.''
With the exception of the ancient memory of those 2007 playoffs, it almost always ends up being fun when the Mavs play Stephen Jackson.
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