Thursday's NBA Guide: Mavs-Hornets, Blazers-Nugs

NBA Guide gives you a daily look at all the games that matter ... and some that don't.

Sports Connection

Connecting you to your favorite North Texas sports teams as well as sports news around the globe.

Urquidy Solid, Astros Belt Three Hrs in 7-2 Win Over Rangers

Newy: Cowboys Face Daunting Road Challenge Against Chargers

On Thursday, the stars come out. We have Dallas, a darling of the recent past, refusing to hand over the prom crown tiara ... despite evidence she turned 34 last year. New Orleans dropped jaws with its subtle 2008 beauty, only to trip on 2009's power cord on the walk to the stage.

Denver, that weird Denver, crashes every big party and makes a big scene ... but passes out before anything that matters happens. And now we have fresh-faced and flaw-free Portland, the belle every beau wants to land ... and the one every other belle would like to push in front of a bus. Four teams two games apart in the standings. Touch up the lipstick, because this is going down.

(God, that was a lame set-up. Apologies to Bill Plaschke, Woody Paige and all the other heroes of awful, overstretched sports journalism metaphors.)

Dallas at New Orleans, 8PM ET

I don't want to live in a world in which a Mark Cuban rant can inspire anyone (I mean, did you watch "The Benefactor"?). So let's sidestep the fact that Cuban's outburst concerning his team's (simply putrid) Oklahoma City loss Tuesday preceded a whipping of the Spurs. Josh Howard's mind can't be explained in any human language -- threat-based motivation has no place as a factor as to why J-Ho could be terrible against terrible OKC and light San Antonio on fire the next night. Cuban couldn't have saved a thing, let alone Josh freaking Howard.

What the Wednesday win shows, or proves, or reminds, is that Dallas is extremely talented. For every step he gives up on defense, and every clank he offers, and every irresponsible turnover he commits, Jason Kidd can pass the dang ball. The post-Nash Mavericks have been a decidedly anti-assist squad, thanks to the creative creation skills of Dirk, Howard and Jason Terry. Octopi don't need helping hands, you know? But nevertheless, here comes Kidd with almost nine assists a night. Kidd's not his old self, and he never will be again. But he is himself, just old. A lot of defenses can't deal with that.

New Orleans' defense dealt with that last spring, but the Kidd-Howard-Dirk offense relationship seems much stronger today. On the other end, I'll be disappointed if Chris Paul doesn't have 25/15. He should treat Kidd like a Rottweiler treats a cross-eyed teddy bear.

Portland at Denver, 10:30PM ET

Carmelo Anthony can respond to his ridiculous/righteous (depends on perspective) suspension three ways.

1. Pure sarcasm. Sprint to every huddle, sprint out of the game when subbed, sprint to the scorer's table when put back in. When it all looks ridiculous, George Karl is made to look ridiculous. (Or the generally lax attitude toward NBA coaches will be made to look ridiculous. Depends on perspective.)

2. Indifference. Just go back to being 'Melo. Boring, but safe.

3. Teach that dude a lesson. Pull a Gilbert: refuse to shoot the ball. Do everything else required of a ball player -- defend hard, rebound hard, run the court. But under no circumstances do you shoot ... until Karl has to beg (or suspend you again). Passive aggression can solve all the world's problems.

Thursday's NBA Guide: Mavs-Hornets, Blazers-Nugs originally appeared on NBA FanHouse on Thu, 05 Mar 2009 13:20:00 EST . Please see our terms for use of feeds.

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