10. There was some good news out of the Dallas Mavericks' hideous 102-91 loss to the Washington Wizards last night at American Airlines Center. Bruce Hornsby - a long-time buddy of head coach Rick Carlisle - played a stirring National Anthem on the piano. (But, dude, he has the limpest/wimpiest of handshakes.)
9. The other positive was that Dirk Nowitzki is still terriffic. And he got a pre-game haircut. Not his traditional sheared buzz cut, but he no longer looks like a GEICO caveman.
8. The Wizards, playing without co-star Antawn Jamison, dominated in the paint. I mean dom-uh-nate-id. During one ugly sequence in the second quarter center Brendan Hayward had uncontested dunks on three consecutive possessions. The Mavs tried Erick Dampier, Drew Gooden, Nowitzki and Krys Humphries at center, all with varying degrees of suck. At one point Carlisle looked down his bench, stared, then turned back to the game. Coulda sworn his thought bubble read "Damn, I wish I had Marcin Gortat."
7. Shawn Marion is a good player. Very athletic. Long. But if last night is any indication, he'll do absolutely nothing to erase the national perception that the Mavericks are "soft." Too many times around the rim he settled for a finesse flip shot instead of a strong finish.
6. Bad night all around. One side of the AAC's new HD video boards was all gotch-eyed. It looked like one of those old picture-in-picture screens, except both screens showed the game with a corner missing. If you're thinking "That doesn't make sense," you're right, it didn't make sense.
5. The sign in the Mavs' locker room reads: "hit: FIRST. defend. rebound. First to 100." So far, so bad.
4. The battle to replace Mavs' AAC public address announcer Billy Hayes is down to two - Michael Taylor and Sean Heath. Taylor worked last night's game; Heath gets next Tuesday's game against the Jazz. Taylor was much less over-the-top than Hayes, but a little robotic at times. Certainly there's an amount of fame that goes along with the gig, but little fortune. I hear only $200 a game.
3. The guy who looked like A-Rod wearing the Yankees cap in the second row? Sure enough, Miles Austin.
2. Talked for about 30 minutes with Mark Cuban, who sweated a river while doing his pre-game Stairmaster workout. He told me that yes, thanks for asking, Nowitzki is still evolving. "He's got a little jump-hook this year," Cuban said between huffs and puffs. "He's got a drop-step in the low post. He's going to play closer to the basket. But he's also going to re-discover his 3-pointer. Last year we kind of hung our head on defense when we missed a shot so he became afraid to shoot them."
1. It's a long season and we likely won't remember anything about this game - or this month - by the time the playoffs roll around. But with empty seats in the building last night and the Lakers looming Friday, stumbling out of the starting gate is the last thing the Mavs needed. Hello, 0-2. The Mavs started 2-7 on their way to 52-30 last year.
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