Archives For Darko

A funny thing happened on the way to Nikola Pekovic’s contract year: Kevin Love broke his hand and gave Pek the chance to show just how much he’s worth.

The timing of this injury — in line with Pek’s last season before restricted free agency — couldn’t have been more perfect for the third-year center. In fact, it’s a complete win-win for him. If he plays well and helps carry the team for the first month or more, he probably guarantees himself a max offer in restricted free agency, just to put pressure on the organization to match (I see you, Paul Allen). If he doesn’t play well and help carry the team, nobody would fault him at all for not being up for the task.

Pekovic came into this season with the preseason buzz phrase “best shape of his life.” He looked like a lean pitbull, ready to patrol the dog run without a glimmer of fear. With eight-ish pounds shed off his immense frame, Pek has not only taken the pressure off his surgically repaired ankle, but he’s allowed himself to move a lot freer than before. And somehow he even got stronger.  Continue Reading…

Dirk Nowitzki didn’t play against the Wolves Wednesday night. Does it cheapen the road victory?

It’s easy to look at this game flippantly and just assume the Wolves got a road victory in Dallas because the Mavericks were missing their best player. And on many levels, that certainly helps the gameplan and execution of the Wolves on both ends of the court. It changes the game for both sides and gives the Mavericks fewer outs on broken possessions. However, to look at Dirk’s injury and then ignore the Wolves’ bevy of bang-ups is too much oversight and not enough credit for the Wolves’ gritty performance in Dallas.

No J.J. Barea, no Luke Ridnour, no Martell Webster, no Malcom Lee. That’s a lot of guards on one roster to be absent from a game. It left the Wolves with Ricky Rubio, Wayne Ellington and Wes Johnson as the only players familiar with the backcourt.

The kind of strain that can put on such a young backcourt is immeasurable. The Dallas Mavericks’ defensive system isn’t the title-clinching plastic bag that is not to be used as a toy we saw last year, but it’s also not the essence of benevolent resistance you would assume from a unit anchored by Brendan Haywood. Dallas was the third best defense in the NBA heading into this game, and despite missing their franchise’s best player and leader, they still had a very deep and difficult backcourt ready to battle two wing players and a microphone rookie point guard. Continue Reading…