Mavs on the move - new hotel should minimize distractions
20:15:17 EDT Jun 16, 2006
MIAMI (AP) - Dallas Mavericks coach Avery Johnson was serious about ending his team's "vacation mentality."
At the coach's order, the club packed up and left its downtown Miami hotel on Friday and moved to Fort Lauderdale.
"That's really ... to kind of refocus a little bit," said Donnie Nelson, the team's president of basketball operations. "It's a little bit of training camp, bunker mentality, which I think is sort of a good call."
The Mavericks came to Miami leading the NBA finals 2-0. They're now tied with the Miami Heat 2-2 going into Game 5 on Sunday night.
Players were excused from talking to media Friday, but the coaches spoke. Johnson had some sharp words about the team's attitude.
"Fort Lauderdale certainly doesn't have the same distractions, challenges of say downtown, close to the beach and all that," Nelson said. "I think sometimes you have to make a change for change sake. This just gives us an opportunity to get back to a little bit more of a training camp type of regimen, refocus and completely cut out the distractions."
Nelson added that the move was not made to address a particular problem.
"It's not like our guys were dancing the streets until 3 o'clock in the morning," he said. "More than anything, we just need to be able to rebound the core of why we're here. It's changing gears for good reasons."
AH, THE GOOD OLD DAYS: Alonzo Mourning wasn't enthused when Miami centre Shaquille O'Neal was sent flying out of bounds by Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse in Game 4 of the NBA final.
Still, it did remind Mourning of a different time in the NBA - a time he greatly enjoyed.
Mourning was, and is, no stranger to intense contact around the rim. And after Miami's 98-74 win Thursday night, he said he longs for the days when the NBA game was more physical than it is today, albeit not necessarily to the flagrant-foul level of the Stackhouse-O'Neal incident.
"What happened to that part of the game? That's what I know and that's what I miss, when you could touch someone," the Heat backup centre said. "We're used to it."
Mourning was in a good mood, of course, after the Game 4 win - but the sage in the Miami locker room was quick to caution teammates that two victories in the NBA finals means little.
"We know where our strength lies. It's right here in this locker room without y'all in it," Mourning told reporters afterward. "All season we've had doubters. Somehow we've always found a way to work hard, come together and make it right. Make it right. Make it right."
Stackhouse was suspended one game by the NBA on Friday for the hit.
DAY OF REST: Neither team practised Friday, since the finals don't resume until Sunday night. But when asked for specifics on how his team would prepare for Game 5, Mavs coach Avery Johnson seemed a tiny bit exasperated.
"Would it matter? What's your suggestion?" he asked the inquiring reporter.
When the reporter said she'd recommend the Mavs "get a little shooting in," the room broke out in laughs - except for the coach sitting on the dais.
"OK," Johnson said, before moving on to the next question.
Players were not available for comment Friday. Only Johnson and Heat coach Pat Riley met with reporters.
STACKHOUSE AND BAVETTA: When Dallas' Jerry Stackhouse and veteran referee Dick Bavetta get together, fireworks tend to occur.
Bavetta was one of the three referees working Game 4 Thursday night - when Stackhouse levelled Heat centre Shaquille O'Neal with a flagrant foul. Stackhouse was suspended one game by the NBA on Friday for the hit.
Bavetta - who was trailing the Stackhouse-Shaq play - made a flagrant-foul call against Stackhouse in last year's playoffs, when he hit Phoenix's Joe Johnson in Game 2 of the Western Conference semifinals. Johnson landed face-first and fractured a bone near his left eye on the play.
And this year, after drawing a double-technical in a regular-season game in San Antonio which Dallas lost 98-89, Stackhouse verbally assaulted Bavetta - who was working that night, too - afterward.
"It's tough to come on the road in this environment and have to play against the refs, too. ... It's like the game is about him," Stackhouse told The (Fort Worth) Star-Telegram that night in an expletive-filled tirade.
For what it's worth, Bavetta was on the officiating crews when Dallas won close-out games against both San Antonio and Phoenix en route to the Western Conference championship.
HERE AND THERE: Dallas' Josh Howard has logged 35 1/2 minutes of fourth-quarter playing time in the finals without a single point. ... Miami is 10-1 at home this postseason, including seven straight wins. ... Heat centre Shaquille O'Neal had 13 rebounds in Game 4, giving him 369 in finals games - eight more than Larry Bird for eighth on the all-time list. ... When Alonzo Mourning is in the game for Miami, the Heat have outscored the Mavericks 99-81 in these finals. When he's not, the Heat has been outscored 278-262. ... D.J. Mbenga, who was suspended for the last six games after going into the stands during the Western Conference finals, will be on the active roster for Game 5 of the finals, coach Avery Johnson said Friday. ... The Heat played a total of 51 playoff games in their first 15 seasons. Game 6 of the finals in Dallas on Tuesday will be their 51st in the last three seasons.
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