Jason Terry: "I know this team is locked in. We're ready."

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Marion_dunk.jpgThere’s some swagger in the Dallas Mavericks locker room right now. Not over-the-top, Sam Cassell “big balls dance” swagger, but a real, palpable confidence.

A blowout win can help with that confidence (even if it is against the Clippers, who have folded the tents on the season). But this is more than that, it is confidence of a veteran group that feels it has a real chance.

“I know this team is locked in. We’re ready,” Jason Terry said.

There was consistent talk of a veteran team that knows what is ahead of it.

“Our core nucleus of guys have been through all the battles and we feel it is our time,” Terry said.

Shawn Marion put the veteran thing more bluntly.

“We’re an old team,” he said. “We got a lot of guys who have been at different depths deep into the playoffs…. That experience will help us. With the depth we’ve got on this team we should be able to make a real good run.”

That attitude — confident and ready to go to work — was evident throughout the locker room. They were having some fun on the road. It was a contrast from the other big Western Conference power, the Lakers, where lately their locker room — just down the hall at Staples Center — has seen questions of confidence and execution. It has not seemed so sure of itself. Dallas does.

“This year our struggles have been when we didn’t bring it consistently on both ends of the floor,” Terry said, “We’d get big leads then we’d lose them. Now this is the time of year where you get a big lead you need to put them away. You get a lead in the playoffs you got to take advantage of it. I think our mind is right and we are ready to go forward.”

Pretty much everyone on the Mavericks sounded confident to a man… well, except coach Rick Carlisle. He’s paid to worry.

“We’re not where we need to be,” he said after the game. “We need to continue to work at playing better. Defense and rebounding is always going to be the starting point for us playing great basketball… We’ve taken some positive steps but we are by no means there.”

Even Carlisle had to admit that his team has looked good and been in a comfortable groove lately. Which of course for a coach is reason to worry.

“I don’t like being comfortable,” Carlisle said.

Devin Booker drops 70 points for Suns in loss to Celtics (VIDEO)

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Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker is just 20 years old. He’s a League Pass favorite, and indeed he should be a favorite in Phoenix for years to come. On Friday, Booker dropped 70 points — yes, 70 — in a loss to the Boston Celtics.

Booker’s 70 points is the best outing of the season. It also made him the youngest player to ever reach 70 points.

His final stat line, as you might imagine, was ridiculous. Booker shot 21-of-40 from the field, going 4-of-11 on 3-pointers and a whopping 24-of-26 from the free-throw line. The Suns phenom also grabbed eight rebounds to go with six assists.

Despite the loss to Boston, 130-120, it’s still an incredible milestone for Phoenix and for Booker. There’s a bright spot out there for the Suns.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon skies to finish amazing alley-oop (VIDEO)

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Aaron Gordon may not have had the best dunk contest this year — apparently drones and dunks don’t mix well — but the guy can still get up and finish with the best in the league.

As he did on this alley-oop against Detroit.

Elfrid Payton had to throw a lob that would get over Andre Drummond, but how many guys in the league can get that high, reach back and finish that? Damn.

Former Hawk Pero Antic’s celebration accidentally punches teammate in face in Eruoleague (VIDEO)

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Former Atlanta Hawk Pero Antic is now playing for Turkish powerhouse Fenerbahce, in case you were not aware.

Fenerbahce was facing Anadolu Efes in a EuroLeague game, it was tight late and former NBA player Ekpe Udoh was at the free throw line for Fenerbahce. He missed his second shot, but the rebound caromed out-of-bounds off an Anadolu Efes player. Antic was pumped.

Maybe a little too pumped.

Ouch.

That was Nikola Kalinic, by the way, the guy Antic now owes dinner to. Kalinic would like the dinner more than the hug and kiss he got from Antic right after the play.

Also, Anadolu Efes held on to win 80-77.

(Hat tip to Ball Don’t Lie.)

James Harden helped recruit Lou Williams to Houston

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The Lakers had been shopping Lou Williams around in the run-up to the trade deadline, the only question was would they get a first-round pick for him. Rumors around the league say that Houston had offered them one weeks before, it was on the table, but the Jim Buss/Mitch Kupchak front office held their cards close and hoped a better deal would come through.

While all that was going on James Harden decided to ease the process and did a little recruiting calling up Williams, the sixth-man guard told Shams Charania of The Vertical at Yahoo Sports.

“When James called, he asked me if I was interested in playing with them,” Williams told The Vertical. “I told him that I loved the Lakers, but James and them have a group that fit my personality, fit how I play. He said he was going to make it happen.”

Williams then laughed, sitting on the edge of a visiting court following a recent practice. “I’ve heard that before, so I didn’t really put stock into it,” Williams told The Vertical. “I guess James did put the word in, and the team made it happen.”

We all know what happened, Jeanie Buss removed her brother and Kupchak a few days before the trade deadline, Magic Johnston stepped in, called around, and quickly pulled the trigger on a trade that sent Williams to Houston (the Lakers also got Corey Brewer). Williams has averaged 14.5 points per game and had some strong performances with the Rockets, although he’s still finding his groove with the team on the court. Still, he’s been an upgrade for the Rockets’ bench.

Harden knew he would be, so he did his part to make sure it happened.