Dirk Nowitzki, Tony Brown

Dallas coach calls players “soft,” Jason Terry not too fond of that

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If you tuned out last night with Dallas up 7 and one minute to go, you missed one epic collapse. Just the fact the Hornets got three offensive rebounds in the final minute — not to mention 8 straight points — to get the win should tell you how Dallas played. How they lost to a Hornets team without Chris Paul.

Mavs coach Rick Carlisle had a word for it, one he told ESPN Dallas:

“Soft,” Carlisle said of his team… “Yeah,” the coach reiterated, “soft.”

Carlisle clearly has taken the Phil Jackson class on sending your team a message through the media. He wanted to get a rise out of his team. It worked.

“Who said that?” Jason Terry said, scoffing at the accusation after he had an off night — rare for him of late — with 10 points. “I’m not soft, not me. I don’t know where that comes from, but we ain’t soft. We have to see how he meant soft in that aspect, but I know he wasn’t talking to me personally or any of my teammates because I don’t think none of these guys are soft.”

We’ll see if that translates into actions when the Mavericks take on the Knicks Thursday.

The Mavs are not soft, but the Hornets did outwork them. Carlisle also used the word “toughness,” as in the Mavericks lacked it. The Mavs are a good team but they are not good enough to coast. Not good enough to take their foot off of the gas.

Even for the final minute.

Is DeMarcus Cousins MVP worthy? “It’s mine to grab”

DeMarcus Cousins
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Last season, DeMarcus Cousins received zero MVP votes (the same as every year of his career). Even though he averaged 24.1 points, and 12.7 rebounds a game, which was enough to get him his first All-Star berth, MVP is another thing entirely. Only players on winning teams tend to draw the attention of MVP voters.

This season, can Cousins — arguably the best center in the game — get in the conversation?

He thinks it’s more than just that, he told Kevin Ding at Bleacher Report.

The topic is the 2015-16 NBA MVP award and whether it could be reachable for DeMarcus Cousins.

“Reachable, man?” Cousins told Bleacher Report, his voice rising high. “It’s mine to grab.”

As noted above, the only way Cousins gets into the conversation — fair or not — is if the Kings are in the playoffs (at the very least). He understands that.

“It’s going to take a full team effort,” Cousins said. “I’ll try to play at a high level and bring my team along with me.”

Vlade Divac built a Kings’ team designed to start winning now — as you would expect from a team a year away from moving into a new arena they need to fill. Owner Vivek Ranadive is not about selling hope anymore, he wants to sell wins.

I think Cousins can help provide that.

I’m less sold on the cast around him being able to help.

PBT Extra bold prediction preview: Markieff Morris will be a happy Sun

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After a bumpy season where the he fought with Suns coaches, then a summer where he and his twin Marcus felt they were blindsided by a trade, Markieff Morris has been plenty vocal about his unhappiness in Phoenix. To the point it has cost him some serious cash.

So what should we expect from Markieff Morris’ upcoming season?

Relative calm, I tell Jenna Corrado of NBCSports in this latest edition of PBT Extra previewing the NBA season.

The reasons are twofold. First, he has to realize the Suns aren’t trading him anyway (especially not while he publicly demands a trade, lowering his trade value). Second, can you imagine how new locker room leader Tyson Chandler is going to react to that? Chandler was brought in to fill a leadership void in the locker room, and you can bet he will make his displeasure at such team-disrupting antics known.

Still not sure if that’s enough to get the Suns to the playoffs.