The Daily Six Shooter April 7, 2011

1. It’s a shame the Dallas Mavericks aren’t playing better. With the Lakers losing and Oklahoma City hot on their tail, instead of fretting over falling to the 4th seed in the Western Conference, they could be battling for that coveted #2 seed. Sadly, the Mavs struggles continued last night when Denver came into Dallas and pushed the team’s losing streak to four games. Not only has Dallas lost four in a row, they’ve lost nine straight to opponents that are currently in the playoffs.

It’s a disturbing trend made even worse by the fact that Tyson Chandler still isn’t back from injury and Jason Kidd took the night off to rest.

It certainly didn’t have to do with the way Dirk Nowitzki, Shawn Marion or Jason Terry played. The three combined for 56 points on 60% shooting. But the rest of the team couldn’t help much on offense and that led to fast break points and more opportunities for the Nuggets in their victory.

While the losing streak started before Chandler went down with an injury, his addition will be big. He was a game-time decision last night and should be back for the Mavs game at home against the Clippers on Friday.

Dallas is only one game ahead of the Oklahoma City Thunder as the #3 seed in the West with games against the Clippers, Suns, Rockets and Hornets to finish the season. Before you consider the benefits of falling to the 4th seed to avoid the Lakers in the 2nd round of the playoffs, consider that their first round opponent would be the Denver Nuggets who have lost consecutive games just once since the all star break. More than seeding, the Mavs should be worried about winning down the stretch.

2. Although it seemed like it was in complete jeopardy less than a week ago, thanks to a quick bounce back and a slump by the Los Angeles Lakers, the San Antonio Spurs clinched home court advantage in the Western Conference with a win over the Sacramento Kings last night.

Check out our recap and find out what we learned on the night the Spurs clinched.

3. While the Houston Rockets haven’t been mathematically eliminated from the playoffs yet, it was a painful loss to take last night when the New Orleans Hornets took them down in a close game to clinch their own playoff spot.

Jonathan Feigen of the Houston Chronicle writes about how painful it was to hear the Hornets and their fans celebrate and how it will serve as motivation next season.

4. This is getting ridiculous to the point where it’ll be news when the Texas Rangers lose a game because their winning games at a ridiculous rate to start off the season. They’re 6-0 after their 2nd straight home sweep. The latest one was at the hands of the Seattle Mariners.

Only a couple of Rangers had multiple hits in this game, but Nelson Cruz salvaged what was looking like his first hitless day with a 2-RBI double in the 8th inning to extend the Texas lead. The last couple of games, he’s shown a penchant for going down and driving balls that are low and away in the strike zone. It’s a promising trend because it’s among the weakest areas of his swing, but of course he’s started the season so hot that he’s a threat to make something happen every time he goes to the plate.

CJ Wilson, while he pitched well against Boston, was run off before throwing even six full innings against the Red Sox. On the hill against Seattle, he didn’t have dominant, overpowering stuff but he did get the Mariners to hit a surprising amount of weak dribblers back to the mound for easy outs. So even when Seattle did make contact, the balls weren’t even close to leaving the infield.

5. Huzzah for the Houston Astros! Today they got their first win of the season as they kept themselves from matching their eight game losing streak to start last season. But even in victory there were some disappointments, like how Brett Myers wasn’t able to get the win despite throwing more than six innings of quality ball only allowing two runs to score. And then there was Brandon Lyon. Given another chance to get his first save of the season, he allowed two hits with the tying run at 2nd and the winning run at 1st before getting the final out.

The Astros were also fortune to win the way they did because of the way they hit. No one had more than one hit in the game and the team only went 1-7 with runners in scoring position. Their first two runs were scored on ground-outs. Houston has yet to score more than four runs in a game so we’ll see if getting a win will help things improve on the offensive side.

It could be worse. They could be the Red Sox.

6. And finally, I’m going to be spending a lot of time texting and calling my father over the next couple of days because our highest rates of conversation are always during the majors and today, The Masters begins.

I’ll be keeping my eye out not just for my favorite golfer and fellow lefty Phil Mickelson but also some of the guys with Texas connections like Brandt Snedeker, who won the Permian Basin Charity Golf Classic in West Texas as a member of the Nationwide Tour. University of Houston alum (and my favorite golfer when I was a little kid) Fred Couples always seems to play Augusta well and was even in contention through three round, but ultimately finished 6th. And then there’s Jhonattan Vegas. After going pro following a successful career at the University of Texas, he’s come out of the gates firing this season and it’ll be interesting to see how he handles Augusta National.

About Javi Perez

Javi Perez is a contributing editor with Playmaker Magazine heading up the sports desk, as well as covering the San Antonio Spurs, Dallas Cowboys, Houston Texans, Texas Longhorns, Dallas Mavericks, Houston Rockets, film, and TV. He currently lives in San Antonio.