DALLAS _ Under normal circumstances, the Dallas Mavericks probably would be able to make up some ground on the San Antonio Spurs as the latter embarks on a long road trip.
But in this case, the Mavs are not counting on that luxury.
The Spurs leave today for a nine-game, 18-day road trip while the San Antonio Stock Show & Rodeo occupies the AT&T Center. The trip covers 8,230 miles and three different time zones.
With the Mavs (31-16) 8 1/2 games behind the Spurs (40-7) in the Southwest Division, Dallas could look at this as an opportunity to make up some much-needed ground on the Spurs. But since the Spurs -- this is their ninth year doing the rodeo trip -- have never had a losing record on the rodeo trip and have never lost back-to-back games on the rodeo trip, the Mavs are looking at the rodeo trip as business as usual for San Antonio.
"I think they’re playing extremely well, so it doesn’t matter if they’re going on a rodeo trip or if they had nine at home,'' point guard Jason Kidd said. "They’re playing well at home and on the road, so for us we can't worry about San Antonio or anybody else.''
After shoot around this morning, Mavs coach Rick Carlisle shrugeed his shoulders when asked about the Spurs' rodeo trip. Then he said: "Just looking at us.''
The Spurs have the league's best home record (25-2) and best road record (15-5). They also are 27-4 against the Western Conference and 15-3 against the East.
San Antonio's road trip includes games against Portland, the LA Lakers, Sacramento, Detroit, Toronto, Philadelphia, Washington, New Jersey and Chicago. Portland, the Lakers and Chicago are the only teams among that group with a winning record, and the Lakers are only 1-5 against the league's power teams.
So, in effect, the rodeo trip could be a blessing in disguise for the Spurs. They are 44-20 since starting the rodeo trips during the 2002-03 season.
By the way, while the Spurs are on the road through Feb. 17, the Mavs play seven on their nine games on the road during that same time frame.
Kidd said: "We've just got to take care of our business and get better and put as much marks in the 'W' column and see what happens at the end.''
-- Dwain Price