Things you might not know about Josh Howard: He has unusually long arms, he wears braces, he was a religion major in college, he spoke out against the Iraq war, and he is the best player on the Dallas Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki, the Mavs' gangly, Hasselhoff-loving star and reigning greatest German in the NBA, was last year's league MVP, but the crafty Howard has become the team's heart and soul. Howard's Mavs remain an elite squad, but are not quite the businesslike, 67-win juggernauts of last season. They seem to be still regaining their bearings after their monumental playoff collapse against the anarchic Golden State Warriors, and they've had some bad losses to not-so-good teams, as well as a close call against our very own Timberwolves. Does this mean that the Wolves have a chance in hell to pull off an upset? Oh, probably not. These fresh-faced T-Wolves can be endearing and fun-loving, and they usually put on a good show for about half of the game, but they are still, undoubtedly, the worst team in the league. Still, Howard's combination of fire, skill, and composure is a pleasure to watch in any setting, and the price of admission to the mostly vacant Target Center should get you a nice, close look.
Sun., Jan. 6, 2:30 p.m., 2008