Mavs make pact to sport beards

DALLAS -- Get used to the sight of a bushy beard on Dirk Nowitzki's face. It isn't going away until the 21-28 Dallas Mavericks get back to .500.

"It's been rough," said Nowitzki, who made a pact with a handful of teammates recently. "There's been some itching going on. Since we're still down seven games under .500, it's a long way to go."

O.J. Mayo and Vince Carter, who sport beards anyway, were the originators of the idea. They agreed not to trim their beards other than on the neck until the Mavs get back to the break-even point.

Dahntay Jones, Chris Kaman and Jae Crowder soon agreed to be part of the beards pact. It's difficult to tell with Crowder, a rookie second-round pick who can't grow anything close to a full beard.

"Kaman looks like a freakin' grizzly," Carter said. "We were just like, 'Let's do it,' and guys were all in. Crowder's trying."

Nowitzki is suspected of a violation. Carter has accused him of trimming his beard.

"He said, 'Oh, I had an appearance,'" Carter said. "No, that wasn't the deal, bro."

However, Nowitzki claims that he has lived up to the letter of the locker-room law.

"I trimmed my neck because it was getting stuck in my shirts," Nowitzki said. "That didn't feel good, so I trimmed my neck, but the beard has basically been going since -- I don't know when we started -- a couple weeks ago. It's been going strong."

The Mavs, on the other hand, haven't been going nearly as strong as they hoped. They haven't been .500 since they were 11-11 in mid-December.

For Nowitzki and his teammates to shave this season, the Mavs have to get hot now. They started a five-game homestand Wednesday night with a win over the Portland Trail Blazers. They have only two road games the rest of February.

"It's going to be tough," said Nowitzki, whose Mavs have had winning records the past 12 seasons, including 11 consecutive 50-win campaigns. "We know that. We've got to win at a high clip. There's going to be some close games in the second half of the season that we've just got to find ways to win. I think the first half of the season, we found ways to lose those close games.

"I think anything is possible in this league. We've just got to get a little momentum here going before the break, and I think anything's possible."