Friday, November 30, 2007

Avery on facing Portland tonight

Here are Avery Johnson’s thoughts from shootaround this morning. The Mavs finish up their three-game homestand tonight against Portland, which is also the only Western Conference to beat Dallas this season.

How did the new-old starting lineup (Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard, Devin Harris, Jason Terry and Erick Dampier) do Wednesday against Minnesota?
“They got off to a good start. Lot of enthusiasm. I think they were really excited to be back out there on the floor as a group. They hadn’t been together like that all season, so they were excited. We had a good first half and then they built up a 20-point lead in the third quarter, and then from there we started having some problems. That’s been prevalent for a while, but I thought they did a nice job in the first half and helped partly into the third quarter. They did a nice job of just making sure we got the win at the end of the game.”

How has rehab gone for Dampier?
“He’s making some progress. We stretched him out pretty good, close to about 30 minutes the last game, and if we didn’t have playing those 30 minutes the way he battled [Al] Jefferson, it could have gotten pretty ugly. He’s made some progress. He’s running the floor pretty good. He almost had a double-double the last game. If he can just do that and take up space. He’s our offensive and defensive linemen all rolled together into one.”

The plan initially was to start Gana Diop at center.
“We hope for a lot of things, all right. I can hope Avery Jr. can come out here and be the next starting point guard and I want to coach him. That may not happen. Sometimes you hope for things. Like I’ve been saying all along, we hope Eddie Jones can come back and start at the 2-guard spot. But if it doesn’t work, you can’t push something that’s not going to work. Damp is there. He’s been there. Before Damp got injured last year, I thought he did a heck of a job for us.”

What will be different than the 91-82 at Portland three weeks ago?
“We didn’t have Devin when we played them last time and we didn’t shoot the ball well. More than anything we’ve got to meet our goals on defense, which we haven’t met for quite some time. We’ll keep trying to get after it and competing. We need a lot of hustle and energy against this young team. Since we’ve played them, we have a little bit better idea of how they’re going to attack now. Hopefully with some adjustments there and paying attention to detail and making them pay on the defensive end, we can play much better than we did in Portland.”

Thoughts on Blazers forward LaMarcus Aldridge.
“He’s come along nicely. Finishing inside. He’s a threat on the post. Once he gets that ball above his head on the perimeter, it’s hard to get there and contest it. Just long and athletic. It looks like he loves to play. Nate [McMillan] says he’s very coachable, so he’s really turned out to be a nice player.”

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