Friday, March 7, 2008

Emotional return for Harris and Diop

Of course there’s going to be some emotion spilled inside American Airlines Center tomorrow night when a few former Mavericks make their return as New Jersey Nets. The outpouring should be especially moving for Devin Harris and Gana Diop, two integral parts of the Mavs’ success over the last several years.

“They played their hearts out every time they stepped on the court for this organization, so I wish them luck for the future,” Dirk Nowitzki said today after practice. “Hopefully the fans will give them a warm welcome. I think they deserve it after what they’ve done here for these couple years. It will be good to see them and hopefully they have a good game, but the Mavericks can win.”

Trenton Hassell and Moe Ager are also returning. Those four were shipped to New Jersey (along with a semi-retired Keith Van Horn) as part of the mammoth Jason Kidd trade last month. Harris has looked sharp since coming back from his foot injury, while Diop’s playing time has fluctuated.

“They’re happy to be playing and having an opportunity to play,” Josh Howard said. “I’m happy that they are, but I know they miss the city.”

Howard has spoken to several times to his former teammates. He expects them to be sufficiently motivated, but said that’s not what tomorrow is all about.

“Those guys are doing what they have to do,” he said. “It’s a job. I could have easily been one of those guys that got traded, but after a while you have a job to do and that’s what they’re doing.”

And don’t forget, Howard and his current teammates are plenty motivated to end a three-game losing skid and start building some momentum with 20 games left in the regular season. Houston snapped the Mavs’ 12-game home winning streak last night.

“We have to protect our home court,” Howard said. “We had a rough loss last night. We can’t let those guys come in here and beat us. That’ll give them extra bragging rights.”

Get a preview of the Nets in the today’s notebook at

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