Saturday, March 29, 2008

Focus stays on the hardwood

OAKLAND – The mental state of the Mavericks is not one of the concerns right now for Avery Johnson. Coming off Thursday’s loss at Denver and with a couple of days to regroup in the San Francisco Bay area, the focus is on basketball.

Not pep talks.

“They play hard,” Johnson said. “They’ve taken a lot and they play hard. They come to play. They do what we ask them to do. We got some good performances and some not good performances. We just can’t have any letdowns in any areas right now.”

Johnson pointed to turnovers and rebounding as the main reasons why a 15-point lead was surrendered in the 118-105 setback to the Nuggets. The Mavs gave the ball away 17 times, six by Jason Kidd and five from Malik Allen, leading to 23 points. Denver grabbed seven offensive rebounds in the second half to enjoy a 9-0 edge in second-chance points after the break.

The Mavs (45-27) resumed practice Saturday at the Warriors’ downtown facility. Golden State, Denver and Dallas are locked in a three-way round-robin battle for the final two playoff spots in the Western Conference. The Warriors were in Denver on Saturday. Golden State visits Dallas on Wednesday.

“It’s fun. It’s competitive,” Kidd said. “As a professional you want to be competitive and I got everything that I want. It’s nothing but competitive each night and we are fighting for our lives, just like everybody else is.”

Keep reading and get a preview of Golden State in today’s notebook at

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