Saturday, April 5, 2008

Chance to rise in desert

PHOENIX – Same song, different verse. The Mavericks left the City of Angels humming a tune all too familiar to fans of the blue, silver and white (and sometimes green) for the last couple months.

The opportunity to beat the Lakers on their home court was there Friday night, but once again the Mavs didn’t do the little things down the stretch. A slow defensive rotation here, a botched offensive possession there equaled another gut-wrenching setback to a Western Conference contender.

Now is not the time to wallow in the past. Not with what’s at stake. The Mavs have to get right back on the horse for a Sunday matinee performance at US Airways Center. Steve Nash, Shaquille O’Neal and the rest of the Phoenix Suns aren’t in the mood to pity.

“I just like to see our team fight,” Avery Johnson said. “I hope it can get to be a real consistent deal, but I like the determination and the fight in our team.”

The Mavs and Suns have split two games this season going into the third and final game in the series. This is the first clash between Nash and Kidd since blockbuster trades reshaped both franchises.

The two All-NBA point guards were once teammates in Phoenix (Nash backed up Kidd from 1996-98) and share a star-crossed history in Dallas. Neither, however, is worried about past dramas. It’s about the present.

“We understand what position we’re in,” Kidd said.

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