Monday, April 28, 2008

Players run practice going into Game 5

NEW ORLEANS – Whatever happens Tuesday night in New Orleans, the Mavericks are coming home. It’s either to play another game or face another offseason of questions and uncertainty.

That point was reached after Sunday’s disappointing 13-point loss, leaving New Orleans one victory shy of advancing to the Western Conference semifinals. Trailing the best-of-7 series 3-1 with Game 5 on the Hornets’ floor, the Mavs need three straight wins to hold off an early summer.

“We’re still alive,” Johnson said Monday from the team hotel. “We’re playing this game tomorrow and we have every reason in the world to think that we can win it.”

They’re not going to win all three Tuesday. The one-game-at-a-time manta is cliché, but it’s also the only approach left. The Mavs departed Monday afternoon for New Orleans after a rare players-only practice.

Johnson met with the team before canceling the scheduled workout. The players then decided to get on the court anyway without the coaching staff, conceivably to work out a few things amongst themselves. Johnson welcomed the move.

“I don’t know if we need another drill,” he said. “We’ve been having drills and scrimmages and a lot of things since the first day of training camp, and if you don’t have it by now, I don’t know if you’re going to have a Cliff Notes session and get it.

“I was thinking about just keeping the legs fresh and meeting on the plane, but they decided that they needed to go down on the court and do something. We’ll see what type of carryover it has.”

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