Saturday, February 9, 2008

Barea follows a very familiar path

It’s easy, even understandable, to pigeonhole JJ Barea. He stuck with the Mavericks last season as an undrafted free agent. From tip to tip, you can’t stretch 6 feet out of him.

He’s an afterthought. An underdog. He’s … Avery Johnson 20 years ago. That’s not bad company.

“I’m realistic,” Barea said, scaling back his natural bravado. “I’m really realistic, but I’m always looking for the best. I want to be a starter wherever, but I’m realistic, too. I could be a backup for a couple years or I could be starter.”

He’s run the gamut this season. He’s filled in as a spot starter, found himself in the rotation for stretches and been inactive. The trick is staying ready and steady on the roller coaster those on the fringe ride.

“We’re trying to a point where he can be a rotation guy,” Johnson said. “It’s not when we’re up by 30 or down big where we can throw him in the game and the fans go crazy. We need him to have a significant role now and we’re trying to get him to a point where we get him comfortable.”

Barea is slated to make his fourth consecutive start Sunday at New Jersey. The Mavs, coincidentally or not, are riding a three-game winning streak and have climbed back to the top of the Southwest Division at 34-15.

Read the rest of this story, along with a Nets preview, at

Friday, February 8, 2008

Notables from 92-81 win vs. Grizzlies

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: The Mavericks started a 20-7 run at the 10:15 mark of the 3rd quarter when they led 49-41. With 4:02 to go in the period, Dallas led 69-48.

• Jerry Stackhouse returned to action tonight after missing the last 8 games with a strained right hamstring. He finished the game with 7 points, 3 assists, 1 steal, 11 minutes off the bench.
• Erick Dampier was unavailable tonight due to a sprained right ankle. Gana Diop started in his place and contributed 8 points, 12 rebounds, 2 blocks, 26 minutes.
• Diop’s 12 rebounds were the most since he came down with 11 vs. DEN (1/27).
• Dallas improved to 2-1 when at least 3 reserves score 10+ points. Tonight, Devean George (14), Brandon Bass (13), Jason Terry (11) had at least 10 off the bench.
George’s 13 points (6-8 FGs, 1-2 3FGs) marked a season-high. (previous high was 12 at UTA, 12/26)
• Memphis’ Rudy Gay recorded his 7th double-double of the season (team-highs 18 points, 12 rebounds).
• The Mavericks have won their last 3 games by an average of 10.3 points per game
• Dallas has now won 10 straight games over Memphis – 14 games when including the 1st round sweep of the Grizzlies in the 2006 NBA Playoffs.
• The Mavs have won 9 consecutive home games. They lost, 81-88, vs. CLE (12/27) at AAC.
Tonight’s attendance was 20,315 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 259 consecutive regular season games at AAC and 297 games including the postseason. Dallas currently owns the longest running sellout streak in the NBA. The Sacramento Kings previously held the streak but failed to sellout their home opener this season. The Mavs are now ranked #10 on the all-time NBA sellout streak list.

Mavs roll over rebuilding Grizzlies

A few well-timed bursts were enough to separate from rebuilding Memphis and the Mavericks rolled to a 92-81 victory Friday night before 20,315 fans at American Airlines Center.

The Southwest Division-leading Mavs (34-15) finished up a brisk two-game homestand with their third consecutive win overall and third against the Grizzlies this season. It’s also the 10th straight win over the division foe for Dallas, which begins a two-game East Coast road trip Sunday at New Jersey.

Coming off his first career triple-double, Dirk Nowitzki scored 21 and added six rebounds. Jason Terry, Devean George and Brandon Bass each scored at least 11 off the bench. Jerry Stackhouse, back after a seven-game absence, had an efficient seven points and three assists in 11 minutes.

“He was pretty effective tonight in his minutes,” coach Avery Johnson said of Stackhouse. “Only playing around 12 to 14 and it will be the same probably the next game. We just want to make sure that he is over this issue and we will see how he recovers and if he recovers well, we will see how he feels for Sunday.

“We are definitely going to need him though if we are going to do anything this year.”

Gana Diop had his most effective game in months with 12 rebounds and eight points starting in place of injured center Erick Dampier, who was nursing a sprained right ankle. (Dampier said after the game he hopes to return before the All-Star break.) Diop remained active defensively, protected the basket (two blocks) and finished in the paint, making all four of his shots.

“I’ve been trying to stay ready,” Diop said. “I’ve been doing a lot of extra work. I came in here last night to get an hour just to stay ready, because you know how the West is and they’re going to need me in this game, and you’ve got to stay ready.”

Gana focused from start

Gana Diop wasn’t in the locker room during the 45-minute media availability prior to hosting the Grizzlies. Asked why on his way out to the court minutes before tip, he just pointed to his head and mouthed one word.


The subject of dwindling minutes and inconsistent play in the eyes of his coach, Diop was pressed back into the starting lineup with Erick Dampier hurt. The starter center for the last two months had to sit with sprained right ankle.

Mavericks coach Avery Johnson took Diop aside Friday morning before the team’s shootaround to deliver a pep talk. Or at least Johnson’s version of a pep talk.

“He’s going to have to be ready to play and when he gets out there he’s going to have to make his presence felt, especially with blocking shots,” Johnson explained. “We can’t afford to have teams come down the middle on us, especially when he’s in the game.

“He has to hard foul, he has to block the shot, really contest the shot, hopefully they’ll miss it, and rebound for us. That’s his primary job. I think sometimes he puts a little too much pressure on himself finishing offensively inside rather than defending the paint.”

Diop started the first 14 games of the season, as Dampier recovered from offseason shoulder surgery. He averaged 7.8 rebounds and 3.9 points before Dampier rejoined the first team. Diop started another couple of games in early January with Dampier out.

Damp is out and Diop is in

Erick Dampier gave his tender right ankle a try before tonight’s game, but won’t be able to go.

“We’re down Damp tonight,” Avery Johnson said. “I just finished watching him warm up and he cannot play in this game. He just cannot go tonight. I don’t want to put him in further danger.”

Gana Diop, the starting center the first 14 games of the season, moves into Dampier’s place.

“We’ll give Diop a chance,” Johnson said. “Diop needs to play some minutes. He needs to get going. We hadn’t been playing that much. I had a little talk with him this morning before practice and he needs to get jumpstarted a little bit without Damp being in there tonight. He’s started before, so he’ll have to play and Juwan Howard is going to have to play and give us some production.”

Nowitzki in a good place

You might remember Avery Johnson saying on the last road trip, in suburban Detroit actually, that Dirk Nowitzki was having his best season ever. Johnson expounded on that topic somewhat today.

Here are a few telling quotes:

“He’s in a good place right now mentally. He’s stronger physically, he’s the strongest mentally I’ve ever seen him and its great to see him this way. He’s really getting geared up.”

“He’s setting himself up for a great finish this year.”

“His leadership has been tremendous this year. He doesn’t let as many little things bother him as in the past. He’s been very, very positive with his teammates. I can see him, even when JJ [Barea] makes a mistake, he’s really doing a job of picking him up. He’s been doing it with Devin [Harris]. I had to play judge-and-jury one preseason game with him and Devin. He’s been really good with his mental state of mind right now, physically he’s lifted weights harder than he ever has and we’re seeing the benefits of it.”

Stack back, Damp maybe & Gana needed

Jerry Stackhouse returns after a seven-game absence with a sore hamstring. Avery Johnson won’t push the much-needed swingman too hard in his first time out.

“He will hopefully do his thing in whatever minutes we give him,” Johnson said. “I don’t know if he’ll get his normal minutes, but he’s ready to go now and hopefully we can have this little tweak behind us.”

Erick Dampier went through most of shootaround this morning and remains a game-time decision. If he can’t go, Gana Diop will be called on to pick up the slack. A starter to open the season, Diop hasn’t played much lately.

“He’s going to have to be ready to play and when he gets out there he’s going to have to make his presence felt, especially with blocking shots,” Johnson said. “We can’t afford to have teams come down the middle on us, especially when he’s in the game.

“He has to hard foul, he has to block the shot, really contest the shot, hopefully they’ll miss it, and rebound for us. That’s his primary job. I think sometimes he puts a little too much pressure on himself finishing offensively inside rather than defending the paint.”

Grizzlies playing without pressure

Less than two weeks ago, the Mavs routed the Grizzlies in Memphis. That was the Grizzlies with Pau Gasol.

You would think tonight would be a romp against a last-place without its best player. Some would argue Rudy Gay is their best. He’s nice, but not nearly as accomplished as Gasol.

Anyway, Avery Johnson isn’t taking anything for granted. The last-place Bucks held a fourth-quarter lead just two nights ago at American Airlines Center.

“We’re not that good, simple as that,” he said. “We haven’t arrived where we’re that good where we can look past anybody. This season has been a season where everybody is kind of bunched up in the West, Memphis is a very capable team and we weren’t that great defensively against Milwaukee.”

What makes the Grizzle dangerous?

“There’s no real pressure on them, so we have to come out and play serious basketball,” Johnson added. “Whenever you step out on the court without Devin Harris, somebody has to make up for his production.”


The Mavericks have announced the dates for the 2008 Summer Hoop Camp series, presented by Academy Sports & Outdoors. The weekly camps, for boys and girls ages 8-18, will run Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. at various locations throughout the Metroplex between June 9th and August 15th. Registration for each camp is now available online at

Mavs Hoop Camps are designed specifically for kids-allowing young basketball players of all skill levels a chance to learn from the best and only authentic NBA instructional training camp in the Metroplex. The Hoop Camp coaches are hand-picked for their specific basketball knowledge and proven ability to work well with children. Each camp also offers valuable basketball lessons and plenty of fun while combining excellent coaching and an established program focused on personalized attention to each and every camper.

For $235 ($225 if registered prior to March 15th), each camper will receive:

• Two tickets to a Mavs preseason game during the 2008-09 season
• Reversible Hoop Camp jersey
• Individual progress report
• Authentic camp certificate
• Photograph and personalized trading cards

Campers will have the opportunity to work with a player-to-coach ratio of less than 10-1, meet various Mavs players and coaches (subject to availability), while also qualifying for the chance to be a 2008-09 Dallas Mavericks Ballkid.

Mavs Hoop Camp sponsors include Academy Sports & Outdoors, Dr Pepper Bottling Company of Texas, Gatorade, America's Best Sports Photography, and North Dallas Moving and Storage.

Hoop Camp locations are conveniently located throughout the Metroplex all summer long. The 2008 Summer Hoop Camp schedule is as follows:

Date, Location
June 9-13:
Collin County Community College I, Dallas Christian School
June 16-20: Rowlett Community Center, Collin County Community College II
June 23-27: Cross Timbers Middle School, DeSoto Recreation Center
June 30-July 4: University of Texas at Dallas
July 7-11: Highland Park Middle School, Fort Worth Country Day School
July 14-18: Richland College
July 21-25: Greenhill School, Oakridge School
July 28-Aug. 1: Elzie Odom Recreation Center, Collin County Community College III
Aug. 4-8: The MAC
Aug. 11-15: Downtown Dallas YMCA

Registration and additional information is available online at or by calling 214.747.MAVS.

Stack: Marion deal shady?

Does a franchise have a moral obligation to player before a trade, especially one who’s played a major role in the team’s success? Jerry Stackhouse seems to think so.

Stack was discussing the Gasol and Shaq trades that may have altered the balance of power in the Western Conference, and whether the Mavs should make their own counter move.

“It’s always a possibility,” he said.

Avery Johnson confirmed what many of us already know. The team, as always, is aware of what’s going on out there and talking to the other 29 teams every day. If there’s a deal that they think will put them over the top, the Mavs will pull the trigger.

Sending the disgruntled Marion to Miami, which is in the midst of a horrific season, would seem unfair, but Stack pointed out: “There are no bad places to play in the NBA. There are bad teams. No bad places.”

In other words, being a pro basketball player is a pretty good gig. Anywhere. But Stack added this caveat about Marion’s plight.

“For all that Shawn Marion did for Phoenix, he was there pretty much his whole career, to send him to Miami, I think that’s kind of shady,” he said. “But I think if you’re doing it like maybe New Jersey and Jason Kidd, they’re trying to fulfill his wishes, trying to get him to a place he wants to go.

“And I think when you go about it the right way and continue to be professional day-to-day, relationships mean more than just basketball. Here, with the brass that we have, they take that into account.”

Thursday, February 7, 2008 Web Site Launch Contest

There are only seven days remaining in the official Web Site Launch Contest (sponsored by vitaminwater). Again, prizes include:

• Two tickets to a Dallas Mavericks game
• A ball autographed by Josh
• A chance to meet the one and only No. 5
• A year's supply of your favorite flavor of vitaminwater (two cases a month for 12 months)

For more information, click on the Josh Howard Web Site Launch Contest.

Downplaying Dirk's triple-double

A couple of text messages trickled in and, no, one wasn’t from the cropped-topped Canadian. Dirk Nowitzki’s first-ever triple-double didn’t elicit much fanfare on the bench, either. Most of his teammates had no idea of the historic event until told by Avery Johnson in the locker room after the game.

So Nowitzki just went about his business Wednesday night after the 107-96 victory over Milwaukee, as did the rest of the Mavericks. Most in the locker room were glued to the TV for the Suns-Hornets in double OT. You would have thought Nowitzki triple-doubles were as common as his use of the word “obviously.”

Nope. Nowitzki waited nearly 10 years and 729 games for the statistical oddity. It was also the first in the NBA by a 7-footer this season. Sacramento’s Brad Miller had the last one on April 10, 2007.

“I’m surprised it’s taken him this long,” Johnson kidded Thursday after practice. “With him playing Johnson Ball, he should have gotten one earlier.”

Devean George promised before practice that he had something special up his sleeve to commemorate Nowitzki’s first foray into world of Magic Johnson and Jason Kidd. Devin Harris added that if the scorekeeper was as kind to him as Nowitzki, “I’d get 15 assists a night.”

Of course, nothing much happened. On his way up the stairs after practice, assistant coach Mario Elie did yell out, “Magic, Magic” to Nowitzki down below. That was about it. Much as the night before, it was business as usual.

Read the rest of this note, get more reaction on the big trades, an injury update and look at the Grizzlies in today’s notebook at

Wednesday, February 6, 2008

Notables from 107-96 win vs. Bucks

TONIGHT’S KEY RUN: Over the last 2:59 of the game, Dallas outscored Milwaukee 17-8. With 2:59 to go, DAL led 89-88. The Mavs ended up winning by 11 points, 107-96.

• Dirk Nowitzki recorded his 1st career triple-double tonight. He finished with a team-high 29 points (9-17 FGs, 1-1 3FGs, 10-12 FTs), 10 rebounds (7 DR), 12 assists in 42 minutes.
• The last Maverick to reach a triple-double was Antoine Walker vs. PHI (1/14/04). He had 11 points, 17 rebounds, 13 assists.
• Nowitzki’s 12 assists marked a career-high. His previous high was 8 assists (done 9 times and 2 times this season).
• For the 11th time this season (10-1 record), Jason Terry single-handedly outscored the opponent’s bench. He scored 23 points (8-15 FGs, 3-5 3FGs, 4-4 FTs). The Bucks’ bench combined for 15 points (led by Desmond Mason’s 11).
• Milwaukee’s Mo Williams poured in a season-high 36 points on 14-29 FGs, 3-7 3FGs, 5-7 FTs (previous high was 35 vs. MIA, 1/9/08). He fell just 2 points short of his career-high of 38 points vs. MIA (2/3/07).
• Milwaukee’s Bobby Simmons was unavailable tonight (left leg bruise). Charlie Bell entered the starting lineup in Simmons’ place and had 5 points, 3 rebounds in 39 minutes.
• Tonight’s attendance was 20,079 fans (19,200 capacity). The Mavs have sold out 258 consecutive regular season games at AAC and 296 games including the postseason. Dallas currently owns the longest running sellout streak in the NBA. The Sacramento Kings previously held the streak but failed to sellout their home opener this season. The Mavs are now ranked #10 on the all-time NBA sellout streak list.

Dirk's triple-double lifts Mavs over Bucks

The depleted and downtrodden Bucks, the last-place team in the Central Division, held a fourth-quarter lead over the Mavericks and had the 20,079 pensive patrons at American Airlines Center on the edge of their seats.

Needing a lift to avoid a loss that would have been hard to swallow, the MVP came through with a signature night. Dirk Nowitzki put together the first triple-double of a certain Hall-of-Fame career and the Mavs survived Milwaukee 107-96 Wednesday night.

Nowitzki filled up the boxscore like never before with 29 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high 12 assists. He finished off the statistical gem with his 10th board midway through the fourth quarter. His last two baskets made it 99-91, icing the victory.

“Guys were really making a lot of shots early, we got some easy layups and always getting the assist part of it has always been the problem,” Nowitzki said. “At halftime I think I already had five assists, so I was kind of thinking that this might be the night, but I’ve been so close a couple of other times, so it feels good to get it out of the way.

“It took almost 10 years which is not good, but at least I got it out of the way and we got the win.”

Harris: “Spectator in the madness”

Sitting out games injured is never fun. Especially when the team is on the road, not playing up to its capabilities and you’re reduced to screaming at the TV. That was Devin Harris’ plight during the Mavs’ recent Eastern Conference swing.

If waiting for the bone bruise in his ankle to heal wasn’t enough, Harris also dealt with trade rumors involving his name. He’s a pro and knows the drill. But he was still fielding calls constantly from worried family members and friends.

“It was an interesting week,” said Harris, who is out of the walking boot. “Obviously, I don’t have basketball to kind of [detract] from that and just had to sit there and listen to all the stuff. It’s just something you have to go through. It’s not the first time and probably not the last.”

Harris was asked if he heard from the front office regarding the rumors. He said no and added: “Just wondering. Like everyone else, I’m just a spectator in the madness.”

Dirk skips 3-point Shootout

Defending champ Jason Kapono heads the list of marksmen for the 3-Point Shootout on All-Star Saturday Night. Rounding out the competition are Peja Stojakovic, Kobe Bryant, Daniel Gibson, Rip Hamilton and Steve Nash.

Dirk Nowitzki won’t be there. The 2006 3-point trophy holder has decided to skip the contest. Why? Maybe he’s focusing on the big game the next night or just doesn’t want to leave his hotel room. I’m betting on the latter.

West blockbusters aren't pressuring Mavs

“Merry Christmas, LA.” Those were Avery Johnson’s now famous sentiments on the Pau Gasol heist by the Lakers. With a second blockbuster about to happen in the Western Conference – Shaquille O’Neal to Phoenix for Shawn Marion – Johnson was asked today what it means for the Mavs.

In essence, are the Mavs feeling any pressure to deal?

“We evaluate and we don’t overreact to what other people are doing,” he said. “We evaluate all the time. Sometimes when guys are deleted off other teams, some of them we’re actually glad to see go.”

Is Marion one of those guys? Some believe Marion has defended Dirk Nowitzki well in the past.

“I don’t think anybody defends Dirk pretty well,” Johnson replied. “It depends on what Dirk decides to do. Dirk, on a lot of nights, is unguardable. So I don’t know if anybody necessarily defends him well. Again, with our league, some teams add, some subtract and we like our team as we move forward.”

It didn’t end there. Johnson was then asked what his “sense” was of the moves going on around the West.

“I can’t comment on what other teams are doing,” he said. “I don’t know what the sense is. I’m just sensing on trying to get JJ Barea to be a good starting point guard for me now.”

Tuesday, February 5, 2008

Rise and Shine

The pregame move by Avery Johnson was somewhat surprising. The Mavericks gathered for an impromptu practice session the morning before facing Orlando after playing the day before at Detroit.

Morning shootarounds don’t happen on the second leg of a back-to-back, especially on the road. But this was a special circumstance. The Mavs had lost two straight and were absolutely dreadful against the Pistons.

“I actually thought we needed that,” Eddie Jones said. “We had to get up, get going, moving around and get our stuff together because we’ve been in a funk.”

Not so much anymore. Responding with their most complete effort in a three-game tour of Eastern Conference division leaders, the Mavs picked up a convincing 107-98 victory on the Magic’s home court.

Josh Howard scored 28 and Dirk Nowitzki added another 20 – nothing shocking there. Jason Terry’s 20 points off the bench were unexpected and welcome on a couple of counts. Not only did he return to the pine after starting three games in place of injured Devin Harris, but the ‘Jet’ regained his quick trigger and decisiveness.

Read the rest of this note, Devean George’s request for more playing time and get a preview of the Bucks in today’s notebook at

Fazekas makes All-Star Team

A second Maverick is headed to New Orleans and it’s not Josh Howard. Rookie forward Nick Fazekas was chosen to play in the D-League All-Star Game on Feb. 16 in New Orleans. The second-round pick out of Nevada is averaging 18.9 points for the Tulsa 66ers.

Perhaps he can follow in the footsteps of Dallas’ last representative in the D-League All-Star Game. Former Mavs forward Pops Mensah-Bonsu was games’ MVP last year in Las Vegas. Check out the rest of the D-League All-Star roster.

“I’m excited to be selected to the All-Star team and looking forward to enjoying all the All-Star events,” Fazekas said. “I see it as another opportunity to showcase my skills to the NBA.”

Fazekas (6-11, 235) was selected No. 34 overall pick in the 2007 NBA Draft. He saw action in two games earlier this season before being assigned to affiliate Tulsa on Nov. 20. In 26 games (22 starts) with the 66ers, Fazekas is also averaging 9.7 rebounds and 1.8 assists in 30.7 minutes per game, while shooting 54.7 percent from the field.

“Nick has worked extremely hard to put himself in this position,” Mavs president of basketball operations Donnie Nelson said. “We’re proud to have him represent the Mavericks at All-Star Weekend. Nick is proof that the D-League works.”

Fazekas finished his collegiate career at Nevada as the school’s all-time leading scorer (2,464 points) and shot blocker (192). He was named the WAC Player of the Year three times (2005, 2006 and 2007) and was a consensus second team All-American as a senior. Fazekas is one of just six players in NCAA history to score 2,000 points and grab 1,000 rebounds while shooting 50% from the field and 80% from the free throw line.

Monday, February 4, 2008

Mavs are magical in Orlando

ORLANDO – The Mavericks needed a new look and an old feel. They got both Monday night and a win to boot. Tweaking the starting lineup and bringing back a familiar rotation sparked an impressive 107-98 victory against Southeast Division-leading Orlando at Amway Arena.

The Mavs (32-15) concluded a swing through the Eastern Conference division leaders at 1-2, having regained some much-needed momentum in the finale. The losses at Boston and Detroit aren’t forgotten, but beating the Magic (31-19) is something to build on.

“This has been a tough trip for us,” said Mavs coach Avery Johnson, who congratulated each player as the team left the floor. “We thought we had a shot at winning that Boston game. … We weren’t very good in Detroit.

“So I just wanted to let the men know that I’m in their corner. I think I stood up more tonight than I ever stood up the whole season. I’m just letting them know that, ‘Hey, if we’re going to do down, I’m going to go down with them.’”

Trick or Tweak

Maybe this gets Jason Terry going again. JJ Barea is starting against Orlando, with Terry moving back into his familiar sixth-man role. Barea performed admirably as an emergency starter earlier this season, including a career-high 25 points against Sacramento on Nov. 3.

Johnson talked about tweaking the rotation before the game and the need for those at the end of the bench to step up their games.

“We’ve been trying to tweak, but tweaks work when guys play well,” Johnson said. “If you tweak it and put a guy in there and his job is to rebound or to make shots or run the team, whatever his job is, it all looks better when the guys play well.

“You’ve just got to make sure we put them in the right position and make sure we give them a lot of confidence, and we have a lot of confidence in this group. We have some guys that hadn’t been playing, but we’re hoping they have more a chance to play. Now is their time to play, so we need them to come through for us.”

Stack back on Friday

Jerry Stackhouse is scheduled to come back Friday against Memphis, according to Avery Johnson. The Mavs could sure use his scoring and leadership off the bench. Stackhouse has missed the last five games with a strained right hamstring.

“We’d love to have him, but he’s not ready yet,” Johnson said. “When we get him back, hopefully we can get him back strong between that period and the All-Star break, and have him strong the rest of the year. Hopefully we can get this behind us a little bit.”

Delayed takeoff for Jet

Jason Terry passed up a wide-open 3-pointer last night at Detroit. We’re talking no one within 10 feet. When he decided to pass, Avery Johnson just turned and walked back to the bench. You don’t have to be a mind reader to know what Johnson was thinking.

He was asked about that moment before tonight’s clash with Orlando.

“With Jet, we’ve always said when you’re open, shoot,” Johnson said. “When you’re not open, shoot because we love you to shoot. When he’s open and he doesn’t shoot, then we have a problem. If he’s in that same situation tonight, I guarantee you he’ll shoot it.”

Terry is filling in for Devin Harris at point guard and the early results aren’t good. The Mavs are 1-2. Terry is averaging 11.3 points and four assists, and shooting 35 percent.

“We just aren’t in a rhythm right now and we need to figure it out,” Terry said. “We know what we are dealing with and we are undermanned right now, but we still have to go out there and get it done. We have enough talent to get it done and it just hasn’t happened for us the last two games, but you can’t dwell on that. You have to get to the next one.”

Johnson doesn’t think Terry has become gun shy. It sounds as if Terry is unsure.

“I wouldn’t call it a hesitation,” Johnson said. “I just think he’s trying to get back. He’s done it before. He hasn’t really started in a while. He knows what to do, it’s just a matter of getting him in there and getting him back in rhythm.

“If he’s out of rhythm and the whole team’s out of rhythm like we were in Detroit, things can be a little exaggerated. But he wants to get it done. If he’s in position to shoot again tonight, he will shoot it.”

Sunday, February 3, 2008

Mavs stall in Motown

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Avery Johnson loves a good fight. Especially when his team throws its share of punches.

There wasn’t much for him to love Sunday afternoon at the Palace of Auburn Hills. The Pistons laced up their gloves, went into the ring with that “hit-first” mentality that Johnson craves and pounded out a 90-67 win before a capacity crowd and a national TV audience.

“They really came out aggressive,” Johnson said. “They were aggressive from the start. They looked like the Mavericks when we played them in Dallas.”

The Mavericks’ three-game tour of Eastern Conference powerbrokers ends Monday at Orlando. The first two stops haven’t been kind. Boston pulled away in the final minute Thursday. After two days off, the Mavs were floored before the third quarter was done. Dallas (31-15) beat the Pistons 102-86 last month.

Dirk Nowitzki, Josh Howard and Jason Terry collectively suffered through what had to be their poorest performance of the season. Nowitzki scored just two of his 15 points in the second half, ending his string of 20-point games at 15.

The Witch Doctors: Followill joins Villalba

If you’re missing the deep golden tones of Mark Followill, flip on our Spanish radio broadcast (KFLC 1270 AM) for your fix. Yes, Spanish. Mark is sitting in the analyst chair alongside our equally talented Spanish play-by-play voice Victor Villalba.

“I had nothing else to do today,” Mark said, seated here beside me.

Since ABC is handling the broadcast duties, our TV team of Mark, Bob Ortegel and Laura Green is off the clock. Hollywood, I mean Mark, needs a mic like Rasheed Wallace needs technicals.

As gifted as Mark is, he’s not doing the game in Spanish. Victor is translating Mark’s insightful analysis. Mark does have quite an arsenal of phrases en espanol.

As he told me last night while all of us listened to local oldies cover band The Witch Doctors, “Mi corazon esta cafĂ©.” (My heart is brown.)

George ready to play, Stack still out

Devean George felt better after suffering through a bout with food poisoning Friday night and into Saturday. He thinks the cause was a steak-and-shrimp dinner.

Jerry Stackhouse went through some 1-on-1 drills before the Pistons game and continues to progress. Stackhouse, however, said he’ll likely be out another week or so.

Harris remains upbeat

Devin Harris is off crutches, but his left foot remains in the protective boot. Avery Johnson said that Harris’ rehab is on schedule.

“Talked to him yesterday,” Johnson said. “He’s in good spirits. Hopefully get him out of the boot here soon. Working hard on the underwater treadmill and riding the bike.”

Has Johnson learned anything new about Harris since he’s been out?

“Already knew it,” Johnson said. “He’s playing at a high level before he got injured. Improvement every week, every day with him. We started off playing a certain way with him early in the season and we tweaked a few things and we finally got him playing the way we needed him to play.

“Unfortunately, he got injured. We know exactly what we need him to do. In the meantime we just have to hold ship until he gets back.”

Changes needed with Harris and Stack out

AUBURN HILLS, Mich. – Being without Devin Harris and Jerry Stackhouse – they rank fourth and fifth among the Mavericks’ top scorers – takes a toll on the offense. As the point guard, Harris is also responsible to getting others on the floor easy shots.

“That’s a big drop off,” Jason Terry said before facing Detroit on Sunday afternoon. “When you’ve got two of your big guns out, and those are big guns, you’ve got to find a way together to make up for the lost ground.”

Terry has assumed the starting point-guard duties, a role his quite familiar with, despite coming off the bench most of the season.

“It’s nothing different than what I did when I was starting a year-and-a-half ago,” he said. “Nothing new. That’s the thing you’ve got to avoid doing, is changing your mindset. When you do that you start to have indecision and once you have indecision, you’re not the same player.”

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