If we have learned anything about the Mavericks, it is that they obviously miss Devin …
Before Harris sustained a bone bruise on his left ankle, the Mavs were averaging 100.8 points per game.
During his absence, they have averaged only 86.8 points, dropping their season average to 99.4. Dallas has also been affected by injuries to Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier, but the loss of Harris has had the biggest impact.
"When he went out, he was playing at a pretty high level," Johnson said. "Even though a lot of the point guards are making the All-Star team -- and I'm not saying he's on that level yet -- but he was very competitive with any guard in the league at his position offensively and defensively. I know it's going to take some time to get him back to that point, but that's why we miss him more."
That the Mavs miss him so badly is ultimately good news for the team because it stands to reason that, when he returns sometime after the All-Star Game, the Mavs will be better.
"He puts so much pressure on the defense with his speed," Mavs player development coach and TV analyst Brad Davis said. "He can turn a made basket into a fast break at the other end where we don't have to get into our offense. A point guard can't play him one-on-one when he's coming down with a full head of speed, so, all of a sudden, you've got people sucking in from the wings and he can make a pass in the corner.
"You're looking at a wide-open shot with six to seven seconds gone on the 24-second clock without getting into your offense. And if the defense stays home on the shooters, Devin's improved so much that he can finish at the basket at all kinds of different angles."
Harris has been compared to San Antonio's Tony Parker, and it's an accurate comparison. He's not as advanced at this point, but the Mavs have no doubt he's going in the same direction.
Harris is having a career year. From last season, his scoring average has improved from 10.2 to 14.4 and his assists per game from 3.7 to 5.3.
As a rookie, Harris made only 42.9 percent of his field-goal attempts, but that was a transition year from college. In the next two seasons, he made 46.9 and 49.3 percent of his shots. He is making 48.3 percent this season, and that ranks sixth in the league among points guards.
Only Jose Calderon of Toronto, Deron Williams of Utah, Steve Nash of Phoenix, Andre Miller of Philadelphia and Parker are making more of their field-goal attempts than Harris.
Could Shaq’s debut be against Dallas tomorrow? …
The O'Neal experiment has yet to unfold. The 7-foot-1, 321-pound center seems to have recovered from his hip injury. The bigger question centers on conditioning. The man hasn't played since Jan. 21. He's in great shape, he said. Just not basketball shape. Or rather, in Suns basketball shape.
That means he likely won't play against Golden State, which has replaced the Suns as the league's premier open-court team. Suns coach Mike D'Antoni didn't rule out Thursday's home game against the Dallas Mavericks. He said a discussion that would include head athletic trainer Aaron Nelson would take place soon.
"He's not quite ready," said D'Antoni, adding that O'Neal will go through a workout before tonight's game. "He knows it's a big splash when he gets out there, and he wants to play well. I think when he's comfortable, he'll do it."
Until then, O'Neal continues to attract attention normally reserved for the postseason. Nearly the entire front-office staff attended Tuesday's practice. General manager Steve Kerr, Assistant General Manager Vinny Del Negro, D'Antoni and Nash huddled after practice. At this point, so much is unknown.
O'Neal hasn't played with a point guard like Nash. Nash hasn't played with a big man like O'Neal. Once O'Neal returns, Boris Diaw will spend more time at small forward, which might better suit his playmaking skills. Will the Suns still break at every opportunity? D'Antoni seems to think so.
Will the Cowboys go back to Oxnard? …who knew?
The Cowboys are close to a deal that would send them back to Oxnard, Calif., for training camp this summer, according to two sources.
The Cowboys trained at the Alamodome last year, but a scheduling conflict with the San Antonio facility has forced the club to look at different locations.
From 2004 to 2006, the Cowboys trained at the River Ridge facility in California next to a Marriott Residence Inn. They also spent two weeks there in 2001.
Official training camp dates have not been set, but it generally begins the last week of July.
City and team officials met earlier this month about the logistics of holding training camp in Oxnard again. The players and former Cowboys coach Bill Parcells enjoyed training camp in California because the cooler temperatures led to more conducive work in a self-contained area.
The Cowboys signed a five-year deal with the city of San Antonio last year, knowing they would probably have to find another location in 2008. The deal with San Antonio runs through 2011.
Dom Capers must really like Brian Stewart …
If you know anything about Dom Capers, you can’t be surprised that he turned down the Cowboys’ offer to be a defensive consultant.
Capers, according to those who know him best, believes loyalty is one of the most important traits a man can have. So when defensive coordinator Brian Stewart said he wouldn’t feel comfortable with Capers on the staff, the veteran coach obliged.
Now, it helps that he’s still being paid by Miami this season since the Dolphins fired him. But it also speaks to his character, especially since he’s close to Jason Garrett, who wanted him to be his defensive coordinator in Baltimore or Atlanta.
And if Garrett takes over next year, as many think he will, then Capers can join the staff next season.
The Cowboys certainly could’ve used Capers’ defensive expertise this season, but it’s more important to have a staff with chemistry and cohesion. Capers, a former head coach, understood this.
That’s the reason he asked Stewart’s opinion in the first place. It was a class move by the man who gave Stewart his first NFL job.
Q: Which of the Cowboys’ free-agents-to-be do you think the team will make little or no effort to keep?
Charles Bankhead, Houston
TAYLOR: Julius Jones doesn’t want to be here, and the Cowboys don’t want him. Nate Jones and Jacques Reeves will probably be tendered offers, but I wouldn’t expect either player to return next season. They will cost too much based on their potential contribution to the team.
The following is what happens before the trade deadline. I will be racking my brain looking for potential targets that make sense and are being shopped potentially by their teams. They may not be delicious to the message boards, but they may make more sense than anything out there right now:
In hockey, I can’t stop considering the blockbuster that would get the Stars the Finnish stud Olli Jokinen …now, he would be very expensive in trade (Niskanen, Miettinen, and Mike Smith?) but wow, would he be perfect for the Stars? I love his age. I love his ability. And I love the fact that he is under contract for 2 more seasons at about 5 million a year. It would be very costly in trade, but you wouldn’t mind spending a ton for a guy with 29 goals and 29 assists and is not 30 years old yet.
Meanwhile, in basketball, I keep coming back to thinking the Mavs must get someone who wants to go to the rim. He is also young (28), he is not without warts, but his current team is getting tired of him, too. He routinely is among the league leaders in free throws, which means he knows not to settle for J’s all night.
Again, he will cost you (Howard +) but I think he would change up the make-up of the way this team does business on offense, and with Dirk, Devin, and Maggette (contract pending as he can opt out in the summer), I think you are now equipped to move ahead with a better mix.
It’s Roger Clemens Day! …
Roger Clemens told Yankees teammate Andy Pettitte nearly 10 years ago that he used human growth hormone, Pettitte said in a sworn affidavit to Congress, The Associated Press learned Tuesday.
Pettitte disclosed the conversation to the congressional committee holding Wednesday’s hearing on drug use in baseball, a person familiar with the affidavit said. The person spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity because the document had not been made public.
According to the person familiar with the affidavit, who said it was signed Friday night, Pettitte also said Clemens backtracked when the subject of HGH came up again in conversation in 2005, before the same House committee held the first hearing on steroids in baseball.
Pettitte said in the affidavit that he asked Clemens in 2005 what he would do if asked about performance-enhancing substances, given his admission years earlier. According to the account told to the AP, the affidavit said Clemens responded by saying Pettitte misunderstood the previous exchange in 1999 or 2000 and that, in fact, Clemens had been talking about HGH use by his wife in the original conversation.
“We don’t know what Andy said,” Clemens’ lead lawyer, Rusty Hardin, said in a statement e-mailed to the AP by his spokesman. “We look forward to hearing tomorrow.”
The existence of the affidavit first was reported by The New York Times. The details of its contents were first reported by the AP.
Travel has changed in today’s NBA …
Kareem shows us how to shoot the hook shot …
Remember, the idea behind the skyhook is to always keep your body between the defensive player and the ball.
Step 1: Use both hands to tuck the ball under your chin.
Step 2: Step parallel to the basket with your left foot.
Step 3: Use your momentum from that step to launch yourself up into the air.
Step 4: As you rise into the air, turn to your left shoulder and extend the ball
over your head with your right hand.
Step 5: As you release the ball, aim for the center of the closest part of the rim, arching your shot so it will drop behind the rim.
The writers are back! When will our shows follow? …
No new episodes expected until fall.
Six pre-strike episodes remain. Five additional episodes could air this season.
Expected to shoot 6 new episodes to air in April/May.
Final season already shot. Airdate TBD.
The Story you really are following …
A tiny Indian bodybuilder who is less than 3 feet tall and deemed the world's smallest is causing a huge stir in his hometown and gaining international recognition, according to the British press.
Aditya "Romeo" Dev of Phagwara, India, is a little person who is only 2 feet, 9 inches tall and weighs not even 20 pounds, the Daily Mail reported.
Here is an interesting email to get you thinking:
I am in complete agreement with you about Josh Howard not being untouchable. I've been having this argument for weeks now with friends and coworkers, so to shut them up I had to compile a list of all the starting 3's in the league:
Out of that entire list, how many are untouchable? 3: LeBron, Carmelo, and Durant. And of those three, only Melo's a pure 3. Bron's a 2 guard playing 3, and Durant's a 4 playing 3. See, I've tried to explain to people that small forward is the most superfluous position on the team.
Everyone needs a point guard. You need a big man in the middle, and you need a 4 to play on the blocks. That leaves you with the 2 guard and 3's. And the thing is, 95% of 2's can play the 3, while maybe 5-10% of 3's can step back and play at the 2. Long story short, if the best player on your team is your 3 you've got major problems. You'd better have a second guy out there who's almost as good as your 3.
Look at Denver, for instance. When they had just Melo, they were a 7th seed at best. So they go out and get AI, and while they still need another piece to be really lethal, they are a much more credible team now. I think Josh is a helluva player but if he has to go to make our team better, then he has to go.
High School Girl with Hops
Perfectville….if it happened.