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DJ Mbenga and Rockets Game Stuff

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First off, that blowout win last night not only gave Dallas a franchise best 17 game home winning streak but also a 41-9 start. Mark Followill pointed out at the end of the game last night that 41-9 is the 8th best game start in the history of the NBA. Like ever. And I'm willing to bet the seven teams ahead of Dallas didn't start their season 0-4.

Tracy McGrady was certainly impressed last night.

"When things got tough, we folded," Rockets guard Tracy McGrady said. "That's what makes them so great. You never see them get rattled. We're trying to get where they are.

"You just have to have heart, man. You just have to want it. Each individual. You can't coach that."
Actually, I'm not sure if that's a compliment to the Mavs or an indictment of his teammates. He's definitely done the latter before.

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Tim MacMahon, still filling in for Sefko, highlighted Stackhouse in his game recap.
Stackhouse, a two-time All-Star who accepted becoming a sixth man after arriving in Dallas, had a hand in every point during the Mavericks' 16-0 third-quarter run that turned a close game into a rout. He was determined to make a difference after being a nonfactor during the first half.

"You know when you're 1-for-5, and you want to try to kick it up in the second half," said Stackhouse, who finished with 14 points in 17 minutes. "It was a conscious effort not just to be aggressive scoring, but to be aggressive overall. I think that helped pick the energy up for us."
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Pops Mensah-Bonsu was back with the Mavs last night. It's too bad he wasn't in uniform, because he could he could have had six minutes of playing time. Pops was of course called up after it was discovered that Mbenga tore his ACL and would be done for the season. That doesn't mean he's Mbenga's replacement though. Mensah-Bonsu is only 6'9", and even though he plays bigger than that he doesn't figure to be effective at center in the NBA.

He's here as a body, someone who could fill in at the four if Dirk slides over to the five. Dirk has spent about 12% of his minutes playing center so far this season, and he's done it quite well. Although you just have to glance at the Mavs best five man units to see that the team is most effective with Dampier or Diop in the paint and Dirk at his natural position.

The Mbenga injury sucks, but mainly for him. In 50 games this season (that's 2400 minutes) DJ Mbenga has played in just 79 of them. His job on the team was simply to exist in case Dampier or Diop were hurt or both got in big time foul trouble. While his absence leaves a question mark, his ability to come and and produce was a question as well. And while it's always scary to have an emergency backup go down, the Mavs are still better off than most teams.
  • San Antonio is so shallow at center that Duncan has spent 80% of his minutes playing that position this season. That's up from 30% last season. Robert Horry and Matt Bonner didn't push Duncan to the 5, but Oberto, Elson, and Butler sucking did.
  • Never mind Phoenix, they only use a seven man rotation. Officially their backup center is Pat Burke.
  • The Lakers backups for Andrew Bynum are the always injured Kwame Brown and Chris Mihm.
  • The Jazz have tried to have a center rotation of just Okur and Boozer. Since Boozer has been out Utah has been forced to give Jarron Collins minutes at center
  • Houston's only backup for Yao has been Dikembe Mutombo. The 39 year old has averaged nearly 30 mpg since Yao went out - think he'll have anything left for the playoffs?
  • Detroit's starting center is Chris Webber. That tells you what you need to know about their depth at that position.
I don't want to break down every team in the league, but the point is no team in the NBA has three real centers worthy of minutes and many teams don't even have two.

Don't expect Dallas to make a move for another center unless Dampier or Diop goes down, and Dallas would have had to do that even if Mbenga were healthy.

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Down in the D-League: With the Mavs two undrafted rookies currently on the Dallas bench, only first round pick Maurice Ager remains with the Fort Worth Flyers.

Ager had his best game since going back down last night. He scored 16 on 5-10 shooting, 1-3 from three, and 5-6 from the line. He also had ten assists, but six turnovers. Aside from the turnovers, this is probably the type of game Avery wants Ager to be having. You shouldn't be concerned that Maurice isn't putting up 40 point games like Barea because the coaching staff most likely has him working on everything but taking 20 shots a game.

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Around the NBA: San Antonio lost to Orlando in dramatic fashion -- a buzzer beating alley-oop by Dwight Howard.

Without Steve Nash, Phoenix lost to Atlanta. Somewhere out there someone is trying argue this makes Nash better.

Dallas now has a two game lead on Phoenix and is 8 games up on San Antonio. Still second in Hollinger's rankings though...

For those of you with NBA league pass, tomorrow at noon Gilbert Arenas is going to score 50 on Portland - or so he says.