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Only Tuesday Links

It almost feels like the offseason right now...

Dwain Price's article is about the centers, mainly Diop.

After recently growing tired of seeing Diop struggle through yet another game, Johnson prodded him to get his game in gear. Diop responded with three blocks against Orlando on Jan. 23, eight rebounds against Chicago on Jan. 25, and six points and 12 rebounds in just 19 minutes during Saturday's 94-93 victory over Minnesota.

"Diop has played well since Avery challenged him a couple of weeks ago to get stronger in the weight room, and get in better shape," guard Jason Terry said. "Diop has been doing a great job of finishing strong when he catches it.

"Offensive rebounds have been key. We like to win the rebound game, and those guys are very critical to what we have going."

Diop says the slump was simply an effect of the Mavs' hectic schedule this season. But others have hinted that Diop might not have the same fire he exhibited last season, when he was inserted into the starting lineup midway through the year.

"It's such a long season that you're going to go through droughts," Diop said. "I did, and I just kept working and got better, and now I'm playing pretty good.
That's the first I'd read about Avery being upset with Diop's conditioning, but it doesn't really surprise me. Despite having numbers almost identical to last season, Diop has played with little energy all season. The Minnesota game on Saturday being one of the lone exceptions. He was great in that game and the box score showed it -- his 12 rebounds were the most he'd had in a game since November 21st.

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Avery Johnson missed practice yesterday so Del Harris ran the show. Avery will be back for the Memphis game tomorrow.

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Sefko writes about the Mavs defensive breakdowns of late.
Three games back, Seattle had 50 points in the paint and 24 fast-break points, both near the highest outputs of the season for an opponent. In the two games since, the Mavs have allowed Memphis and Minnesota to hit a combined 18-for-34 from 3-point range.

Pick-and-roll defense? That was a particular pain against Minnesota as Kevin Garnett picked apart the Mavs.

Of course, it should be noted that the Mavs won all those games and can't be too shabby on the defensive end since they are 39-9.
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And now for, in my opinion, the worst news of the day. Dirk has shaved his head again. I'm personally not a fan of Dirk sans-hair, and I have Jason Terry to blame this time.
You may have noticed Dirk Nowitzki trimmed his hair last week. He didn't particularly care for the job Jason Terry's stylist did on his blond locks.

So Nowitzki showed up for practice on Monday with his hair burred down to about a quarter of an inch all the way around.
Oh well, maybe it gets him out of his shooting slump.

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Around the NBA: The Nash-less Suns beat the Iverson-less Nuggets. I don't know what that means.

Gasol Rumors