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Eddie Sefko writes that Avery Johnson plans to keep going 100% until their playoff spot is clinched.

"Right now we are playing all-out basketball," Johnson said, "until there's a situation where we feel we have settled into a certain position, then, we may try a few more things. But right now, we're just really working on our game."

That means mashing on the accelerator to try to clinch everything as quickly as possible. Sooner would be better than later, he said.

"It would be nice, but we haven't talked about it," he said. "We just want to keep playing hard, doing what we're doing until somebody tells us we're locked in."
Dallas currently has a 5.5 game lead on the Suns and with 13 games to go can lock up the #1 seed with 8 more wins.

I'm not sure how much would change after the top seed is locked up -- certainly Pops Mensah-Bonsu won't be starting in Dirk's place or anything. Most likely, we'll just see the top four or five guys have their minutes slightly reduced and see Avery use "meaningless" games to get George and Buckner back to 100%.

Avery said quite a few times that he didn't like the way the Mavs cam out of training camp with a lot of guys playing just a few minutes, and it might have had something to do with the 0-4 start. Avery will want to go into the playoffs with everyone still feeling like their playing at their best and not rusty from taking the last five games off.

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Dallas was only able to hold a very abbreviated practice yesterday because the floor at the Ford center was covered in condensation.

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In an article that would make John Hollinger's head spin, Art Garcia writes about the Mavs being so good in the closing minutes of close games.
"What is a lead in the NBA?" Jerry Stackhouse asked before offering up the answer. "Whether you're up 20 or up two, it's just a matter of which team in that last five minutes comes down and executes, gets good looks, and we did that.

In games decided by five points or less this season, they're 16-3. And when they've fallen behind, the Mavs have shown the resolve to rally. The last 13 times they've trailed by at least 10, they're 9-4.

"You can't ever underestimate the ability to know how to win," Stackhouse said.
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Eddie Sefko writes about the great road trip by Jason Terry and Devin Harris.
Harris and Terry have combined to average 34.2 points, 10.4 assists and 7.2 rebounds on the trip. Harris has made 60.5 percent of his shots, which sounds great until you factor in Terry, who is dropping in 62.1 percent.
There are a lot of hints in this article toward Devin Harris keeping his starting job when George and Buckner are back.
"I would say he's just starting to get a clearer understanding of what's expected," Johnson said. "I think our communication is better than it's been. And communication between a point guard and a coach is critical in this league."

"They've done some nice things," Johnson said of his small guards. "We've been forced into it somewhat. But then there have been some situations where the matchups have been a little favorable."

And there is another positive byproduct of the small guards starting together. Harris' strong defense allows Johnson to put Josh Howard on a lesser offensive player at the start of the game, saving him for bigger defensive challenges later.

"I can't afford Josh to get two cheap fouls," Johnson said. "It throws off our rotation, especially without George and Buck.
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Injury Update: Dirk Nowitzki has a little bit of the flu. He missed the short practice yesterday and spent their free night in Atlanta in his hotel room. He's expected to play tonight.

Both George and Buckner are available tonight, though they are still having their minutes watched carefully.

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Around the NBA: The Spurs don't share the Mavs problems with Golden State. They beat the Warriors by 37 last night.

The Piston won after Rasheed Wallace hit a halfcourt bankshot to force OT.

And I save the best for last. Robert Horry, "DNP -- Old Age!"