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The Wednesday Links

So the Mavs have sucked lately, but the good news is that starting tonight they are back to playing the Western Conference. And there's more -- Jerry Stackhouse and Erick Dampier could return tonight. Josh Howard is questionable.

Josh Howard had an MRI on Tuesday and it confirmed a lower-back contusion, leaving him questionable against Portland. Howard took a hard fall in the third quarter at Philadelphia and left for good in the fourth.

Help could be on the way with Erick Dampier (ankle) and Jerry Stackhouse (hamstring), who are both game-time decisions.
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Jan Hubbard writes about how much Devin Harris is missed. Devin wants to be back because he's having a hard time watching from the bench.
And he's squirming on the bench when he sees openings for one of his rocket blasts to the basket.

"You see it especially with a team that sends a lot of guys for offensive rebounds," Harris said. "That's just begging for pushing the transition offense. I think that was the case [against the Nets] when we couldn't really exploit it.
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Sefko says Dallas is trying to be patient with Barea.
The Mavericks are 3-2 since Barea was thrust into the starting lineup because of Devin Harris' ankle injury. He has averaged 7.8 points, 3.2 assists and 34.1 percent shooting from the field (14-of-41).

"We're playing with a pretty inexperienced point guard right now that we have to try and manage through these games, especially on the road," coach Avery Johnson said. "That's something we have to work with day in and day out.
Barea's decision making on offense in the last few games has actually been good, but he hasn't even been able to make open layups. The defense has been pretty awful.

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Mike Fisher looks at Dirk's disappointing February.

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Sefko also writes about how 10 of the next 11 games being against Western Conference teams is actually a good thing.
The presumably stronger West has been their make-hay domain this season. And if you think about it, that's good. Dallas is 22-6 against the West and only 12-11 against the Eastern Conference. Only one other team in the West, the Los Angeles Lakers, who are 18-8 against the Western Conference, have fewer than 11 losses against their conference brethren.
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JJT, presumable after looking at the boxscore from the last two games says Dallas really needs a backup PG.

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This Day in Mavs History
2000 Michael Finley had 11 points on 5-6 FG in 10 minutes in the All-Star game as the West defeated the East 137-126.