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David Moore basically says Dallas has no chance if Howard isn't available.

The scoreboard said the Mavericks had a chance entering the final period. They were only down by three.

But in truth, this game was lost for the Mavericks in the first quarter when Howard went to the locker room after aggravating his injured right ankle.

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Sefko writes that fatigue is an issue.

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Dirk Nowitzki.  Good at basketball.  Comedian.

"We've never had a problem with anything," Nowitzki said at Tuesday's morning shootaround.

 Nowitzki then recounted a later Game 1 run-in with Martin that had both of them laughing after Martin stood his ground while the Mavs' All-Star forward went through an extensive sequence of fakes.

"He asked me what the hell am I doing," Nowitzki said, laughing again as he told the story. "I told him I was lost."

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Kelly Dwyer says Dallas should be worried because Denver is really good.  He also has his take on the whole Dirk non-story that managed to dominate the TNT broadcast last night.  Not surprisingly, it's dead on.

The halftime back-and-forth on TNT regarding Dirk Nowitzki's sober and accurate assessment of what Kenyon Martin, Chris Andersen, and Nene will try to do to stop him was, of course, ridiculous. And because Chris Webber, Kenny Smith, and Charles Barkley can't remember what they had for lunch -- much less what Michael Jordan used to say about Joe Dumars and Jeff Malone -- we were subject to a whole lot of preening and nonsense.

Did Nowitzki's take on the three defenders strike me as uncharacteristically (for jocks, not for Dirk) honest? Did it sound like a bit more than the usual gameday pablum that we usually get in these soundbites? Of course. But was there anything wrong with it? Did he actually say, as Webber, Smith, and Barkley kept attributing, that these three were having any success at checking him? Or "a great job," as Smith incorrectly quoted? Or did they just not listen, not think, and move ahead regardless?

Guess what? I've heard Kobe Bryant soberly and accurately assess what different types of defenders, by name, will try to do with him. All sorts of halftime interviews are full of "he's long, so I have to try to get around his length"-takes from the leading scorer on the leading team (because that's who gets the halftime interview).

I've heard Magic talk about it. I've heard LeBron James discuss what Paul Pierce used to do to him. And you know what? I also heard Charles Barkley say, "I have seen the future, and he wears number 21" after his first game going up against Tim Duncan -- knowing full well he was going to be playing TD four times a year (or more, in the playoffs) for the next two years.

Short memories, hard-asses, poor quoting abilities, national TV audience. Not a good mixture.

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JJT says 'the end is near'.  Boo!