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J.J. Barea named Western Conference Player of the Week

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The Mavericks are back in the playoff race because of Barea.

After averaging almost 24 points per game and leading the Dallas Mavericks to four much-needed wins last week, point guard J.J. Barea has been named the Western Conference Player of the Week for the first time in his career, the league announced Monday.

Barea averaged 23.5 points and 6.8 assists for the Mavericks in four starts last week, and he's the main reason why the Mavericks are back in the playoff picture and on a four-game winning streak.

A nagging abdominal injury has kept starting point guard Deron Williams out of the lineup since March 25. Barea has started four of the last six games Williams has been out, averaging 21.5 points and six assists in his absence.

Barea's week began with an 18-point, 11-assist outing in Denver, and followed that with three consecutive 20-plus-point performances including a 29-point game in Detroit on Friday, one day after his baby girl was born. The 94 points he scored in these four games were the most Barea has scored in such a stretch in his career.

The Mavericks looked dead in the water a week ago with the injuries to Chandler Parsons and Williams, but Barea's play has put Dallas back in the playoff discussion with five games to go. Dallas will need this same Barea to show up Wednesday for a crucial showdown against the Houston Rockets.