|10-12-2004, 04:39 PM||#1|
Tebowing the long haul
Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: TX, USA
Nowitzki-Dampier Combo Coming on Strong
Dampier, Dirk in sync
By Dwain Price
Star-Telegram Staff Writer
DALLAS - It took just four days for the Mavericks' new center, Erick Dampier, to get in sync with the team's All-Star, Dirk Nowitzki.
Dampier's appearance allows Nowitzki to play his natural position, power forward, where he has a huge advantage over defenders. Nowitzki's skills as a perimeter shooter will open up the middle for Dampier.
"He and Dirk, for some reason, have bonded and are really playing well together, feeding off each other," coach Don Nelson said. "He's getting Dirk open, and Dirk's given him some real nice feeds down around the basket. It looks like this thing is going to work real well."
Dampier, who signed a free-agent contract with the Mavericks this summer after playing seven seasons with Golden State, couldn't be happier.
"Dirk is a shooter, so they've got to go out on the floor and guard him, which leaves the inside open for me to do my work," Dampier said. "I think we're a pretty good combination."
The Mavs are happy to have a bona fide big man they can depend on.
"It's a benefit for us to get a chance to play with a center with his type of size and status in the league, and we're just making the most of the situation," forward Michael Finley said. "We're getting to know him, what he likes and what he doesn't like."
What the 6-foot-11, 276-pound Dampier doesn't like is people bringing up the Warriors and his averages of 12.3 points and 12 rebounds per game last season. He said he has turned the page to a new chapter in his basketball life.
"Those were last year's numbers," Dampier said. "I look to do more this year. I'm on a different team now with different opportunities for me to try to get a little bit more touches in the post."
Nelson said Dampier had his best practice Friday, especially at the offensive end of the court.
"He has great, great hands around the basket," point guard Jason Terry said. "The guy catches everything.
"What I've seen that works best is him and Dirk working together. Dirk is hitting him high and hitting him low, and he's catching and he's finishing. That's something that's big for us."
Terry likes stability
The one thing that gnawed at Jason Terry during his five seasons with the Atlanta Hawks was the franchise's instability, particularly its coaching staff.
That's why he was quick to say he "liked the coaching" when he was asked what was the best thing about the off-season trade that sent him from the Hawks to the Mavs and coach Don Nelson.
"I had three different coaches in five years [with the Hawks]," Terry said. "Now I come in and get Nellie, and right away he's emphasizing things that I need to be retaught."
The Hawks never qualified for the playoffs while Terry played for them. He said he won't have that problem this season.
"Dallas, I know this, we're going to the playoffs for sure," Terry said. "There's no other place I'd rather be right now."
Mbenga plays catchup
Late in Friday's morning practice session, Don Nelson chastised rookie DJ Mbenga for being out of position, then yanked him off the court in favor of Shawn Bradley.
Nelson then showed the 7-footer where he was supposed to be and said if Mbenga didn't learn the plays, "I'm not going to play you."
For Mbenga, learning the Mavs' playbook has been a major challenge.
"The plays are more difficult here," Mbenga said. "In Belgium, we used seven plays for the whole season. Here, we use ... I don't know how many.
"So I'm just trying to get used to my plays, and how to read my plays. Sometimes I forget the plays, but we've got time."