10/09/2007 Mavericks vs. San Antonio
The initiation of Devin Harris as the full-time starting point guard began in Tuesday night’s 88-67 victory over San Antonio in the preseason opener at American Airlines Center.
Did we also get a glimpse of his backcourt mate?
Jerry Stackhouse opened along with Harris, reuniting a pairing that’s rather used to playing together. They’ve done so often off the bench and the possibility exists, though it’s probably slight, that it might become habit on the first team.
“Right now Stack is going to get those minutes there,” coach Avery Johnson said. “Once we get Eddie Jones healthy, we will take a look at him there.”
Stress now. Jones and Devean George are out with injuries, and Trenton Hassell is still learning the system. Jason Terry could be the one or may be asked to fill a “Vinnie Johnson” role. Asked about possibly being Harris’ starting partner, Stackhouse almost pulled a spit-take with his energy drink.
Harris and Stackhouse acknowledged the success they’ve had together in the past. Harris calls Stackhouse his No. 2 and Stackhouse talked about each knowing the other's tendencies.
Stackhouse added that the lineup with him and Harris, along with Dirk Nowitzki and Josh Howard, was among the best for the Mavs statistically last season.
“Kind of weird that I’m in the best lineup and the worst,” Stackhouse said with a laugh.
What does that say about you? “It says nothing about me, but the guys around me,” he joked.
Primarily a sixth man during his first three years in Dallas, Stackhouse doesn’t have a preference when it comes to starting or coming off the bench. Whatever the role, he feels comfortable with his minutes in the mid-20s.
Harris is feeling more comfortable with his role, even though the laundry list of responsibilities Johnson has for Harris seems daunting. Here’s just a sample: Quarterback the team, attack the basket, know when to pull back, know who’s hot and who’s not, and manage the clock.
“He’ll have to go out there and run the ballclub,” Johnson said simply.
Beginning his fourth NBA season, Harris is ready for the job. He credits Johnson with helping him get there.
“Just the confidence he’s instilled in me to take more control of the team,” said Harris, who’s shuffled in and out of the starting lineup his first three years. “Giving me a little more freedom kind of gives me more confidence, coming out there feeling more comfortable and not worrying about the next mistake.”
Harris’ first outing of 2007-08 wasn’t without errors, but the bottom line read well. He played 16 minutes, scored eight points (3-6 shooting), had two assists and didn’t commit a turnover.
“I liked his flow tonight,” Johnson said. “It’s still early, but I liked his flow. He’s better this year in this game to start the season than he’s been in the last two year’s combined. I like that start. I’m pretty confident in what we’re doing and if he needs to get out of jam, that’s why I’m here to help him.”
Harris’ night was done by the end of the third quarter. Howard led Dallas with 18 points. Nowitzki added 13 points and eight rebounds. The Mavs shot 47 percent and outscored San Antonio 38-22 in the paint. Three Spurs, including Manu Ginobili, scored 14, though the team shot 31 percent.
“We played well tonight,” Harris said. “We got out on transition. Coach let me call a little bit more plays so I can get in the flow myself and see how the game is going. If we are shooting a lot of jump shots I know I have to call a play to get the ball in the paint. It is really about reading the situation.”