OK, so this was more tongue-in-cheek than anything, but Avery Johnson was a bit disappointed that center Erick Dampier didn't practice today because of a sore leg that Johnson said is minor and will not keep the big fella out Friday against Miami. Dampier said he thinks he bumped knees.
"I went to the dentist this morning and I have soreness, but I still practiced," the coach said. "So no comment about Damp." With Damp in earshot Johnson repeated loudly: "No comment about Damp."
Then Johnson used the opportunity to go back to last season's playoffs against Golden State when Johnson surprised everyone by changing his lineup and seemingly allowing the underdog Warriors to dictate his lineup. At the time, everyone knew Dampier had an injured right shoulder, but the Mavs never revealed how bad it was (he needed surgery in the offseason to repair a small tear in his rotator cuff and he missed the first six games of this season). So, again, at the time, Dampier's injury was not thought to be why Johnson was sitting his starting center."
"People wonder why I, quote-unquote, didn't use him in the playoffs," Johnson said. "He had a shoulder that required surgery, he really could not perform, so because of that we were left with one center trying to scramble with what we're going to do. So now you can see when Damp is able to play and he's able to play at a high level, when we get that consistently we're a pretty good team."
Revisionist history? Who knows. Obviously Dampier's shoulder was not in good shape. But did Johnson know how bad it was at the time?
As for Johnson's trip to the dentist Thursday morning? His dentist says he's grinding his teeth: "Turnovers will do that to you," Johnson quipped.
-- Jeff Caplan