Mavs' Harris back in starting lineup

Updated: June 15, 2006, 9:55 PM ET
Associated Press

MIAMI -- Hoping to break a skid of three straight poor-shooting starts, the Dallas Mavericks returned speedy guard Devin Harris to the starting lineup for Game 4 of the NBA Finals Thursday night.

Harris didn't become a starter until Game 2 of the second round against San Antonio. He remained in the lineup the rest of that series and the entire Western Conference finals against Phoenix, then was benched in favor of defensive-oriented Adrian Griffin for the finals.

Seeing his team go 7-for-21 in the first quarters of all three games apparently convinced coach Avery Johnson to shake things up, even with the Mavericks holding a 2-1 edge over the Miami Heat.

"We haven't pushed it at all this series,'' Johnson said at a shootaround Thursday afternoon. "That's been really disappointing. We'll just keep trying to get there.''

Prior to Game 4, the Mavs also talked about needing to do a better job rebounding to get their offense going. Dallas has been beaten on the boards in two of the first three games after having outrebounded foes an NBA record 17 straight playoff games coming into the Finals.

"f you don't get the rebound, you can't run,'' Johnson said. "That's pretty simple mathematics for us. Nothing real tricky. (That's) the reason we've been a pretty good fast break team this year.''

Harris is averaging 7 points and 3.3 assists this series. For the postseason, he's averaging 9.7 points and 2.2 assists, including a 30-point game against the Suns.

Harris also helped his cause a bit in the fourth quarter of Game 3. During the lapse that saw Dallas blow a 13-point lead over the final 6:34, Harris made the team's only two baskets -- a jumper and layup that tied it with 33.5 seconds left.


Copyright 2006 by The Associated Press