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Original Issue

Losing a Coach, Hitting a Pick

Since Dallas's 22-year-old point guard Devin Harris wrote about his All-Star weekend in Denver, he has averaged 6.0 points for the Mavs, who last Friday clinched their fifth straight playoff berth.

WOW, A LOT has happened since the All-Star break. The biggest change was Don Nelson stepping down as coach and Avery Johnson taking over. It came out of nowhere; we had practice the day before, and everything was normal. When we showed up for shootaround the next day, Nellie dropped it on us. We were shocked. But being that Avery has run many practices and filled in when Nellie was out, it hasn't been that difficult a transition. Avery has been a great mentor for me all year because he knows what it's like to be a point guard, to be the head of the snake, and what it takes to run a team.

The coaching change had a direct impact on me. After the All-Star break, Nellie told me my playing time was going to be cut, that he was going to play veterans more as we neared the playoffs. I was pretty disappointed. After he stepped down, my minutes started to go back up. [Assistant] coach [Del] Harris told me they had decided to start playing me more, so while I was sad to see Nellie go, I'm excited to be out there more.

I took a real walloping against Sacramento in February. In the third quarter I ran into a pick set by center Brad Miller, the hardest pick I've ever run into. He knocked me on my butt, my neck snapped back, and I was stunned lying on the court. I went to the locker room and wanted to go back in the game, but the trainers had me sit the rest of the night as a precaution.

How about my alma mater, Wisconsin? After we made it to the Sweet 16, some of the guys--Alando Tucker, Kammron Taylor, Coach [Bo] Ryan--called me and made cracks, saying how much better they were without me around. We joke about that, but part of me can't help but think if I were there this year, we could have gone all the way.

All in all, I'm happy with how things have gone this year. When I got to the league, I was quiet and kept to myself, never going out much. Now I've opened up more. I spend time hanging out with my teammates, especially Josh Howard and Marquis Daniels. I like Dallas and the restaurants and clubs. I'd like to have college friends come visit, but it's best that I focus on the playoffs and not have any distractions. I'll try to get them down when the season is over, which I hope won't be for a while!