Peep Show

Updated: February 3, 2004, 8:01 AM ET
By Chad Ford | NBA Insider
Washington Wizards: After missing only 42 games in is first seven years of NBA play, Jerry Stackhouse was a bit nervous about returning to action after missing 45 games this year alone. "I never really get nervous or anxious about basketball and I was nervous," he told the Washington Post. "I didn't know what to expect from not being on the floor for a long time. Things I normally do, which I react to, I thought about a little bit . . . It's been difficult for me because if I had this happen to me if I was a third- or fourth-year player, my game wouldn't be where it's at," Stackhouse said Friday after a light workout. "But now I feel like I'm missing out on being at the top of my game because I've taken a year out of my prime. I feel like I'm just starting to hit my stride to know the game, to know what I can do to out-think a lot of the players on the floor."

Dallas Mavericks: It seems like the easiest way to beat the Mavs these days is to let them have the lead. "We're an outside-inside team, and we don't have a lot of really great post players," coach Don Nelson said in the Dallas Morning News. "And when the jump shots aren't going and our defense is not strong, that's exactly what you're looking at - lost leads. When we have some cold spells, we're vulnerable." And it's not just the coach talking. "It's more of a mental thing for us," Michael Finley said. "When we get big leads, we kind of forget how we got them. We can't relax on defense. If anything, you want to take up your defensive intensity because the other team knows they have a big hole to get out of so they become even more aggressive."

Boston Celtics: Paul Pierce and the Celtics seem to be going from the frying pan into the fire on a weekly basis. "It definitely humbles you," Pierce said in the Boston Herald. "It's definitely something that can bring out the best or the worst in you. I have a lot of challenges I'm facing. I could use all of these things as an excuse for not getting the job done, but I'm not going to do that. This has probably been the toughest week there has been on me, but I just have to move on from it." Of course, his latest struggle has been the resignation of coach Jim O'Brien. "It was just draining on me," he said. "I was definitely drained by it. There were a lot of things I expected after the trades and our off-court situations. But (O'Brien's resignation) is something I wasn't prepared for. I let it affect me."

Chad Ford

ESPN Senior Writer