Atlanta (21-46) at Dallas (42-24)

Cloudy Currently: Dallas, TX
Temp: 49° F
  • Game info: 8:30 pm EST Wed Mar 17, 2004
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Dallas coach Don Nelson is already planning for the playoffs—and the NBA isn’t pleased.

The Mavericks will look to put off-court distractions aside and improve their standing for the postseason when they face the visiting Atlanta Hawks.

Nelson was recently criticized by the NBA for e-mailing Golden State guard Avery Johnson and offering him a job on his coaching staff starting this postseason.

“We’re going to speak to coach Nelson and tell him that those types of actions aren’t appropriate,” NBA spokesman Tim Frank told The Associated Press on Monday night. “I don’t think the intent here was to cause a problem, but it’s not allowed in our rules to have contact with players on other teams.”

Johnson, who is in his 16th NBA season, played for Nelson in Golden State and Dallas and has said he plans to go into coaching.

“He’s got a standing offer from me to join my staff at any time,” Nelson said. “I was hoping he would join us for the playoffs if they don’t make it and be a part of our organization again. I love working with the guy. I think he will be a good head coach.”

The NBA has not said whether Nelson will face disciplinary action.

On the court, the Mavericks have won three of their last four games, including Sunday’s 101-88 win over the Los Angeles Clippers. The victory was their second straight on the road following four straight losses away from American Airlines Center.

Dirk Nowitzki had 34 points and 15 rebounds, and Steve Nash added 16 points and 11 assists for Dallas, which is in fifth place in the Western Conference, one game behind San Antonio and 1 1/2 behind the third-place Los Angeles Lakers.

The Hawks are coming off Tuesday’s 118-110 loss to the Seattle SuperSonics— their sixth defeat in seven games.

Stephen Jackson scored 39 points for Atlanta, giving him at least 30 in three of his last five games. Bob Sura added 19 points and Jason Terry had 18 points for the Hawks.

Atlanta has lost five straight in Dallas, dating to 1997.

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