Unless someone can force Phoenix into a halfcourt game (and potential series’ against San Antonio or Detroit might be such tests), there’s no one who can run with them for 48 minutes. After coming out on the short end of a 25 point blowout in their Western Conference Semi-Final Game One versus the scintillating Suns, the Mavericks are awfully quick to play the blame game. From the AP’s Bob Baum.

Team leader Dirk Nowitzki criticized Erick Dampier after Amare Stoudemire (above) outscored the Dallas center 40-0 in Monday night’s 127-102 Phoenix victory.

“He’s a step slow on everything,” Nowitzki said after the game. “He never got involved in the game. He has always been in foul trouble. The first series was the same thing. He gets a quick two fouls in the first two or three minutes, and we can’t be aggressive any more. Then he gets the third foul and has to sit.”

Nowitzki didn’t stop there.

“The bottom line is we’ve got to get something out of our center position,” he said. “We really haven’t gotten anything out of it.”

Nowitzki also shouted at Dampier as the two ran down the court following a three-point play by Stoudemire over the Dallas center’s back.

Dampier lashed back before the team’s workout on Tuesday.

“He can say what he wants,” Dampier said. “We really didn’t get a lot from anyone. This is not a one individual game. It’s a team concept. We didn’t play the way we are capable of playing, so for him to say something like that is totally stupid.”

Told of Dampier’s remarks, Johnson said, “You know what’s stupid? The way the Mavericks played the last game, that was stupid.”

Nowitzki, meanwhile, stood by his post-game comments.

“I’m not going to change what I said, and I don’t think I need to talk to him,” he said.