Peja Stojakovic is disappearing

June, 6, 2011
6/06/11
12:51
AM CT
Peja Stojakovic was one of the more dangerous shooters during his prime.

Now 33, he has provided only a few fleeting moments.

In his first NBA Finals, Stojakovic is struggling mightily. A liability on defense, Stojakovic scored his first points of the series Sunday night but isn't making shots like he used to. He was benched for all but four seconds of the second half in Game 3. He was on the court for the last shot -- a miss by Dirk Nowitzki -- in the Mavs' 88-86 loss to the Miami Heat.

Stojakovic finished 1-for-2 from the field with two points in just over six minutes of action.

Veteran Jason Kidd was asked if Stojakovic can help a Mavericks team struggling to find some scoring output to go with Nowitzki.

"Yeah, I think Peja can find a place," Kidd said. "When he's open, he has to knock down shots just like everybody else. For that, we have to get him open shots and get him off some screens."

In Games 3 and 4 of the Western Conference semifinals, the old Stojakovic came alive. He scored 15 points in Game 3 and followed that up with a 21-point point effort on 7-of-7 shooting from the field, which included six 3-pointers. The conference finals didn't go as smoothly. Stojakovic shot just 31 percent from the field.

Now in the Finals, he is not providing a punch for coach Rick Carlisle. Normally, Stojakovic comes off the bench for Nowitzki early in the game. In Game 1, he played 14 minutes and missed all three of his shots. In Game 2, he played just 4:57 and was benched for the entire second half.

The same thing almost happened Sunday, but with the Mavericks looking for a 3-pointer or possibly a jumper from someone in the closing seconds, Stojakovic was on the floor.

"The big thing is when we have those open looks, we have to be able to knock them down no matter if it's our bench players or the starters," Kidd said. "Right now, Dirk and [Jason Terry] are the only ones scoring."
Calvin Watkins joined ESPNDallas.com in September 2009. He's covered the Cowboys since 2006 and also has covered colleges, boxing and high school sports.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Dirk Nowitzki
PTS AST STL MIN
21.7 2.7 0.9 32.9
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsS. Marion 6.5
AssistsM. Ellis 5.7
StealsM. Ellis 1.7
BlocksB. Wright 0.9