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Monday, April 12, 2010
Stevenson makes case for playoff minutes

By Tim MacMahon

LOS ANGELES -- DeShawn Stevenson has two buckets in three fill-in starts, and his coach couldn't be more pleased with him.

Stevenson, who is starting while Shawn Marion recovers from a strained left oblique muscle, has done exactly what Rick Carlisle asked of him. He's harassed three explosive wing scorers in Memphis' O.J. Mayo, Portland's Brandon Roy and Sacramento's Tyreke Evans while understanding his role as the fifth option on offense.

"Stevenson’s done a great job for us," said Carlisle, who noted that most of Evans' 27 points came when Stevenson was out of the game. "He’s been super solid defensively and offensively he really plays within himself."

In the process of the last few games, Stevenson has improved his chances to get minutes during the playoffs, even though he doesn't possess anything close to the dynamic scoring ability of rookie Rodrigue Beaubois, who has been riding the bench recently.

Carlisle's primary concern all season has been making the Mavs a good defensive team. That'll be emphasized even more in the playoffs.

"I know they’ve got a tight rotation," said Stevenson, who played heavy minutes for the Washington Wizards during the 2007 and 2008 playoffs. "I’m just trying to show what I can do and coach knows I can do. Hopefully, I’ll get some minutes. If not, I’ve just got to stay ready."

Considering that the Mavs will almost certainly see Kevin Durant, Manu Ginobili or Roy in the first round, there could be a significant role for Stevenson.

"He’s certainly going to be an option," Carlisle said. "Ever since he’s come here, you guys have seen me throw him in there when somebody makes a defensive mistake, and he goes in there and gives us the same thing. He gives us energy defensively, he gives us toughness and offensively he plays within himself. He knows how to play within the system.

"He’s a valuable guy. I would never hesitate to call upon him in a playoff situation."