Until the Dallas Mavericks find some consistency, the voices saying they need a change will keep growing louder.

And just as they always have, Avery Johnson and his players will continue ignoring them.

"Last year we were winning 17 in a row and 16 (actually 13) in a row, and the loud voices said it's just the regular season. Now we've lost a few games, now the loud voices have another opinion," Johnson said. "When you're a championship-caliber team, the voices are always going to be loud. The criticism is always going to be loud, but the rewards, the potential for the rewards, can be great.

"I would imagine Phoenix has some loud voices. San Antonio probably not as much because they're the four-time champion and that's what happens when you win championships. But for the rest of us — like the Clevelands and us and Phoenix and teams like that — voices are going to always be loud until you actually, you know, get over the hump. That's a part of this process."

The problem for the Mavericks is that process has included two straight playoff flameouts, giving plenty of ammunition to the critics who question their mental toughness.

Dallas blew a 2-0 lead — and a big cushion late in Game 3 — while falling to Miami in six games in the 2006 NBA finals.

The Mavericks bounced back to win 67 games last season, then were eliminated by eighth-seeded Golden State in the first round, one of the biggest upsets in postseason history. That was enough for the skeptics who said the Mavs couldn't bring back the same core group for 2007-08 — that changes had to be made.

"Some things are going to always come," Johnson said. "When we took over as coach, the voices were, 'Well, we didn't know if the new guy could win with this team.' And then once we started winning, then, 'We don't know if Dirk (Nowitzki) is the MVP.' Then he was the MVP.

"Then, 'We don't know if Josh Howard is an All-Star.' Then he's an All-Star. 'We don't know if he can get 40 (points).' Now he's gotten 40.

"So there's always going to be some voice. That's a part of what we sign up for and I love it."

To quiet those voices, the Mavs will have to play better....

Like many NBA draft picks, Kevin Durant prepared for the start of his professional basketball career by playing in the Las Vegas summer league.

The Seattle rookie later received even better training in Vegas.

Durant was in camp with the United States national team, competing against players on the roster that rolled through the FIBA Americas tournament to clinch a spot in the 2008 Olympics.

"They were all behind me 100 percent. A lot of guys treated me like I was a younger brother, gave me tips, and we're still friends to this day," Durant said. "I think that's one of the biggest things, just getting to pick from them guys' heads, a player like Kobe (Bryant) or Michael Redd or Carmelo (Anthony) or LeBron (James). Just ask them how they're surviving in this league and what's the things they need to do to be successful."

Besides learning from them, Durant quickly showed he could play with them.

He scored 22 points, helping his team rally for a 105-104 victory in the Americans' intrasquad exhibition — a game Jason Kidd said was better than the NBA All-Star Game.

Durant ended up being one of the last two players cut for the Olympic qualifying roster, but coach Mike Krzyzewski said the No. 2 pick in the draft would be considered for the team next year....

The Boston Celtics are cleaning up on the court — and online.

Fans continue to show their interest in the Celtics, who won 18 of their first 20 games during the NBA's best start. The Celtics' page on NBA.com received the most visits during the first month of the season, helping the site record its best month ever.

NBA.com had more than 153 million visits in November, an 80 percent increase from the same month last year.

Celtics star Kevin Garnett, whose offseason trade to Boston was the key move in Boston's turnaround, was third among all players in visits to his page, behind Cleveland's James and Lakers star Kobe Bryant.

Don Nelson jokingly acted as if he were irked Tuesday night at Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, a former assistant under Nelson during the coach's first stint at Golden State in the '90s.

"Is that the guy that hasn't even called me?" Nellie said before the Warriors handed Popovich and the defending champion Spurs only their fourth defeat of the year, 96-84. "The guy I was looking forward to having dinner with last night? Pop, is that his name? I had a nice expensive bottle of wine — not the ripple I usually have."

Nelson was later asked about the Spurs' tendency to more frequently play his style of small ball, a guard-oriented lineup.

"If he could give me (Tim) Duncan, I wouldn't have to do it all the time," Nelson said with a smile....

ESPN the Magazine pointed out an NBA rarity that occurred recently. The Spurs, Suns and Mavs lost on the same night on Nov. 26. It was the first time in 1,459 days for all three of those teams to lose on the same day with the previous time being back on Nov. 28, 2003.