NBA: Dirk Nowitzki and 7 Struggling Stars Who Must Raise Their Games

Matt Shetler@@buccos12Correspondent IFebruary 3, 2012

NBA: Dirk Nowitzki and 7 Struggling Stars Who Must Raise Their Games

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    The NBA All-Star break is mere weeks away.

    Some teams have some serious work to do before and after the break to get themselves into contention in their respective conferences.

    Of course, in order to do that, some star players need to pick up their games.

    Here's a look at some struggling stars that need to raise their games in the second half of the season.

Amar'e Stoudemire, New York Knicks

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    Stoudemire made quite the impact when he signed with the Knicks before the beginning of last season; but he hasn't made nearly the impact after the Knicks acquired Carmelo Anthony.

    Stoudemire's struggled with his shot and has been brutal on the defensive end of the floor.

    He hasn't been able to co-exist with Anthony and there have been problems with spacing when he's on the floor with Tyson Chandler.

    Stoudemire had possibly his best game of the season on Thursday night against the Bulls, but for the Knicks to compete he needs to bring that type of production consistently.

Kevin Garnett, Boston Celtics

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    You don't know how much left Garnett has in the tank, and the Celtics have been playing very well as of late; but to be legitimate contenders, Boston could use more production from Garnett.

    He's averaged 13.1 points and 7.2 rebounds per game, which is fine as his career winds down; but Boston could definitely use more out of him.

Dirk Nowitzki, Dallas Mavericks

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    Nowitzki has been dealing with health issues and has posted near-career-worst numbers across the board.

    Averaging 16.2 points and 5.9 rebounds per night just isn't going to get it done.

    Dallas needs Nowitzki to be more Dirk-like, and they need him to do so very soon.

Lamar Odom, Dallas Mavericks

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    Is there a more disappointing player in the NBA?

    Dallas didn't count on Odom averaging eight points and four boards per night.

    They need Odom to produce like he did as a member of the Lakers. If Nowitzki and Odom don't pick up their production, the Mavericks won't be real threats.

Metta World Peace, Los Angeles Lakers

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    World Peace has given the Lakers next to nothing when it comes to production.

    He's only bringing five points and 2.5 rebounds per night to the table, and he really hasn't been his typical self on the defensive end either.

Pau Gasol, Los Angeles Lakers

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    Gasol hasn't been terrible for the Lakers, but he could be better.

    When he's aggressive, he's been great; but when he turns into a passive player his production takes a big hit.

    The Lakers need Gasol to be extremely aggressive if they are going to find a way to compete in the Western Conference.

Stephen Jackson, Milwaukee Bucks

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    The Bucks aren't paying Jackson over $9 million to average near a career-worst 12.1 points per game.

    There's also the fact that he and head coach Scott Skiles don't seem to like each other.

    Milwaukee is looking to make a run at the postseason, but in order to do so they need some production from Jackson.