Practice report (12/24/12) -- Carlisle's Christmas list: Dirk, health, improvement
Earl K. Sneed reports from the Dallas Mavericks' Christmas Eve practice, as coach Rick Carlisle tries to get the best out of his team after the return of 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki.
Practice report (12/24/12)
Carlisle's Christmas list: Dirk, health, improvement
With a short wishlist for Santa to fulfill, Carlisle addressed the media after his team’s Christmas Eve practice hoping to also subside his feelings following a season-worst 129-91 loss in San Antonio on Sunday. And with his team on a three-game losing streak heading into the holiday, the coach tried to remain in the Christmas spirit despite having to send leading scorer O.J. Mayo home from Monday’s practice with a fever and the flu.
“Well, we got Dirk back, so I’d say we’ve gotten what we could ask for,” Carlisle said as he went down his Christmas list. “And then beyond that, look, we’ve got to get everybody completely healthy and we’ve got to keep working, man. A stretch of games like this really puts you up against it and it’s a great challenge. We can only face the challenge together. I’m gonna push these guys hard. They know it. And we’re still working to become a good basketball team; a good, consistent basketball team. And our best basketball is ahead of us without question.”
Hoping to turn matters around after taking Christmas Day off, the coach stressed to his players the importance of playing together as one unit just a day after downing his team for a lack of competitiveness and selfish play. Now, with Nowitzki back in the fold, the coach faces the challenge of improving his team’s play while integrating his superstar on the fly.
Still, just two seasons after leading the Mavericks (12-16) to the championship, Carlisle also has tempered expectations as his squad faces an uphill climb from four games below .500.
“We’re rebuilding a championship team. We’re not a championship team at the moment. We know that. But I like the roster and we’re gonna work our [tail] off to become a better basketball team,” an emphatic Carlisle said.
He added: “That’s certainly the goal, but it’s a process working towards that and we’ve got to keep focused on the day-to-day aspects of becoming better and working at getting better. And when we do those things and show improvement, we’ll inch towards that goal. But it’s work and I’m not here to try to convince or prove to anybody that it’s not.”
Note: The Mavericks will return to action Thursday night in Oklahoma City, looking to avenge last season’s first-round playoff series sweep at the hands of the Thunder. The game will air nationally at 7 p.m. CT on TNT.