Practice report: Young Mavs' backcourt fights through growing pains together
Practice report (01/23/13)
Young Mavs' backcourt fights through growing pains together
With a 25-year-old backcourt of point guard Darren Collison and leading scorer O.J. Mayo swept into starring roles while 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki battled back from preseason arthroscopic knee surgery, Carlisle saw his budding stars struggle to begin the season while the Mavs slid down the standings. But now, with Nowitzki back in the lineup the last 15 games and the Mavs winning five of their last six outings, Carlisle may have finally tapped into the potential of his young guards thanks to a bevy of brutally honest film sessions and plenty of tough love on the practice court.
“In my four and a half years here, I haven’t had this kind of collection of younger guys that has this kind of upside, that needs the kind of work that these guys have needed,” Carlisle admitted after Wednesday’s practice. “So they’ve been coached hard, some of their teammates have been on them hard at times, but they’ve done a great job of taking everything and working to get better.”
“He’s a Jack of all trades,” Mayo said of Carlisle’s coaching style. “Some days he’ll definitely bring it to us and some days he definitely understands we’re tired or a little beat up, and he’ll give us a refreshing day to get some shots up, break a little sweat and get out of here. He’s a Jack of all trades and that’s good.”
With the team currently going through a four-day layoff between games, Carlisle’s coaching versatility has been on full display as the Mavs try to continue moving in the right direction after building up momentum in the last six games. Meanwhile, the duo of Mayo and Collison hope to have their growing pains to begin the season behind them, after their turnover-prone play was prevalent while struggling to manufacture offense while Nowitzki was sidelined.
And after Collison’s late-game dagger 3-pointer closed the door on the Orlando Magic on Sunday in a 111-105 road victory, the Mavericks (18-24) will try to continue their fight to get back into playoff positioning after falling 10 games below .500 back on Jan. 9.
“I think we’re getting better and we can continue getting better,” Mayo added. “You know, we had our struggles but I think due to the film sessions, wanting to get better and wanting to win, we had to understand that we had to get better in those areas. And with Dirk coming back, it took off a lot of pressure from us. It’s going well, though. It’s going in the right direction.”
Note: The Mavericks will return to action Friday night at home against the San Antonio Spurs. The Spurs lead the season series 2-0 after two double-digit wins back in December. The game will air locally at 7 p.m. CT on Fox Sports Southwest and nationally on ESPN. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.