Shootaround report: Carlisle continues to look for balance despite Dirk's improved play
Shootaround report: Bucks (26-28) at Mavericks (25-30)
Carlisle continues to look for balance despite Dirk's improved play
DALLAS — Despite being encouraged after watching 11-time All-Star Dirk Nowitzki set season highs in points and rebounds in Sunday’s 103-99 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers, Rick Carlisle says the Dallas Mavericks still can’t afford to heap everything on the 7-footer’s broad shoulders as they fight back into playoff contention.
Remaining in the game thanks to Nowitzki’s 30 points and 13 rebounds while dueling with Lakers guard Kobe Bryant, the Mavericks weren’t about to lend their franchise player enough support down the stretch while falling to a narrow loss. That must change, according to Carlisle, if the Mavs are going to bounce back with a win on their home floor Tuesday night before embarking on a three-game road trip.
“Well, we’re going to go to him. There’s never been any question about that and there should have never been any misunderstanding about that. He’s going to be involved in everything,” Carlisle said as the Mavs try to work around their healthy superstar after he missed 29 games due to injury.
“But it’s really important that we have a certain balance, and it’s got to be from the beginning of the game to the end of the game,” the coach added. “And at the end of the game, you know, Dirk’s going to be a focal point. He’s going to be a focal point for us and defenses are going to lock in on him. And when they do, other guys have got to be ready to step up and make shots and make plays like the New Orleans game. Dirk didn’t touch the ball in those last two possessions and we got two 3s, because partly how they were playing him and partly because other guys made plays. So I like where he’s at. He’s come a long way, but again, balance is going to be one of our calling cards going forward. And he’s obviously more capable of carrying a load now, but we don’t necessarily want to dump it all on him.”
Meanwhile, the Mavs will try to inch closer to Houston for the eighth and final playoff position in the Western Conference with a win, sitting 4 1/2 games out of that position entering their matchup against the Bucks, who currently hold the eighth spot in the East. And with Milwaukee limping into the American Airlines Center after losing three straight and seven out of eight, the Mavs hope to seize a much-needed home win before meeting up with the Memphis Grizzlies on the second night of a back-to-back to begin the road trip.
“We have to move forward and this is an important game,” sixth man Vince Carter matter-of-factly said. “And like I said before, every game’s important, so we can’t dwell on the past and we can’t worry about what’s happened since yesterday on. It’s just today now, and we need to get this win to continue to get back into the race. Each win helps us. Plain and simple, each win helps.”
Note: The Mavs return to their home floor Tuesday night against the Milwaukee Bucks prior to heading out on a three-game road trip. The game will air locally on Fox Sports Southwest at 7:30 p.m. CT. Tickets are still available and can be purchased by calling (214) 747-MAVS (6287) or by visiting Mavs.com.
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