Fighting chance: Physical play against Dirk Nowitzki has Dallas Mavericks in a bad spot

Posted Tuesday, May. 01, 2012  comments  Print Reprints

Who will win the opening-round playoff series between the Dallas Mavericks and Oklahoma City Thunder?

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DALLAS -- There's a good chance Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle and Oklahoma City Thunder center Kendrick Perkins won't be direct messaging each other on Twitter.

In the heat of the battle Monday night, Carlisle was on the court exchanging some unpleasant shout-outs with Perkins. That red-hot conversation came shortly after Carlisle said Perkins instigated a dust-up with forward Dirk Nowitzki when Carlisle claimed Perkins threw an elbow at the Mavericks' 11-time All-Star.

And that came shortly after Thunder forward Serge Ibaka popped Nowitzki in the face on a jump shot.

All of the extracurricular activity was too much for Carlisle, who said Perkins and Ibaka are grabbing, clawing, holding, scratching and almost using Nowitzki as a battering ram. A lot of what the Thunder has done to Nowitzki in the first two games of this opening-round playoff series crosses the line, as far as the Mavericks are concerned.

"There are things that are happening out there that can't happen," Carlisle said Tuesday. "You can't hit a guy in the face when he shoots a jump shoot. Intentional or not intentional, that happened. And that was one of the things that sort of set things in motion there."

No word from the NBA if any of Monday's participants will be fined and/or suspended before Game 3 Thursday night at 8:30 at American Airlines Center. But there's a pretty good chance that the physical play will continue.

"That's how playoff series get," Carlisle said. "Generally they get more physical before they get less physical, so that's OK. Look, it's playoff basketball and there's going to be chippiness, there's going to be contact and there's going to be hits. We've just got to make sure that our disposition is where it needs to be, on the one hand, and on the other hand, our poise and composure have to be very strong."

The Mavericks also have to find a way to win a close game. They were 14-8 last year in games decided by three points or fewer, and 7-10 this season, including 0-2 in this series.

Meanwhile, after Monday's 102-99 loss to the Thunder, Carlisle was mad and extremely colorful with his description of what the Thunder did to Nowitzki.

"We don't like the cheap shots when they give them, and they don't like them if we give them," Carlisle said. "That's the nature of competition. Hey, I love hard play -- a clean, competitive playoff series -- and you throw the ball up and may the best team win. But the dirty [expletive] has got to stop. We don't want anybody getting hurt out there."

Nowitzki actually downplayed what happened between him and Perkins.

"It's just two teams playing hard," Nowitzki said. "I think they really came at us there early, and we had to respond physically. He tried to bully me, I bullied back a little bit, and we talked a bunch of stuff and moved on. I don't think the play was anything special."

Carlisle hopes officials at NBA headquarters in New York see something "special" when they watch video of what happened between Perkins and Nowitzki.

"They're going to see all that stuff in black and white in New York, and they'll decide whatever they'll decide," Carlisle said. "Hey, Game 2 is done. We've got to move on to Game 3 and we've got to get our disposition stronger, we've got to get our posture stronger and we've got to play our butts off."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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