Mavericks’ closed-door meeting sparked five-game winning streak

Posted Monday, Feb. 10, 2014  comments  Print Reprints

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It’s been nearly two weeks since coach Rick Carlisle ripped into his team following a lackluster 117-115 home loss to the Houston Rockets.

Apparently that ripping worked.

The Dallas Mavericks haven’t lost a game since that closed-door meeting on Jan. 29 and have the second-longest current win streak behind the Rockets’ run of six consecutive victories.

Nothing like a few choice words for the coach to straighten things out.

“We gave up [117] points to Houston at home and we had a meeting after that on how we wanted to finish strong before the All-Star break,” forward Dirk Nowitzki said after Monday’s practice. “That’s what we’ve been doing. [We’re] focusing a lot more on defense and rebounding.”

Asked if it was a players-only meeting, Nowitzki smiled and said: “Coach was definitely in there, brother. He was definitely in there after that loss.”

Carlisle cited his team’s solid defense and work on the boards as the primary reasons for the winning streak, which is the Mavs’ longest since they won six in a row from Feb. 8-17, 2012.

The only game during the streak in which the Mavs lost the rebounding battle was when Sacramento outrebounded them 39-37 to start the streak on Jan. 31.

“We’ve caught some momentum,” Carlisle said. “We’ve done some good things, and now the challenge is to continue with it.

“When you’re on a winning streak, you can’t let human nature come into it and have a letdown. That’s one of our challenges right now.”

Another challenge for Carlisle is to somehow let his players be happy about what they’ve accomplished. This is the first time the Mavs (31-21) have vaulted 10 games over .500 since finishing the 2011 championship season at 57-25.

“I don’t think coach will let us get happy,” Nowitzki said. “We had a nice little film session [Monday] and we just prepared like we’ve lost 10 in a row, to be quite honest with you.”

Guard Monta Ellis said that the Mavs must embrace what they’ve been able to achieve because wins are difficult to come by these days.

“We know what we’re trying to do, we know what direction we’re headed and what we’re trying to do to get better as a team,” Ellis said. “I don’t think we’re going to lose our edge, but at the same time you have to embrace it and go with it.

“That’s where you get your motivation from. Just continue to win so you can come in and feel the way that we feel now versus coming in here on a two-game losing streak and have to be, like, in a dark place.”

As the Mavs prepare to face the Charlotte Bobcats at 6 p.m. Tuesday at Time Warner Cable Arena, they’ll do so knowing they’re not in a dark place right now.

“I’m encouraged, but I certainly don’t feel like we’ve proven anything yet,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got a long ways to go.”

While that’s true, the Mavs appear to be locked in on both ends of the court.

“Everybody is tuned in and everybody is helping each other,” Ellis said. “Like I said [Sunday] night, we’re playing more as a team on both ends of the floor, and that’s what’s got this winning streak going.”

Ellis feeling tightness

Ellis went through all of the practice drills Monday afternoon at Time Warner Cable Arena. But he admitted he felt some tightness in his mildly strained right hamstring, which he injured Friday against Utah.

Ellis played 28 solid minutes during Sunday’s 102-91 victory at Boston.

“I didn’t think about it [during the game],” Ellis said. “I was just going to worry about it after the game.

“But I feel good today. A little tight, but I mean it’s a day-to-day process.”

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760 Twitter: @dwainprice

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