DALLAS -- Darren Collison is slowly building a reputation of not being afraid to take the big shot.
The fourth-year point guard delivered in the clutch Sunday against the Orlando Magic when he made a crucial 3-pointer with 31 seconds remaining that gave the Dallas Mavericks a 107-102 lead.
On Dec. 27 at Oklahoma City, Collison hit a 3-pointer with 1 second left to send the game to overtime. But he missed a 3-point attempt with 1:35 remaining when the Mavericks were trailing 97-93 to the Los Angeles Clippers.
"Sometimes in this game things are going to go your way, and sometimes it doesn't," he said. "The biggest thing is you've got to shoot that shot.
"You can't pass up the shot. If it goes in, you're the hero; if it doesn't, everybody's going to be talking about you, and that's how it is."
Collison has been benched in some crucial moments in favor of veteran guard Mike James, which Collison admits has affected his psyche."I'll probably be lying to you in telling you guys that it didn't necessarily get to me, but it did," Collison said. "As a competitor it did.
"I want to be in there in the last 5 minutes of the game to try to help my team win."
When it comes to handling players, shooting guard O.J. Mayo describes coach Rick Carlisle as tough, but fair.
"He's a jack of all trades," Mayo said after Wednesday's practice. "Some days he'll definitely bring it to us, and some days he understands we're tired or a little beat up and he'll give us a nice little refreshing day, get some shots up, break a little sweat and get out of here."
Carlisle knows he must offer positive reinforcements in addition to pointing out the players' mistakes.
And with seven players on the roster age 25 or younger, Carlisle has spent more time teaching this season.
"In my 4 1/2 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 said. "And so they've been coached hard; some of their teammates have been on them hard at times.
"But they've done a great job at taking everything, and we're going to get better."
Down the road
The Mavericks' next four-game road trip is not a conventional one, so they'll do something that's unconventional.
The Mavericks play at Portland on Tuesday, at Golden State on Jan. 31, at Phoenix on Feb. 1 and at Oklahoma City on Feb. 4.
Instead of coming home after the game against the Suns, the Mavericks will stay in Phoenix, take Feb. 2 off, practice in Phoenix on Feb. 3 and then fly to Oklahoma City.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760