Carlisle is convinced Mavericks can claw into playoff contention

02/12/2013 11:39 PM

03/14/2013 4:15 PM

DALLAS -- While Dallas Mavericks players and coaches were a bit grumpy following Monday's 105-101 loss to the Hawks, coach Rick Carlisle wanted to make one thing perfectly clear.

"It's not about my mood," Carlisle said Tuesday afternoon. "It's about us playing well and doing everything we can all possibly do to play our best to give ourselves the best chance to trend upwards as a team, and to be able to trend upwards and sustain and to break new thresholds.

"When we don't do that, the consequences, we all are going to feel [terrible] and we're going to have to work harder and dig in."

The digging will continue for the Mavs tonight at 7:30 when they host the Sacramento Kings at American Airlines Center.

Monday's loss dropped the Mavs to 22-29, but it didn't appear to temper Carlisle's belief the Mavs can nab one of the Western Conference's eight playoff spots.

"My enthusiasm has not waned one bit with this team and these guys," Carlisle said. "They're good guys, they want to do well.

"I'm the one that has to facilitate them being in position to do the best that they can do. When we don't do that and we have a night like [Monday] night, consequences for all of us is that we've got to spend a lot of time watching this stuff and working on stuff on the court, and that's just the way we're going to do business with it."

Mayo turnovers

Two critical turnovers by guard O.J. Mayo in the final 23.9 seconds didn't help the Mavs against the Hawks.

Rick Carlisle noted that taking decision-making away from Mayo down the stretch isn't feasible.

"He's one of our really important scorers, so the ball's going to be in his hands and he's going to have to make decisions," Carlisle said. "He's gotten so much better [at late-game decisions] that a night like [Monday] can tend to cloud that and askew it to some degree."

Mayo committed four of the Mavs' 12 turnovers against the Hawks. It's the fourth time in the last seven games in which Mayo has committed at least four turnovers in a game.

Carlisle said, for the most part, either Dirk Nowitzki, Vince Carter, Mayo and sometimes Darren Collison are the players who will be in decision-making positions down the stretch.

Transition lacking

On Monday, Atlanta burned the Mavs badly in transition defense, a focal point during Tuesday's film session.

"Transition defense is the foundation of your overall defense, it's the beginning point," Rick Carlisle said. "The worst team in the NBA gives up 16 transition points per game -- the worst transition defensive team in the NBA.

"We gave up 16 in the first quarter. That's not going to get it."

Not sweating it

Forward Vince Carter said he stopped caring about the NBA's trading deadline years ago. This year, it's Feb. 21.

"If [Mavs brass] make that decision, they make it," Carter said. "If they don't, that's our team.

"I always believe you don't help yourself, regardless, because teams who are interested in you, they're still seeing how you play. They want to see what the product is they're potentially purchasing. So... when the move is made, the move is made."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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