Mavericks owner Cuban not giving up, not buying excuses

02/14/2013 11:24 PM

03/14/2013 4:11 PM

DALLAS -- Just like any other opportunistic NBA owner, it's all about the bottom line when it comes to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban.

And from where Cuban is sitting, the bottom line is that his team hasn't turned in enough positive results so far this season.

At the All-Star break, the Mavs are floundering with a 23-29 record, 11th-best in the Western Conference and 4 1/2 games out of a playoff berth, not good enough for Cuban.

When asked about the job turned in by coach Rick Carlisle this season, Cuban had a wry smile and said: "Not good enough. But we're trying and we're getting better.

"It's all about everybody together, not just Rick. Obviously no one thinks we're where we want to be, so we've just got to keep working at it."

With 30 games left in the regular season, Cuban doesn't think the All-Star break will help the Mavericks.

"We've had plenty of breaks, so we don't need a break," Cuban said. "We actually need to keep on playing and get better."

The Mavs are on a four-day break and won't return to work until a Monday practice session in preparation for a home game Wednesday against the Orlando Magic. The last time the Mavs had a four-day break, Jan. 21-24, they lost three of their next four games, to San Antonio, Portland and Golden State.

The Mavericks enter the All-Star break 1-8 in overtime games and with three other losses by three points or fewer.

"If we win half of those games, then it's a whole different season, so yeah it's very frustrating," Cuban said. "I can't sleep when we do [stuff] like that.

"I still can't sleep if we lose a game, period. No matter how we lose it."

Cuban also doesn't want to hear the excuse that the Mavs were handcuffed by the early injury to 11-time All-Star forward Dirk Nowitzki, who missed the season's first 27 games after undergoing arthroscopic knee surgery Oct. 19. Cuban said every team goes through injuries at some point.

"That didn't keep us from making plays, bonehead plays, at the end of the [105-101 loss to Atlanta on Monday] and getting off to a slow start in that game," he said.

At times, the Mavericks have looked totally out of sync. And they've been humbled, losing nine games by 20 or more points.

They also endured a dreadful stretch from Dec. 20 to Jan. 9 when they lost 10 games (out of 11) by an average of 14 points per game.

Cuban, however, is adamant that he won't make any deals by the Feb. 21 trading deadline unless it's one that will make Nowitzki his second-best player.

For all their failures the Mavericks are only three games behind eighth-place Houston in the loss column.

"I still think we can [make the playoffs], so we'll see," Cuban said. "Stranger things have happened.

"Anything is possible. Until the Mavs are mathematically eliminated, we're going to keep on trying."

Dwain Price, 817-390-7760

Twitter: @DwainPrice

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