Tablet Sports

Mavericks veteran Carter relives whirlwind day with Toronto Raptors in 2001

Vince Carter didn’t mind reliving what he describes as two of his greatest accomplishments when a Philadelphia reporter brought it up Monday morning.

It was May 20, 2001, and Carter had two very important engagements while he was playing for the Toronto Raptors.

First, Carter attended his graduation exercises in Chapel Hill, N.C., that morning. Then he flew to Philadelphia for Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinals, but wound up missing the game-winning jumper at the buzzer as the Sixers edged the Raptors, 88-87.

“I was able to accomplish two of my goals — making it deep into the playoffs and to graduate,” Carter said. “So it’s something I’ll never forget and will always cherish.”

Carter was heavily criticized for attending his graduation instead of giving his undivided attention to Game 7. But he didn’t understand those who admonished him because many people complain about athletes being dumb jocks who don’t care about education.

“It’s one of those things you don’t forget,” Carter said. “It’s very monumental in my career.

“I was able to graduate from college and miss the Game 7 shot to move on in the playoffs all in one night. So you can’t forget that.”

The Sixers went on the defeat the Milwaukee Bucks in seven games in the Eastern Conference Finals before losing to the Los Angeles Lakers in five games in the NBA Finals.

Mavs lead NBA in steals

Going into Monday’s game against Philadelphia, the Mavs were leading the NBA in steals with 10.2 per game. The highest the Mavs have ever finished in steals was fourth during the 2004-05 and ’11-12 seasons when they averaged 8.6.

But coach Rick Carlisle admitted his club has had “a lot of bad gambles” while going after steals.

“We were stealing some, but we were launching ourselves into missed attempts,” Carlisle said. “And our defense and rotation, that ends up being disastrous in this league because guys are so good.

“I like being aggressive. I’d rather come out with solid aggressive coverages than just the whims of going for it on a given pass to the wing.”

Blair’s charity work

Carlisle is asking DeJuan Blair to put in extra work in hopes of improving his free-throw shooting.

Carlisle said he told Blair to make an adjustment in his form before Friday’s game in Miami. Blair worked on it again before Saturday’s game in Orlando, and Carlisle reminded him after Monday’s shoot-around to practice even more.

The extra work paid off in Orlando when the Magic intentionally fouled Blair twice in the fourth quarter, and he calmly made 3 of 4. Blair said it’s the first time in his five-year career that he has been intentionally fouled.

“When he got fouled intentionally I really was confident that he was going to make them,” Carlisle said. “That’ll get teams out of intentionally fouling him.”

Blair was shooting only 47.8 percent from the line entering Monday.