Known for doing one of the best in-game coaching jobs in the entire NBA, Rick Carlisle was tired of seeing the same horror film for the umpteenth time this season.
So after Wednesday’s embarrassing 120-89 home loss to the Sacramento Kings, the Dallas Mavericks’ coach told his players they would have to stick around for awhile because he was going to have a team meeting with them. There were some things Carlisle wanted to get off his chest, and he felt it needed to be said right away.
“When you’re in a leadership position you’ve got to make these decisions quickly on the right course of action, but sometimes you need to change things up a bit,’’ Carlisle said. “I’ve never watched film after a game before in my 15 years of coaching, but last night I felt it was the right thing to do.
“We were out of there in 35 minutes, and today, hey, we got right to our lifting and a competitive practice and we’ve got to get ready for another good team tomorrow.’’
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After trailing only 56-52 at halftime against the Kings, the Mavericks suddenly couldn’t shoot, couldn’t defend, couldn’t hustle, couldn’t hold onto the ball and couldn’t do hardly anything that resembled playing basketball. It was as if someone had a spell on them as they got outscored 29-12 in the third quarter.
The Mavericks committed a season-high 23 turnovers, got outscored in the paint 68-30, outscored on fast-break points 33-13, and outscored in the second half 64-37. All of that, Carlisle surmised, needed to be addressed before the players’ head hit their pillows late Wednesday night.
“I wanted them to see what happened, I wanted it to be fresh in their minds walking out of the building,’’ Carlisle said. “I just wanted to watch the third quarter with them right after the game.
“We lost (the third quarter) by 17, and really it was the most decisive quarter in the game. I told them I’m just tired of coming in here and watching film every morning.’’
Actually, since the Mavericks watched film AFTER Wednesday’s loss to the Kings, there was no need to see those unforgettable events again before or after today’s practice.
“We didn’t watch film today,’’ Carlisle said after Thursday’s practice. “I told them after (Wednesday’s game) that once we’d spoke to the press they were going to clear the locker room and we’re going to watch film – the film of the third quarter – that I was tired of watching it.
“And in the morning after difficult performances, that we would just change things up a bit.’’
The Mavericks endured a lopsided loss on Nov 25 during a 128-90 setback in Cleveland. So how can the same thing happen less than two weeks later – and against a Kings’ team that came in 7-13 and on the final leg of a 12-day road trip?
“We just got make it better today and get ready for tomorrow,’’ said Carlisle, whose team hosts Indiana on Friday. “I’m not into looking two weeks back, I don’t know that there’s anything productive about that.
“We’re in a business, in a sport where being in the present is the most important thing. Thee are times when looking into the recent past can be a good thing, and that’s what we did last night. Today we’ve got to move forward.’’
The Mavericks have lost 12 of their past 14 games and own a pitiful 4-17 record. They have the worst record in the Western Conference, the second worst record in the NBA, and their worst 21-game record since they were 1-20 to start the 1993-’94 season.
Carlisle made it a point to explain that Wednesday’s team meeting was not just a film session.
“We talked through the stuff,’’ Carlisle said. “We’re in a situation where we’re all in this together – coaches and players together have to figure out how to dig out of a hole.
“Today we had to get after it and get back to doing the things we were doing well when we were playing better.’’
The Mavericks have had their superstar forward, Dirk Nowitzki, for just five of their 21 games, because of a strained right Achilles. And guard J. J. Barea has strained left calf and has missed 12 games.
But Carlisle believes his team still has a chance to win games if they put out maximum effort at both ends of the floor for 48 minutes. He doesn’t believe in using key injuries as an excuse for losses piling up.
“Look, we just got to get the process back to where it needs to be, and that has got to be simplicity, efficiency,’’ Carlisle said. “Our level of force and disposition has to be there.
“The turnovers deflated us in a lot of situations, created a lot of terrible situations in transition and it takes your defense apart. All this stuff is connected.’’
The effort the players are putting out – or not putting out – is also connected. So is the won-loss record the players undoubtedly know they have affecting their overall effort?
“We’re professionals and our job is to compete at the highest possible level,’’ Carlisle said. “I don’t give into that, none of us can.
“We’ve got to understand that there is a growth opportunity every time we set foot on the court, whether its practice, shootaround or a game, the competition is stiff, it’s tremendous in this league, it’s the best basketball in the world.
“We’ve just got to bring our competitive level to each and every situation, and last night that was eroded in large part because of turnovers and some decision-making problems. We’ve got to make effort to adjust to reduce (turnovers) – we just do – and that’s no secret sauce.’’