Mindful of this month’s very busy schedule, the Dallas Mavericks didn’t have their usual shootaround Tuesday morning in preparation for that night’s home game against the Memphis Grizzlies.
This month alone, the Mavs have played games on both coasts and at the northern reaches of the United States in Minnesota. And after Wednesday’s game in Houston, the Mavs will fly far south to play Miami on Friday and Orlando on Saturday.
In all, the Mavs play 16 games in January — 12 on the road.
All the criss-crossing around the country is the reason the Mavs didn’t have a shootaround Tuesday. They know fresh legs are extremely more important at this stage of the season, although the Mavs did have an extensive practice Monday, a day after losing in New Orleans.
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“We’re mindful of guys’ legs, and we want to keep them physically and mentally fresh,” coach Rick Carlisle said before Tuesday’s game. “But because of that, we did more [Monday] than we’d normally do.”
While a few teams have done away with shootarounds altogether, Carlisle has no such plans because he views them as teaching opportunities.
“I don’t see the shootarounds becoming extinct,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got a relatively low number of back-to-backs, which means you’re in a lot of those every-other-day situations where you can’t necessarily have what I would call a quality practice between games.
“So consequently a lot of times you’ve got to decide with a veteran team which way you want to go. When you see the schedule change a little bit we’ll be having [shootarounds] every game.”
Praise for Pop
San Antonio Spurs coach Gregg Popovich is closing in on 1,000 victories in his illustrious career.
It’s a feat that has gotten the attention of Carlisle, who has 599 wins.
“I assumed he was closer to 2,000,” Carlisle said of Popovich. “It’s rare air, and to do it in one place in a consecutive string of years like that, it’s unheard of, it’s remarkable.”
Popovich has been coaching the Spurs since 1996 and has a 996-460 won-lost record for an impressive .684 winning percentage.
“And the thing you respect most about it is the guy just keeps going,” Carlisle said. “He just did a four-year deal to keep coaching.
“It just shows that greatness has longevity and that he still loves it, which is another great thing.”
Don Nelson is the NBA’s all-time winningest coach with 1,335 victories.
The coaches turned in their ballots Tuesday for the Feb. 15 All-Star Game, and Carlisle walked away with one important message.
“I forgot who I voted for,” Carlisle said. “So don’t ask.”
Carlisle did want to talk about guard Monta Ellis, whom he believes is a shoo-in to be selected to his first All-Star Game.
“He should be in the All-Star Game,” Carlisle said. “I think he’s really deserving. “He’ll be in the mix for sure.”
Western Conference and Eastern Conference coaches voted for seven reserves on each team. The All-Star backups will be announced Thursday night on TNT.
Back to back again
As usual, the Mavs play the Houston Rockets four times this season. What’s unusual is that Dallas will be on the second leg of a back-to-back all four games.
That’s not exactly the ideal recipe for playing one of the top contenders in the Southwest Division.
“It’s a bad break,” Carlisle said. “I guess it’s an unlucky break, which is the way I would categorize it.
“It’s very unusal. You’ve got to deal with it and make the best of it.”
The Mavs lost to Memphis at home on Tuesday and will play at Houston on Wednesday night. Back on Nov. 22, the Mavs lost in Houston (95-92) one day after blowing out the Los Angeles Lakers (140-106) in Dallas.
Dwain Price, 817-390-7760