Rick Carlisle is an eternal optimist.
When reporters have asked questions that Carlisle deemed negative, the Dallas Mavericks coach has asked the reporters why they’re so negative.
But when the Mavs rallied Saturday from an 11-point deficit with less than two minutes remaining in regulation to beat the Portland Trail Blazers 111-101 in overtime, even Carlisle wasn’t in the mood to exercise the power of positive thinking.
“I give our guys a lot of credit for being resourceful and hanging in and finding a way to win that game, but the truth is we’ve got to be better,” Carlisle said. “We’ve got to be better over the first 46 minutes.”
For the first 46 minutes of Saturday’s game, the Mavs trailed the Blazers 94-83. But for the rest of the game, Dallas outscored Portland 28-7.
“It’s very unusual that you’re going to get a situation like that where you can go on a [22-2] run to get to overtime,” Carlisle said. “You can’t live on that in this league.
“You’ve got to live on consistency and doing the basics really well. We did a lot of things well Saturday night, but we had a lot of lapses, too.”
The Mavs (35-18) hope to minimize those lapses starting at 7:30 p.m. Monday when they host the struggling Los Angeles Clippers (33-19) at American Airlines Center.
While Carlisle admits the comeback against the Blazers energized his club, he also put up the caution sign.
“Being able to crawl back from the dead basically and steal the game is always a wonderful experience, a wonderful feeling,” Carlisle said. “But the truth is we played 46 minutes of up-and-down basketball against a heavyweight team and we’ve got to be better — that’s the bottom line.
“You’re always looking for something to build on, to build strength and for the team to gain momentum. The last seven minutes of the game was that, the other previous 46 is not going to be good enough to win in the playoffs, and we know that.”
Harris to play
Guard Devin Harris left Saturday’s game with 2:40 remaining in overtime after injuring his left leg.
That injury came five days after Minnesota center Nikola Pekovic fell on Harris’ left leg.
“Going back to the Minnesota game where he got tangled up with a 350-pound guy [Pekovic] on the floor and got his legs bent back and twisted like a pretzel, it looked like we might not have him for quite a while after that,” Carlisle said. “He spent two days icing it down, and then he was ready to go for the Golden State game [this past Wednesday], and that showed our guys a lot.
“It’s a pretty vivid picture of a guy that’s giving himself up to do whatever he can to help the team. He just made some brilliant plays, just brilliant effort plays, the past two games.”
Carlisle said Harris told him he could have come back and played Saturday if he was needed. He also will be ready to play against the Clippers.
“I asked him, he was sitting in his chair with two bags of ice on him, and I said, ‘You all right,’ and he goes, ‘I’m fine,’ ” Carlisle said. “He just kind of nodded, ‘I’m going to be ready one way or the other.’
“He’s all-in for the team and that’s how we’ve got to play to have a chance.”
Clippers stir things up
The Mavs don’t put much stock in the Clippers being a lesser team with the announcement that forward Blake Griffin will undergo surgery because of a staph infection in his right elbow and be sidelined at least through the All-Star break.
“We know that with the Clippers coming in here [Monday], even without Griffin, they’re an experienced veteran team,” Carlisle said. “They like to stir things up and we’re going to have to be ready and we’re going to have to play better than we did Saturday night to beat them.’’
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