DALLAS -- Dallas Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle credits his old buddy, Terry Stotts, for turning the Portland Trail Blazers into one of the NBA's best teams this season.
Stotts was an assistant under Carlisle from 2008 until he became the Blazers' coach last season. Since then, the Blazers have gone from being a middle of the pack team to owning the second-best record in the entire NBA and the best record in the Western Conference at 16-3.
"They couldn’t have gotten a better coach for that situation,'' Carlisle said after Friday's practice. "He’s transformed that whole team.
"The style of play, they move the ball, they can score. And this year they defend better because they have better defensive players.''
Carlisle said the offseason acquisitions of guard Mo Williams and center Robin Lopez have made the Blazers a bit tougher defensively.
"Mo Williams and Lopez are good defenders,'' Carlisle said. "Lopez is a big guy on defense and Mo Williams is a good perimeter defender who pressures the ball.
"It's really changed their team a lot.''
So has Stotts, who was named the Western Conference Coach of the Month for the month of November after he led the Blazers to a 13-2 record in that month.
-- Dwain Price
Follow me on Twitter