PHOENIX -- As the Dallas Mavericks approach the midway point of the season with tonight's 8 o'clock game against the Phoenix Suns, coach Rick Carlisle was more inclined to discuss the positives his team accumulated during the first half of the season than any of the negatives which prevented them from having a much better record.
"I like our depth, I like our character,'' Carlisle said after Friday morning's shootaround at the US Airways Center. "We’ve shown some resiliency and we're going to have to show more tonight.
"Those are all things positive.''
All things negative hinged primarily on those four crucial games the Mavs (23-17) coughed up when they led those games by at least 17 points. Four games which could cost them dearly when eight Western Conference teams receive their playoff invitations.
On Nov. 29 the Mavs were leading the Hawks in Atlanta by 17 points before losing, 88-87. On Dec. 11 at Golden State the Mavs led the Warriors by 18 points before succumbing, 95-93.
On Dec. 20 in Dallas, the Mavs held a 19-point lead over Toronto and wound up losing that game, 109-108 in overtime. And this past Wednesday the Mavs led the Clippers by 17 points in Los Angeles with only 4:48 left, but caved in and lost that game, 129-127.
When asked what lessons his team learned from those four devastating losses, Carlisle bristled and said: "Tonight's a new night. I ain't talking about any (expletive delete) from the first 40 games.''
Carlisle then ended the interview and walked off.
"At this time of the season we’re into the thick of it, you’ve got to be looking for positives,'' Carlisle said earlier in the interview. "You've got to do everything possible to help a group play to their strengths and protect their weaknesses.''
-- Dwain Price
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