Rick Carlisle can be terse. Dismissive. Down right rude.
But he also demonstrated Saturday night in Portland that he is one of the best basketball coaches on the planet. In a tie game, and seemingly headed to overtime against a 17-3 Portland Trailblazers team that was staging a furious rally, the Mavs had possession and 1.9 seconds remaining.
These days the Mavs have two legit last-shot options in Dirk Nowitzki and Monta Ellis. And they have Carlisle, who can orchestrate a final shot as well as anyone on an NBA bench. (Makes last week’s choice of Vince Carter in Atlanta all the more maddening, but don’t get me started.)
Instead of play for Dirk, Nowitzki was used as the first of two screens – DeJuan Blair the second – to free Ellis on a curl around the top of the key. Inbound pass from Jose Calderon. One dribble. Elevated jump shot.
Voila, the Mavs have themselves a signature victory. Portland is the NBA’s most surprising team, and they entered the game 9-1 at home.
With two viable options and a mind like Carlisle, the Mavs should win more close games than they lose.
Not that it will necessarily put the coach in a good mood. After the game some in the Blazers’ media questioned his decision not to foul with Dallas nursing a 3-point lead in the final 10 seconds. Portland’s hit a leading 3-pointer to tie the game, setting up Ellis’ heroics.
Snapped Carlisle to the hometown reporters, “What difference does it make?”
Maybe a win at 5-13 Sacramento Monday night will upgrade his mood.
A native Texan who was born in Duncanville and graduated from UT-Arlington, Richie Whitt has been a mainstay in the Metroplex media since 1986. He’s held prominent roles on all media platforms including newspaper (Fort Worth Star-Telegram, Dallas Observer), radio (105.3 The Fan) and TV (co-host on TXA 21 and numerous guest appearances, including NBC 5). He currently writes a sports/guy stuff blog at DFWSportatorium.com and lives in McKinney with his fiancee, Sybil, and two very spoiled dogs.