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VIDEO QUOTEBOARD: Mavericks defeat Suns, return to the playoffs in dramatic fashion

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The playoffs started early -- or at least, it felt that way -- in the Mavericks' last home game of the season. And as a result, soon, the playoffs start for real for this team.

Tom Pennington

I still remember one of Rick Carlisle's press conferences early in the season, and a comment he made. I don't exactly remember whether it was after a particularly close win or a particularly close loss -- because seems like every game this season has been one or the other -- but I remember the comment. It was something to the effect of, every game will be like this for this team this season, that they would need everyone.

He was right. This team, including its coach, wins and loses as a TEAM. It always has felt that way. Every game.

And in true Maverick fashion, last night's game was close, it was frustrating, it didn't look good at points, there were lost leads. But then Monta Ellis happened. And Dirk happened. And Brandan Wright played defense. And the Mavs are back in the dance.

They rose to the moment.

The post game atmosphere was almost one of relief and satisfied exhaustion rather than excitement. That quiet sense of accomplishment after a long-fought goal is reached. And  you know what? That felt appropriate for this team.

Rick Carlisle

On tonight's win...

The reason we won is because we had one of the best players on the planet in Dirk. And, because Monta Ellis, at the time we needed him most, stepped up and played his biggest game of the year. And, he had to play the whole second half - we couldn't get him out of the game. Those two guys led the way and then a couple stops at the end -- Wright with a block, good positioning, and just holding the line when they made the run. It's pretty clear we are not a perfect team, but with our imperfections we have to have an understanding that we really need each other and that kicked in in the second half and that made the difference.

On Wright's defensive performance...

It was huge on some of those plays in the 4th quarter...the block was huge. He had some other big rebounds in traffic.

On the team's effort as a whole...

We needed every ounce that everybody gave us tonight. I thought Larkin in the first half gave us some great defense on Dragic. And, he hit the 3 that gave us the lead to end the first quarter, which was huge. It's clear that we need everybody on this roster. We need everybody. So, I am proud of them. Yesterday was a rough day around here after what happened with San Antonio and we knew this was going to be a slugfest. We knew we were going to have to outlast these guys, and they did. So, we are proud to be going to the playoffs again.

On Dirk's performance...

He just stayed in it mentally. He told me before the game this morning that he was ready to go 48 minutes if he had to. And, I knew that wasn't going to be possible, so I felt like if we could get him some decent rest in the first half because we would have to rely on him more in the second half, which we did. He is just one of the most amazing guys I have been around in basketball. And I've been around some pretty amazing guys. He was not going to allow us to lose this game tonight.

On the team's character the last couple games....

I thought it sucked the last game and I thought it was great this one. [laughter] And I include myself in that.

On Monta's overall performance...

He's a rise to the moment player. He's been that all year. He's had a lot of huge games for us. He's a great competitor, he does not want to sit. He practices every day, he hasn't missed a game. And I was asking him during timeouts, are you okay, do you need a minute, and he said no, I'm alright, I'm alright. He's amazing that way. And the way the timeouts lined up, and the fact that the game wasn't a complete, frantic windshield wiper game helped him and Dirk. And Harris too. Harris had to go long minutes because of the matchups.

On Wright's overall game...

Phoenix has been a team he has had good games against. So I knew we were going to need him for a lot of minutes in this was one of those games where you can throw out the rotation card and you have to find the guys with the biggest hearts, the best competitors, and let them win or lose the game.

On the importance of getting back to the playoffs...

It's big. Our franchise, it stands for winning championships. And you can't win a championship unless you get to the playoffs. And I don't know what our matchup is going to be - it will be tough, whoever it is - but we'll be ready. And we have another game to play that will be a meaningful game as well.

Shawn Marion

On the playoffs...

We're in it right now. It's a matter of who will do what to see where we finish at. We still have a chance to get to 50 wins, as well. Not much else to say.

It's not just about getting into the playoffs. It's about getting to the playoffs and making a run at something. That's the ultimate challenge right there. That's what it's about.

Monta Ellis

On his big night...

My teammates did a heck of a job setting screens and spacing the floor right, and I was able to attack and make plays. Tonight, it was going down.

On Carlisle's "rise to the moment" comment...

I don't think it was just me. I think we came together as a team. Even when we were down 16, 14, whatever it was, we came together as a team. Got stops, got out and ran, got some open threes in transition, we played Mavs basketball. I think it was a total team effort.

On Dirk's rough start...

He's done a heck of a job closing for us. He's going to have bad halves. We all do. He just stayed with it like the veteran that he is, continue to shoot, and he found his touch when he needed to.

On the big fourth quarter and whether the three point shooting was "contagious"...

This just felt like a playoff game. We made one, and the crowd got into it, and we made two or three and it's like they never sat down. And so we were all keyed in, and an environment like that when we're at home just gives us a different kind of boost with the environment and energy in the building.

On whether they doubted they could come back from down 13....

Oh, no. We just had to come together as a team, get some stops, and get out and run.

Brandan Wright

On getting back to the playoffs...

It's a good feeling. We played really really hard, we threw everything we had out there, guys laid it on the line and came up big.

We're happy to get in, we don't know who we will play, but I think we're a dangerous team. We got a lot of players capable of making plays, a lot of veterans over here who want to win. It will be exciting for us, we know we will be on the road, but we are a better team on the road right now.

Dirk Nowitzki

This was a great situation to be in. A home game, you win and you're in the playoffs, just a fun setup for us against a very good team. I thought we just left it all out there.

Watch below for the rest of Dirk's comments, as he talks about being back in the playoffs, turning things around in the second half and the individual performances of Wright and Ellis: