Here's a quoteboard with most of the things said in the Mavericks locker room after a 88-86 win on Wednesday.
On the Mavericks recent defensive roll
It's a style change. It's a style of play that is characterized by sacrifice because when you take longer possessions on offense and commit to controlling the tempo of the game, you are going to have some more difficult shots. One of the reasons Dirk is having a hard time getting open looks is because what all of this is. It has given us a strategy that can be effective and we are going to have to keep adjusting in the games here and there as it is happening. The important thing is getting us into a position to win and we have been able to do that.
I am proud of our guys for being willing to be team guys and play this way. Houston is a high-scoring team. They are very talented and the highest 4th quarter scoring team in basketball. What they have been doing is seducing people into getting into up and down games in the fourth and we felt we needed to keep it close and not allow that to happen. We got a little fortunate. Some guys made some great plays. Anderson's blocked shot is a big time winning play. Matthews' deflection and then diving save to expire the clock is a winning play. Because if you give these guys the ball with 0.2 seconds, they will get it into the hole as they did in the third quarter. They have that kind of talent. I give a lot of credit to our guys. We lived to fight another day.
On JJ Barea's offensive performance
"It was vital. We had some other guys that had some struggling shot-making nights and my message to the guys is we have to stay persistent and keep going hard. Focus your attention on playing to exhaustion and guarding your guy and play to your guy. The right number of shots are going to fall.
On Matthews defense
He made the best deflections and saves I've ever at the end of a game in my 32 years
These guys are draped all over him like an ugly suit every night. During certain parts of the game we're speeding it up some. But right now we're a grinding team trying to move up. We're trying to move up. Our guys are committed and that's all you can ask for.
Does Carlisle feel like he's over relying on JJ Barea?
I just feel that we have other guys that are close to breaking through. We got Memphis coming in here on Friday. That game may be in the 50s. They're a physical team. They're on their 28th guy on the roster this year. But they're fighting hard and they're playing like we are. They're playing for playoff positioning. They've lost some games, but I just watched two of their games today. They are physical and they're gonna snort in your face on defense and they're going to bring it to you on offense. We gotta be ready for another throwdown on Friday.
On making a style change 70 games into the season
We had a horrible game that day. I flipped out about it because we weren't going hard enough and we made some changes. What we're doing is not a panacea or any kind of secret thing. This is hard nosed basketball. Right now this is our plan for success. From game-to-game we can change adjust to anything. We can adjust the lineup. We played 10 guys tonight. We could play 12 on Friday. McGee had a good game earlier against Randolph. Everything is in play.
On looking at the playoff standings
I'm not looking at the standing. I'm looking at the next game—the next ten minutes or so. What my schedule is tomorrow to prep for Memphis. The season will be over soon enough. If we continue to focus on the process, the result will take care of itself. We're no perfect team. There's no doubt about that. But when you compete hard and for each other. That's what we'll continue to do.
What was going through your head on that final couple minutes?
This is who I am, playing both ends of the court. You can't really stop a guy like that individually. It was a team effort and Justin made a huge play, Dirk made a huge play and I was just trying to make it as difficult as possible. He's a hell of a scorer, hell of a player, but hey, it was either them or us.
How did you hold the Rockets to just six points down the stretch?
We want to play in the postseason. We're not going home early. We fought too hard this year. We've come from too much adversity, and battled through too many games, that we're not ready for our season to be done. We still control our own destiny and changing our mindset to 'we have to stop people, we have to buckle down defensively,' and trust that we'll get it on the offense when we need to.
On the defensive run this team's been on
That's the way we're going to win. Our offense hasn't been pretty. We've missed a lot of shots, we've turned the ball over a little bit -- too much at times. We're starting to understand that this is how we've got to play. We've got to stop teams. We've got to be able to rely on our defense. We have to be able to stop people and give ourselves cushion and room to breathe. There's not so much pressure on the offensive end.
Did you ever guess Dirk's biggest play all season would be a steal?
[laughs] Uh, no.
On Matthews' defense on Harden
Ironman. You know, he's out here gettin' it, by any means necessary. That dude is a tank. His will to win, I'm just so happy to be playing besides a guy like that so early in my career because when I look at guys I want to model my career, he's one of them.
Is the team coming together now?
I wouldn't say coming together better or less. I will say this team has been doubted all season. Coming into the season with our full roster, people didn't think we were going to be really good. We've been kind of good playing behind everybody and trying to prove something all year. Right now, we're still playing like that. We've got a lot of pride in the jersey, with the name on the front of the our jersey. We've just got to continue to try to prove people wrong.
Was this a must win?
Oh no question, we had to take advantage at home against a team right there with us, it's a must win, like every game left, it's a must win, but this was definitely one of the biggest of the year.
On the defensive roll the team's been on
Obviously with Parsons and D-Will going out. We had to adjust our thinking a bit. Those are two very talented players for us. We adjusted a little bit offensive. We're not playing as fast. We're playing smarter. That means obviously we're going to get into deep into the clock with the shot clock running down a lot. It's help us set our defense. We've been getting torched in transition defense. We were last in the league when we lost five or six straight there. We adjusted a few things offensively. We can't turn the ball over. When we get back and get set, we're pretty good.
On the team rallying around him
I'm not sure if they're doing it for me. They should do it for this franchise. It's been a winning franchise for a long long time. I don't think we've finished a year under .500 since my second year in the league. We wwere two under last week and we had some good wins here—guys competing, guys playing hard, guys playing for each other. I know we're missing some talent, but you gotta just make it up sometimes by playing hard and competing on both ends.
On whether he enjoys winning ugly
At this point in my career I enjoy winning. I had fun in Minnesota when I went 4-18. Guys played well and we are competing defensively. Things are tough on the offensive end right now. I didn't get too many good looks today, but JJ has been great in the pick and roll and other guys have stepped up for us.
How can Dirk get going while playing this grinding style?
I don't need to as long as we're winning .