Locker-Room Gab After Spurs Beat Mavs

We all know the drill. That doesn't make losing OK, particularly not to San Antonio. The game was winnable, and the effort was good. Valiant even. Just not good enough. Thirty points from Caron Butler, good game from Brian Cardinal, triple-double No. 106 for Jason Kidd -- footnotes in a 99-93 loss. Let's go see what's the word. Quoteboard:

What happened?

"We just couldn't get over the hump. It was tough, it was frustrating, but our guys kept battling. I take the positives out of it, but right now, we've got to really work together." -Coach Rick Carlisle

Regarding Caron Butler and his 30 points . . .

"He's aggressive, and he's a big game player. He likes the responsibility of performing and being the lifeline; that's one of the things I love about him . . . he did a good job of attacking." -Coach Rick Carlisle

About Jason Terry and his horrible 3-16 shooting night . . .

"I just kept telling him in the second half and fourth quarter, just keep playing your game and staying aggressive because you're going to break out of this -- just keep believing. And it's as simple as that." -Coach Rick Carlisle

Starting at forward -- Brian Cardinal, with three treys, three rebounds, and hard work generally . . .

"I think my role is to just be ready whenever called upon whether it's at the 3 or 4. I just need to come in and play hard and try to make things happen on defense and knock down open shots when I get the ball and just play aggressive and smart and stay ready." -Brian Cardinal

And for San Antonio -- Greg Neal, leading the team with 21 points . . .

"Gary has been important to us all year long coming off the bench, scoring, playing hard. He has been a big part of what we have been doing." -Coach Gregg Popovich

"When we needed it, he stepped up and hit the shots. Our whole team was looking for him and he made the shots." -George Hill

Professional respect from the opposition . . .

We were fortunate in a lot of ways. I don't think we were very sharp and I thought Dallas showed a lot of character, a lot of class, which one would expect. They were very aggressive, fired up and really got after it and played a damn good game and we were fortunate to get out of here with a win." -Coach Gregg Popovich

Observations about Life Without Nowitzki . . .

"It's a good opportunity actually. It's a chance for the other guys to develop working together, a chance for us to come up with some good lineups without Dirk, so there's really some upside there." -Mark Cuban

"Without Dirk in the lineup, the margin for error is extremely slim." -Coach Rick Carlisle

"Without him, it's tough. But I'm not concerned. When we get him back, we'll have him back. Until then, we'll figure it out." -Jason Terry

"You got to give San Antonio credit. They made shots when they had to. But the effort was there tonight, even without Dirk. We gave ourselves a chance to win. And in this leage, that's all you can ask for." -Jason Kidd

And the prognosis?

"Maybe this weekend, early next week; that's what I'm looking at." -Dirk Nowizki

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