All-Access Video Donuts: Spurs 116, Mavs 107

'My job,' says Rick Carlisle, 'is to be a problem-solver, not a problem-identifier. (The media's) job is to identify problems. That's one reason that this job pays a lot more than your guys' job, because it's harder.' We go about the business of identifying in Dallas' 116-107 loss to the Spurs with Video Visits with Dirk, Carter, Marion, and yes, 'The Problem-Solver,' Carlisle, in Donuts.

DONUT 1: First, the Mavs' Big Picture ...

"I like our team,'' Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said in the wake of the 116-107 loss to the Spurs on Monday. "I believe in our team. We're this-close to winning that game.''

Before we dissect just how close the Dallas Mavericks really were to avoiding a third loss in four games, we give the stage to Carlisle for an interesting and funny big-picture look at how he sees his job with his team.

"It's easy to look at our roster and nit-pick our challenges," Carlisle said. "We've got age. We've got some size issues. We've got this, that and the other. If you want to make a laundry list, it's not hard to make a list.
"But my job is to be a problem-solver, not a problem-identifier. Your guys' job is to identify problems. That's one reason that this job pays a lot more than your guys' (media's) job, because it's harder. It's harder. Hey, if all I was asked to do was identify problems, I could find a lot of them. I could walk around the arena and find things to point at and say, ‘Hey, you know what? We need to do a better job of cleaning up this trash can.' That's not the world we live in in the NBA."

DONUT 2: Spurs 116, Mavs 107 ...

To me, San Antonio 116, Dallas 107 stands as one of those "glass-half-full'' vs. "glass-half-empty" standards of measurement. Do you choose to applaud the Mavs for rallying against the powerhouse Spurs to cut a 15-point margin to three? Or do you bemoan the sloppy finish, the home-game loss to a rival and a third defeat in four outings?

The Southwest Division-leading San Antonio Spurs are now 23-7 and have a 7-2 record on the second night of back-to-backs thanks to the Thursday decision ... and yet I'm "glass-is-half-empty'' because of how much I agree with Carlisle of the this-close'ness of it all.

The official video highlights:

Our First Impressions review of the loss is here.

DONUT 3: Dirk's Video Visit ...

"I'm not even sure how many we've lost,'' said a forlorn Dirk, who scored 23 in trying to lead Dallas' comeback from a 15-point deficit which was cut to three late. "Another tough one to swallow. ... We've lost, what, four out of six now?''

Dirk's Video Visit:

DONUT 4: Nowitzki voting ...

By the way: While PER recognizes Dirk as a top-13-or-so player and while history regards him as the same, in the second round of balloting released Thursday, Nowitzki is only 10th in the voting for one of the three West starting frontcourt spots in the upcoming NBA All-Star Game.

Nowitzki has 125,025 votes. The top vote-getters among West frontcourt players are Oklahoma City's Kevin Durant (850,728) and Houston's Dwight Howard (408,623)

DONUT 5: Vince's Video Visit ...

Vince Carter scored 20 on Thursday and became only the 10th player in NBA history with 1,700 made 3-pointers. Those 20 points, though, were part of just 28 that Dallas' bench scored as it got swamped by the Spurs bench -- which got 22 from Danny Green (including 7-of-7 shooting and five of those from the arc) and 49 total.

DONUT 6: Cuban on coaches ...

Before the game, our visit with Mark Cuban turned to management of a team beyond the Mavs.

Cuban doesn't pretend to be an NFL expert but the Dallas Mavericks owner follows the cross-town Dallas Cowboys and prides himself on knowing something about managing people toward the goal of winning.

His advice for Cowboys owner Jerry Jones? Keep coach Jason Garrett.

"I think Jerry would be quite crazy to fire Jason Garrett," Cuban said. "The hardest thing to do is hiring (the right) head coach. That's the hardest thing to do in professional sports, in my opinion.''
On Sunday, the Cowboys play Philadelphia in the final game of the NFL regular season. Win, Dallas goes to the playoffs. Lose, and for the third straight season, Garrett's team will have participated in a win-and-get-in game to end the year and will have failed, settling for yet another 8-8 record.

"It's like us (last season),'' said Cuban, whose Mavs won the title in 2011 under the leadership of coach Rick Carlisle. "We didn't look to say, ‘OK, 41-41, this is OK. What do we do to get a little bit better?' We basically blew it up. Nothing to do with Rick. We didn't look at Rick and say, ‘Well, you were only 41-41, 36-30 the year before.' It was never a reflection of Rick."

More from a fascinating visit with Cuban regarding sports management, the Mavs and the Cowboys here.

DONUT 7: Sick bay ...

Brandan Wright was too ill to play, and Sam Dalembert was sick, too.

"Sam showed up sick, throwing up, stuff like that," Carlisle said. "He heard Brandan wasn't going to be here so he showed up for us and that was big for us. He played really well. He has put two really good games together."

Dalembert scored eight points on 4-of-7 shooting, also contributing six rebounds and three blocks in 24 draining minutes was a bonus.

The fact Dalembert even came to the game tonight,'' ... he didn't even have energy,'' Rick said appreciatively. "That's why Blair got the start.''

DONUT 8: DeJuan with the first team ...

And DeJuan fared well enough against his old Spurs mates, with 14 points and 11 rebounds. He played with a certain fire -- as you knew he would against the franchise he feels disrespected by -- but after the game, he expressed his respect for San Antonio.

"I told (Pop) I still love him, love the team,'' Blair said. "They are all still my brothers off the court.''

DONUT 9: Trix' Video Visit ...

"It was very frustrating,'' Marion said. "We just couldn't get over the hump. We got close quite a few times and then we would do something to mess up ourselves. We stop a run or get a turnover or something. All of us have some blame in this. Coach (Carlisle) said it best: 'We beat ourselves.'''

DONUT 10: Quoteboard ...

"I hated them. I just thought it made our guys look more like a high school wrestling team ... "I don't think schools are going to be happy if 16-year-old boys come in wearing skin-tight gym wrestling gear. ... That's just my opinion. Maybe I'll be wrong. Maybe they'll sell like gangbusters in China." - Cuban on the NBA's Christmas Day skin-tight T-shirt jerseys.

DONUT 11: The Carlisle Video Summary ...

DONUT 12: The Final Word ...

Rick's big-picture big finish:

"I like our team," Carlisle said. "I believe in our team. We're this-close to winning that game tonight, but we put ourselves too much in harm's way with just the little concentration errors and slippages. We've got to correct those tomorrow and get ready to go to Chicago, because that's going to be a physical mauling.

"Every game you play is going to present different challenges. You've got to be enthusiastic about taking them on. Otherwise, you ain't gonna last long in this league."

So the problem-solving effort for the 16-13 Mavs marches on ...

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