Never mind the Mavericks' miserable shooting night. Those will happen on occasion.
"It's going to be whether we can defend or not," Carlisle said. "It's as simple as that."
Carlisle was particularly perturbed with the Mavs' performance on that end of the floor in the second quarter. The Wizards took the lead for good by scoring 35 points on 60-percent shooting during that frame.
"We gave them some confidence by giving them some easy baskets," Jason Terry said, "and we paid for it."
Carlisle has consistently preached to his team that true contenders can win even when their shots aren't falling at a decent rate. The Mavs failed their first test, with Washington guards Gilbert Arenas (29 points) and Randy Foye (20) seeming to score every moment the Mavs seemed to be building momentum.
"This was the kind of game that good teams find a way to win," Dirk Nowitzki said. "We didn't do it."