DALLAS -- With a chance to win the game in the final seconds of the fourth quarter, Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle drew up a play for the 35-year-old sixth man with a sore hamstring instead of the 25-year-old who is the NBA’s seventh-leading scorer.
O.J. Mayo scored all of the Mavs’ 11 points in the extra period, finishing the game with a team-high 27 despite a slow start. He would have loved to have a chance to end the game after 48 minutes, the kind of moment Mayo dreamed about as a kid shooting at tires and trash cans in his West Virginia backyard as the imaginary time ticked down.
“Of course. Every time,” Mayo said when asked if he wanted a chance to hit the game-winner.
Not that Mayo was questioning his coach. Despite persistent media questioning, Mayo was diplomatic about Carlisle’s decision to go to Carter with the game on the line.
“Obviously, I’ve got to earn respect, and I respect that as a young player,” Mayo said. “I trust Vince and I trust coach, whatever he does. Vince is a great player, a future Hall of Fame player, so I’m rocking with them.”
Carlisle preferred to rant about the Warriors’ ridiculous 62-43 rebounding advantage than to second-guess his decision to draw up an isolation play for Carter, who had briefly left the floor earlier in the fourth quarter when he tweaked his right hamstring.
Carter’s 21,279 career points include a bunch of game-winning buckets, so Carlisle had reason to be confident that the potential Hall of Famer could come up with another clutch shot. Not concerned about Carter’s hamstring, Carlisle put the ball in the sixth man’s hands to try to create against rookie lottery pick Harrison Barnes.
Carter, who was unavailable after the game because he was getting treatment on his hamstring, settled for a pull-up midrange fadeaway that fell short.
“I just liked that situation,” said Carlisle, who has had the luxury of drawing up late-game plays for Dirk Nowitzki for the last four years. “He had hit big shots during the game. He got a good look off.”
Carter scored nine points on 4-of-9 shooting in the game, including a scoreless fourth quarter when he missed his three field-goal attempts. Mayo, by comparison, had seven points on 3-of-6 shooting in the fourth quarter before catching fire in OT.
It was especially easy to second-guess Carlisle’s decision at the end of regulation after watching the Mavs ride Mayo’s hot hand in overtime. Mayo consistently carved up Golden State’s Klay Thompson off the dribble, making five of eight shots from the floor in the extra five minutes.
“I’m just trying to win the game by any means,” said Mayo, who fed Shawn Marion for an open 16-footer that missed with the Mavs trailing by two and 17.9 seconds remaining, essentially sealing their fate. “I just had the opportunity to have the ball in my hands and create something for our team, whether it’s me scoring the bucket or getting fouled or creating for someone else. I had the opportunity to get to the lane and make some plays.
“But, hey, we lost the game. I didn’t put the team on my back that good, because we still took the L.”
Would the Mavs have taken the L against the W’s if Mayo got the last shot of regulation? All due respect to a coach with a recently earned championship ring, but it sure would have been nice to find out.