- Tim MacMahon, ESPN Staff Writer
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As far as Rick Carlisle is concerned, Dirk Nowitzki had every right to second-guess the last-seconds play call in San Antonio.
In fact, Carlisle considers it well within Nowitzki’s right to express any opinion that crosses the future Hall of Fame power forward’s mind.
“My feeling is this: Dirk has earned the right with the things that he’s done here over a period of 15 years to say what he wants at any time,” Carlisle said Friday on ESPN Dallas 103.3’s “Galloway and Company.” “And I know after a game, it’s emotional. He wants to beat those guys. Of all the guys in the locker room last night, he’s the one guy that has been around this the longest, knows the rivalry. It was more meaningful for him than any of the other guys.
“Look, he’s got an opinion; he shared it, said what was on his mind. Right or wrong, I’m going to support him 100 times out of 100. That’s how I feel about him.
“This is not his normal pattern to do these kind of things. I know what it is: It’s frustration because he wants to win so bad. That ain’t the worst thing in the world.”
Nowitzki’s issue with the play call had nothing to do with him not getting the ball. Nowitzki didn’t like the spacing on the play, pointing out that his presence on the left wing added clutter that made it difficult for Vince Carter to drive. Carter settled for a contested 3-pointer that rimmed out to seal the Mavs’ 92-91 loss to the Spurs.
Carlisle considers Nowitzki’s criticism to be legitimate. And Carlisle reiterated that he relates to Nowitzki, who recently said he felt like he needed to be perfect down the stretch for the Mavs to win.
“I felt the same way about what I’m doing,” Carlisle said. “I’ve got to be perfect, too, and at the end of the game last night, that was not a perfect play. We didn’t have great spacing.
“Fortunately, we’ve got a guy in Vince who can manufacture a shot like that, but the result wasn’t what we wanted. In those situations, I’m the one who’s responsible. I continue to take full responsibility for all that stuff. I’m never going to dodge it and I’m going to have the back of my players 100 percent of the time.”